Projecting the magic playoff number

"Not everyone wants to play the game, but for the statistically driven among NHL GMs, coaches and players – and there are lots of those – the primary exercise at this time of year is projecting The Number: That is, the number of points that gets you into the playoffs.

The Number has dramatically changed over the years; it has risen as a result of expansion; it rose again after the introduction of overtime; and in the first two post-lockout seasons; it skyrocketed for a third time after the shootout was adopted to put an end to the tie game.

Consider that back in the 21-team NHL, a really awful team could squeeze into the playoffs with a very low number if it happened to be playing in the right division.

In 1980-81, for example, the Hartford Whalers went 21-41-8 and still qualified, because the Detroit Red Wings were even worse at 19-43-18."