Saturday, April 5, 2008

Flyers first round opponent yet to be decided

After yesterday's win, the Flyers know they will be in the playoffs, but on the eve of their final game against the Penguins, they still don't know who they will be playing in the first round. The Flyers can finish in either the 6th or 8th seed, so they have two possible playoff opponents: Pittsburgh or Washington. Here are the standings as of Saturday evening:

OT Pts
1 y - Montréal Canadiens* 82 47 25
10 104
2 y - Pittsburgh Penguins* 81 47 26
8 102
3 y - Washington Capitals* 82 43 31
8 94
4 x - New Jersey Devils 81 45 29
7 97
5 x - New York Rangers 81 42 27
12 96
6 x - Ottawa Senators 82 43 31
8 94
7 x - Boston Bruins 82 41 29
12 94
8 x - Philadelphia Flyers 81 41 29
11 93

The Flyers remain in the 8th seed, but thanks to a loss by the Boston Bruins today, they can jump all the way to the 6th seed with a win against the Penguins tomorrow. Earning the 6th seed means they would play the Washington Capitals, a dangerous team, but one that would end up with fewer points than Philly.

If the Flyers lose tomorrow, they would remain in the 8th seed and would play the Penguins in the first round. The Penguins are currently in the 2nd seed, but if they defeat the Flyers they move to the top of the Conference.

It the Flyers tie but lose in overtime tomorrow, the would still play the Penguins. A tie would keep the Flyers in the 8th seed as both Boston and Ottawa have tie-breaker advantages over them. Pittsburgh would still jump past the Canadiens to the top of the East because they would earn two points if they beat the Flyers.

It all sounds complicated, but basically this is how it breaks down:
  • Flyers win tomorrow, they play Washington
  • Flyers lose tomorrow, they play Pittsburgh
So which of these scenarios do the Flyers want? The Capitals would be the easier opponent, although Alexander Ovechkin makes them dangerous. The Penguins are familiar, although they have been dominant over the Flyers lately. They have a ton of weapons, and put out two dominant offensive lines. Philly knows that they can beat Pittsburgh, because they handled them earlier in the year.

The Flyers look like they have avoided their toughest possible first round opponent, Montreal. The Canadiens beat them all four times this year, outscoring them 15-6. The Bruins will face the Canadiens regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's game.

The Flyers hold the key tomorrow, and with both Philly and Pittsburgh playing for something, it should be a great game, just like Friday's game against the Devils. The playoffs have basically already started for the Flyers, who can make things easier for themselves if they can pull out a win tomorrow.

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