We've just passed the half-way point of the season (621 of 1230 games have been played) , and I think it's about time to take a look at which teams are bound for the playoffs, which ones are more or less out of it, and the status for all those
teams in-between as well. What these rankings show, is what all the teams need to do to lock up a playoff spot. As the conferences have been two very different monsters this season, the chances of reaching the post-season are quite different as well. These
chances are dependent on the strength of the team in question itself and the strength of the teams they are competing with.
Take the current bottom-dwellers, for instance. The Buffalo Sabres have 26 points in
41 games. Even though they have two games in hand on Edmonton, they also trail them by five points. This means that they're on pace for seven fewer points than the Oilers (52 compared to 59), BUT they're closer to a playoff spot than them. This is possible
due to the fact that the team currently holding the last prorated playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, Detroit, is on pace for 90 points, while the team currently on pace for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, Phoenix, looks like they'll end up around
The Sabres will therefore probably need about 64 more points in their remaining 41 games, for a points percentage of .780 to capture that final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Edmonton (69 points
in 39 games) will likely need a fantastic .885 points percentage the rest of the way. Not only do the Oilers face tougher challenges on average than Buffalo, they'll also need a much better success rate to get there. These tables show the neccessary points
percentages the rest of the way for all teams, based on the prorated cut-off line, or target numbers, for each division/conference.