The playoffs are something we’re almost spoiled with as Philadelphia fans. Sure our teams always find a way to screw up in some sort of dramatic fashion on the big stage, but at least we can say they tried; except trying doesn’t explain why the Philadelphia Soul have won the most championships in Philadelphia sports since 1981 and they’ve only existed for just over 10 years.
If the Flyers fail to make the playoffs this season, it will only be the fourth time in the last 20 years they have been sent packing in early April. Overall, the Flyers have made the playoffs 40 times during 50 seasons. To put that into perspective, the Edmonton Oilers are currently in the midst of a 10 year playoff drought.
Right now, the Flyers are near the bottom of a list of teams fighting for the second and final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ve got an uphill climb, with Toronto, Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders all ahead of them.
The Flyers are not technically eliminated
According to SportsClubStats.com, the Flyers currently hold a 0.05% chance at making the postseason. Cue Dumb and Dumber ‘So you're telling me there's a chance’ memes.
The Flyers have 11 games remaining, a possible 22 points are within their grasp. Realistically, the Flyers are not going 11-0-0 unless Jordan Weal turns into 2010 Ville Leino and Ian Laperriere figures out how to coach a competent penalty kill.
Toronto has an ever growing grasp on the final wild card spot, so what does this mean for the Flyers slim chances of qualifying for the postseason?
... but they’re realistically eliminated.
Well, they are eight points back of the Maple Leafs, and it also does not help that the Leafs have been playing very good hockey of late, going 5-3-2 in their last 10 games. Now, lets say in a hypothetical world Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs fall off the face of the earth and lose out their remaining games. The Flyers would have to finish the season with a record of 4-7-1 to claim the final playoff spot. Unfortunately we do not live in a world where things go the Flyers way. In a situation where the Flyers go 11-0-0 and finish with 96 points, the absolute best Toronto could do would be to finish 7-4-0, giving them 95 points.
Let’s look at it a little more realistically and say the Leafs play .500 hockey to end the year, going 5-5-1. This would not be the first time the Leafs played .500 hockey at the end of the season, allowing a hot team to sneak up from behind. Just ask Wade Dubielewicz and the 2006-07 Islanders. If the Leafs go 5-5-1 they would finish with 93 points, meaning the Flyers will have to finish the season at least 10-1-0 to finish at 94 points.
It is also important to note that the Flyers do not hold the ROW tiebreaker — the greater number of games won minus shootout wins — against any of the teams they are fighting for a playoff spot with, further complicating matters.
We can’t forget about the other two teams in front of the Flyers, of course. Tampa Bay has also been playing great hockey while being decimated by injuries. (Seriously, their second line features Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne.) They will only get better as key players return to the lineup. The Islanders are also doing well and have been a new team under interim head coach Doug Weight, going 16-9-2 since Jack Capuano was fired on January 17.
Putting all of this together? The playoffs are a near impossibility, and I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news for those of you who have yet to give up on the season.
Still plenty to root for in these 11 games
But this does not mean you should give up on the team, because in the wild world of sports who knows what can happen. Maybe Claude Giroux, as a wise man once said, ‘puts da team on his back’ and scores a hat trick for the next eleven games.
OK ... maybe not.
More importantly, we should embrace the official motto of Philadelphia sports: “There’s always next year.” A defensive corps that could possibly feature at least two of Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim or Phil Myers, paired with a fully healthy Shayne Gostisbehere and more mature Ivan Provorov makes the future look like a bright sun rise on a warm summer day.
Who knows, maybe the Flyers with their 1 percent chance at winning the draft lottery somehow do it — revenge for losing the same lottery 10 years ago this year. Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier sure would look good in orange and black.
So sit back, crack a cold one and enjoy the remaining games on the schedule. The season will be over before you know it, and you’ll miss the constant yelling about how bad all the players are. Although a summer without head scratching coaching decisions does sound fairly nice ...