As promised in a comment in Alan Wright's recent post: statistical playoff likelihood (as of Feb 12th), I've taken all the teams competing for the last couple playoff spots (down to one we all always would love to see in the playoffs every year), and put their remaining games into a spreadsheet. I can easily play with results of specific games and see where things turn out when those results change. Of course results are just based on my opinions of who would likely win games, but without further ado:
OK, let's start with the basics:
7 Rangers 29-24-4 62 (+2)
8 Hurricanes 26-22-8 60 (-)
9 Thrashers 25-22-10 60 (-)
10 Sabres 26-22-5 57 (-3)
11 Panthers 23-24-7 53 (-7)
12 Leafs 23-27-6 52 (-8)
13 Devils 22-30-4 48 (-12)
Let's look at each team's schedule individually.
The Rangers have 25 games remaining. 2 against 1-8 in the west. 2 against 9-15 in the west. 10 against 1-6 in the east. 2 each against the Islanders and Senators. 7 games are with other teams being considered in this discussion.
The Hurricanes have 26 games remaining. 1 against 1-8 in the west. 2 against 9-15 in the west. 9 against 1-6 in the east. 2 against the Islanders and 1 with the Senators. 11 games are with the other 6 teams.
The Thrashers have 25 games remaining. 2 against 1-8 in the west. 2 against 9-15 in the west. 7 against 1-6 in the east. 1 against the Islanders and 2 with the Senators. 11 games are with the other 6 teams.
The Sabres have 29 games remaining. 2 against 1-8 in the west. 3 against 9-15 in the west. 9 against 1-6 in the east. 1 against the Islanders and 2 with the Senators. 12 games are with the other 6 teams.
The Panthers have 28 games remaining. 2 against 1-8 in the west. 3 against 9-15 in the west. 11 against 1-6 in the east. 2 against the Islanders and 3 with the Senators. 7 games are with the other 6 teams.
The Leafs have 26 games remaining. 1 against 1-8 in the west. 3 against 9-15 in the west. 11 against 1-6 in the east. 2 each against the Islanders and Senators. 7 games are with the other 6 teams.
The Devils have 26 games remaining. 1 against 1-8 in the west. 1 against 9-15 in the west. 10 against 1-6 in the east. 3 against the Islanders and 2 with the Senators. 9 games are with the other 6 teams.
So, there are 153 games remaining involving these 7 teams. 32 of these games involve 2 of these teams. With the Devils being involved in 9, 23 games have to be lost by teams above them. Among 6 teams, that averages out to just under 4 losses per team. Of course one team could run the table (unlikely) or the losses will be distributed unevenly (more likely). I've set up my spreadsheet to list each of these 153 games individually, indicating home and away teams, and which team I think may win each game. Then I take those results and add them to the current standings to find out where everybody ends up. I believe I was fairly reasonable predicting the rest of the team's results, even though a number of them looked pretty bad. But remember, they all play between 9 and 14 games against teams above them in the east or in a playoff position in the west, not easy games by any stretch. I was optimistic but not unreasonably so with the Devils, at least I think so.
Alphabetically, leaving the Devils for last (I gotta build up the suspense, don't I?). One caveat, none of my results include overtime/shootout losses. Hopefully those will be fairly evenly distributed among the teams so as not to vary the results drastically, but who knows.
Atlanta: I have them with an overall record of 12-13 going forward. Many of these 13 losses come in their 9 games against the league's better teams, 6 of which are on the road and 11 within the 7 in this group.
Buffalo: I have them at 12-17. They have 11 games against the league's better teams, also 6 on the road, plus 3 games on the road in the west. They also play the most games (12) within the group.
Carolina: 11-15. 10 games against the better teams 4 on the road, and 11 within the group.
Florida: 11-17. 13 games against the better teams, although only 4 on the road. 7 games within the group.
NY Rangers: 11-14 (I can hear the cheers now). they have 12 games against the better teams, 5 of them on the road, plus 7 games within the group.
Toronto: 8-18. Yeah, I was kind of surprised too. But they have 12 games against the upper tier, 5 on the road and 7 games within the group, however only 2 of them are at home.
N Devils 18-8. Aggressive, but not ridiculously so. 11 with the better teams, 5 on the road. 9 within the group.
So the final standings look like this after my "simulation":
7 NY Rangers 40-38-4 84
8 NJ Devils 40-38-4 84
9 Atlanta 37-35-10 84
10 Buffalo 38-39-5 81
11 Carolina 37-37-8 81
12 Florida 34-41-7 71
13 Toronto 31-45-6 68
Anybody that wants to see how I decided each of the games, I saved it where I keep the Death Watch, as Simulation Results. The games where both teams are red are between 2 of these 7. The home teams are in bold type, not that it matters since they're all listed in the "Home" column.
Perhaps I'm still a little too optimistic about the Devils chances, but it isn't really a stretch to see most of the teams above them struggle just enough to allow the Devils to catch up. They've closed the gap tremendously lately and I'm hoping they can still make a run to at least compete for that last spot.
Has this discussion changed your outlook on the Devils playoff chances?
Yes, I now think they "might" have a chance. (76 votes)
Yes, it changed my opinion, now I'm convinced they won't make it where before I wasn't sure. (2 votes)
No, I didn't think they'd make it and still don't. (33 votes)
No, I knew they would make it and this just supports my opinion. (40 votes)
No, I thought Frank was crazy before, now I believe it's absolute lunacy he's experiencing. (15 votes)
166 total votes