Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Flyers, Panthers could play tiebreaker for playoff spot

AP

If the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers are even in points, regulation and overtime wins, as well as goal differential, at the end of the season, they are to play a one-game tiebreaker to determine who goes to the playoffs.

The NHL announced the unlikely tiebreaker on Friday as Philadelphia had one game and Florida two remaining.

For the tiebreaker to happen on Tuesday next week, the Flyers would need to lose their regular-season finale yesterday against the New York Rangers by exactly two goals and the Panthers would need to beat the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins in a shoot-out yesterday and today.

In that case, Philadelphia and Florida would each have 39 regulation/overtime wins and a plus-one goal differential over the season, since a shoot-out victory counts as a goal.

The teams split their season series — which by rule eliminates the odd game between them to even out home ice — and the league does not have any further tiebreakers.

As of Friday, Philadelphia had 96 points to Florida’s 92 and needed just a point against New York to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

This most recently happened in 2000, when the NHL announced Montreal and Buffalo would play a tiebreaker if they finished the season tied for the final spot in the East. It did not come down to that, but it is the precedent the league used to make this decision.

The league contacted the teams and the NHL Players’ Association before announcing the plan.

After a coin flip was the mechanism in 2000, a lottery machine like the one that determines the top three draft picks would be used this time to decide which team gets home-ice advantage.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon declined to comment and a Flyers spokesman said general manager Ron Hextall was not speaking about the tiebreaker.

Given the tightness of the standings in the East and West, it is likely that this situation will spawn a longer list of tiebreakers beginning next season. Records against common opponents and within the conference could be used, as they are in the NFL.

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