I’m not a fan of game previews, but it’s worth noting today that the Flyers start the playoffs tonight. They play the Red Wings, whom they trail by three points – with two games in-hand! – in the Wild Card standings. The Penguins lead both teams, with a total of 80 points. Looks like this:
The Hurricanes, Devils and Senators are all IN THE MIX, too, but they trail the Flyers and have played more games. It’s essentially down to three teams for two spots, and mostly between the Flyers and Red Wings for the final spot. The playoff chances* break down like this, using HockeyViz.com:
*Of course the Penguins’ chances are at 87%– just like that no-talent ass clown Sidney Crosby.
As you can see, the Penguins are a near-lock for one of the two Wild Card spots, and it’s basically a toss-up between the Flyers and Red Wings for the other one. A win tonight will go a long way in giving one team the edge over the other.[UPDATE: I may have overstated the Penguins’ chances. Was basing it on probability, but not factoring in Malkin being out 6-8 weeks. Though I don’t think that hurts them as much as it sounds like it does.]
The Flyers have five games remaining, including tonight, against the Red Wings and Penguins– two against the Red Wings, three against the Penguins. They could use all the outright victories they can get, too. Their ROW – wins in regulation or overtime, the main tiebreaker – is 30, compared to 32 and 34 for the Red Wings and Penguins, respectively.
SportsClubsStats.com uses a slightly different calculation and puts the Flyers’ playoff chances at essentially 50%. But the fact remains: their game tonight against the Red Wings is huuuuuuuuuge. An outright win swings things massively in the Flyers’ favor, but if the Red Wings can get two points in any fashion – win, OT win, shootout win – their chances, given their better ROW, jump significantly. Look:
Flyers overtime win
Flyers shootout win
Red Wings win
Red Wings overtime win
Red Wings shootout win
Still, one thing not considered here is MOMENTUM. The Flyers have it. They’re playing their best hockey of the year, will soon get Jakub Voracek back (though I’m always wary when a top player returns), and they’re 7-2-1 in their last 10. The Red Wings are only 5-4-1. In terms of playoff chances, look at these two lines about to make a favorable convergence [Flyers– purple, Red Wings– green]:
Even over the last week those lines have converged [red and orange]:
In just a few weeks the Red Wings’ playoff chances have gone from roughly 90% to almost 50-50. The Flyers have jumped from 20% to 50%. A win tonight and these sticks cross in the most delightful way possible. Let’s cross the sticks.