Olympic break reveals playoff picture

Don’t be deceived by the NHL’s 82-game schedule, because the playoff picture is all but drawn by the time the league goes on hiatus for the Olympics.

If you want to know whether your team will make the playoffs this spring, don’t bother waiting until April 13 when the season officially ends. The de facto drop dead date for making the post-season is Feb. 9, when the NHL shuts down for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

That’s because in the four NHL seasons broken up by the Games only six teams that were out of the playoffs by the break ended up making the post-season: Edmonton in 1998, Montreal and Phoenix in 2002, Anaheim and San Jose in 2006, and Vancouver in 2010.

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That means fewer than 10 percent of the 64 total playoff positions across those four seasons changed teams.