Trying to figure out which team would end up being the Philadelphia Flyers' next opponent in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been something of a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma (with thanks for the use of the quote to Joe Pesci and Oliver Stone).
If nothing else, it's been an incredibly exciting time for hockey fans with three Game 7's over the course of two nights to set the second-round matchups in the Eastern Conference.
With any of six possible teams still a possibility prior to the Washington-Boston affair, two potential opponents were eliminated from the mix with the Caps' triumph -- obviously, the Bruins, but also the New York Rangers. To say that this is a huge hurdle for Flyers Nation at this point in time -- Philly ended up 0-6-0 against the Rangers during the regular season -- could be an understatement.
By virtue of Washington's seventh postseason seed, if the Rangers defeat the Ottawa Senators tonight, the Capitals will open round two at Madison Square Garden.
The Flyers eventual counterparts for the East Semis is still up for grabs, and there are still quite a few different scenarios which can occur. It all seems very complicated, but it's actually just a matter of re-seeding the remaining teams based on their regular season finishes:
- If the Rangers beat the Senators: New York and Washington will battle in Round 2, leaving either the Florida Panthers or New Jersey Devils as Philly's round two opposition. In addition to this scenario, if Florida wins, the Flyers will open the next round in South Florida. If the Devils win Game 7, the Flyers will host their Atlantic Division rivals from New Jersey.
- If Ottawa defeats the Rangers: A scenario that includes New York out of the mix leaves the fifth-seeded Flyers, the seventh-seeded Caps, and eighth-seeded Senators. If that was to occur, a Panthers (third-seed) victory would yield Florida-Ottawa and Philadelphia-Washington as the second round matchups. If, however, the Rangers lose and New Jersey wins, this would become the best-case scenario for the Flyers. They would become the top-seeded club in the East, thereby garnering home-ice advantage for the next two rounds. Philadelphia would draw Ottawa as their second-round opponent, leaving the Capitals to open up their series in New Jersey.
The Rangers-Senators begin at 7:00 ET and Panthers-Devils at 8:30 ET, obviously with the start times staggered so interested observers can get a good look at both contests.
Barring any lengthy delays or multiple overtimes, the Flyers should know the identity of their Round 2 opponents somewhere around 11:00 ET.
Bring it on!