The Ottawa Senators nabbed the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference last season with 92 points in 82 games. That works out to an average of 1.12 points per contest, which equates to roughly 53 points in a lockout-shortened 48-game season.
In 2010-2011, 93 points was enough to grant the Blueshirts the final playoff spot, which is on pace with the Sens last season. In 2009-2010, 88 points sealed the deal, which is a little off the 1.12 mark set by the Rangers and Sens in previous years. Using this math, we can assume that the mid 50s is a reasonable target to earn a playoff spot again this year.
The Rangers led the way in the Eastern Conference last season with 109 points, which works out to about 63 in a 48-game season. So if the Blueshirts are the contenders we believe them to be, 60+ points should be the goal.
You’ll notice there isn’t much of a gap between the 63-point pace that might win the conference and the 53 points projected to make the postseason. In a lockout-shortened season, every point gained means much, much more. Every point lost means much, much more.
There are no throwaway games, especially with virtually every match likely to be within the conference. Each game has a four point swing in the playoff standings. As mentioned above, each point put between the Rangers and the ninth seed is worth much more. No one wanted this lockout, but there’s no doubt that the drama and intrigue surrounding a shorter year will be something to behold.
One other note: the extra points attainable in shootouts and overtime could make an enormous difference this season.