What We Learned: Is the playoff picture already locked in?

There's that old rule of thumb that if you're not in a playoff spot by American Thanksgiving, the odds are stacked against you to weasel your way into that spot.

One imagines this is even more the case by the time you get to the Christmas trade freeze, because there's even less runway to make a difference. Most teams have something like 55 games to go, but looking at the standings today, it's hard to see the playoff picture changing too much.

Going by points percentage, there's only one spot that's even vaguely up for grabs: The final Wild Card slot in the East currently being contested between the Detroit Red Wings (.532 through 31 games) and Boston Bruins (.577 through 26). Points in the bank are worth more than games in hand, in theory, but you'd have a difficult time convincing me that o

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