Breaking down the (early) NHL playoff picture

by Mar 19, 10:10 AM

At the conclusion of Tuesday's jam-packed 12-game schedule, NHL teams teams have anywhere from 11 to 14 games left to play. While there's still much to be determined in terms of playoff qualification and seeding, the picture is getting clearer every day.

What follows is a look at each team's chances of making the playoffs prior to game played on March 19 (as per sportsclubstats.com). 

Note: Teams with a star next to them currently hold wild card spots. As per sportsclubstats, these percentages are based on a weighted method that takes the opponents record and home-ice advantage into account when randomly picking scores, so the better team is more likely to win. 

Also, "Out" or "0" does not necessarily mean mathematically eliminated; rather, in the millions of times the season could be played out, the team in question would never made the playoffs (likewise for "In" and "100'). 

Therefore, these numbers are accurate enough to be a useful, interesting tool, but can't be taken as gospel. 

Atlantic Division

TeamPointsGame RemainingPlayoff Chances
Boston Bruins9913In
Tampa Bay Lightning811499.2
Montreal Canadiens831297.4
*Toronto Maple Leafs801275.9
Detroit Red Wings751442.4
Ottawa Senators69142.4
Florida Panthers60130
Buffalo Sabres4613Out

The top three teams in the Atlantic are virtual locks, while the Red Wings kept their hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, although Toronto has two games in hand on Detroit. Unfortunately for the Senators, their collapse against the Canadiens on March 15 and an 8-4 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday basically quashed their hopes.

Metropolitan Division

TeamPointsGame RemainingPlayoff Chances
Pittsburgh Penguins9414100
Philadelphia Flyers791489.4
New York Rangers781280.5
*Columbus Blue Jackets761473.3
Washington Capitals761220.9
New Jersey Devils711317.3
Carolina Hurricanes69131.4
New York Islanders61120

Six teams remain alive in the Metro, and the Capitals did themselves a big favor with a 3-2 win in Anaheim on Tuesday. The Flyers and Blue Jackets hold an advantage with two games in hand on the Rangers and Capitals, while the Devils' chances appears to be fading after a loss to Boston.

Central Division

TeamPointsGame RemainingPlayoff Chances
St. Louis Blues10114In
Colorado Avalanche9313100
Chicago Blackhawks9313100
*Minnesota Wild821392.6
Dallas Stars751449.1
Winnipeg Jets71121.2
Nashville Predators68130.3

The big question in the Central is whether the young Stars - losers of two in a row - can hang on and grab the second wild card spot (presently held by the Coyotes, as seen below). The top four teams in this division are basically set, with the Avalanche and Blackhawks jockeying for home-ice advantage in their eventual first-round series.

Pacific Division

TeamPointsGame RemainingPlayoff Chances
Anaheim Ducks9713100
San Jose Sharks9712100
Los Angeles Kings821398.4
*Phoenix Coyotes771357
Vancouver Canucks72111.4
Calgary Flames63130
Edmonton Oilers59120

While the Pacific Division crown remains up for grabs, all that's left to be decided here is the Coyotes' inclusion in the playoff picture. Winners of two in a row, Phoenix has a better chance of qualifying than Dallas, but the Stars have a game in hand. 

Feature photo courtesy of Tim Fuller / USA TODAY Sports

Mar 31, 3:47 PM

An updated look at the NHL playoff picture with less than 2 weeks left on schedule

by Mar 31, 3:47 PM

As the calendar gets sets to turn to April, less than two weeks remain in the NHL regular season schedule. 

At the conclusion of action on March 30, the playoff picture has sharpened in the East, while the wild card race in the West has turned into a toss-up.

Here's a look at the updated playoff chances prior to action on March 31 (as per sportsclubstats.com).

Eastern Conference

TeamPointsGames RemainingPlayoff Chances
Detroit Red Wings84780.9
Columbus Blue Jackets82878.8
Washington Capitals81720.2
Toronto Maple Leafs8064.9

Mired in an eight-game losing streak, the Maple Leafs are all but out. Washington is clinging to life, while the Blue Jackets and Red Wings appear to be jockeying for wild card positioning.

Western Conference

TeamPointsGames RemainingPlayoff Chances
Minnesota Wild87883.7
Dallas Stars83963.1
Phoenix Coyotes84852.6

While the Minnesota Wild appear to be locked in, anything can happen over the next two weeks (see: Toronto). 

The Coyotes have the point advantage over the Stars, but Dallas has a game in hand. The two teams will face off in the final regular season game on April 13, which could very well decide who advances.

Stay tuned.

Feature photo courtesy of Brad Rempel / USA TODAY

Mar 25, 11:52 PM

An updated look at the (early) NHL playoff picture

by Mar 25, 11:52 PM

At the conclusion of Tuesday's NHL action, the playoff picture has become clearer out West and even murkier in the East.

Eastern Conference playoff chances

With the Boston Bruins having clinched and the Pittsburgh Penguins a virtual lock, the Tampa Bay Lightning (99.9 percent), Montreal Canadiens (99.8), New York Rangers (97.9), and Philadelphia Flyers (95.8) remain in pretty good shape as well. As such, four teams are set to battle it out for two Eastern Conference wild card spots.

Here's a look at where those teams stand with ten games or less remaining (as per sportsclubstats.com).

*See below for details on how to read these numbers.

TeamPointsGames RemainingPlayoff Chances
Columbus Blue Jackets801071.1
Detroit Red Wings801059.8
Washington Capitals80931.9
Toronto Maple Leafs80924.6

It should also be noted that the New Jersey Devils, with 75 points and 10 games remaining, have an 18.4 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason.

Western Conference playoff chances

Out West, three teams - St. Louis, Anaheim and San Jose -  have clinched their spots, and every team down to and including the Minnesota Wild (holders of the first wild card spot) have greater than a 92.5 percent chance of moving on. That would include the Chicago Blackhawks (basically in), Colorado Avalanche (100) and Los Angeles Kings (99.9)

With the Vancouver Canucks holding only a 1.9 percent chance, two teams appear to be fighting it out for the second spot; but after Phoenix beat Pittsburgh and Dallas lost to Chicago on Tuesday, some separation has been created there as well.

TeamPointsGames RemainingPlayoff Chances
Phoenix Coyotes82968.2
Dallas Stars791037.3

On top of that, seeding and division titles remain to be decided, meaning there will be no shortage of intrigue and story lines over the remainder of the regular season.

Feature photo courtesy of Russell LaBounty / USA TODAY Sports