We are quickly approaching the halfway point of the 2021-22 NHL season, and while you might think that is still a lot of time to make up ground in the Stanley Cup Playoff race, the reality is that it is not.
Making up ground in the standings this late in the season is an extremely difficult task, and even a five-or-six point gap between you and a playoff spot might be asking a lot to overcome.
So let’s take a quick look at the current standings (before Saturday’s games) and see where things stand in the Eastern and Western Conference playoff races.
The Eastern Conference
It is kind of stunning how big of a gap there is right now between the teams currently in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference and the teams outside of a playoff spot.
Entering play on Saturday the two Wild Card teams (Pittsburgh and Boston) were both on pace for more than 106 points this season based on their current points percentages. That is an exceptionally high floor for a playoff spot because in most years 95 or 96 points tends to be the cut off. But right now every team in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference has a points percentage of at least .647, while six of them are over .660.
If those eight teams manage to play just a little over .500 hockey over their remaining games they are going to easily reach 95 points on the season.
That is bad news for the eight teams on the outside of the playoff race because right now only one of them — Columbus — has a points percentage of .500 or better for the season, and the Blue Jackets are exactly at .500. Detroit and the New York Islanders are the only teams over .460 in the conference.
Here is a look at the Eastern Conference standings, sorted by points percentage, and what each team needs to do to reach the 95-point mark this season.