NHL playoff picture: Breaking down Flyers’ grim chances

John Boruk
NBC Sports Philadelphia

NHL playoff picture: Breaking down Flyers grim chances originally appeared on nbcsportsphiladelphia.com

It was a game the Flyers absolutely needed to have. With the Canadiens directly above them in the standings, the Flyers missed out on a golden opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who occupy the second wild card spot in the standings.    

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A week ago, the Flyers trailed the Blue Jackets by just three points in the standings. Now the margin is six back with nine games remaining for both teams. However, by not holding the tiebreaker of regulation/overtime wins, the Flyers actually need to make up seven points in the standings.

Wild-card standings

Carolina      40-25-7 - 87 points, 10 GR, 38 ROW
Columbus   40-29-4 - 84 points, 9 GR, 39 ROW
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Montreal     38-28-7 - 83 points, 9 GR, 35 ROW
Flyers          34-29-8 - 78 points, 9 GR, 32 ROW



Tuesday's Games

PHI - L 3-1 vs. Montreal
CAR - W 3-2 (SO) vs. Pittsburgh
CBJ - L 4-2 at Calgary

• The Flyers scored less than two goals for the first time since Feb. 21 against the same Canadiens in Montreal. Right now, those two regulation losses against the Habs are the difference in the standings and being just two points out of the wild card.

• Former Flyer Justin Williams scored the game-tying goal with 1:56 remaining in regulation and defenseman Dougie Hamilton connected in the shootout as the Hurricanes move closer to ending the NHL's longest playoff drought.
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• South Jersey's Johnny Gaudreau scored his 35th goal of the season as the Blue Jackets began their three-game Western Canada road trip.

What are the odds? 

According to Sports Club Stats, the Flyers' playoff odds dipped below one percent to 0.7, down from 2.6 percent after their thrilling overtime win in Pittsburgh.

The website Money Puck has the Flyers' odds at the same. However, they've increased their chances of winning the NHL Draft Lottery at 2.3 percent. 

What lies ahead? 

All four teams listed above return to action on Thursday.

The Flyers travel to Chicago to face the Blackhawks, who had won five straight before a 3-2 loss to Vancouver Monday night.  

The Canadiens host the New York Islanders, while the Blue Jackets travel north to face the Edmonton Oilers.

Carolina takes on Tampa Bay. The Lightning just clinched the President's Trophy with the best record in the regular season.

Strength of schedule

According to PlayoffStatus.com, the Flyers' schedule gets a little easier with games against the Maple Leafs and Penguins behind them. The Flyers now have the 10th-toughest schedule down the stretch with seven of their nine games against teams with better records.

• Blue Jackets - 9th
• Canadiens - 13th
• Hurricanes - 21st

Columbus still has a ton of miles to log with six of their remaining nine games on the road. Montreal has an extremely tough closing schedule as they play their last four games at Winnipeg, vs. Tampa Bay, at Washington and the finale against Toronto.   

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