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# THE MAGIC NUMBER

by Anthony SanFilippo / Philadelphia Flyers

One question that I keep getting asked lately is, “What is the Flyers magic number to clinch a playoff spot?”

I wish this was an easy answer.

See, in baseball and basketball, magic numbers are far easier to compute because they are solely based on wins and losses.

In hockey, magic numbers are rooted in wins and losses to an extent, but in reality are based on points earned and points lost – since, in fact, it’s possible to still get a point for losing.

Also, the magic number tends to be more fluid as teams climb in and out of playoff positions and it also changes per team because of an uneven number of games remaining – so a magic number over one team could be higher or lower than another, regardless of standings, based on games remaining.

Because of all of this, I’ve avoided the question completely on Twitter. I mean, how the heck am I going to cram all this info into 140 characters. Ain’t happening.

Nevertheless, I figured I’d provide you with this handy-dandy little chart so you can see what the Flyers need to do to clinch a playoff spot.

Before I give it to you though, I want to explain how the math works.

So start with the “Magic number” as listed.

After each game that the Flyers play, subtract two points from that number for a Flyers win, subtract one point from that number if the Flyers lose in overtime or in a shootout, and do nothing if the Flyers lose in regulation.

Also, for each opposing team, if they win, do nothing. If they lose in regulation, subtract two. If they lose in overtime or a shootout, subtract one.

And if it’s an opponent the Flyers are playing, make sure to do a mathematical action for both teams.

Here’s the list and the magic number for the Flyers to be certain they can’t be caught by the team that is currently behind them:

Columbus 17

Detroit 17

Washington15

Toronto14

New Jersey12

Ottawa9

Carolina8

Islanders2

So in other words… If the Flyers win tonight, subtract two from every team. And if, say, Detroit loses to Montreal tomorrow in overtime, take another one away from them.

Make sense? I hope so.

Now, the one team I left out is the New York Rangers. Why? Well, they’re ahead of the Flyers for the moment. However, a Flyers win tonight, regulation or otherwise, puts the Flyers back in front of them.

Right now, the magic number is 19 against the Rangers. A win in regulation tonight would drop it to 15 (2 for the Flyers win and 2 for the Rangers loss). However, if the Flyers lose, it goes up to 20.

Huh? How’s that work? You might ask.

Well, the Flyers have tiebreakers over every team right now except Toronto. But, if the Rangers win tonight, the Rangers will have the tiebreaker on the Flyers, meaning they will need an extra point to go in their favor in order to guarantee being in ahead of the Rangers.

Got it?

Now, the final thing worth pointing out is the Flyers do not have to finish in front of all of these teams (although that would be the most ideal situation, because it would guarantee home ice in the first round of the playoffs).

No, instead, the Flyers just need to finish ahead of six of them to guarantee their spot – which is why I say 15 is the true magic number, because that’s the highest of non-playoff teams (Washington).

And if 15 seems like a lot, it’s not.

Consider this: The Capitals have nine games left. Let’s say they stay relatively hot and go 6-3 in those nine games (there’s some tough ones in there – Boston, St. Louis, Chicago and Tampa). That’s 12 of a possible 18 points earned, but from the Flyers perspective, that’s six points lost by the Capitals.

That would trim the Flyers magi number to nine, which would mean a record of 4-6-1 in the final 11 games would do it.

That’s not saying the Flyers should ease off the pedal and play sub-.500 hockey down the stretch, but it does show they have some wiggle room to play with as they approach the magic number.

My prediction? The Flyers lock up a playoff spot on the road in Florida on April 8.

I know it’s all confusing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Oh... and by the way... every time I start talking about magic numbers, I can't help but think of this:

In other news, the Flyers signed unrestricted free agent Kevin Goumas to a minor league contract for 2014-15 Wednesday.
Goumas, 22, registered 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists) in 40 games with the University of New Hampshire in his senior season.
Goumas will report immediately to the Adirondack Phantoms on an Amateur Tryout Contract for the remainder of this season.
He will be on an AHL-only contract next season with the Phantoms as they move to their new home in Lehigh Valley.
However, Goumas can sign an NHL deal with the Flyers - or any team for that matter - at any time. The Flyers did that this season with Chris Vandevelde before signing him to an NHL-deal during the season.
Because he is on an AHL-only deal, Goumas does not count against the Flyers 50 contract limit.

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A couple of Flyers executives have been appointed to new positions.

Don’t worry, they still have their titles with the Flyers, but assistant general manager Ron Hextall and senior vice president Bob Clarke have some new responsibilities all of the sudden.

Hextall was named the assistant general manager for Team Canada in the upcoming World Hockey Championships that will be held in Minsk, Belarus beginning next month.

Hextall, along with Phoenix Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving will serve as assistants to general manager Rob Blake, who serves as an assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Kings as his day job.

Hextall played in the World Championships one time – in 1992 – finishing with a 1-2-1 record.

As for Clarke, he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee.

A Hall of Famer himself, Clarke, 64, joins an 18-member board that votes secretly on those to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

It takes a minimum of 14 of the 18 votes to earn enshrinement.

With Clarke in the fold, Eric Lindros will now have a strong supporting voice on the committee. Lindros, who has been eligible for the Hall since 2010, has thus far been skipped over. However Clarke haspublicly  been quite vocal in support of Lindros getting in. Being on the board now, he could help sway enough votes in Lindros’ favor. The 2014 Class will be announced on June 24.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

To contact Anthony SanFilippo email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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