Is that a light up ahead? (Playoff outlook 4-2-2011 Updated)

Most of us have seen numerous ways to display the "odds" or whatever of what it is going to take our Chicago Blackhawks to make the Playoffs. Whether it is SRS or Sport Club Stats or something in between, they are dealing with chance or odds of the future based on the performance of the past.

Here is another way to look at cause and effect, also mixed in with some of the past to help determine a probable future, but no percentage of probability attached to it. Just a presentation of what is, and if a certain club ends up with a given number of points, what it will take the Hawks to finish ahead of them.

The first thing I did was map out the Hawks and 16 points available to them, and cross it to what it will take any of the teams from 4th-10th to end the season with 1 more point than the Hawks. I am not accounting for a tie in the standings directly, since Tie-Breakers can shift too much to accurately account for them, but rather used the simpler goal of at least a +1 in the Standings.









Games remaining




4 5 5 3


This chart is broken into total points gained from this day forward to the end of the season and what that would equate to in points per game for each team. The 6 teams to the right of the Hawks are lined up to show how many points that team would be required to gain  to finish 1 point ahead of the Hawks at the completion of 82 games (example if the Hawks gain 5 points the rest of the season, the amount of points the other teams would be required to gain with their remaining games would be PHX-2, LAK-4, NSH-4, ANA-5, DAL-10, CGY-N/A), and the chart can also be used to determine how many points the Hawks need to earn to beat another team in the standings working this process backwards.

Keep in mind, not all teams have equal games remaining (as of April 2, 2011 was from 3-6 games per team) that is why Points per game is also included. The area shaded Red indicates a Points per game average which is higher than that teams season average. The Black area denotes point combination which can not be achieved. The black area to the top left indicates teams are already 1 point+ ahead of the Hawks, while in the bottom right, if the Hawks achieve the points in their column, the corresponding team can not end +1 point on the Hawks. In order for the Hawks to qualify for the Playoff, they need to finish above 2 other teams, of the 6 shown here.

So as can be seen by this chart if the season Point per game average holds true for the remainder of the season, the Hawks will finish ahead of 4 of the 6 teams and end up in 8th place.   But as has been pointed out in numerous comments, each schedule and strength is not the same, some teams have an easier schedule than others, and points/game average is the sum of all games, not just an unbalanced easy or difficult stretch. So what I have attempted to do is bracket the most probable point totals for each team based on their schedule.   Here are all seven teams remaining schedule (Note: Home and Away is ONLY indicated in games common among these 6 teams)    

I have broken the Schedule into 5 categories for each team.

Red = Games vs top 1/3 teams (NHL)

Yellow = Games vs Middle 1/3 teams

Green = Games vs Lower 1/3 teams

Purple = Common Games Home & Common games away.








With these 5 categories, I assigned two methods to calculate how many points a team may be expected to earn with its remaining games (denoted by blue and tan)

Blue Projected Points: For each game vs a certain category each game the team in concern (not opponent) is awarded points in the following manner

Category Red Yellow Green Purple Home Purple Away
Points/Game 0 1 2 2 1

This method makes it simple to broadly project a point total. Since each team in general should loose to the better team, no points are awarded against those teams. Against middle 1/3 teams which tend to have similar records 1 point is given per game (this is for a 50% win avg.), and 2 points are given to teams they should beat in the lower 1/3 of the NHL. For games against a common opponent, since 3 points a game is the new Blue, I have awarded 2 points to the Home team and 1 to the visitor. This helps account for worse case scenarios (which seem to happen most of the time) and also helps weigh Home ice slightly in favor overall. All points are added for a final projection.

Tan Projected Points: Similar to Blue, these are fixed numbers, but are based on the current point per game average for each team, and are determined in the following manner.

Category Red Yellow Green Purple Home Purple Away
Points/Game PPG * 0.75 PPG AVG PPG * 1.25 1.5 1.5

This method considers each team can beat a better team, loose to a lesser team, and be average against similar teams, and also against common teams will equally win and loose in 3 point games. All points are added, and rounded to the nearest whole number for a projected final points total.


These two methods calculate two separate methods that a team should realistically have a large probability of finishing within these two numbers limits. This creates a realistic (I hope,………….kinda) bracket of how many points a team will gain in its remaining games. When combined with the previous chart we can see the following.

The Blue Bar represents the Blue projected Hawks point total and the Tan bar the Tan projected point total, while the Green (equal to the Tan) is the current Average (Note: Hawks PPG AVG is 1.19). So here we can see what the Hawks need to do, to overcome the brackets of each team, and also what other teams need to do to overcome the Hawks brackets.

