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NHL playoff race: Flyers get no help on Friday as Red Wings, Bruins win

The pressure slowly starts to shift back to the Flyers today, as they sat and watched on Friday while the two teams that make up their closest competition for a playoff spot both won.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Last night in scoreboard-watching wasn't a particularly good one for the Flyers, as for the first time in a while every team that they were hoping to see lose actually went out and won. It's a minor setback, but as we'll see the Flyers are still in fairly good position relative to the other teams in the race for that final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture heading into today's games.

What happened last night?

  • The Red Wings won a 3-2 decision over Minnesota. Jumped out to a fast start and held on late to get a win that they really needed. With their win, they tie the Flyers in total points (though they have just four games remaining on their schedule, compared to the Flyers' six).
  • The Bruins took a wild 6-5 win over St. Louis in which they nearly blew a three-goal third period lead but managed to hang on. The Blues had allowed just one goal in their previous five games before Friday, so really, if you think about it, it makes total sense that they'd give up six goals in one game here. The win moves Boston one point ahead of Detroit and Philadelphia, though they too have just four games left in their regular season.

How things look now:

Here's where the three teams in the race for the East's last two spots stand with last night's games accounted for, and what each team's chances are at a playoff spot.

(Standing) Team Points Games Remaining ROW Remaining Strength of Schedule (Points %) Teams in Playoff Race* Left On Schedule Back-To-Backs Left On Schedule
(W1) NY Islanders 93 6 37 61.0% 5 2
(A3) Boston 90 4 37 56.3% 2 0
(W2) Philadelphia 89 6 35 56.4% 4 3
(W3) Detroit 89 4 37 55.4% 3 2

* "Teams In Playoff Race" includes any team in or within two points of a playoff spot; in other words, the sixteen teams currently in playoff spots plus Detroit.

And here are each team's playoff odds with last night's games taken into account. We've removed the Islanders from this table for the time being, as it would take a monumental collapse for them to miss the playoffs. (We'll leave them in that first table, though, so we can keep our eyes on them in the race for the first wild card.)

(Standing) Team Odds (SportsClubStats) Odds (hockey-reference) Odds (Hockeyviz) Odds (Moneypuck)
(A3) Boston 79.5% (+6.2%) 75.4% (+5.5%) 74% (+9%) 67.05% (+7.79%)
(W2) Philadelphia 80.4% (-7.7%) 81.5% (-6.0%) 81% (-7%) 82.27% (-6.66%)
(W3) Detroit 40.7% (+2.0%) 43.9% (+1.4%) 46% (-1%) 44.08% (-0.61%)

Yes, the Flyers have had better nights sitting on their couches than the one they did last night. Still have the inside track on a playoff spot, though. Interesting to see that these models barely thought Detroit's chances moved despite a win last night, and almost exclusively saw Boston as the big winner of the evening. I would guess they get extra points for going into St. Louis and winning, but what do I know.

Games that matter today/tonight:

Three games to concern ourselves with today, beginning with the two obvious ones:

  • The Flyers face Ottawa in a few hours. With two days of rest, at home, against an Ottawa team that's ready to pack it up for the season, this is one where the Flyers could really use a win if they don't want to make the season's final eight days incredibly stressful for themselves. And make no mistake, it is one that they should win.
  • Detroit, meanwhile, will try and stay with (or pass) the Flyers as they go up against their old friend Mike Babcock in Toronto. One would have to think the Wings are the favorite here against the NHL's 29th-ranked team, but the Maple Leafs' young guys have managed to make a game of most of their contests lately, and with Detroit coming in off of a back-to-back it's feasible they could lose this one. (Even if it's not terribly likely.)
  • And the Islanders will face the Penguins, right at the same time the Flyers will be playing. For the second straight Saturday, it would probably behoove the Flyers to hope for a Penguins win, but more than anything let's hope that it's a grueling, physical contest that leaves Pittsburgh tired heading into tomorrow's contest with the orange and black themselves.

How much do tonight's games matter?

Here are the projected changes in the Flyers' playoff odds based on their game tonight:

Sportsclubstats -14.2% -2.1% -2.1% +7.1% +7.1% +7.0%
Hockeyviz -15% -3% -3% +7% +7% +7%
Sportsclubstats -5.6% -5.6% -5.0% +7.1% +1.4% +1.4%
Hockeyviz -6% -6% -6% +6% +1% +1%

So yes, a Flyers loss today would be pretty pretty bad for their chances, as it's surely one most of these models are projecting them to win. Let's get to it, boys.