Going into Tuesday’s night game, the Flyers stood in 6th place in the division and one point out of a wildcard spot. With the win Tuesday night in Carolina, the Flyers jumped back into a playoff spot and 4th in the division.
The Flyers jumped the Islanders, who were idol, and the Blue Jackets, who lost late in regulation to the Capitals, to regain a playoff spot. This will keep happening a ton over the final quarter of the season until a team or two drops out of contention or secures them-self a playoff spot.
This is why you can’t keep focusing on the standings on a nightly basis. With the season in its final quarter, some teams may play one night and others wont. This leads to the all important games in hand.
However, the Flyers may be that team pulling away. After another win on Thursday against the Canadiens, the Flyers have created a little buffer now on some of the teams below them. Even better, the Flyers hold games in hand on most of the teams chasing them, which could increase that buffer.
At the moment, the Flyers hold a games in hand on the Hurricanes, the Islanders, & the Rangers. All teams that are behind them in the standings. And, they also hold two games in hand on the Penguins, who are above them.
Why does this matter?
Well, when looking at the standings, you have to account for these games. Take a look at the Penguins. The Penguins currently sit 2nd in the Metro Division. However, they have played 2 more games than the Flyers and have played 3 more games than the Devils, the team 2 points behind them.
These games in hand are like extra life’s in a game. Going into the last quarter of the season, you want to have the most life’s in the game so you have the best chance to survive.
This is why the Flyers sit in a great spot. Here’s why.
The Flyers currently have games in hand on the Penguins, Islanders, & Hurricanes. All 3 teams are fighting for their playoff life in one way or another. However, the Flyers, with these games in hand, sit in a perfect position to stabilize themselves in the playoff picture.
To justify this, lets look at the Flyers vs the Hurricanes after Tuesday nights game. A big 2-points for the Flyers.
The Flyers, after Tuesday’s win, sat with 59 points in 53 games played. The Hurricanes, who the Flyers beat, left with 57 points with 54 games played. With the Flyers having played one less game, they have the ability to widen their lead on the Hurricanes from 2-points to 4-points. Essentially, assuming they win the game in hand.
That is what is meant by the extra life reference and why it is so important.
Going down the wire, you want to have the most chances to get points. The way you do that is win. But, the way that gives you a better chance is by playing more games. Which the Flyers will be able to do having games in hand on the teams below them.
However, this sometimes hurts a team too. With the games in hand, it comes with less rest and more game action. Therefore, if a team starts losing, they may not get a break to figure out what is wrong. Kind of like the Flyers from last season.
After winning 10 straight, the Flyers went into a stretch of games that saw them drop from the 2nd spot in the division to out of the playoffs. A result of long trips with not a lot of rest.
So, even with the Flyers sitting in a great spot with extra games to get points in, it may also be a curse.
However, the Flyers are starting to pull away at least from one team, the Rangers. That is one less team to worry about for the playoff push.
Only two spots available for 2 of these 4 teams, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, & Islanders.
Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports