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Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider (L) juggles the puck as teammate Dan Hamhuis (C) and Columbus Blue Jackets Nick Foligno look on during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia March 26, 2013. (ANDY CLARK/REUTERS)
Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider (L) juggles the puck as teammate Dan Hamhuis (C) and Columbus Blue Jackets Nick Foligno look on during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia March 26, 2013. (ANDY CLARK/REUTERS)

The NHL Playoff Push: 52+ points or bust Add to ...

One more month to go.

After 720 games crammed into a compressed schedule, the NHL’s regular season will end on April 27, giving way to a condensed playoff format that will end two months later.

With the average team now having played 32 games, or two-thirds of their season, it seems like a good time to project forward what teams will need to qualify for the playoffs.

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In the East, it currently looks like the cut-off will be about 52 points, which is very low if you project it out over a full 82-game season (about 89 points).

In the West, it’s slightly higher at about 53 points, which is closer to about 91 over a full season.

Now, it’s possible to get in with less but not overly likely. And, with tiebreakers factored in, teams could miss even if they hit these targets.

Part of what’s happened this season is there hasn’t been enough time for true separation, with teams failing to fall into the bottom and lose a pile of games late in a longer season in a trend that usually pushes the playoff pace higher.

Keeping in mind these projected targets, here is what all 30 teams will need to do over the remaining games to get there:

 

Eastern (52 pts)

GR

W

L

OTL

1

PITTSBURGH

14

-- qualified --

2

BOSTON

17

3

13

1

3

MONTREAL

16

3

12

1

4

OTTAWA

15

5

10

0

5

TORONTO

14

6

8

0

6

NEW JERSEY

15

7

7

1

7

WINNIPEG

14

7

7

0

8

NY RANGERS

16

8

7

1

9

CAROLINA

17

10

7

0

10

NY ISLANDERS

15

9

5

1

11

WASHINGTON

15

10

4

1

12

BUFFALO

15

11

4

0

13

TAMPA BAY

15

11

3

1

14

PHILADELPHIA

16

12

4

0

15

FLORIDA

14

14

0

0

      
      
 

Western (53 pts)

GR

W

L

OTL

1

CHICAGO

16

-- qualified --

2

ANAHEIM

16

2

13

1

3

MINNESOTA

17

6

10

1

4

VANCOUVER

15

5

9

1

5

LOS ANGELES

16

7

8

1

6

DETROIT

15

7

8

0

7

ST LOUIS

16

8

7

1

8

SAN JOSE

17

9

7

1

9

DALLAS

16

10

6

0

10

NASHVILLE

15

9

5

1

11

COLUMBUS

15

10

5

0

12

EDMONTON

16

11

5

0

13

PHOENIX

16

11

4

1

14

CALGARY

17

12

4

1

15

COLORADO

17

13

3

1

 

Pittsburgh and Chicago have already hit the 52 and 53 point marks and will make the playoffs this season. It’s probably also pretty safe to assume Boston, Montreal, Ottawa and Anaheim will have no trouble joining them.

No team, meanwhile, cannot get there, although the Panthers are awfully close given they need to run the table to do so.

What this chart really does is put in perspective how herculean a task teams like Columbus, Edmonton, Washington and Philadelphia have to get there, needing to be one of the best teams in the league over the final 15 or 16 games to qualify.

Some teams look much closer to getting in than they actually are, but with only very average records, teams like the Rangers and Blues can stay ahead of them.

With the three-point games out there, it’s very difficult to gain ground.

For more on the odds of making the playoffs, Sports Club Stats does a good job expressing such things with percentages.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

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