NHL - Eastern Conference Standings Predictions

The Eastern Conference is once again very close this season and still has five or six teams fighting for two or three playoff spots. The schedule for each of these teams in these final weeks is extremely important and could decide whether or not a team makes the playoffs. So far this season, the home team has earned on average 0.24 more points than the away team so a team like the Ottawa Senators with ten road games and only five home games left, could struggle down the stretch.

The other important factor to look at obviously is the strength of opponents. In order to do this I separated all teams into six tiers based on the points per game earned so far this season. I did some analysis and a one-tier difference will mean that the team in the higher tier will earn on average 0.2 more points than the team in the lower tier. In other words, if a top-tier team (Washington, San Jose or Chicago) hosts a bottom-tier team (Toronto or Edmonton), they will earn on average 1.74 pts per game while the bottom-tier team will earn 0.5. This seems pretty accurate since the top-tier teams have 25 points in 14 games so far this year against Toronto and Edmonton.

After coming up with all those formulas, I calculated the expected average points for each team for the games left and added them up to their points total so far this season. Here are my Predicted Eastern Conference Standings:

1 - Washington - 118
2 - Pittsburgh - 103
3 - Buffalo - 102
4 - New Jersey - 102
5 - Ottawa - 96
6 - Philadelphia - 93
7 - Montreal - 88
8 - Boston - 87
9 - Atlanta - 84
10 - NY Rangers - 82
11 - Tampa Bay - 82
12 - Florida - 80
13 - Carolina - 77
14 - NY Islanders - 74
15 - Toronto - 69

There are obviously a number of factors that could affect these, the most important one being injuries. It is safe to assume that the top seven teams in those standings will qualify for the playoffs considering the Canadiens have had injuries all season long and should welcome back Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron very soon. The Boston Bruins could however be in trouble after the injury to Marc Savard and the Atlanta Thrashers could also finish lower than expected (despite their easier schedule) after trading Ilya Kovalchuk. That eighth and final spot could therefore belong to the New York Rangers or even the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Check back tomorrow to see my Predicted Western Conference Standings.