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NHL Playoff Picture 2011: How Many Points Will It Take To Make It Out West?

The Western Conference NHL standings have been a jumbled mess almost all season long, but as we enter the final 10 games of the regular season and the 2011 playoff picture comes into clearer focus, we can try to get an idea of how many points teams will need to make the cut. 

Well, sort of. We'll let Quisp at SB Nation's Kings blog, Jewels From The Crown, explain things.

As it stands right now, current point totals project to a three-way tie for 7th between ANA, DAL and NAS, at 97 points. That would mean that one of those teams would miss the playoffs with 97 points.

Based on that, 98 is a better target. And if you're a team looking for some kind of comfort zone, it's better to over-shoot than under-shoot. That said -- and nothing is certain in the wild West -- if I had to bet, I would bet on the 8th place team at no more than 96. But there's a catch...

The catch is, the 9th place team might end up with 96 points, too. And the 10th place team. 

Yeah, it truly is wild in the Western Conference this season. Let's extrapolate what Quisp is saying here. He put together a bit of a formula on how he believes things will shape up over the rest of the season. You can read that at JFTC, but we'll just dabble in the results here for now.

Basically, we could very easily have a three-way tie for eighth place in the West. Two of those teams won't make the playoffs, obviously, and according to Quisp's projection, the Anaheim Ducks have the toughest road ahead of them. 

Look at the Ducks' schedule: DAL, NAS, CHI, COL, CGY, SJS, DAL, SJS, LA, LA.

More than any other team in this logjam, what the Ducks do will have a huge impact on the bottom four playoff seeds. I said this about Dallas a month ago, and it applies to Anaheim even more. With their schedules -- especially Anaheim's from here on -- if they make the playoffs, they will have earned it.

So, to recap: the Ducks have a rough go at things, and the Flames are almost surely going to need a lot of help from other parties to climb back into playoff positioning. There's a lot left to be said and things can certainly change, but teams are going to need just under 100 points to make the playoffs comfortably in the West this season.