UPDATED after March 29 games
What follows below is a projection I've been doing for a few years; a look at the record teams likely need to close the season in order to make the playoffs. There's a little bit of guesswork involved -- but it generally works out quite close to what's listed here.
(What's unique about this season is that the playoff teams in the West are on pace for far more points than those in the East, which is why I've set the projected playoff mark at 94 in one conference and only 88 in the other. As I've written earlier this year, Western Conference teams have really beaten up on the East this year.)
I'll keep this updated throughout the rest of the regular season, so check back as we go.
Western Conference (94 points)
1. San Jose - qualified (on pace: 112 pts) 2. Chicago - qualified (on pace: 110 pts) 3. Phoenix - qualified (on pace: 108 pts) 4. Vancouver - qualified (on pace: 103 pts) 5. Nashville - qualified (on pace: 100 pts) 6. Detroit - 1-5-1 7. Los Angeles - 2-5-0 8. Colorado - 2-4-1 9. Calgary - 4-1-1 10. St. Louis - 6-0-1 11. Anaheim - 7-0-0 12. Minnesota - eliminated (max: 85 pts) 13. Dallas - eliminated (max: 85 pts) 14. Columbus - eliminated (max: 91 pts) 15. Edmonton - eliminated (max: 75 pts)
Eastern Conference (88 points)
1. Washington - qualified (on pace: 120 pts) 2. Buffalo - qualified (on pace: 103 pts) 3. Pittsburgh - qualified (on pace: 103 pts) 4. New Jersey - qualified (on pace: 102 pts) 5. Ottawa - 0-5-1 6. Philadelphia - 3-3-0 7. Montreal - 3-3-0 8. Boston - 4-3-0 9. Atlanta - 5-1-0 10. NY Rangers - 6-1-0 11. Carolina - eliminated (max: 85 pts) 12. NY Islanders - eliminated (max: 86 pts) 13. Florida - eliminated (max: 86 pts) 14. Tampa Bay - eliminated (max: 86 pts) 15. Toronto - eliminated (max: 81 pts)
What is this?
It's the return of the playoff push. To the chagrin of hockey-stat junkies everywhere, consider this the most basic standings watch you'll see anywhere.
It's all based on the premise that, if you get to between 90 and 95 points in the standings, you'll make the playoffs. There's a chance you can sneak in with less, especially in the Eastern Conference this season, but under the NHL's kooky everybody-gets-a-point system, this is what teams generally need to get in.