Realistically, the Flyers are probably done with any chance of making the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the final nail can be hammered into the coffin this week with three games between now and Thursday.
None of those games are against teams directly competing with the Flyers for playoff spots, but with so many teams still in the race, any setback here will probably doom the Flyers season.
There is a chance that the Flyers could be on the verge of playoff positioning before Friday, but it’s a ridiculous long shot that is probably just about impossible.
Let’s run through what’s on deck this week, and what it all means for the hopes of spring hockey in South Philadelphia. We’re going to lean into the best-case scenario here just to show you how damn hard it’s going to be for the Flyers to pull this off.
Here’s where we stand entering this evening:
NHL Wild Card Standings, as of March 12
|NY Rangers||69||44||23||2||90||41||Won 1|
|NY Islanders||67||32||24||11||75||31||Lost 1|
|Tampa Bay||67||32||26||9||73||28||Won 2|
Tonight: Flyers host Columbus, 3 other important games.
Root for the ...
- Philadelphia Flyers over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
- New York Rangers over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.
- Carolina Hurricanes against the New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
- Vancouver Canucks, who host the Boston Bruins, 10 p.m.
The Flyers enter the evening a full six points behind Toronto for the final wild card spot. They are going to need help to catch the Leafs, and they’re also going to need to be basically flawless to do so.
Philadelphia needs two points against the Blue Jackets tonight, a not-so-easy task against a team that’s been at or near the top of the Metropolitan Division all year.
Elsewhere in the league tonight, we’re rooting for a Carolina win against the New York Islanders — you can watch this one on NBCSN during intermissions — and we’re [gulp] rooting for the New York Rangers against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A Flyers win, coupled with regulation wins from Carolina and the Rangers, would move the Flyers within one point of the Lightning in the standings and within three points of the Islanders.
Late tonight, the Bruins are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. It’s not on the table above, but there’s still a chance Boston — currently at 78 points — could fall into wild card territory should Toronto catch them. Root against Boston, not that it’s difficult.
Tuesday: Flyers off, but games to watch
Root for the ...
- Carolina Hurricanes vs. the New York Islanders (again), 7 p.m.
- Ottawa Senators over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m.
- Florida Panthers over the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m.
The Flyers are off Tuesday, but there are several games to watch. The Islanders will be in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes for the back half of a home-and-home, and again we’re rooting for Carolina here. (This gets a little hairy because the Hurricanes are five points back of the Flyers as of this writing, but nonetheless.)
Elsewhere, we’re rooting against Tampa Bay again as they travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators. Ottawa sits 14 points ahead of the Flyers and are likely on a fast track for the Atlantic Division’s second seed, so a win by them won’t hurt. They’ve also won six in a row, so this is a good chance to see the Lightning slide.
Florida and Toronto face off in the third Tuesday game worth watching. The Panthers are falling fast, losers of four straight entering this game with the Leafs. They’re also right on the Flyers heels, just one point back entering Monday’s action. Florida isn’t a concern if the Flyers take care of their own business, so we’re going to have to root for them here over the Leafs.
Should all go according to plan on Monday and Tuesday (and of course that’s a lot to ask for), the Flyers could have a game in hand over both the Lightning and the Islanders, while sitting one and two points back of them respectively.
That would set up a huge chance to leap Tampa and close the gap in the Isles on Wednesday.
Wednesday: The Flyers host the Penguins.
Root for the ...
- Flyers over the Penguins, of course.
- Calgary Flames over the Boston Bruins, 9 p.m.
Yeah, so ... again, it’s a long shot that all the stars line up here to make this Flyers-Penguins game have its max value for Philly fans. We’d need five games to go exactly the way we need them to go, with no overtime.
But, there’s a chance that the game Wednesday against Pittsburgh could pull the Flyers within two points of the Leafs for the final wild card spot.
It’s a Wednesday, so the NHL schedule is light, and the only other game on deck that matters to us is the Bruins out west against the Flames. Root for Calgary there.
Best-case standings after Wednesday’s games
Thursday: Flyers in New Jersey; NYI, FLA, TB, BOS all in action
Root for the ...
- Flyers over the New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.
- Winnipeg Jets over the New York Islanders, 7 p.m.
- No overtime! And the Lightning against the Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m.
- Edmonton Oilers over the Boston Bruins, 9 p.m.
If the best-case comes to fruition, Thursday would be a gigantic night of hockey.
The Flyers are in New Jersey, and they would again need a win. The Islanders host the Winnipeg Jets, the Panthers are in Columbus, Boston is in Edmonton. Florida and Carolina play, but at this point the results wouldn’t matter in terms of the Flyers chances.
The big one, however, is in Tampa between the Lightning and Maple Leafs. The biggest thing here is that we’d need to root for this not to go to overtime. In a twist from the rest of the week, however, we’d be rooting for the Lightning assuming that the Flyers have passed them in the standings here.
Assuming every single one of these games go the Flyers way — that’s a Tampa win, a Jets win an Oilers win, plus all the other games going the right way on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday — we’d see Philadelphia right on the verge of playoff positioning. They’d be past the Lightning and Islanders with 12 games left in the season, and they’d be tied in points with Toronto, although the Leafs would hold a game in hand. They’d also be just two points back of Boston with a game in hand.
Keep all of this in perspective, of course. The Flyers need to win three of their own games, plus have 10 other games go their way — without extra overtime points — over the course of the next four days.
And that only puts them on the verge of the final wild card spot. They’d be there in terms of points but would still need to take care of business over the next 12 games with no set back to actually leap over Boston or Toronto.
It’s going to be really hard for this team to have a chance at the playoffs. Hopefully this week will not be the final nail.