With just 12 games left in the regular season and the Flyers steamrolling their competition, making the playoffs has gone from an early-season dream to a formality.
According to SportsClubStats.com, following Saturday’s impressive 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, the Flyers have a 96.8% chance of making the playoffs. Barring a total collapse, they are in.
Now comes the match ups.
Forget the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, as both clubs are almost locked into facing wild card teams. Thanks to the Flyers’ recent berserker run in their last 10 games, they have all but secured a favorable playoff position as top-3 in the Metropolitan Division. And that means one thing:
Say hello to an elimination date with Dan Carcillo and the rival New York Rangers.
Even if the Flyers play around .500 hockey from now until April 13, they have over a 65% chance to take on the Rangers in the first round. Since neither the Flyers or Rangers will be catching the Penguins -- and with the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils unlikely to gain enough ground to unseat anyone for a division spot, Flyers-Rangers series seems destined to happen.
It also makes the rest of the regular season a battle for home-ice advantage.
The Flyers have a limited chance to face the Capitals, who are currently three points behind the Rangers in the division. But with the same amount of games played and losing the ROW tiebreaker to the Rangers, SportsClubStats.com gives the Caps a 57% chance to face the Flyers only if they go an impossible 10-0-0 to finish the year.
Now, if the Flyers tank the final 12 games of the season, things could get messy. Though the Rangers are the heavy favorite to face the Flyers, the chance Craig Berube’s club takes on the Boston Bruins grows with every loss. If the Flyers go 3-7-2 to finish the year, their chance to face the Bruins jump to 30%.
Like the Bruins, the Penguins have nearly sealed facing a wild card team in the opening series. So the Flyers would need to fall under the Caps or Devils for a shot to take on their cross-town rival. But with the Devils unlikely to close 5 wins on the Metro Division and with four points and two games in hand over the Caps, the Flyers are almost locked into avoiding a wild card slot.
The Flyers haven’t faced the Rangers in the post-season since the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals, when Rod Brind’Amour and Eric Lindros led the Flyers over the Rangers, four games to one. The Flyers lead the season series, 2-1-0, with the finale coming on March 26 in New York.
UPDATE: Along with the Capitals, the Columbus Blue Jackets also could become an opponent for the Flyers, should the Sergei Bobrovsky's team catch the Rangers. But according to the numbers, the Blue Jackets only have a 21% chance of doing so. Four points behind the Rangers and with just one game in hand, things aren't as rosy for the Blue Jackets as they once were. After losing two in a row and three of their last four games, the Blue Jackets have a 53.9% chance of making the playoffs.