The Flyers had nothing to gain by winning Sunday’s game against the Islanders, but they did it anyway.
The Islanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Flyers responded by scoring five unanswered goals (Shayne Gostisbehere, Evgeny Medvedev, Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton, R.J. Umberger).
So, what does this mean for the Eastern Conference playoff picture? Well, the bracket on the East is officially set.
The Islanders’ loss means that they’ll finish in the first Wild Card spot. That means they’ll get a first-round date with the Florida Panthers.
That leaves the Penguins and Rangers to do battle in the two vs. three Metropolitan Division series.
Here’s how the whole bracket looks:
–Washington Capitals (1) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (WC 2)
–Florida Panthers (2) vs. New York Islanders (WC 1)
–Tampa Bay Lightning (Atlantic 2) vs. Detroit Red Wings (Atlantic 3)
–Pittsburgh Penguins (Metro 2) vs. New York Rangers (Metro 3)
Some people suggested the Islanders didn’t dress some of their big names because they wanted to lose the game and avoid the Penguins, but the Panthers won’t be an easy out. Florida finished the season with a 47-26-9 record.
Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu’s comments will surely be talked about at length leading up to the start of the series.
“I guess the Rangers have a great, world-class goalie, so in a coin flip, I’d probably prefer to play the Islanders,” Cifu said prior to the matchup being finalized, per Sportsnet. “It’ll be a great atmosphere. There’s a ton of transplanted New Yorkers down there [in Sunrise], so the Rangers and Islanders games tend to be packed in our building anyhow.”