You’ve probably heard it before, and you’ll likely hear it again, “teams that are in the playoffs on American Thanksgiving usually stay in the playoffs when the season is over.”
Give it a try for yourself. Do a Google search for the terms “NHL,” “Thanksgiving,” and “Playoffs.” You’ll inevitably find article after article describing this phenomenon, just 20 or so games into the season.
In reality, the numbers say of the 16 teams that make the playoffs, 12 or 13 of them are in playoff position on Thanksgiving, three or four are not.
Only 3 teams not in NHL playoff picture last Thanksgiving made playoffs. Other recent years:
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) November 20, 2017
“Of course, this data is compiled from a time when the league had 30 teams, it now has 31. However, that 31st is now sitting in first place all alone in the Pacific Division with two games in hand.
So the Thanksgiving date says the Golden Knights have a 75% chance of making the playoffs. The playoff probability chart on Hockey Reference has that number even higher, at 84%. SportsClubStats projects it the highest at 89%. While The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn’s computer has Vegas closer to 49%.
You’ve got to like those odds, even the most cynical of projections has the Golden Knights playing postseason hockey at T-Mobile Arena half of the time.
The stated goal was playoffs by three, Cup by six. Yet here were are, on one of the most talked about dates in the first half of the season, and playoffs in one is not only a legitimate conversation, it almost seems likely.
That, is something to be thankful for.