You may need a tissue to wipe the empathetic tears from your eyes. After the month-long Pittsburgh Penguins surge through the East Division and the Philadelphia Flyers’ brutally effective free fall, the Penguins are nearly a lock to make the 2021 NHL playoffs.
The Flyers did lose to the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 this week.
Currently, the Penguins (24-12-2) have an 11-point lead over the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers for the final carryover spot in the East Division. Philadelphia has two games in hand, but that means the Penguins’ lead is at least seven points.
To put those numbers in a greater context, if the Penguins manage only 24 points in their final 18 games, Philadelphia would need at least 31 of their remaining 40 possible points.
As of Sunday, the computer models at PlayoffStatus.com declared the Penguins have a 97% chance of securing a playoff berth. The Flyers have just a 10% chance of sneaking into the playoffs. Though by some of the comments on our website on Saturday, some fans were ready for a fire sale and nuclear rebuild after the Penguins lost to the Boston Bruins 7-5.
Perhaps a good night’s sleep and an Easter basket full of Swedish Fish, Dots, and Slim Jims will help.
So, the Pittsburgh Penguins have a darn good chance of making the playoffs. The computer model takes into account the current performance and upcoming strength of schedule.
Those same computer models at PlayoffStatus.com also predict the Penguins have a good chance of going further than Round One. The Penguins also have a 55% chance of advancing to Round 2.
Now, here’s where it gets really interesting.
The Penguins winning record against the New York Islanders (6-2-0) and Washington Capitals (4-2-0) is a predictor of postseason success. The models currently give the Penguins the highest odds in the East Division of advancing to the NHL Final Four–however, and wherever they may play the final two rounds.
According to Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman, who broke the news on Hockey Night in Canada, the NHL is discussing a playoff bubble. The league will have to re-home the North Division winner if the U.S.- Canada border remains closed, too.
Regardless of the circumstances, the Penguins’ odds to reach Round two are 55%, and the chances to reach the final four teams is an East Division-best 30%. Washington and New York are at 26% and 24% to reach the Conference Final, respectively.
The New York Rangers have a 13% chance to reach the NHL playoffs.