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So, What Exactly is the Caps’ Magic Number? February 6, 2010

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

I’ve been getting a lot of traffic looking for the Caps’ magic number, and there has been some back-and-forth among the TV announcers about what the Caps’ number is to clinch this or that. Let me give a full run-down on how to use the chart that I’ve been slaving over since October, for just this time of the year.

Take a look at the Magic Numbers Chart. There are seven columns on that chart, and I’m going to walk you through all seven.

The first column is “Team.” That’s simply the NHL’s three-letter abbreviation for each team. The Caps are WSH, the Penguins are PIT, and so on.

The next column is “Curr Points.” All that is, is the the team’s current point total, straight out of the standings.

Next over is “Max Poss Points.” If you read some of my other posts, you might see me refer to that as the “top line” number. What that is, is the maximum number of points the team can theoretically score, if they win every remaining game of the season. That’s not a practical possibility until it gets very late in the season, but we’re dealing strictly with the arithmetic here.

The magic numbers that I list in the next column are the numbers for the next clinch or elimination, along with the team that number is taken from. 27 teams have two numbers, one “plus” (next clinch) and one “minus” (next elimination). The President’s Trophy favorite does not have a minus number, and the two teams in last place in their conferences do not have a plus number. I only list numbers for the next event, but it is possible to figure out any team’s magic number against any other team. To get a magic number, you compare the leading team’s current points to the trailing team’s top line. The magic number is the difference between those numbers.

The “Which Does What?” column is simply what happens once a particular magic number is met. Some numbers can have multiple consequences, and each one is listed in this column.

The final two columns show which positions have been Clinched, and which positions teams can no longer reach.

For those who want to know what the Caps’ magic number is to clinch the Southeast, I will walk you through the process, and give the answer just this once. I don’t want to be accused of jinxing the season by looking too far ahead.

As of Friday night, February 5th, the Caps have 86 points, which you can see under “WSH/Current Points.” Now look down the table until you find the Southeast team with the highest top line. As this goes to press, the highest top line for all of the Caps’ Southeast rivals is Tampa Bay, with 111. And 111-86=25. Now, since the Caps are the President’s Trophy leader right now, every team in the NHL, East and West, has a minus number against the Caps for President’s Trophy elimination. So you can see Tampa Bay’s minus number against the Caps is 25 as this goes to press. And THAT is what the Caps need right now to officially lock up the Southeast. 25 points–that’s it. And even that assumes the Bolts run the table, which they won’t.

Hope that clears everything up. Now, somebody needs to go tell Craig Laughlin.




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