In the vein of Here Come The Bruins' "Death Watch", I present for your reading pleasure the Clinch Watch: An examination of which teams have clinched a playoff spot, and which teams have booked their tee time for the off-season. Although most teams have between 12-15 games left or so, there are a few locks. I'll be using numbers from Sports Club Stats, who work out all those permutations and combinations to determine the possibility of a team making or not making the playoffs, if it exists. So without further ado, here are the four teams who are clinched so far:
Boston Bruins: With their 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators last night, the Bruins have now assured themselves a playoff spot. Their average finish is 1.14th place, and it's based on all possible scenarios--so the numbers sugest they should still be first place in the East. In fact the Bruins are guaranteed at least a fifth-place finish unless they lose all 13 games that remain in the season.
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have actually been a lock since March 4, largely because the Western Conference's are farther ahead than the lower-ranked playoff teams when compared to the Eastern Conference leaders. The numbers suggest they're likely to finish first in the West (average finish: 1.26th place) , even though they're just behind the Detroit Red Wings right now. The worst San Jose can finish is sixth, but as long as they win at least one of their final 16 games they won't finish lower than third place.
Detroit Red Wings: They've been a lock since Feb. 19? That doesn't sound right, but that's the impression that I get from SCS. Either way, they're a cinch now, and their most likely finish is second place in the West (they're average is 1.81). They won't finish any lower than sixth, any lower than second an anomaly, and lower than fourth a tremendous unlikelihood.
New York Islanders: The best the Isles could possibly finish is tenth, but there's an 81.967 per cent chance that they'll stick to last place in the Eastern Conference (average finish is 14.8). The Islanders have been pretty much eliminated since February.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa Bay could technically finish ninth place, but there's a 28 in 100,000,000 chance of that happening, apparently (0.000028 per cent). Their average finish is 13.8, with a 56.965 per cent chance of finishing in 14th place.
The Senators have about a 1 in 2,000 chance of making the playoffs, with a 0.053116 per cent chance of making it. So it's pretty much not going to happen. Pretty much. Average finish for the Sens is 11.69, 47.657 per cent chance of finishing in 11th place in the East.