There is the reality.
There is the math.
And then, there is hope.
The reality is that the Flyers, right now, won’t make the playoffs. That’s backed up by the current math.
The hope, however, is that Peter Laviolette’s club can turn things around in its final two months. That’s backed up by attitude.
“We looked at it,” said one club source prior to Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Buffalo. “We need to win 16 of the final 22 games and we’re in.”
Most years, it takes 90 to 92 points to get into the playoffs. The 48-game, lockout-shortened season is actually more than ½ of a normal season. So, the math changes a bit. In other words, a team needs more than 46 points.
The easiest way to look at it is this: The Flyers have 25 points in 27 games. They are averaging less than a point a game.
The eighth seed right now, the Rangers, are averaging 1.16 points a game. They should finish with 56 points if their average carries all the way through.
If the Flyers win 16 games, that’s 32 points, giving them 57 overall. That should get them in.
It’s asking them, however, to greatly increase their point production over what they’ve been averaging.
It's not impossible, but given the team’s continual inconsistency, it’s anything but a certainty.
“I think there’s got to be a realization of where we’re at and with that if you look at it there has to be desperation and urgency for the game to be played,” Laviolette said after Sunday’s win over Buffalo. “You don’t go into a game trying to take it lightly or trying to play it poorly and you know there is no excuse for [Saturday in Boston], it was not a good effort for us.
“The important thing was the response today to come back out and play a strong game, a physical game, and get a good hard-fought win from a team that was waiting for us in our building. So I give the guys a tremendous amount of credit because they did what they had to do today in order to take a step. We’re not out of the hold but we took a step and now we need to take more steps and continue down the road that you’re talking about.”
They beat the Sabres. That’s win No. 1. Fifteen more to go, and it starts with two games this week against the New Jersey Devils, who have not been an easy mark for the Flyers since last spring.
“It’s do or die every night,” Scott Hartnell said. “There are 20-something games left, and you look at the scoreboard, Rangers were winning and Montreal was winning. Everyone that is ahead of us is winning. We have to keep tabs on them and [Sunday] was a big effort. Looking ahead to this week, we have the Devils twice. You think last week was big. This week is huge.”
Every team ahead of the Flyers in the standings has at least a game in hand on them, as well. Another factor that works against them but can be overcome.
“Our playoff lives are on the line right now and it’s going to take a lot to climb back in it,” said Brayden Schenn. “We believe in this room that we can. And we still have a lot of hockey to be played.
“The schedule is not that hard in the next two weeks so it’s good time for practice time, a little bit of rest and some games mixed in there as well. So, it’s going to help us. And we need to climb back in and can’t take a game off.”
As Al Davis used to say, “Just win, baby!”
There is the reality.