The average amount of points for the eighth place team to make the playoffs the last three seasons in the Eastern Conference was 92 points, oddly with the three seasons having totals of 88, 94, and 93 points the eighth place team each year had 41 total wins.
1: Philadelphia Flyers
With a smooth 96 points, 44 wins and 11 games remaining, the Flyers have already clinched a ticket to the postseason. This is a far cry from how they got to the dance last year.
2: Washington Capitals
At 94 points, its unlikely, but still possible, for the Capitals to miss the playoffs. Even if they have a clean sweep of the remaining games on their schedule, they can’t finish with last years jaw dropping 121 points.With that in mind, I suspect they’ll take being one of the best defensive teams of this season, over being one of the worst last season.
3: Boston Bruins
At 88 points the Bruins are just three points from last years total with 11 contests remaining. They are at exactly the same win total as last year through 82. The next five games will decide if they hold onto the division lead or not as they have dates with the Devils, Rangers, Flyers, Canadiens, and Blackhawks.
4: Pittsburgh Penguins
Last season, the Penguins finished in the same position they are now with 101 points. This year–even without the likes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal for long stretches–they have 90 points with 10 games remaining. Mathematically its unlikely they catch the Flyers, but given the number of games lost to injuries I can’t imagine the team racking up anything less than another six to eight even with additional injuries.
5: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning have failed to qualify for the playoffs the past few seasons. But with just three points between them and qualifying–as long as they don’t start partying now–they should be able to celebrate a win or two in the second season. The division title is almost certainly out of reach, but that just allows for a higher bar next season.
6: Montreal Canadiens
With one more game played than the Northeast division leading Bruins the Canadiens are one point behind them, and could jump into home ice advantage at any moment. They are seven points up on ninth place and likely to make the postseason, where if they do the recovering Max Pacioretty could adorn the roster again. Magic number: five.
7: New York Rangers
The Blueshirts have to pick up at least 10 points in their last nine games. Their margin for error is slim with just three points between them and either a first round meeting with the Flyers as the eighth seed and six points between them and the ninth place Hurricanes. In their favor is a higher number of 65 minute or less wins.
8: Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo has to claim 13 points or more in the final 10 games to avoid playing golf in mid-April.
9 : Carolina Hurricans,
The ‘Canes are on the outside looking in. Magic number: 16
In the Western Conference the last three seasons, 92 points has also been the magic number to qualify. The win totals for the eighth place teams were slightly higher than in the east.
1: Vancouver Canucks
Having racked up 103 points and clinched their division before anyone else is mathematically certain of even a playoff birth, some might say its time for the Canucks to coast until it’s time to pick up the President’s Trophy, Western Conference title, and scouting report on whoever their first round opponent is.
2: Detroit Red Wings
At 94 points, the Wings have one point less than the eighth place team from last season. With 10 games remaining, its largely a matter of jockeying for position to stay ahead of the Pacific Division leader, and staying healthy. They are eight points up on their nearest division rival with a game in hand.
3: San Jose Sharks
With 92 points, the Sharks are almost certain to be playing in mid-April. They are however just three points ahead of the Coyotes in the Pacific Division.
4: Phoenix Coyotes
With 89 points and a magic number of three, the Coyotes are currently good for a very weak grip on home ice in the first round. They have currently played more games than anyone in the West.
5: Chicago Blackhawks
While they only have half the roster that remains from last years Stanley Cup Champions, the Blackhawks have picked up their play recenlty and are now six points from qualification. Even with a clean sweep of their remaining gamed the Hawks would still finish with six less points than last season three less wins.
6: Los Angeles Kings
The Kings sit in exactly the spot they did last year at the end of the regular season marathon. With 10 games left, LA could have a win total equal to last years 46, like Chicago they need six points to make it happen.
7: Nashville Predators
Last week showed that the Preds could live up to their name with a voracious attack on the standings that vaulted them from ninth to seventh and made them as critical to the week in the NHL as someone predicted. Like the Kings, they are in the same position they were when the regular season was over last year. They are currently tied with Chicago and Los Angeles, and are one point ahead of eighth and three points up on a long off season. Magic number: six.
8: Anaheim Ducks
Randy Carlyle’s team just won’t quit; and they have more overtime/shootout wins than anyone in the west not leading a division. Magic number: seven
9: Dallas Stars
With 10 games to go, the Stars are just three points below their total for last year. They need seven to return to post season glory, and hopefully convince Brad Richards to stay in town past July. They are currently tied with Anaheim, but they trail the Ducks by three wins. Magic number: seven.
10: Calgary Flames
The Flames had a horrible start, a sensational middle, and who knows what the end will be. With just 29 regulation wins and having played more games than anyone but Phoenix, it will be hard for anyone to predict what will happen if they make the playoffs. They need at least eight points with only eight games to play and two spots or more to climb.
And the winners are: Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, should all cross the 92 point mark this week.
Games of the week: The Bruins host the Canadiens on Thursday and Saturday the Coyotes and Sharks mix it up. Both games could see a change in their division leads.