Resetting the Eastern wild-card race
March, 24, 2014
By Craig Custance | ESPN Insider
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteThere should be no playoff worries for a red-hot Philadelphia Flyers team.
In a hallway inside the Detroit Red Wings' dressing room is a giant white board with the complete NHL standings. The win, loss and point totals for the Red Wings are written in red marker, the rest of the league in black, with a giant red line marking the dividing point between the playoff teams and everybody else.
Following a game in which the decimated Red Wings earned another point, this one a Sunday evening overtime loss to the Wild, the standings were updated immediately. And there was an audience.
David Legwand stopped by to chat a little about the Maple Leafs' schedule ahead. Tomas Tatar checked the standings, asking a quick question about Montreal. Danny DeKeyser paused to take in the latest changes -- changes that seem to vary wildly by the night.
Teams like the Flyers, Rangers and Red Wings are surging. Toronto is in a free fall, while the Capitals and Blue Jackets are doing just enough to stay in the thick of the conversation.
It’s impossible not to get caught up in such a compelling race.
“[We’re] obviously checking it but at the same time you want to focus. Your game is coming up, you don’t want to get distracted by it,” said Tatar, when asked how quickly he checked the Maple Leafs' score following his team’s 4-3 overtime loss. “It doesn’t really matter how they play, we know what we have to do to be there. You feel way better when you’re catching and getting ahead of teams but it will figure out itself if we just keep winning and getting points.”
Which takes us to the Next Question: Which Eastern Conference bubble team has the friendliest path this week to earn critical points?
Philadelphia Flyers (83 points, 12 games remaining, No. 2 in Metropolitan)
SportsClubStats (the source for these playoff percentages) gives the surging Flyers a 97.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, so perhaps they’re not a bubble team. Even if the bottom falls out and Philadelphia finishes 2-6-4, that percentage drops to 80.5 percent, so there’s plenty of wiggle room for a team that may not need it with the way it's playing right now.