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NHL playoff race: Flyers miss out on opportunity, but benefit from Bruins loss

The Flyers failed to take advantage of a chance to really grab control of a wild card spot with their loss on Sunday in Pittsburgh, but they're still in a pretty good position overall in their race for the playoffs.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That sucked.

What happened last night?

  • The Flyers lost ugh who cares. (Wait, you do? Really. Huh. I guess that's why you're here, isn't it? Feel free to read more about that game here.)
  • The Bruins lost! That helped matters. They fell behind 6-0 to Chicago and put together a bit of a rally in the game's later stages, but they would ultimately lose by a 6-4 count. This doesn't wash away the adverse effects of the Flyers' loss to the Pens, but it certainly softens the blow a bit.

How things look now:

Here's where the Eastern Conference playoff picture stands with yesterday's games accounted for.

(Standing) Team Points Games Remaining ROW Remaining Strength of Schedule (Points %) Teams in Playoff Race* Left On Schedule Back-To-Backs Left On Schedule Magic Number
(W1) NY Islanders 93 5 37 60.6% 4 2 n/a
(W2) Philadelphia 91 4 36 56.1% 3 2 n/a
(A3) Detroit 91 3 38 58.7% 3 1 7
(W3) Boston 90 3 37 54.0% 1 0 6

* "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 Boston.

We've added in a magic number column for the teams below the Flyers. The magic number is the total number of points that either the Flyers need to gain or the team in question needs to miss out on (i.e. the Red Wings would miss out on two points if they were to lose their next game in regulation) in order for the Flyers to be guaranteed to finish ahead of that team. If either Boston or Detroit reaches zero, then the Flyers, of course, are in the playoffs.

Which is to say that, independent of anything that the Bruins and Red Wings do in their other games, the Flyers are in the playoffs if either of the following things happen:

  • The Flyers win three of their last four games, regardless of which ones they are or how they happen.
  • The Flyers win their Wednesday game against the Red Wings in regulation, and get three points in their other three games.

If neither of those things happen, then we're back in the position of needing those other two teams to drop some games.

With that, here are each team's playoff odds.

(Standing) Team Odds (SportsClubStats) Odds (hockey-reference) Odds (Hockeyviz) Odds (Moneypuck)
(W2) Philadelphia 78.7% (-4.3%) 80.3% (-3.2%) 81% (-3%) 81.17% (-2.6%)
(A3) Detroit 60.4% (+11.6%) 62.4% (+6.9%) 70% (+14%) 66.06% (+10.92%)
(W3) Boston 62.1% (-8.4%) 57.2% (-6.6%) 51% (-12%) 53.76% (-9.42%)

Boston comes out as the big loser while Detroit gains a ton of ground for a second straight day, as the Wings now have the inside track on that third spot in the Atlantic (though, they play each other on Thursday night, so one could guess much will be decided then and there). The Flyers still are in a pretty good position, and their chances don't take a huge hit thanks to the Bruins' loss, but it's pretty clear yesterday was a missed opportunity for the orange and black to really put some separation between themselves and those other two teams.

Games that matter today/tonight:

In terms of getting in, there aren't really any games that are of high importance tonight. All of the Flyers, Bruins, and Red Wings are off.

However, with both Washington and Pittsburgh looking pretty pretty good right now, it sure would be nice for the Flyers to try and make a run for that first wild card spot and a chance to face off with the Atlantic division through the first two rounds of the playoffs. If you've still got your eye on that, then you'll want to watch the Islanders host the Lightning in Brooklyn. The Isles have two points and a game in hand on the Flyers right now, so it's certainly an uphill battle, but it's a possibility -- SportsClubStats gives the Flyers an 18 percent chance at the first wild card, while Moneypuck has their chances at 14 percent. A Tampa win tonight would go a long way towards seeing those numbers improve.

How much do tonight's games matter?

Not at all, in terms of chances at making the playoffs. Breathe easy for a night, Flyers fans.