Through 44 games, the Philadelphia Flyers boast a record of 20-16-8 and are currently tied for sixth in the Metropolitan division with 48 points. They’re just behind the New Jersey Devils, 51 points, the Pittsburgh Penguins, 49 points, are currently tied with the Carolina Hurricanes and have a comfortable 10-point margin over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The three Metropolitan division playoff teams, as the standings currently indicate, are the Washington Capitals, the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.
In the Wild Card race, the Boston Bruins (53 points) and the New Jersey Devils (51 points) are just ahead of Philadelphia. With 38 games remaining, the Philadelphia Flyers have plenty of times to contend for a playoff spot, but it has to start now.
The Flyers are four games into what might be their most crucial ten game stretch of the season. In their last four games, the Flyers have taken home five points, which puts them on pace to make the playoffs instead of being deadline sellers.
NHL Playoff History Since Realignment
Prior to the 2013-14 season, the NHL had a vastly different playoff structure. It boasted three conferences and a total of eight teams made the playoffs. While the current format continues to bring eight teams into the Stanley Cup chase, it only has two divisions.
The top three teams within each division automatically qualify for a playoff position. Then the next top two teams from both divisions combined battle for the two Wild card spots.Two years is not a brief sample size, but it gives an idea of how many points the Flyers will need to simply make the playoffs. Their current rate puts them on pace for 89.45 points. This means rookie head coach Dave Hakstol and General manager Ron Hextall would have improved the team from last season’s 84 point performance.
In the month of January, the Flyers have been a very good team. They have played eight games and walked away with 11 points, that rate puts them on pace for a 112.75 point season. Is this just a brief flash of brilliance or is this team finally turning a corner with Hextall’s crafty moves and one of the best goaltending tandems in the entire NHL.
In the past two seasons in the current playoff structure, wild card teams have averaged 95.75 points to secure a berth.
While the Flyers overall rate would not net them a playoff spot, their play within this month would. Considering how tight the playoff race becomes at the end of the season, especially this season, the Flyers need to continue chalking up wins now. At this point in the season, wins come much easier than at the end of the year. Teams aren’t desperate yet, their players aren’t fighting through injuries and some aren’t worrying about their next contract yet.
One website Sports Club Stats currently gives the Flyers a 20.7% chance of making the playoffs. While another site called Hockey-Reference gives them a 30.3% chance of making the postseason. And Playoff Status gives them a 35% chance of making the playoffs.
The point is that no one is sure about this team, against quality opponents this team excels, but against poor opponents they struggle to play their game.
In the month of January, the Flyers have taken at least a point in a all but two games. How will the Philadelphia Flyers end their season? It’s entirely up to them, but if they keep up their high level of play there is a chance they find themselves in the playoff hunt, instead of trading players at the deadline.
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Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers