You can’t clinch a playoff spot in the first 10 games but a fast start matters.
Since the lockout, teams that have posted 16+ points in their first ten games have made the playoffs 16 out of 18 times (89%).
The only two exceptions were the 05-06 Canucks (started 8-1-1, finished with 92 pts) and 10-11 Blues (started 7-2-1, finished with 87 pts).
At the other end of the spectrum, teams that have gained 6 or less points in the first ten have missed the playoffs on all thirteen occasions, most recently the Devils who started last year at 2-7-1.
Prior to this season, the teams with the best & worst combined starts over the past six years are:
Detroit, 39-14-7, 6 playoff appearances
Montreal, 38-14-8, 5 playoff appearances
Buffalo, 38-18-4, 4 playoff appearances
Phoenix, 23-33-4, 2 playoff appearances
Florida, 24-33-3, 0 playoff appearances
Atlanta, 24-30-6, 1 playoff appearance
The best single-season start belongs to the Sabres who went 10-0 in 2006-07.
The 2009-10 Leafs had the worst start at 1-7-2, while the 06-07 Coyotes and 07-08 Thrashers also had just four pts (2-8-0).
With their 1-7-1 start, Columbus has a good chance at matching or beating those numbers.
To make the playoffs they’ll have to dig out of an early season hole deeper than any team has climbed post-lockout.