Fife Flyers: the many scenarios from the final weekend standing between them & the play-offs

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The nerves are starting to jangle already - and that’s just among the fans - as Fife Flyers, Glasgow Clan and Dundee Stars bid to ensure a three-fold Scottish presence in the Elite League play-offs.

One weekend of hockey is all that stands between them and places in the top eight, but the margin for error is slender, setting the scene for a fascinating schedule across Saturday and Sunday night. Flyers, Stars and Clan are all tied on the same number of points with two games to play - factor in Coventry Blaze, one point adrift, and Nottingham Panthers three behind, and the permutations are endless.

If they hold their nerve then it will be mission accomplished, but a dropped point or even an excursion into overtime could open the door to more complicated scenarios. So, who needs what to ensure a place in the play-offs? John Ross, Flyers’ historian and statistician, has put together a lengthy list of outcomes with the caveat “and there are probably others.”

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The simple version for Flyers’ fans is this. Take three points from the weekend and all ifs and buts are removed from the table. The play-offs beckon.

Rinkside with Fife Flyers - from mascot Geordie Munro to Vitalijs Pavlovs at centre ice (Pics: Derek Young)Rinkside with Fife Flyers - from mascot Geordie Munro to Vitalijs Pavlovs at centre ice (Pics: Derek Young)
Rinkside with Fife Flyers - from mascot Geordie Munro to Vitalijs Pavlovs at centre ice (Pics: Derek Young)

If Tom Coolen’s team sweep Stars in both games they will finish sixth. Three points will leave them in seventh and a tilt with Cardiff Devils, or, worst case eighth and a head to head with champions Sheffield Steelers. Just two points could yield seventh or eighth, unless Coventry Blaze - down in ninth - hoover up four points from their last two games. If that happens, Fife’s season is done.

If Flyers emerge with just one point, or - worst case scenario - absolutely none, then things get a wee bit more complicated.

Best case for one point depends of two other things happening. Clan get no more than one point or Nottingham drop one point, or Blaze pick up no more than two points. Worst case - elimination IF Clan get two points, Blaze three or Panthers four.

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Should Fife draw a blank, then the best case for a play-off spot requires three things to happen - told you it got complicated - namely, Clan fail to pick up points or Nottingham pick up no more than two or Blaze no more than one point. The worst case, elimination, occurs IF Blaze get two points and Nottingham four, or two of the following three happen: Nottingham get four points or Blaze gets twos or Glasgow one. All clear? Good.

Jonas Emmerdahl and netminder Shane Owen (Pic: Derek Young)Jonas Emmerdahl and netminder Shane Owen (Pic: Derek Young)
Jonas Emmerdahl and netminder Shane Owen (Pic: Derek Young)

Here’s a simpler outcome, courtesy of John’s deep dive into the possibilities. Flyers only have to match Glasgow's points total over the weekend to stay ahead of them in the standings. We like that one!

If both lose in regulation over two games, then both can be eliminated by Coventry and Nottingham. If both Fife and Glasgow pick up only one point then both can be caught and eliminated by a four- point Nottingham weekend and a three-point Blaze weekend.

But,as Jimmy Cricket used to say “come here, there’s more” … a two point Blaze weekend and one point for Glasgow and Fife and they are both still ahead of Coventry but could be caught by Nottingham, and it would be Blaze and Clan eliminated based upon fewest regulation wins.

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But what about overtime and penalty shoot outs, I hear you cry? How does that affect the final standings?Looking at the two last placed teams - and you may want to sit down with a pen and paper, and take some notes here - a Panthers loss in OT/SO on Saturday and a Flyers loss in regulation means a Panthers win on Sunday in regulation or OT/SO and a Fife loss in OT/SO will have the English side ahead of Coolen’s team on number of overall wins. A Fife loss in regulation means Panthers are ahead on points

A Panthers win in regulation or OT/SO on Saturday and a Flyers regulation loss means Fife must match Panthers points total on Sunday to stay ahead of them. A Panthers win in regulation or OT/SO and a Flyers loss even in OT/SO will have Panthers overtake them based on regulation wins

So, with a Panthers win in regulation or OT/SO on Saturday and a Flyers OT/SO loss means Fife must take a point from the game on Sunday to stay ahead of them. If not, Panthers will overtake Fife on the overall number of wins.

Blaze could tie Fife on points if they win both games and Flyers take just three points - but Flyers have the tie breaker on regulation wins.

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Some scenarios just to frazzle your brain further (and we will be asking questions so do pay attention!):

A Coventry loss in regulation on Saturday and a Fife regulation win or OT/SO loss on Saturday means Fife are in the pl;ay-offs. Ditto a Coventry loss in OT/SO and a Fife regulation win. A Coventry win in regulation or OT/SO Saturday and a Fife loss in regulation on Saturday then Coventry then have it within their control and Fife would have to better Coventry's result by a point on Sunday to stay ahead on regulation wins

In the above scenario, if Fife lose in regulation also on Sunday and Coventry win in regulation or OT/SO, then Blaze go ahead of Fife as will Nottingham if they win both games. If both teams lose in regulation or SO/OT Saturday then Fife need to pick up a minimum of one point fewer than Blaze to stay ahead on regulation wins.

So, all you need to know in one handy file! Any questions? Good, glad that’s all clear!

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Flyers, of course, specialise in going to the wire before triumphing so prepare for any and every eventuality, and regardless of the outcome, what a way to end a cracking hockey season!

The phrase ‘in Tom we trust” has been shared widely across social media this season. That faith is now all encompassing as we head into the most remarkable of weekends. High stakes, high drama. High hopes.

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