NHL odds: If Flyers and Penguins played in 2020 playoffs, who would win?

NHL odds: If Flyers and Penguins played in 2020 playoffs, who would win?

Another day without hockey gives many an opportunity to think about the hypotheticals, the what-ifs and more importantly, the playoffs. 

Jeff Sherman from the Westgate SuperBook tweeted out the odds for the first round of the postseason if the league was to return and go straight into the playoffs: 

According to the standings, the Flyers would be facing the Penguins in the first round and have the most even series, as both teams come in at (-110), indicating there is no favorite. 

Before the NHL season came to a stop, the two teams faced each other only three out of the four scheduled meetings — the Flyers going 1-1-1 — and the games couldn’t have been any more different. 

The first meeting is one that the Flyers would want to forget, getting blown out in a 7-1 loss. Since that meeting on Oct. 29, the Flyers have had one of the best records in the NHL. 

Even though both teams on paper seem to have similar chances in this series, based off of where both teams left off, the Flyers have the clear advantage, winning nine of their last 10 games and were just a point out of first place. Whereas the Penguins were coming off of one of their worst stretches in 2019-20, winning just three of their last 10 games. 

It’s always an electric time when the two teams face off against one another in the playoffs. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long before it becomes a reality. 

There’s even the possibility that the regular season could resume at a later date, but all of this is simply up in the air for the time being. Fingers crossed that when things do eventually pick up, regular season or the playoffs, the Flyers will keep the heat that they had when things came to a halt. 

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Despite loss to Bruins, Flyers are still as confident as ever

Despite loss to Bruins, Flyers are still as confident as ever

In the Flyers’ epic shootout victory over the Bruins on Jan. 13, they were largely outplayed for the better part of two periods, until a furious three-goal comeback forced overtime.

We all remember what happened to Brad Marchand in the shootout.

In a role reversal, the Flyers were the better team for the majority of Tuesday’s contest vs. the Bruins, but didn’t yield the same result after a 2-0 loss.

Their win streak was halted at nine games, but they still won the season series over the Bruins, 2-1-0, as each team scored nine goals.

The Flyers still felt they were the better team Tuesday.

Tuukka Rask, who celebrated his 33rd birthday, stopped all 36 shots the Flyers fired his way and helped kill off all three penalties.

“There’s no doubt in this game, he’s one of the reasons why they won the game,” head coach Alain Vigneault said. “For two periods, I thought we were the better team on the ice. We had some real good opportunities to take a lead and couldn’t get anything past him.”

Since Oct. 21, the Flyers are second in the league in points with 84, going 39-18-6. They trail the Bruins, who have 88 points and have compiled a 39-13-10 record.

As the numbers show and the head-to-head meetings between the teams, the game went exactly as planned for the Flyers. They just came up short on the scoreboard.

It was perhaps a look into what the playoffs will look like.

“I liked our game. I’d rather win, but we just went on a heck of a run,” Matt Niskanen said. “We played pretty good hockey tonight. You can see how tight it’s going to be when we play nothing but good teams in about a month. That’s a good test for us.”

If the Flyers finish in second place in the Metro, they’ll likely play the Penguins in the first round. If they win the division, they’ll play one of the wild-card teams. Either way, they would get home-ice advantage in the first round. 

The Flyers wouldn’t see the Bruins until the Eastern Conference Final, but it seems as if they stack up pretty well against them should each team advance.

“[We’re] two tight-checking hockey teams,” Scott Laughton said. “We’re four lines deep and they’re four lines deep. We both play a pretty heavy game.”

Perhaps the Flyers’ next game at Tampa Bay will be a true test of how far they’ve come. They haven’t lost back-to-back games since Jan. 4-7, a span of 26 games. 

It seems like the Flyers are ready to accept this next challenge and start a new streak.

“I think we’ve grown a little bit between the ears,” Niskanen said. “I think we’re tougher now and a little bit more confident in how we play and how we want to play and our abilities. Just recognize that we played a pretty good game, we didn’t win and get ready for the next one.”

Niskanen, who won the Stanely Cup with the Capitals in 2018, might know a thing or two about championship DNA.

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Debating the NHL playoff format as Flyers fight for spot in crowded standings

Debating the NHL playoff format as Flyers fight for spot in crowded standings

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Debating the NHL playoff format as the Flyers fight for a spot in a crowded standings.

Destra

No matter which way you look at it, there’s always going to be some sort of divide when it comes to opinions on a playoff format. And regardless, not one way will ever be deemed as perfect. 

Now, it seems like the current structure isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t flaws within it. 

There was nothing wrong with the old format and it should’ve stayed the same when the number of divisions condensed from six to four prior to the start of the 2013-14 season. The idea of having the best team from each division followed by the six best remaining in the conference — regardless of their division — making the playoffs makes an unbelievable amount of sense.

But since I have absolutely no pull whatsoever, I’ve come to accept the current structure. Maybe this season is just a little more frustrating given the talent in the East and half of the top 10 teams in the league are currently in the Metro.

Emmer

Since the wild-card concept was added in the 2013-14 season, I’ve really enjoyed the way the NHL playoffs have played out (pun intended). 

At the end of each regular season, the wild card is a benefit to teams that aren’t in the top three of their respective division. It’s not the most glamorous circumstance for the WC teams to take on the top team in their decided division for the first round, but it still makes for some entertaining hockey.  

Going back to last season for example, all four wild-card teams (East WC1 Carolina, East WC2 Columbus, West WC1 Dallas, West WC2 Colorado) beat the top teams in their designated division to make it on to the second round. The craziest series was Tampa Bay-Columbus. The Lightning had the most points in the league last season (128) and ended up getting blanked in four games to the Blue Jackets to end their season. 

Anything is possible in the playoffs and the wild card only accentuates that.  

Now specifically for the Flyers this year, the wild card is obviously a good thing and very well could benefit them at the end of the regular season. 

We all know how skilled and competitive the Metropolitan Division has been in 2019-20. For example, teams like the Capitals, who are on pace for around 109 to 110 points, Penguins, Islanders and Blue Jackets are all tough teams to compete with this season. That being said, the Flyers have the biggest chance at making it to the postseason with a wild-card spot.

In hopes that they get there, the wild card could also grant them an opportunity at making an upset like those teams were able to pull off last year, but I won’t get too far ahead of myself.  

Hall

At the All-Star break, the Flyers were in sixth place of the Metropolitan Division but would have been in first place of the Pacific Division.

Such is life with four divisions. There's a chance one could be loaded and another not so much. There should be no problem with that.

Unfortunately for the Flyers, the Metropolitan Division happens to be the deepest in hockey this season. The Flyers are projected to finish with around 98 points and could be on the outside looking in at the playoffs. If they take care of business the rest of the way and continue to play well against the division (10-4-4 vs. the Metro), they'll be fine.

“You’ve got to win to make the playoffs. It doesn’t matter who you play, you’ve got to win," Jakub Voracek said this week. "I kind of miss that format — 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, I don’t know how many years ago it was, but I kind of enjoyed that format a little bit more. I understand the league’s perspective, they want to have rivalries in the playoffs. Pittsburgh against Washington, they’ve played each other how many times over the past few years? I don’t know about the other guys, but I prefer one through eight. It is what it is. Like I said, you’ve got to win to make the playoffs.”

The format of the top three teams in each division along with two wild-card teams is fine. But then, the second- and third-place teams of each division shouldn't have to square off in the first round. Instead, go by point totals for the seeds. It would avoid top-heavy second-round matchups, would give the best seeds the most favorable chances and would reward regular-season work.

The parity, drama and intensity will always be there in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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