Stanley Cup Playoff Tiebreakers

While Major League Baseball opens its season tonight (Go Cubs! Next Year Is Now), the world’s greatest sport is wrapping up its regular season, getting ready for the best playoffs the world has known or will ever know, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  You might notice, if you take a glance at the standings this morning, that the Dallas Stars (favorite team of our very own Justin) are not officially eliminated from the playoffs as of yet.  That very likely will change Monday night, but since it is Easter and MLB Opening Day, two bastions of Hope in the normally dreary and dark world, let’s take a look at what it would take to get the Dallas Stars into the playoffs.

Stanley Cup

Well, the Winnipeg Jets currently sit just out of the playoffs with 92 points, and the San Jose Sharks are also currently ahead of the Stars with 87 points, so the Stars (with 86 points) would have to pass both of them.  As well as the current holder of that last playoff spot, the LA Kings, with 92 points.

Here’s the kicker.  The Stars only have 3 games left, so the most points they can finish with is 92, the same number the Kings and Jets already have, and the Kings and Jets both still play 4 more games.

So, clearly, best case scenario is the Stars, Kings, and Jets all finishing the season with 92 points, which means tiebreakers will come into play.

Before we get to those, let’s go ahead and play out the last remaining games for the four teams in this conversation, the Kings, Jets, Sharks, and Stars.  (Note: This is not my prediction for how things will turn out, I don’t believe things will go this way, but to get to the interesting tiebreakers, we’re going to have some fun with these as of yet unplayed games).

Monday – April 6 (Home team last)

Jets 2 Wild 5 F

Kings 1 Canucks 4 F

Stars 6 Sharks 1 F

Tuesday – April 7

Jets 1 Blues 3 F

Kings 0 Oilers 3 F

Wednesday – April 8

Stars 7 Ducks 2 F

Thursday – April 9

Jets 4 Avs 5 F

Kings 3 Flames 6 F

Sharks 3 Oilers 2 F SO

Saturday – April 11

Flames 2 Jets 1 F

Sharks 3 Kings 0 F

Preds 3 Stars 8 F

Alright, with those games in the books, there is a three way tie for the last playoff spot.

The first tie breaker is games played, but all would have played 82 games.

The next tie breaker would be ROW.  Regulation and Overtime Wins.  Shootout wins don’t count for this metric.  Currently, the Kings have 37.  They would finish with 37 under this scenario, since we have them losing all three remaining games in regulation.  The Jets have currently (and would finish with) 33.  The Stars, having won their three remaining games in regulation, would have 37 as well (they currently have 34).

ROW would eliminate the Jets.  Sorry, Winnipeg.

The Kings and Stars, however, would remain tied.  Therefore, we must move on to the next tiebreaker, head to head.

Now, the Stars and the Kings played in three games this season, twice in Dallas, once in LA.  So, to make it where neither team has a home-ice advantage, the first of the two games played in Dallas doesn’t count for this tiebreaker.  Unfortunately, LA won in LA and Dallas won in the second game played in Dallas, so the two teams remain tied.

We move on to the fourth (and final) tiebreaker: Goal Differential.

Currently, LA is a +17 while Dallas is a -10.  Of course, there are games to play, so those numbers will change.  You get the goal differential by taking the number of goals your team scored and subtracting the number of goals your team has given up.  Shootout wins result in a plus one to Goal Differential.  Since we came up with scores for the remaining games, we will retabulate the goal differentials to determine which team in this scenario will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs…

Okay, we have LA losing four games by a combined 12 points.  So we’ll subtract 12 from their Goal Differential of +17 and come up with +5.  Okay.

We have Dallas winning its last three games by a combined 15 points.  Remember, they’ll need a +6 or higher to move on in the playoffs.  Recalculating… they now have a… huh… +5.

They would still be tied…

There is no further tiebreaker.

Under this scenario, I have no idea who would make the playoffs.  I asked great Hockey Blog Puck Daddy what would happen under this scenario, and they also said they were unsure.

They suggested maybe a Rock/Paper/Scissors match to determine the winner.

Sounds good to me.  Let’s have the Captain’s battle it out Rock/Paper/Scissors style.

Jamie Benn and Dustin Brown, start studying strategies.  It might just come down to this.

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