For every NHL team there are roughly 10 games left. And with eight teams within nine points of each other (from 3rd-10th in the standings) there is still plenty to be decided. Points will ultimately determine who is grabbing the last playoff spot and who is grabbing a cab home.
A quick look at the standings courtesy of nhl.com:
A new tie-breaker wrinkle this year is the importance of wins in regulation and overtime
(ROW), not including wins that come by way of the shootout. Looking at the chart above one can see that Nashville and Calgary are behind the 8-ball while Anaheim, currently on the outside looking in, just needs to accrue points to vault into the playoffs ahead of them.
Now to take a deeper look into the remaining games for each team; Home (H), Away(A) and against rivals (r) with which they are jockeying for position. We will begin with places 3-6 in the standings.
- San Jose has a healthy point advantage and of their 11 remaining games they have 7H(6r) and 4A(4r).
- Los Angeles has 12 remaining and a favorable schedule with a great home record and 8H(6r) and 4A(2r) they look to be pretty assured of a spot.
- Phoenix has 11 remaining games with 7H(4r) and 4A(2r) but of the teams who would qualify today they have the worst home record and are only 4-4-2 in their last 10 games. This team is an enigma having only a +3 goal differential despite having 14 more wins than losses.
- Chicago is really on a tear at the right time and has 6H(1r) and 6A(2r) left and has the second best goal differential in the entire Western Conference. They also play three Eastern Conference games which can only help and not hurt them in the standings.
Those teams should be prepared for the postseason. Now for the next group, which begins with the Dallas Stars. ( Currently in positions 7-10)
- Dallas has 12 games remaining with 5H(2r) and 7A(5r) which might be a good thing considering their recent struggles at home. They finish the season with four games against teams that may not have anything to play for.
- Calgary has only 10 games remaining 4H(1r) and 6A(3r) and are only a .500 team on the road. That with their lack of wins in regulation puts them perilously on the edge of the post season.
- Nashville Has the most home games remaining with 9H(2r) and only 3A(0r) and with two games in hand on Calgary could easily make up ground. But not having many games against other teams in the mix they might have to rely on other teams to do their dirty work.
- Anaheim has the most games left of this group with 13, 6H(4r) 7A(7r), and has the most regulation/overtime wins of this group, but they also have the worst goal differential at -7. With 11 games left against teams they are in contention with, they could really make a move…up or down.
Goal differential is the 4th of the tie-breakers but it is also a good indicator of the overall quality of a team. Squeaking out the wins and getting blown out in losses is not a recipe for postseason success.
Looking at the above information in relation to the Dallas Stars is a scary thing. We’ll check back in on this situation in a couple weeks to see how things are shaking out. Are the Stars one of the top-8 teams in the West? Yes. Can they make the playoffs? Yes. Will they? Only time will tell.