clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Two O’Clock Number: 92

The Flyers’ top winger is setting some benchmarks for the team’s final month-ish of the regular season.

Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

92 — the number of points the Flyers will need to end the season with to make the playoffs, according to winger and noted statistician Jakub Voracek.

Courtesy of the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac:

The great prognosticator, Jake Voracek, has spoken.

The magic number, he believes, is 92.

That’s the amount of points that will get a team in the playoffs for the Eastern Conference. It would be the lowest threshold in six years.

Each of the last three seasons, Voracek has predicted (albeit earlier in the season than a dozen games remaining) that 95 points is the cutoff. He was dead on last season, with Boston and Toronto both hitting that mark to get in. The season before, Voracek and the Flyers were the last team in the East with 96 points and in 2015 he was off by three. Pittsburgh had 98.

“We’re playing a lot of divisional games right now,” he said with 12 games left, eight of them against teams in the Metropolitan Division. “That’s the reason.”

As Isaac notes, Voracek has a habit for making specific point predictions like this. He’s decent at it, too. Two seasons ago, Voracek said that the Flyers would need 10 points (out of a possible 12) on a six-game homestand in February and March to stay in the playoff race. They got those 10 points, and ended up making the playoffs on the final weekend of the season.

But while they hopefully won’t look at it this way, the bar that Voracek has set for the Flyers is a little lower this time around. The Flyers enter tonight’s game with 81 points, meaning that they’d need to pick up just 11 points in these final 12 games to reach Voracek’s 92-point cutoff. Even acknowledging that weird things can happen in small-enough samples, a team like the Flyers should be able to hover right around .500 against a schedule that is not overwhelmingly difficult.

Is Jake right, though? Will 92 points be enough?

The models out there that attempt to answer questions like this appear to believe that he probably is correct. Sports Club Stats’ projection models, as of today (Thursday), suggest that 92 points would have the Flyers at somewhere between an 82 and 87 percent chance at making the playoffs. HockeyViz’s Micah Blake McCurdy, who does similar projections on his excellent site, says that 92 points would give the Flyers approximately a 90 percent chance at making it.


This all makes sense. If the Flyers end up with 92 points, here’s what the other three teams that are in the race for the East’s final playoff spots would need to do to catch them:

New Jersey: 12 points in 12 games
Columbus: 13 points in 12 games
Florida: 17 points in 15 games

It’s not that 92 points is a mark out of reach for any of those teams — in fact, each of them would expect to get to 92 points based simply on their current points percentages projected the rest of the way. It’s more that, again, given how small of a sample we’re dealing with, at least one team currently in the race is probably going to play below its true talent level over the next 12 games.

That team could be the Flyers, in which case we may be staring at a playoffsless April for the second year in a row. But even the slight advantage they’ve got now (a one-point lead over Jersey and a two-point lead over Columbus) gives them a bit of a cushion, such that they’re the team that to miss the playoffs, they’d need everyone behind them to play at their current talent level, if not slightly over their heads, for the rest of the way.

Eastern Conference Playoff Race (3/15)

Team Games Left Points Needed For 92 Points % Needed Remaining Opposing Points % Remaining Games vs. Playoff Teams Remaining B2Bs ROW
Team Games Left Points Needed For 92 Points % Needed Remaining Opposing Points % Remaining Games vs. Playoff Teams Remaining B2Bs ROW
Flyers 12 11 45.8% 55.3% 6 2 33
Devils 12 12 50.0% 57.5% 7 3 31
Blue Jackets 12 13 54.2% 54.8% 4 1 31
Panthers 15 17 56.7% 55.8% 7 4 31

The Flyers are helped a bit here by the schedule gods, as well. Though New Jersey picked up a huge pair of wins over the past few days in Nashville and Vegas, their next seven games feature a three-in-four-days California road trip, two games with the Penguins, and a home date with the Lightning. They’ll have to really be on their game to solidify their playoff position. Florida’s overall schedule isn’t as difficult, but they’re simply going to have to play a ton of hockey — 15 games in 25 days starting tonight, including four back-to-backs and four games against the Boston Bruins — and that’ll definitely be exhausting for them, which could make playing up to the level they may need to in order to make the playoffs difficult.

Also helping the Flyers here is the fact that they currently hold an edge in the regulation + overtime wins tiebreaker over everyone they’re currently in the race with. Anyone looking to pass the Flyers in points would likely need to do so outright, which essentially adds one point of cushion to where the Flyers currently are.

Overall, the Flyers’ situation is still uncomfortably precarious. At this time a month ago, it seemed like 89 points would possibly have been enough to get the Flyers in; with less than a month before the playoffs, that bar has been moved up a couple of rungs. New Jersey and Columbus have held steady, while Florida has surged its way back into the race. This won’t be easy for the Flyers, and 92 points does seem like the lowest they can go before they’ll really need to sweat it.

Still, a lot would have to go wrong for them to miss out at this point. Never say never, but if Jake is correct and 92 points is where the Flyers need to end up at, then we should still expect that they’ll be playing more than 82 games this season.