The 24-team playoff has been gaining steam and would give the Flyers a first-round bye if approved.
We are in the third month since the NHL decided to pause the season. And talks have been ongoing on how exactly to resume the season. A 24-team playoff has been the hot topic. For the Flyers, they would earn a first round bye thanks to points percentage.
Nothing is set in stone as of yet. But it appears the league is getting closer to a resolution on how to resume the season. Finishing the rest of the regular season appears to be off the table at this point.
The NHL and NHLPA are expected to meet to talk about the logistics of a 24-team playoff if they were to go forward with it. It would allow teams like the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild to enter the playoffs.
The top bye four teams in each conference would get a first round. That would be the Blues, Avalanche, Knights and Dallas in the West. As for the East, the top four teams would be the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals and Flyers.
The rest of the remaining teams would take part in a five-game, play-in series to determine the matchups for the next round. In the Flyers case, they would take on the winner of a Canadiens and Penguins series.
Now the Flyers wouldn’t come in cold. Every team that has a bye will take part in a three-game tournament. This is to give them action while the other games are being played.
Now which team would give the Flyers a better chance at moving on?
Looking at the Penguins first, they went 1-1-1 in the season series. They had one game remaining before the season pause. The Flyers were outscored 11-7 in the three games. Though aside from the 7-1 blowout, the other two games were fairly close.
In the Flyers win against Pittsburgh, Brian Elliott had a shutout. And the other game was a 4-3 overtime loss. The two teams always make for entertaining playoff series, but the Penguins typically have the last laugh lately.
The Flyers do hold a small edge in their. playoff history, 21-20. The Penguins won the last time they met in the 2018 Eastern Conference first round. The Flyers won the matchup in 2012 in the Quarter-Finals.
The Flyers went 2-1 in the season series against Montreal. They were outscored by the Canadiens 9-8, though. The first two wins came early in the season, back in November. In the most recent loss, Alex Lyon made the start due to Carter Hart still being on the injured list.
During their playoff history, the team is 44-58-14 overall against Montreal. The last time the two met was 2010. The Flyers defeated the Canadiens in the Conference Finals. They also won in the Conference Finals when they met back in 2008. You would have to go back to 1989 to find the next playoff series.
So while they have a richer history in the playoffs with Montreal, the Flyers have more recent results versus the Penguins. If we had to pick based on goaltending, one would lead more towards Matt Murray and Pittsburgh rather than Carey Price. But anything can happen in the playoffs.
A first-round bye could end up being an advantage for the Flyers either way. It would have them more rested coming in than whichever opponent they would face. Some might worry they won’t be ready for an intense battle like their opponent. But they also won’t be tired out either.