By Harry Allison
A week ago the Flyers looked like a shoo-in to make the NHL playoffs.
Not so much.
There are numerous clinching and elimination scenarios, and for the Flyers, their inclusion in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs as an Eastern Conference wild card team may come down to winning both games this weekend.
Win both of those and they would reach 96 points.
The highest point total both the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins — the only other teams that haven’t clinched a post-season berth — can achieve is 95. Both of those teams have one game remaining on their respective schedules, and they’ll close those out during a busy Saturday around the NHL.
The Bruins host the Ottawa Senators. The Red Wings are on the road versus Antti Raanta, instead of Henrik Lundqvist, and the New York Rangers.
The Flyers have lost three straight, with one of a possible six points in that time. Those losses have come against the rival Penguins, a Red Wings team still looking to lock up its 25th straight playoff appearance, and the Maple Leafs, who have been in the running for Auston Matthews for months now.
The Flyers host the Penguins today. In their last meeting, Pittsburgh crushed Philly by four goals, which started this inopportune downturn for the Flyers.
By the time the Flyers hit the ice tomorrow versus the Penguins, the results could start rolling in from Boston and New York. If the Bruins and Red Wings are victorious, Philly would need a win versus red-hot Pittsburgh plus another win Sunday against the New York Islanders in their finale.
But if either the Red Wings or Bruins lose in regulation, the Flyers can clinch with a win.
The Flyers would be eliminated from playoff contention if they lose in regulation, and the Bruins and Red Wings both earn at least a single point in their respective games, or if the Flyers lose in overtime or the shootout and the Red Wings and Bruins both win in any fashion.
Will the Flyers have a playoff spot locked up before Sunday? Will they be eliminated by then? Or will their post-season fate rest on Game 82?