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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Can Isles Make the Playoffs with a Losing Record at Home?

Isles will finish with a losing record at home (for third straight year), even by NHL .500's (very low) standards.

In fact, when you consider that 27 of the 30 teams in the NHL have a winning record at home this season (including the entire Western Conference), it is remarkable that the Isles are in position to make the playoffs for the first time in six years.  Of course, the fact that the Isles are 7 games over .500 on the road for the first time since they were Stanley Cup Champions certainly helps their cause.

The Isles  are looking to become the first NHL team in the shootout era to make the playoff with a non-winning record on home ice.

The last team to do so was (somewhat ironically) the 2002-03 Islanders, who went 18-18-5 at home.

The last team to make the playoffs with a losing record at home was the 1998-99 Edmonton Oilers (17-19-5), back in the days when each game only counted for 2 points!

Back in those days, it was fairly common for teams to make the playoffs with non-winning records (in part because of the lack of loser points and in part because there were fewer teams in the league).

Recent teams to make playoffs (.500 or worse at home)
2002-03 Islanders 18-18-5  (lost in 1st round to Ottawa)
1998-99 Oilers 17-19-5 (swept in 1st round by Dallas)
1997-98 Canadiens 15-17-9  (upset Pittsburgh in 1st round before being swept in 2nd round by Buffalo)
1997-98 Sharks 17-19-5 (lost in 1st round to Dallas)

5 teams did it in 1996/97 (Ottawa, Montreal, Phoenix, St Louis, Chicago -- Habs were 17-17-7; the other 4 had losing records)
2 teams did it in 1995-96 (St Louis, Vancouver)
In the only other 48 game season in recent memory, San Jose went 10-13-1 at home and Dallas went 9-10-5 at home; both teams made the playoffs.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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