Odds Strongly Favor 2018 Playoff Appearance For Devils

The Devils haven’t made the playoffs since 2012. -Getty Images

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With their first two months of the season in the books, New Jersey currently brandishes a surprising 14-6-4 record, and sit third in the Metropolitan Division. Most of the hockey world (Devils fans included) are still having trouble coming to grips with the team’s explosive start. It’s worth remembering the Devils are in perhaps the league’s toughest division, and just one point out of first place (which they previously occupied for a lengthy stretch of time).

The biggest question on everyone’s mind is how long the Devils can maintain this level of play, and how likely it is they find themselves in (dare I say it) a playoff position this spring. With nearly 60 games remaining, a lot can happen between now and April. Having said that, we may still get some insight on the Devils current playoff odds by looking back at NHL standings going into December of previous seasons, along with where those teams finished by April.

The charts below compare the eight teams in playoff positions going into December of the last four seasons in the Eastern Conference, along with the teams who wound up making the playoffs in that same year.

 

Italics– Wildcard team

Bold– Division Leader

2013-2014

December Standings Points Final Standings Points
Boston 38 Boston 117
Detroit 35 Tampa Bay 101
Montreal 33 Montreal 100
Pittsburgh 37 Pittsburgh 109
Washington 30 NY Rangers 96
NY Rangers 28 Philadelphia 94
Tampa Bay 33 Columbus 93
Toronto 31 Detroit 93

2014-2015

December Standings Points Final Standings Points
Tampa Bay 36 Montreal 110
Montreal 36 Tampa Bay 108
Detroit 33 Detroit 100
Pittsburgh 34 NY Rangers 113
NY Islanders 34 Washington 101
NY Rangers 26 NY Islanders 101
Boston 29 Ottawa 99
Toronto 27 Pittsburgh 98

2015-2016

December Standings Points Final Standings Points
Montreal 41 Florida 103
Detroit 30 Tampa Bay 97
Ottawa 29 Detroit 93
NY Rangers 36 Washington 120
Washington 35 Pittsburgh 104
Pittsburgh 30 NY Rangers 101
NY Islanders 30 NY Islanders 100
Boston 27 Philadelphia 96

2016-2017

December Standings Points Final Standings Points
Montreal 34 Montreal 103
Ottawa 30 Ottawa 98
Boston 27 Boston 95
NY Rangers 33 Washington 118
Pittsburgh 31 Pittsburgh 111
Columbus 30 Columbus 108
Washington 28 NY Rangers 102
Tampa Bay 27 Toronto 95

At first glance, the biggest takeaway is how many teams in a playoff spot going into December made the postseason in each of the last four years. Since 2013-2014 (first year of the current division alignments and playoff format), 24 out of 32 teams (75 percent) occupying a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference around December went on to make the postseason. Seven of eight teams occupied playoff positions in both December and April last season, five out of eight achieved this same feat in 2015-2016, while six out of eight did so in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.

What’s even more astounding is how teams in their divisions first through third slots around December wound up faring. Since 2013-2014, 21 out of 24 teams (87.5 percent) occupying a top-three spot in their respective divisions come December went on to make the postseason that same year. As mentioned earlier, the Devils currently sit third in the Metropolitan Division, are just one point out of first place, and very likely to remain no lower than third between now and their next game.

With their elevated play continuing through the season’s first two months and the team slowly getting healthier, there certainly is reason for fans to (slightly) start raising their expectations. While the charts above don’t necessarily indicate anything of the Devils quality of play, the mere fact they’re falling in such favorable odds should start giving this team and fan base a type of hope that’s usually begun to wither by now in recent seasons.

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