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NHL playoff watch: Predictions for the Flyers’ finish this season

The Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2023-24 NHL season. In the preseason, the front office attempted to be realistic with the fans regarding the ongoing rebuild and how this might not be the season for a playoff return. But then the team kept piling on win after win, something that wasn't a shock to the players on the ice.

Philly did a fair bit of dealing ahead of the March 8 trade deadline, but it remains in a playoff spot heading into Thursday night's matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+/Hulu). What should fans expect from here on out? Let's project a bit.

The Flyers are currently in the No. 3 spot in the Metro Division; they're two points ahead of the first wild card, the Tampa Bay Lightning, but one regulation win behind (and the Lightning have a game in hand). They are four points and five regulation wins ahead of the New York Islanders, who currently sit in the second wild-card spot but are also aiming for the Flyers' position in the Metro. New York has two games in hand on Philly.

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Overall, the Flyers have a 77.1% chance of earning a playoff bid of some variety, per Stathletes. If they remain the No. 3 seed in the Metro, it's becoming increasingly likely that this will result in a first-round matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes; the Canes are six points and two regulation wins behind the New York Rangers. The Flyers have lost both of their home games to the Canes this season, but they won the game in Raleigh, with one more game there remaining (March 21).

Should the Flyers slip back to a wild-card spot, a matchup against the Rangers would not be the preferred route: they've lost both contests to the Blueshirts (with two remaining, March 26 and April 11). On the other hand, if they draw the Florida Panthers, they might have a puncher's chance: the Flyers have won both matchups thus far against them (with one game remaining, March 24).

Nevertheless, Stathletes does not necessarily foresee a long playoff run: the Flyers are projected with a 27.2% chance of making the second round, 10.7% chance of making the conference finals, 3.9% chance of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, and 1.4% chance of winning it all. Of course, this current Flyers club has ample experience silencing the doubters this season, so perhaps they have more surprises in store.

As we traverse the final stretch of the regular season, it's time to check in on all the playoff races -- along with the teams jockeying for position in the 2024 NHL draft lottery.

Note: Playoff chances are via Stathletes.

Jump ahead:Current playoff matchupsToday's scheduleLast night's scoresExpanded standingsRace for No. 1 pick

Current playoff matchups

Eastern Conference

A1 Florida Panthers vs. WC2 New York IslandersA2 Boston Bruins vs. A3 Toronto Maple LeafsM1 New York Rangers vs. WC1 Tampa Bay LightningM2 Carolina Hurricanes vs. M3 Philadelphia Flyers

Western Conference

C1 Colorado Avalanche vs. WC1 Nashville PredatorsC2 Dallas Stars vs. C3 Winnipeg JetsP1 Vancouver Canucks vs. WC2 Vegas Golden KnightsP2 Edmonton Oilers vs. P3 Los Angeles Kings

Thursday's games

Note: All times ET. All games not on TNT or NHL Network are available via NHL Power Play, which is included in an ESPN+ subscription (local blackout restrictions apply).

New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.Arizona Coyotes at Detroit Red Wings, 7 p.m.New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.Ottawa Senators at Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+/Hulu)New Jersey Devils at Dallas Stars, 8 p.m.Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m.Vegas Golden Knights at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m.Washington Capitals at Seattle Kraken, 10 p.m.

Wednesday's scoreboard

St. Louis Blues 3, Los Angeles Kings 1Nashville Predators 4, Winnipeg Jets 2Edmonton Oilers 7, Washington Capitals 2Colorado Avalanche 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT)

Expanded standings

Atlantic Division

Points: 94Regulation wins: 37Playoff position: A1Games left: 16Points pace: 117Next game: @ CAR (Thursday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 91Regulation wins: 30Playoff position: A2Games left: 15Points pace: 111Next game: @ MTL (Thursday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 82Regulation wins: 25Playoff position: A3Games left: 18Points pace: 105Next game: @ PHI (Thursday)Playoff chances: 99.7%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 74Regulation wins: 27Playoff position: WC1Games left: 17Points pace: 93Next game: vs. NYR (Thursday)Playoff chances: 89.3%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 72Regulation wins: 23Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 91Next game: vs. ARI (Thursday)Playoff chances: 19.2%Tragic number: 34

Points: 67Regulation wins: 25Playoff position: N/AGames left: 16Points pace: 83Next game: vs. NYI (Thursday)Playoff chances: 5.4%Tragic number: 27

Points: 60Regulation wins: 15Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 76Next game: vs. BOS (Thursday)Playoff chances: ~0%Tragic number: 22

Points: 56Regulation wins: 19Playoff position: N/AGames left: 19Points pace: 73Next game: @ CBJ (Thursday)Playoff chances: ~0%Tragic number: 22

