Western Conference Playoff Push – 97 points or bust?

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 - Save & Share - 3 Comments


Current Western Conference standings:

WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:
(before games played Feb 17th, 2011)

1 – Vancouer Canucks* 58GP, 37-12-9, 83 points
2 – Detroit Red Wings* 56GP, 34-16-6, 74 points
3 – Phoenix Coyotes* 58GP, 30-19-9, 69 points
4 – Nashville Predators 57GP, 30-19-8, 68 points
5 – San Jose Sharks 58GP, 31-21-6, 68 points
6 – Anaheim Ducks 58GP, 32-22-4, 68 points
7 – Dallas Stars 58GP, 31-21-6, 68 points
8 – Calgary Flames 60GP, 30-22-8, 68 points
9 – Los Angeles Kings 57GP, 32-22-3, 67 points
10 – Minnesota Wild 57GP, 30-22-5, 65 points
11 – Chicago Blackhawks 57GP, 29-22-6, 64 points
12 – Columbus Blue Jackets 57GP, 28-23-6, 62 points
13 – St. Louis Blues 55GP, 25-21-9, 59 points
14 – Colorado Avalanche 58GP, 25-26-7, 57 points
15 – Edmonton Oilers 57GP, 17-32-8, 42 points

* division leader

Projected Western Conference standings:

PROJECTED WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS:
(after 82 games played)

1 – Vancouer Canucks* 82GP, 54-18-10, 118 points (3 PSOW)
2 – Detroit Red Wings* 82GP, 50-23-9, 109 points (4 PSOW)
3 – Phoenix Coyotes* 82GP, 44-28-10, 98 points (4 PSOW)
4 – Nashville Predators 82GP, 43-27-12, 98 points (9 PSOW)
5 – San Jose Sharks 82GP, 44-30-8, 96 points (4 PSOW)
6 – Anaheim Ducks 82GP, 45-31-6, 96 points (6 PSOW)
7 – Dallas Stars 82GP, 44-30-8, 96 points (7 PSOW)
8 – Los Angeles Kings 82GP, 46-32-4, 96 points (10 PSOW)
9 – Minnesota Wild 82GP, 43-32-7, 93 points (3 PSOW)
10 – Chicago Blackhawks 82GP, 42-31-9, 93 points (4 PSOW)
11 – Calgary Flames 82GP, 41-30-11, 93 points (10 PSOW)
12 – Columbus Blue Jackets 82GP, 40-33-9, 89 points (6 PSOW)
13 – St. Louis Blues 82GP, 37-31-14, 88 points (4 PSOW)
14 – Colorado Avalanche 82GP, 35-37-10, 80 points (4 PSOW)
15 – Edmonton Oilers 82GP, 24-46-12, 60 points (1 PSOW)

* projected division winner
PSOW – projected shootout wins

The Western Conference playoff picture has tightened considerably since the 2011 Allstar Game break. The Pacific Division in particular has been playing a playoff style of hockey since February 1st. The Los Angeles Kings, at one point the 5th of five Pacific Division teams in playoff position, have reeled off a 10-game point streak but still remain on the outside looking in with 25 games to play. With 6 injured forwards, the Dallas Stars have dropped 9 of their last 11 games (2-8-1) to fall from 3rd place to 7th in the standings. The Phoenix Coyotes, looking to finalize the franchise’s sale to new owner Matthew Hulsizer by possibly next week (pre-trade deadline), have won 5 straight to take over 3rd place in the Conference and 1st place in the Division. With Wednesday night losses by Anaheim, Dallas and Colorado (OT), the Sharks moved up 2 places in the standings to 5th in the Conference without playing a game. After piling up 9 straight losses (0-8-1) and witnessing a failed 2-game return for future Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg, the Colorado Avalanche have all but dropped out of playoff contention.

The new NHL tiebreak clause for the 2010-11 season, “The greater number of games won, excluding games won in the shootout”, will have a significant impact on playoff qualifications with 4 teams projected to finish tied for the final 4 playoff spots with 96 points. Pacific Division rivals San Jose and Anaheim will finish over Los Angeles and Dallas with their ability to close out games in regulation or in OT. The playoff picture has picked up considerabley from February 1st, when 4 teams were projected to finish tied for the final 2 playoff spots with 92 points. On that date the Sharks finished tied with Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas with 92 points, but remained out of the playoff picture based on their number of projected shootout wins. San Jose has since gone 10 games without a shootout win, after picking up 3 in its previous 48.

Post-lockout, 90-95 points was the target for teams to make the playoffs. Last season was the first time a team qualified for the postseason with less than 91 points since the introduction of the shootout. The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers both qualified with 88 points, and both advanced to the Conference Finals in the East. In the five seasons since the lockout, Western Conference teams that qualified for the 8th playoff spot needed to earn an average of 93.6 points (05-06 Edmonton – 95 points, 06-07 Calgary – 96 points, 07-08 Nashville – 91 points, 08-09 Anaheim – 91 points, 09-10 Colorado – 95 points).

[Update] A look back at the NHL press release that announced the new tiebreak change in September: Board of Governors approve new tiebreaker system.

While 20 of the League’s best players were in New York for a preseason promotional tour, the NHL’s Board of Governors gathered at a nearby hotel to approve a new tiebreaker system for the standings. Starting with the 2010-11 season, the tiebreaker among teams with the same total of points in the standings will go to the club with the most regulation and overtime wins — no longer including shootout wins in the decision.

“All of our research indicates overwhelmingly that the fans do like the shootouts,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “There has been an increase [in shootouts] in the last year, after consistent numbers in the four prior years, but one year does not an issue make.”

Statistics prove out the Commissioner’s point: From the 2005-06 season through 2008-09, games resulting in overtime ranged from 272 to 282 and shootouts ranged from 145 to 164. Last season, total overtime games totaled 301 and there were 184 shootouts.

[Update2] Current NHL Playoff Matchups – ESPN.com.

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3 Responses to “Western Conference Playoff Push – 97 points or bust?”

Pingback from Bullet Points – San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings | SHARKSPAGE
Time February 23, 2011 at 5:42 PM

[...] their 15th 100 point season over the last 18 years. The Sharks were on pace for 96 points as of last week, but they could be edging their way towards their 5th straight 100 points season, their 6th in 7 [...]

Pingback from Western Conference Playoff Push – 95 points or bust? | SHARKSPAGE
Time February 25, 2011 at 9:35 AM

[...] tight playoff race in the West is changing week to week. Last Thursday there was a 4-team tie for the last 4 playoff positions in the West, but San Jose, Phoenix and Los [...]

Pingback from Western Conference Playoff Push – 95 points or bust? | SHARKSPAGE
Time March 18, 2011 at 5:16 PM

[...] trailing Anaheim, Minnesota and Chicago for the final 3 playoff spots. The race changed on February 17th, win streaks by San Jose and Phoenix moved the chains on the playoff window. An 0-8-1 streak for [...]