Focus is on Clinching, but Other Scenarios Still Alive for Flyers
The task at hand for the Flyers is simple. If they can find a way to get one point in Saturday's game against the New York Rangers, they will be going to the playoffs.
That said, the Flyers will have plenty of scoreboard watching to do regardless of the outcome on Saturday.
If the Flyers take care of business themselves, thus eliminating Florida, the Flyers will be watching the rest of the Eastern Conference playoff teams to see who their first-round opponent will be.
If the Flyers lose in regulation, the focus shifts to Florida to see if the Panthers lose one of the remaining two games to allow the Flyers to lock up a playoff spot.
Here are the Flyers playoff scenarios entering Saturday's games and the other games around the NHL that are of interest to the Flyers.
It's a busy day in the NHL to begin with, as 30 of the 31 teams will be in action -- 28 of them playing in the final game of the regular season. The Flyers and Rangers kick off the action for the day with a 3 p.m. nationally televised game. So the Flyers could already know their fate before any other game starts, simply be either getting to overtime or winning the game.
Should the Flyers win the game in regulation or overtime, they would move into a tie with Columbus and one point ahead of New Jersey at the time. New Jersey faces Washington at 7 p.m. Columbus faces Nashville at 8 p.m.
The result of both games would be crucial to seeding. Here's why:
- If the Flyers win in regulation or overtime and one of New Jersey or Columbus loses, the Flyers would move into the first wildcard spot and face Washington.
- If the Flyers win in regulation or overtime and both New Jersey and Columbus lose, the Flyers would move into third place in the Metropolitan Division and face Pittsburgh.
- If the Flyers win in regulation or overtime and both New Jersey and Columbus win, the Flyers would face the Atlantic Division winner, either Boston or Tampa Bay.
The Flyers, Devils and Blue Jackets all currently sit at 39 wins in regulation or overtime. As long as the Flyers win in regulation or overtime, they would move to 40 and any form of a loss from New Jersey and Columbus would give the Flyers the primary tiebreaker.
Of course, there are also the possibilities if the Flyers lose the game. If the Flyers lose in overtime or a shootout, that at least locks up the playoff spot to take away any possibility of Florida changing the standings. At that point, the Flyers would need a Devils loss in regulation to change positions in the standings. The Flyers would no longer hold the tiebreaker with Columbus and could finish no higher than the first wildcard spot.
There is also the wildly improbable possibility that the Flyers and Florida could end up tied in points, regulation and overtime wins, head-to-head and goal differential, thus forcing a one-game playoff for the final spot.
Ultimately, the Flyers first responsibility is clinching a playoff spot, and they can do themselves some even bigger favors if they win the game instead of just getting the single point required to clinch, because it would put some added pressure on the other teams in the standings to win that night.
There's certainly a lot to be watching for on the season's final day. For the Flyers, they need to handle the task at hand and then sit back and wait and see what happens next and who they will be playing should the playoffs be locked up.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.