As can be seen using the basic blue projection the Hawks beat no teams outright BLAH! Put using the Tan Projections the Hawks outright beat two teams………..maybe since a tie breaker would be needed to decide that, and that would be the 8th seed(remember the points of the corresponding teams is to OUTRIGHT beat the Hawks by at least +1 in the standings). But if the Hawks keep up their season average, and remember they are one of the best teams in the second half, they beat 3 teams and also clinch at least 7th. But keep in mind LAK, ANA and DAL each play at least 3 games vs these common teams, and each was awarded at least 1 point in each. So each of these games that DOES NOT got to OT helps the Hawks incredibly when looking at how close the final standings are when assuming all will be 3 point games.

So I hope this helps out in clearing up what is really needed, and also show that the Hawks are far from being safe. It also shows the importance of winning outright against common teams.


So this loss on March 26 to the Mighty Fucks does hurt,  win would have been huge since it would have moved the Hawks effectively 5 points up on DAL with their loss. But that Dallas loss did help the Hawks by a decent amount, since DAL still needs to earn 3 more points than the Hawks right now to get past them (which is 2 played games each). So if the Hawks Manage only 6 points (3-5-0) in their remaining 8 games this will require DAL to 4-3-1 or 4-2-2 in their last 8 with playing SJS, LAK, PHX and ANA in that bunch, which would seem DAL has a decent chance of doing but would not be easy.

With this it seems the Hawks need to win 2 of 4 from the four against DET & BOS, while winning 2 of 4 from the remaining games (CBJ, TBL, MTL, STL), to finish with 96 points as a realistic goal and also force DAL to play at a 11 point pace in their last 8 (5-2-1 or 4-1-3) which seems to be a more difficult proposition for DAL. If the Hawks go 4-3-1 or better over these last 8, they should be enough to play into late April at least, since this would require DAL to gain 12 points in 8 games, and with the teams they are playing, probably not going to happen.

This playoff fight has pretty much turned from 6 teams playing for 4 spots, into 3 teams playing for 2 spots between CHI, DAL, ANA. NSH, LAK, PHX are in if they can go without going on a serious losing streak since each has at least a 4 point lead and currently own the tie breaker over DAL requiring DAL to gain 5 points over them over the course.

The Hawks are not yet on life support, but they are in the ER now. They have the most difficult schedule ahead now, and need to play in the next gear to advance to the Happy Season. Anything less than Playoff mode will leave the Hawks watching SCUM, unless DAL or ANA completely shit the Bed.


The Hawks tae 2 of 4 points in their last 2 while DAL only gains 1 point in its game, so the overall pace stays equal. The Hawks still are more in control, still requiring the Stars to have 2 more wins than the Hawks over their last 7 to beat the Hawks. A combination of a Hawks win and DAL loss, though it does not clinch, makes it very improbable the Stars can recover. Keep it going 1 game at a time, and if all goes well come Sunday the Hawks can rest Crawford for a couple (2 Hawks wins and at least 1-2 DAL loss for a 5-7 point lead), or they can be in 9th (2 DAL wins and 2 Hawks losses 1 point out), and the sweating can be done.

Hawks magic number is now at 11 with 6 to go (as long a GR is at least half the Magic number this is good, the team controls its fate). [Subtract 1 point for each point the Hawks earn, and 1 point for each the Stars fail to earn].


The Hawks magic number now sits at 7, so any combination of 7 Hawks points AND 7 points DAL fails to gain will clinch 8th (example a Hawks win and DAL Reg. Loss would subtract 4 points). The Hawks have not clinched anything, but a firmly in the drivers seat, and has forced DAL to win 3 games of its 7 remaining to beat out the Hawks at a minimum, and that is assuming the Hawks go 0-5-0 the rest of the way. Each Hawks win only makes it increasingly more difficult on DAL.

The Hawks are also capable to catch any team ahead of them, by trailing 1-2 points in equal played games, or 4 vs PHX but the Hawks still having 2 games in Hand. The flip side is these teams would also probably need to loose to DAL to catch them, so while it is reachable, DAL losing is preferable.

This is what it will take DAL to catch the Hawks based on a Hawks finishing record over their last 5 (edited post DAL Loss at LAK)

Hawks 0-5-0 1-4-0 2-3-0/1-2-2/0-1-4 3-2-0/2-1-2 4-1-0 5-0-0
DAL 3-2-0/2-1-2 4-1-0/3-0-2 5-0-0 N/A N/A N/A


One DAL loss this weekend would be great, Two would be awesome, and 2 DAL losses and a Hawks win Sunday, will clinch at least a tie, with 4 games remaining  each.

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