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NHL playoff race: Flyers could really use a Hurricanes win tonight

The final week of scoreboard-watching begins in earnest tonight, as the Flyers could get a ton of help in their chase for the postseason with a Boston loss.

We are all behind you tonight, the Hurricanes.
We are all behind you tonight, the Hurricanes.
Elsa/Getty Images

Only one game on the schedule factored into the Flyers' playoff picture last night, and even that one had more to do with seeding than with the team's chances at getting in. The mad dash to the finish line kicks into high gear tonight: of the six days remaining in the NHL regular season, five of them feature at least one game that may figure directly into the Flyers' chances at making the playoffs. Let's get to it.

What happened last night?

That one game that the Flyers had to worry about didn't go their way, as the Islanders got a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay in Brooklyn. The win pulls the Islanders four points and two ROW ahead of the Flyers with an equal number of games played, making the Flyers' slim odds at grabbing the first wild card spot that much slimmer. We'll look at the exact percentages in the next section, but while it's still not out of the question, it would probably require the Flyers running the table this week and the Islanders dropping at least one of their last three games prior to their game against the Flyers on Sunday night.

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 95 4 38 60.7% 3 2 n/a
(W2) Philadelphia 91 4 36 56.1% 3 2 n/a
(A3) Detroit 91 3 38 58.9% 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.

With none of the Flyers, Red Wings, or Bruins in action last night, nothing really changed other than the Islanders' aforementioned step forward. Magic numbers all stay the same.

As such, here are each team's barely-changed playoff odds.

(Standing) Team Odds (SportsClubStats) Odds (hockey-reference) Odds (Hockeyviz) Odds (Moneypuck)
(W2) Philadelphia 78.4% (-0.3%) 79.7% (-0.6%) 81% (0%) 81.06% (-0.11%)
(A3) Detroit 59.9% (-0.5%) 61.8% (-0.6%) 69% (-1%) 65.49% (-0.57%)
(W3) Boston 61.8% (-0.3%) 58.5% (+1.3%) 50% (-1%) 53.55% (-0.21%)

Some very, very slight drop-offs across the board as the Islanders' win essentially locks them in as a playoff team, but nothing changes in the grand scheme of things. Three teams, two spots.

And if that first wild card spot is on your mind, here's what each site thinks of the Flyers' chances to end up there:

SportsClubStats: 10.11 percent
Hockeyviz: 7.4 percent (approximate)
Moneypuck: 6.87 percent

Games that matter today/tonight:

Two games, one more important than the other. Here they are:

  • The Bruins will host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at 7. With a win, the Bruins would jump the Red Wings for the third spot in the Atlantic and would also pass the Flyers in points. With a regulation loss? Their magic number would be down to four, meaning the Flyers could guarantee themselves a playoff berth with just two wins in their final four games. Read some old Eric T. articles for good mojo today, folks. A Hurricanes win would be a big step forward.
  • Meanwhile, in that first-wild-card-spot picture, the Islanders come right back from their win last night to face the Capitals in Washington. A tough task for sure, and if the Flyers want to still have any hope in catching the Isles by this time tomorrow, it's a game they're probably going to need the Capitals to win in regulation. So, yeah, go Caps I guess.

How much do tonight's games matter?

Here's how much tonight's Boston-Carolina game matters to the Flyers' playoff chances.

CAR @ BOS CAR Reg W CAR OT W CAR SO W BOS Reg W BOS OT W BOS SO W
Sportsclubstats +10% +2% +2% -5% -5% -5%
Hockeyviz +9.4% +1.3% +1.3% -4.4% -4.4% -4.2%

Seems like an important game! Please, Carolina. Do the thing.