Flyers and Panthers could play tiebreaker for final playoff spot

If the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers are even in points, regulation and overtime wins, and goal differential at the end of the season, they will play a one-game tiebreaker to determine who goes to the playoffs.

The NHL announced the unlikely but possible tiebreaker Friday as Philadelphia had one game and Florida two remaining. For the tiebreaker to happen on Tuesday, the Flyers would need to lose their regular-season finale Saturday against the New York Rangers by exactly two goals and the Panthers would need to beat the Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins in a shootout Saturday and Sunday.

The league contacted the teams and the NHL Players’ Association before announcing the plan. Although a coin flip was the mechanism used in 2000, a lottery machine like the one that determines the top three draft picks would be used this time to decide which team gets home-ice advantage.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon declined comment and a Flyers spokesman said GM Ron Hextall was not speaking about the tiebreaker.

Given the tightness of the standings in the East and West, it’s likely this situation spawns a longer list of tiebreakers beginning next season. Records against common opponents and within the conference could be used, as they are in the NFL.

Pereira wasn’t surprised there was a change made given the number of injuries this past season, but he compared the new rule to how players and officials reacted when the crown of the helmet rule was introduced in 2013.

Two were called the very first year and they were both wrong, and there were none called in the two years after that, Pereira said of the crown of the helmet rule. I see these things happen, I see these rule changes, and I don’t want to call it hysteria, but there is to me a bit of overreaction.

The new rule, which replaces the crown of the helmet rule, was approved unanimously by league owners in Orlando earlier this week in hopes of improving player safety.

For us this is a pretty significant change, NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay said in Orlando. This is not situational protection. … In this, we’re basically getting to a technique that is just too dangerous for both the player doing it and the player that’s getting hit.

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