Metropolitan Division

Points: 90Regulation wins: 35Playoff position: M1Games left: 17Points pace: 114Next game: @ TB (Thursday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 84Regulation wins: 33Playoff position: M2Games left: 17Points pace: 106Next game: vs. FLA (Thursday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 76Regulation wins: 26Playoff position: M3Games left: 16Points pace: 94Next game: vs. TOR (Thursday)Playoff chances: 77.1%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 72Regulation wins: 21Playoff position: WC2Games left: 18Points pace: 92Next game: @ BUF (Thursday)Playoff chances: 72.4%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 69Regulation wins: 24Playoff position: N/AGames left: 18Points pace: 88Next game: @ SEA (Thursday)Playoff chances: 28.0%Tragic number: 33

Points: 66Regulation wins: 26Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 83Next game: @ DAL (Thursday)Playoff chances: 5.3%Tragic number: 28

Points: 65Regulation wins: 23Playoff position: N/AGames left: 18Points pace: 83Next game: vs. SJ (Thursday)Playoff chances: 3.6%Tragic number: 29

Points: 54Regulation wins: 17Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 68Next game: vs. OTT (Thursday)Playoff chances: ~0%Tragic number: 16

Central Division

Points: 89Regulation wins: 36Playoff position: C1Games left: 15Points pace: 109Next game: @ EDM (Saturday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 89Regulation wins: 29Playoff position: C2Games left: 15Points pace: 109Next game: vs. NJ (Thursday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 87Regulation wins: 36Playoff position: C3Games left: 17Points pace: 110Next game: vs. ANA (Friday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 80Regulation wins: 31Playoff position: WC1Games left: 15Points pace: 98Next game: @ SEA (Saturday)Playoff chances: 85.6%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 71Regulation wins: 26Playoff position: N/AGames left: 16Points pace: 88Next game: vs. MIN (Saturday)Playoff chances: 1.2%Tragic number: 26

Points: 71Regulation wins: 25Playoff position: N/AGames left: 16Points pace: 88Next game: vs. ANA (Thursday)Playoff chances: 21.6%Tragic number: 26

Points: 57Regulation wins: 21Playoff position: N/AGames left: 16Points pace: 71Next game: @ NYI (Thursday)Playoff chances: ~0%Tragic number: 12

Points: 39Regulation wins: 12Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 49Next game: vs. LA (Friday)Playoff chances: 0%Tragic number: E

Pacific Division

Points: 92Regulation wins: 36Playoff position: P1Games left: 15Points pace: 113Next game: vs. WSH (Saturday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 83Regulation wins: 32Playoff position: P2Games left: 18Points pace: 106Next game: vs. COL (Saturday)Playoff chances: 99.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77Regulation wins: 28Playoff position: P3Games left: 17Points pace: 97Next game: @ CHI (Friday)Playoff chances: 90.9%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 77Regulation wins: 27Playoff position: WC2Games left: 17Points pace: 97Next game: @ CGY (Thursday)Playoff chances: 88.5%Tragic number: N/A

Points: 68Regulation wins: 22Playoff position: N/AGames left: 18Points pace: 87Next game: vs. WSH (Thursday)Playoff chances: 11.2%Tragic number: 27

Points: 67Regulation wins: 26Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 85Next game: vs. VGK (Thursday)Playoff chances: 1.0%Tragic number: 24

Points: 49Regulation wins: 17Playoff position: N/AGames left: 17Points pace: 62Next game: @ MIN (Thursday)Playoff chances: ~0%Tragic number: 6

Points: 39Regulation wins: 12Playoff position: N/AGames left: 18Points pace: 50Next game: @ PIT (Thursday)Playoff chances: 0%Tragic number: E

P -- Clinched Presidents' Trophy; Y -- Clinched division; X -- Clinched playoff berth; E -- Eliminated from playoff contention

Race for the No. 1 pick

The NHL uses a draft lottery to determine the order of the first round, so the team that finishes in last place is not guaranteed the No. 1 selection. As of 2021, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots if it wins the lottery, so only 11 teams are eligible for the draw for the No. 1 pick. Full details on the process can be found here. Sitting No. 1 on the draft board for this summer is Macklin Celebrini, a freshman at Boston University.

Points: 39Regulation wins: 12

Points: 41Regulation wins: 13

Points: 49Regulation wins: 17

Points: 54Regulation wins: 17

Points: 56Regulation wins: 19

Points: 57Regulation wins: 21

Points: 60Regulation wins: 15

Points: 65Regulation wins: 23

Points: 66Regulation wins: 26

Points: 67Regulation wins: 25

Points: 67Regulation wins: 26

Points: 68Regulation wins: 22

Points: 69Regulation wins: 24

Points: 71Regulation wins: 25

Points: 71Regulation wins: 26

Points: 72Regulation wins: 23

* The Penguins' first-round pick was traded to the Sharks as part of the Erik Karlsson trade. However, it is top-10 protected.

    

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