As the regular season is winding down, the clock is ticking on some teams’ playoff hopes, while the countdown also begins toward teams clinching postseason berths.
The Nashville Predators aren’t just looking to clinch a playoff berth, as the case has been in recent years. With bigger fish to fry, it’s important to take a big-picture view while still keeping the immediate goals in mind as well.
That’s where our magic number tracker is going to come in handy down the stretch. The goal is for everyone and their mother to be able to count down toward each attainable playoff seeding.
Each day for the remainder of the regular season, we’ll update two things – what the Preds’ magic number is for playoff positioning, and which results are preferential for the best possible playoff positioning.
(One caveat: every game assumes a regulation or overtime result for tiebreaker purposes. Shootouts will muddy the waters a bit, so the fewer, the better.)
How the magic number is calculated
The magic number is the difference between the Preds’ current point total and the maximum point total of whatever team is in the spot of reference (i.e., whichever playoff spot is in question), plus one point to avoid tiebreakers.
For example, Nashville currently sits at 93 points, and second-place Winnipeg’s maximum possible point total is 121, so the Preds’ magic number to clinch the Central Division title is 29 (121-93+1). It’s a combination of points gained by Nashville, plus points lost by the other team in question.
That number seems like a lot, but it could drop by as many as four points if both teams play on the same night.
None of Monday’s games had any impact on the Preds, as the magic numbers listed in the next section remain unchanged from yesterday.
Current magic numbers to clinch
These numbers are how many points the Preds need (either by their wins or others’ losses) to guarantee a finish in that spot, basically climbing the next rung up the ladder, if you will.
Playoff spot: 17
1st wild card: 18
2nd in Central, home ice in first round: 21
Win Central Division: 29
1st in Western Conference: 31
Presidents’ Trophy: 34
Tuesday’s rooting interests
In this section, we’ll break the schedule down into four levels – games for clinching a playoff spot, games for clinching the Central Division, games for top seeding (both in the West and for the Presidents’ Trophy), and games of no consequence.
The Preds, as previously mentioned, host Dallas tonight, and here’s the rest of the docket:
Colorado @ Chicago: Two ways you could go here – if you want to see the Hawks’ season officially go down in flames sooner, Colorado’s the pick. If seeing the Preds clinch a playoff spot faster is more your fancy – avert your eyes and side with an Avs loss.
Washington @ Anaheim: East over West here, since the Ducks are close enough to the cut line that missing the playoffs is a distinct possibility.
Winnipeg @ N.Y. Rangers: Another East over West choice, as you’re siding with the Rangers here for obvious reasons.
Carolina @ Minnesota: The faster Nashville can secure a top-two spot in the Central, the better. East over West means the Canes are the pick.
Top seeding interests
Detroit @ Boston: Red Wings are the pick here.
Vegas @ Columbus: Another case of East over West, and no overtime, please.
Florida @ Tampa Bay: All in for a Florida win, also preferably in regulation time.
Games of no consequence
Montreal @ New Jersey: If you want to scout Saturday’s opponent, the Devils, go ahead.
Sports Club Stats does a great job of breaking down the percentages of where teams will finish and who they could play in the postseason. Check it out here.
Hockey Reference gives you more numbers to peruse, and those can be found here.
Which team would you rather see as the Preds’ potential first-round playoff opponent?
This poll is closed