Playoff Race

As teams begin approaching the 20 game mark of the season I thought I'd take a look at how likely teams are to make the playoffs, and see if some lottery teams and playoff locks are beginning to emerge. Of course last year we saw the unsustainable initial success of teams like Minnesota and Toronto catch up with them, and there was the late awakening of the Los Angeles Kings following Darryl Sutter's arrival, but if you compare these numbers to the team PDO numbers you can assess the likelihood of teams changing directions.

The table below looks at what teams records would have to be from here on out in order to reach 54 points, the assumed number necessary to make the playoffs. The normal assumption is that it will take 92 points in an 82 game season, but a simple 92/82*48 calculation gives you 53.85, the target number for this season.



TeamWLOTL/SOL
Anaheim13171
Boston15180
Buffalo2081
Calgary18121
Carolina17131
Chicago9191
Colorado19120
Columbus2180
Dallas17120
Detroit16121
Edmonton18120
Florida20100
Los Angeles17140
Minnesota18130
Montreal13151
Nashville15121
New Jersey15140
NY Islanders18101
NY Rangers18130
Ottawa14140
Philadelphia1791
Phoenix17121
Pittsburgh14150
San Jose17131
St. Louis16140
Tampa Bay17121
Toronto15130
Vancouver15150
Washington20101
Winnipeg18111
(this is as of end of games on February 25th)

So teams like Anaheim, Boston, Chicago, Montreal, and Pittsburgh are the only teams that can potentially carry a losing record and still qualify for the playoffs. While this might not be a concern for Boston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, it is interesting that hot starts for the Ducks and Habs may already be enough to separate themselves from the bubble teams.

Other teams like Buffalo, Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, the Islanders, Philadelphia, Washington, and Winnipeg would all require winning percentages over .600 to get them into the playoffs. Of that list you'd assume the Flyers might have the best shot, but with a poor start and one of the toughest divisions it's a safe bet on them becoming a lottery team.

None of this has much bearing on anything, but with the Leafs only needing to manage two wins over .500 certainly keeps the playoffs look attainable, as opposed to the uphill battle the team normally faces with 28 games left.

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