In the pre-season, John postulated it would take 56 points to make the playoffs. Well, now with all the EC teams having played at least 1/2 of their games, I think it's a reasonable time to revisit that estimate. Granted just because team X has performed at a certain level so far doesn't guarantee they'll continue to perform at that pace, but let's take a look at what the current paces give us, shall we?
By the way, what happened to "the jump?"
Looking at teams 5-15 (with the Devils currently holding spot #7), How many points are they all on pace to get? In the case of partial points, I'll round up to show the slightly more difficult road. Even with the Devils recent slump, the end goal is actually easier to reach because the lowest teams have gained ground on the bubble teams.
5. Maple Leafs - Current point percentage, .596. On pace for 58 points. (5th)
6. Senators- Current point percentage, .600. On pace for 58 points. (5th)
7. Devils - Current point percentage, .558. On pace for 54 points. (8th)
8. Rangers - Current point percentage, .583. On pace for 56 points. (7th)
9. Jets- Current point percentage, .520. On pace for 50 points. (9th)
10. Islanders - Current point percentage, .481. On pace for 47 points. (10th)
11. Flyers - Current point percentage, .463. On pace for 45 points. (11th)
12. Capitals - Current point percentage, .438. On pace for 42 points. (12th)
13. Lightning- Current point percentage, .420. On pace for 41 points. (13th)
14. Sabres - Current point percentage, .404. On pace for 39 points. (14th)
15. Panthers - Current point percentage, .385. On pace for 37 points. (15th)
So, if everybody performs at their current pace, 51 points would be enough to make the playoffs. Devils would need to perform at .500 (22 additional points) to reach that point.
OK, so what if some of the fringe teams out-perform their early levels? For this argument, we'll omit Ottawa and Toronto, since any improvement by them wouldn't knock the Devils out of a playoff position. We'll also ignore the bottom 4, since to reach 56 points, they'd all need to average a .729 percentage or better.
So how many points would the current 8-11 end up with if they all performed at a .600 pace, which over the course of the entire shortened season would equate to 57.6 points. Again, rounding any partial points upward.
8. NY Rangers - .600 puts them on pace for 57 points. (8th)
9. Winnipeg - .600 puts them on pace for 54 points. (9th)
10. NY Islanders - .600 puts them on pace for 52 points. (10th)
11. Philadelphia - .600 puts them on pace for 51 points. (11th)
So if the fringe teams all perform at .600 the rest of the way, 57 points gets you tied for 8th. So, for the Devils to stay ahead of an over-performing group, 55 points is the target, or .591 (26 more points).
Finally, what if those fringe teams perform a a slightly better than their current pace, but not a flat .600 across the board? For this exercise, we'll assume each team performs at 25 percentage points better than so far.
7. Devils - .583 puts them on pace for 55 points. (8th)
8. NY Rangers - .608 puts them on pace for 58 points. (7th)
9. Winnipeg - .545 puts them on pace for 52 points. (9th)
10. NY Islanders - .506 puts them on pace for 48 points. (10th)
11. Philadelphia - .488 puts them on pace for 46 points. (11th)
So the Devils will need 53 points under this scenario to secure 8th place, .545 the rest of the way.
At this juncture, 51 points puts them on the right side of the playoff fence if the rest of the conference performs as they have been.
53 points gets them there if the 8-11 teams slightly outperform their current paces.
55 points gets them there if the 8-11 teams vastly outperform their current paces.
So, is 56 points still a pretty good target? Looks like it puts them safely in the playoffs. To be safe at this point, unless one of the other top 7 goes in the tank, it still may take as many as 57 points, which to get there the Devils would have to over-perform their overall pace so far. 54 is looking pretty good at this point in time. That one win could make a difference.