Setting goals, and planning ways to achieve said goals, is a good way to track progress…even if that progress is simply of the incremental variety. This is true in regards to personal and professional fields. It creates a type of measuring stick to indicate whether or not your are…ahem…moving in the right direction.
Now, one should always take care when setting such goals that they are not placed so high that you set yourself up for failure. Doing so then opens the door to disappointment and discouragement. Setting the bar too low is equally un-good because, if the achieved goals were not difficult at all to obtain, then the “success” is hollow and meaningless.
At the beginning of the season, I asked for predictions as to how you thought the Thrashers would do this season. As for me…I said they would net about 86 points, finishing in third place in the Southeast Division and eleventh place in the Eastern Conference. Needless to say, I was wrrr… ahem…I was wrrrrrrrr….. sigh…I was less correct than I normally am.
Currently, our Thrashers are 23-35-6 after 64 games played and have 52 points in the standings. That .406 points winning percentage puts them on a path for 67 points. However, back at New Years that projected path was only 62 points. So they have improved that projection by 5 whole points since.
Furthering that point, consider the following:
At the halfway point of the season…following a 3-1 loss in Pittsburgh on January 6…the Thrashers were 13-23-5 for 31 points…that’s a .378 PW%. Since that time, Atlanta is 10-12-1, a .457 PW%. Better still, the Thrashers are 6-6-1 since the 2-1 shootout win against the Rangers on February 3, a .500 PW%…and the team finished the month of February with a winning record of 6-5-1, which equates to a .542 PW%.
So, the team has been playing better of late.
But with 18 games left in the season, and any hopes of post-season action long removed from the realm of possibility…are there goals that this team can still achieve, statistically speaking? Sure…sure there are…and let me point out a few.
First, if you look just inside of the division, the Thrashers trail Tampa Bay by two points. Both teams have played 64 games going into games on Friday. For Atlanta to avoid last place in the division they need to play 3 points better than the Bolts down the stretch. If the Lightning continue at their .422 pace, that would mean the Thrashers would need to go 9-9-0 to finish with 70 points…one better than the 69 Tampa Bay is on pace for. That’s doable, is it not?
OK, well…how about not finishing behind the last-placed team in the Western Conference? Right now, that’s Colorado with a record of 28-36-1 for 57 points. Continued on that course, the Avs would net 72 points. For the Thrashers to simply match that sum, they would need 20 points in the last 18 games played…say a 10-8 record or 8-6-4. Again…not outside the bounds of reality.
Last season, Atlanta finished with 76 points. To reach that level again, the Thrashers need 24 points…this would be performing at a 12-6-0 level. OK, that might seem a tad bit steep.
Here is something even tougher though…but still worth noting. Right now, the Thrashers are slated to have their logo posted on a number of lottery pick ping-pong balls. Personally, I see that as the ultimate depiction of failure for a team…an embarrassment. Doubly so if that is the case two years in a row. But, in order to escape that fate…to finish with five teams below them in the standings…then the target goal is 25th place in the NHL. Currently that spot is held by Phoenix with a 28-31-5 following Thursday night’s 2-1 win in Boston, (yes, you read that correctly). Therefore, the Coyotes are heading for about 78 points. For the Thrashers to overtake them with 79 points, that means they would have to go something like 12-3-3 in the last 18 games. Yikes!
Lastly, if having a non-losing record is your goal…82 points at least…that means the Thrashers would have to net 30 points between now and the end of the season…that requires that Atlanta performs at a level something like 15-3-0 or 14-2-2 to finish off the end the year. The term that I would use to illustrate the probability of that happening is, “notgonnahappen-nowayinhell”.
So, given the above-stated goals…which one do you think is the most reasonable that the Thrashers can achieve?