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Why Philadelphia Flyers have edge to claim Stanley Cup Playoff berth

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at San Jose Sharks
Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers have an important edge the final three weeks of the NHL regular season in trying to secure a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. And no, it’s not their mad scientist of a coach, John Tortorella, pulling out all the motivational stops to push the Flyers into the playoffs for the first time since 2019-20.

The Flyers are already one of the biggest surprises in the League this season, and Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award candidate as coach of the year. Philly sits third in the Metropolitan Division, as it has much of the season. However, they’re feeling the heat right now since the Washington Capitals are rolling and are just one point behind the Flyers with two games in hand.

The Capitals, who’ve won three straight and six of seven, visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. They’re two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference, and have a game in hand. The Red Wings visit the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.

The Flyers are limping to the finish line, 6-7-3 since Feb. 24. Yet, they still have plenty of fight, evidenced by their wild and gritty 6-5 overtime loss to the first-overall New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

Philadelphia is still clinging to third in the Metro, and three points up on Detroit for the final wild card, if it comes to that.

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Philadelphia Flyers have important edge over Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings in Stanley Cup Playoff race

NHL: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers
Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Though they have fewer games remaining, and thus fewer chances to earn points, the Flyers do have an important advantage over the Capitals and Red Wings down the stretch.

Strength of schedule.

According to Tankathon.com, the Flyers are tied for the third easiest schedule the rest of this regular season. The Flyers play teams that have a combined .497 points percentage, tied with the Seattle Kraken behind the St. Louis Blues (.487) and Los Angeles Kings (.486).

In their final nine games, the Flyers face two teams currently in a playoff spot — the Rangers and Capitals. They’re winless in three games against the Rangers this season and that Capitals game is a must-win, for obvious reasons. They also play the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, each on the outer fringe of the playoff race in the East.

Conversely, the Red Wings (.577) have the 10th most difficult remaining schedule. And the Capitals are right behind (.575). Detroit, which is 3-9-1 since Feb. 29, still has to play the Rangers, Hurricanes, Capitals, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. Like the Flyers, the Red Wings have two games left against the Montreal Canadiens, who just stunned the Colorado Avalanche on the road Tuesday.

The Capitals still have two games remaining with the Boston Bruins, who are first in the Atlantic Division though losers in three of their past four games. They also still need to play the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Lightning, Flyers and Red Wings.

So, there are reasons to believe the Flyers will slip and fall out of the playoff picture. But there’s also one big reason to project that they will punch their ticket to the dance this spring.

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