Playoffs…Pretenders or Contenders?

There has been so much talk on podcasts, in the papers, and on Flyers Twitter about the fact that the Flyers aren’t actually that far out of a playoff spot.  People have come to this conclusion because the Flyers are indeed a far better watch this year and aren’t really in the “bottom out for Bedard” sweepstakes.  But the real question is…how close are the Flyers actually?

As I write this it is Valentine’s Day and the Flyers sit seven points out of the second wildcard spot with 54 points on the season.  They are also just six points away from falling to the second worst record in the East with Montreal and Ottawa winning of late.  One of the main points that I rarely hear discussed is the number of games the Flyers have played.

The Flyers have played 55 games this season.  So why is this number so significant? 55 games is tied for the second most games played in the Conference.  Two teams (Islanders and Panthers) have played 56 games.  Only one other team, the Capitals, have played 55 games.  This means that 60% of the Eastern Conference has played fewer games (many of these teams have played at least 2 fewer games).

The two teams that have played 53 games really aren’t of consequence as they are trailing the Flyers in points at the very bottom of the Conference (Montreal and Columbus).  However the Penguins, Sabers, Red Wings, and Senators all have played three fewer games and have plenty of time to rack up points.

Realistically if any of the teams just listed win one of their games that puts the Flyers nine back.  If you add in an OTL to another game in hand (so these teams would go 1-1-1 during those three make up games) the Flyers now fall to 10 points back.  That doesn’t count that every one of these teams still has 27 games left to play on the season after the game in hands are played.

The Flyers would have to win close to 75% of their games moving forward to really make up the ground that needs to be made up as a playoff team.  Is that possible? Maybe, but we can be honest that it isn’t likely.  Any team that sits 11 games under the .500 mark (the real record is 22-33) isn’t really a playoff team. That means that a team with an overall actual winning percentage of .400 would need to overnight become a team with a .750 winning percentage.

The biggest fear I have with the Flyers is that Torts convinces ownership that they can compete and aren’t really that far off this season because of the double digit sympathy points the NHL gives out for still losing in over time.  The Flyers need to sell players, get the youth up for the rest of the season, and for everything that is good…please realize you aren’t a playoff team this year.

Josh Shuster (@flyguyjosh91)

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