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NHL standings: Yes, there's a path for Philadelphia Flyers to get into playoff race

It's a long shot, but if you want to be optimistic about the Flyers and the NHL playoff race, here's your guide.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

That was a huge win for the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon in Washington. A strong road win against a really good team, the Flyers somehow held the Capitals to just 13 shots despite giving up six power plays in the game.

Losing Steve Mason in the game hurts a lot, especially if it's a longer-term injury. But while we'll admit it's a long shot, a quick glance at the schedule does give room for at least some blind optimism when it comes to the Flyers and a potential playoff spot.

Here are what the standings look like as of right now on the morning on Monday, February 9:

Metropolitan GP W L OT Pts ROW
New York Islanders 53 34 18 1 69 27
Pittsburgh Penguins 53 30 15 8 68 28
Washington Capitals 54 28 16 10 66 26

Wild Card GP W L OT Pts ROW
New York Rangers 51 30 16 5 65 28
Boston Bruins 53 28 18 7 63 26
-------------------------------- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Florida Panthers 51 23 17 11 57 18
Philadelphia Flyers 53 23 22 8 54 21

So the Flyers sit 12 points out of the last spot in the Metropolitan Division playoffs, but just nine points out of the wild card playoffs. Of course, we say "just" with a little bit of laughter, since making up that ground will require two pretty real things: the Flyers need to go on an absolute tear, and one of those teams ahead of them needs to fall.

I was talking with Ryan Gilbert last night about that (long) chances that this could happen, and he mentioned the Flyers schedule over the rest of February. It's, uhh .... kind of a cake walk. So let's look at the Flyers schedule vs. the other opponents in the playoff hunt here just to see if it's possible that things could fall the Flyers way here.

Date Philadelphia Flyers Washington Capitals Boston Bruins New York Rangers
Sun, Feb 8 Win @ Washington Loss vs Philadelphia Loss vs Montreal OTL vs Dallas
Mon, Feb 9

Tue, Feb 10 @ Montreal
vs Dallas @ Toronto
Wed, Feb 11
@ San Jose

Thu, Feb 12

@ Colorado
Fri, Feb 13 @ Columbus
@ Vancouver
Sat, Feb 14
@ Los Angeles
@ Arizona
Sun, Feb 15 @ Buffalo @ Anaheim
vs NY Islanders
Mon, Feb 16

@ Calgary
Tue, Feb 17 vs Columbus @ Pittsburgh

Wed, Feb 18

@ Edmonton
Thu, Feb 19 vs Buffalo vs Winnipeg
vs Vancouver
Fri, Feb 20

@ St. Louis @ Buffalo
Sat, Feb 21 vs Nashville vs NY Islanders

Sun, Feb 22 vs Washington @ Philadelphia @ Chicago vs Columbus
Mon, Feb 23

Tue, Feb 24 @ Carolina
vs Vancouver vs Calgary
Wed, Feb 25
vs Pittsburgh

Thu, Feb 26 @ Toronto

vs Arizona
Fri, Feb 27
@ Carolina @ New Jersey
Sat, Feb 28 vs NY Rangers
vs Arizona @ Philadelphia

The one thing that stands out here to me: the Flyers play the Capitals again in two weeks, and in between now and that game, Washington has a brutal trip that includes a California leg and a game in Pittsburgh. After Tuesday's game in Montreal, the Flyers have four straight against Buffalo and Columbus and a tough one against Nashville.

We're certainly not saying that any of those Buffalo or Columbus games are locks for the Flyers, but the schedule certainly works out in Philadelphia's favor over these next two weeks.

Let's go through and label all of these games based on likelihood of victory. Games in yellow are toss-ups, games in green are likely wins, and games in red are likely losses. We'll calculate points in the standings as we go -- obviously, it's all a ballpark exercise here because this is hockey and things never work out the way you'd expect them. Three point games make it all even more complicated. But again, a ballpark exercise:

Date Philadelphia Flyers Pts Washington Capitals Pts Boston Bruins Pts New York Rangers Pts
Sun, Feb 8 Win @ Washington 54 Loss vs Philadelphia 66 Loss vs Montreal 63 OTL vs Dallas 65
Mon, Feb 9
Tue, Feb 10 @ Montreal 55 vs Dallas 63 @ Toronto 67
Wed, Feb 11 @ San Jose 66
Thu, Feb 12 @ Colorado 69
Fri, Feb 13 @ Columbus 57 @ Vancouver 64
Sat, Feb 14 @ Los Angeles 67 @ Arizona 71
Sun, Feb 15 @ Buffalo 59 @ Anaheim 67 vs NY Islanders 71
Mon, Feb 16 @ Calgary 64
Tue, Feb 17 vs Columbus 61 @ Pittsburgh 68
Wed, Feb 18 @ Edmonton 66
Thu, Feb 19 vs Buffalo 63 vs Winnipeg 70 vs Vancouver 71
Fri, Feb 20 @ St. Louis 66 @ Buffalo 73
Sat, Feb 21 vs Nashville 63 vs NY Islanders 71
Sun, Feb 22 vs Washington 65 @ Philadelphia 71 @ Chicago 66 vs Columbus 75
Mon, Feb 23
Tue, Feb 24 @ Carolina 67 vs Vancouver 68 vs Calgary 76
Wed, Feb 25 vs Pittsburgh 72
Thu, Feb 26 @ Toronto 69 vs Arizona 78
Fri, Feb 27 @ Carolina 74 @ New Jersey 70
Sat, Feb 28 vs NY Rangers 69 vs Arizona 72 @ Philadelphia 79
Possible results 8 wins, 2 losses, 1 OTL 69 pts 2 wins, 4 losses, 4 OTL 74 pts 4 wins, 5 losses, 1 OTL 72 pts 6 wins, 2 losses, 2 OTL 79 pts

The moral of the story: Yes, there's a path for the Flyers to climb back into the race.

They need to take care of business against bad teams, they need to beat Washington again and it'd help if they could upset Montreal or Nashville or the Rangers too. But there is a scenario in which the Flyers are back in the playoff hunt by the March 2 trade deadline, and it wouldn't even necessarily require other teams to totally fall apart. Boston for example could play .500 hockey for the rest of the month, and if the Flyers take care of business against mostly bad teams, it could be a tight race at the deadline.

It's a long shot, no doubt about it. A lot has to go right, and with Steve Mason out ... maybe things won't go right. But the Flyers have been playing good hockey since the All-Star Break, and who knows? If you want to be optimistic about watching Flyers playoff hockey this spring, here's your guide.