Breaking Down Flyers’ Path Through the Playoffs

16 wins is all it takes to win a Stanley Cup. Even with the Flyers playing the three-game round-robin tournament, they still only really need 16 wins. The order of those wins are set to vary depending on their performance in the round-robin tournament. Due to reseeding, the Flyers could face just about anyone as the playoffs roll along. The higher the seed, the easier it may be in the beginning. With any playoff however, it gets more difficult the later the round.

It’s time to break down the potential matchups for the Flyers, based on which seed they earn through the round-robin tournament. We’re going to discuss who the Flyers will face throughout a mock-playoff while their seeds differ from one to four. First, let’s lay down the framework for these hypothetical scenarios.

The Play-In Series’

During the round-robin, there will be play-in series’ between the five through 12 seeds to determine who advances to the “real” playoffs. Here are those matchups:

  • (5) Pittsburgh Penguins v. (12) Montreal Canadiens
  • (6) Carolina Hurricanes v. (11) New York Rangers
  • (7) New York Islanders v. (10) Florida Panthers
  • (8) Toronto Maple Leafs v. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets

For the sake of this piece, we will be operating under these projections, no matter which seed the Flyers end up with:

  • (5) PIT defeats (12) MTL
  • (11) NYR defeats (6) CAR
  • (7) NYI defeats (10) FLA
  • (8) TOR defeats (9) CBJ

Call it a hunch or an educated guess, but these seem like the most likely scenarios for the play-in round. Now without further ado, we take a look at the scenarios the Flyers could find themselves in come playoff time.

Flyers Nab the One Seed

If the Flyers somehow manage to take the one seed from the Boston Bruins, they set themselves up for a somewhat favorable matchup in the first round, in terms of seeding at least. They would draw the 11 seed New York Rangers. This would in exchange pit Boston against Toronto, Tampa Bay against the Isles, and Washington against Pittsburgh in the first round.

With Boston and Tampa likely taking care of business in their respective series’, the Flyers would look to take on the winner of the WSH/PIT series. Let’s say Pittsburgh rides their usual wave of momentum through the first round and into a second round matchup with the Flyers. It’s a winnable round for the Flyers, but very difficult as well.

With Boston likely defeating Tampa in the same round, it sets the stage for a Flyers/Bruins showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Path to the Cup: New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins

Flyers Move Up to the Two Seed

If the Flyers move up to the two seed, they likely face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Boston, at the one seed, would take on the Rangers while the Bolts face the Islanders and Capitals face the Penguins, again.

With Boston, Pittsburgh, and Tampa moving on, the Flyers end up taking on the Lightning in the second round, while Boston squares off against the Penguins. The Lightning pose the biggest threat to the Flyers out of all the teams involved in the playoffs. Philadelphia has had a lot of trouble with Tampa Bay as of late, and a playoff series could be the perfect time for them to pull a 180 and shake that stigma.

So the Flyers battle past the Bolts, while the Bruins handle their business against the Penguins. Again, we’re looking down the barrel of a Bruins/Flyers matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Path to the Cup: Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins

Flyers Climb to the Three Seed

With the Flyers nabbing the three seed from the Washington Capitals, they would face off against the New York Islanders in the first round. Boston would draw the Rags, Tampa the Maple Leafs, and Washington the Pens. The Flyers have struggled recently against New York, but not as much as they have against the Lightning. Still, the series shouldn’t be taken lightly. If it isn’t the Flyers should advance, as well as Boston, Tampa, and Pittsburgh.

Circumstances permitting, the Flyers would then face the Lightning in the second round, with Boston taking on Pittsburgh. Much like the previous scenario, just with the seeds being flipped for Tampa and Philadelphia.

There isn’t much of a difference between the Flyers nabbing the second or third seed in the playoffs. They would end up facing the same teams, substituting their first round matchups of the Islanders and Maple Leafs.

Path to the Cup: New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins

Flyers Stand Pat w/ the Four Seed

If the Flyers end up remaining in the four seed, their first round matchup is as good as it gets. They would take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Boston takes on the New York Rangers, Tampa the Maple Leafs, and Washington the New York Islanders.

The second round would give the Flyers a matchup with the top team in the playoffs, the Boston Bruins. The Flyers and Bruins have a rich history in the playoffs, and if this series is indicative of that history, it’s going to be damn good. The other matchup would be the Capitals against the Lightning.

The Eastern Conference Finals could shape up to be a Flyers/Lightning showdown. This would give the Flyers the hardest road to the cup considering their opponents.

Road to the Cup: Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Verdict

If the Flyers remain in the four seed, it proves to be the hardest route to the Stanley Cup. With potential series’ against Pittsburgh, Boston, and Tampa, the Flyers would be running the gauntlet before even getting to the Stanley Cup Finals. It seems obvious considering it’s the last of the top four seeds, but it also goes to show the quality of those four teams.

The easiest route, and by no means is it actually easy, to the Stanley Cup Finals lies in the Flyers achieving the first seed (duh.) With matchups against the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Boston Bruins, it’s still difficult, but not as difficult as being the four seed.

The biggest factor here is whether the Flyers face Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay has been kryptonite for the Flyers as of late, and surely the Flyers want to avoid a series with the Bolts at all costs.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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