For the 37th time in their 45-year history, and the 17th time in the last 19 seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers have clinched a playoff berth.
Last night Philadelphia played the Florida Panthers in what on paper appeared to be an easy win before the puck was even dropped.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers erupted for four second period goals, including one from Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier’s goal made him the team’s seventh 20-goal scorer this season. The Flyers are the only team in the NHL with that many 20-goal scorers.
The win gave Philadelphia 91 points through 79 games played on the year, good enough for third place in the Metropolitan Division. They currently sit two points behind the New York Rangers, and two points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As fans look towards the playoffs, where will they see the Flyers land?
A plethora of things are possible.
The first thing to understand is the new playoff format being implemented this year. To keep it simple we’ll only look at the Eastern Conference.
The top three seeds in each conference (Atlantic and Metropolitan) are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Then there are two wild card spots rewarded to the two teams outside their division’s top three point scorers. However, these teams can come from either division.
The top team in the East, currently the Boston Bruins, would play the wild card team No. 2, who would have the least amount of points, currently Columbus. Then the other division’s winner, the Pittsburgh Penguins, would play wild card team No. 1, currently the Detroit Red Wings.
For the other two series, the two and three seeds from the Atlantic would play, and the two and three seeds from the Metro would play. The Flyers currently fit into the latter with the New York Rangers.
With the Flyers two points back from New York, and two ahead of Columbus, with three games left to play (with the exception of New York who only has two games remaining), anything can happen.
The Flyers will likely see New York in round one, but home ice advantage has yet to be clinched by either side. If the Flyers win the remainder of their games (Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Carolina), they will clinch home ice advantage for round one.
If New York and Philadelphia were to come to a tie at the end of the regular season, the following tiebreaker rules would be used, according to Espn.com:
Tiebreaker: In the event teams are tied in the standings, the following tiebreakers are applied to determine which team receives the higher seeding.
1. The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
2. The greater number of games won (not including games won in a shootout).
3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any “odd” games, shall be used to determine the standing.
4. Goal differential.
Quality Team: Team that has more points than games played.
With the exception of Detroit, every Atlantic team has been eliminated. In the Metro, if the Blue Jackets lose their remaining games and either the Washington Capitals or New Jersey Devils win out, they would be in.
If Philadelphia struggles through their remaining games and is passed in the standings by Columbus, they would become one of the two wild card teams and face either Boston or Pittsburgh depending where the other wild card team finishes.
So the Flyers can possibly face Boston, Pittsburgh, Columbus or New York in round one.
It appears that they will likely face New York. The only thing left to be determined is where game one will be held. It will be an exciting week of hockey.
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott currently sits at 254 HartnellDowns on the season.