Thursday, April 3, 2008

Capitals win pushes Flyers further from the playoffs

If the season were to end today, the Flyers would not be a playoff participant. The Washington Capitals defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 to move past the Flyers and into the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers find themselves one point behind the Capitals, although they do have a game in hand. To make matters worse, a team the Flyers had a chance of catching, the Ottawa Senators, destroyed the Maple Leafs 8-2 to put themselves just out of reach, three points ahead of the Flyers. Here are the standings as of April 3rd:

6 Ottawa Senators 81 43 30
8 94

7 Boston Bruins 80 40 28
12 92

8 Washington Capitals 81 42 31
8 92

9 Philadelphia Flyers 80 40 29
11 91

The Flyers find themselves in a tough, but not hopeless, situation. They have two games remaining, and there are still several scenarios that would allow them to make the playoffs. The easiest would simply be if they won both of their remaining games against the Devils and the Penguins. Easier said than done, but winning both games would guarantee a playoff spot. The problems arise if they only win one of the two. If that happens, the Flyers would have to hope that either the Capitals or Bruins slip up in their final games, but neither team has as difficult a schedule as the Flyers:

Boston: Ottawa (Fri), Buffalo (Sat)
Washington: Florida (Sat)
Philadelphia: Devils (Fri), Penguins (Sun)

The Flyers are the only one of these three teams who will play on the last day of the season, Sunday, so it is very possible that everything will ride on that showdown with the Penguins. The Flyers owned the Penguins early in the season, but lately the Pens have had their number.

No matter what happens, it's going to be a fun final few days. The Flyers have a difficult task ahead of them if they want to get to the playoffs, but if they do make it, they will have truly earned it. Either way, the 07/08 Flyers team has been vastly more entertaining than last year's team, and they have plenty of youth and a ton of upside, so the next few years should be even better.

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