NHL Power Rankings – 10/25/2006

I debated whether I should post these power rankings or not because on the surface they don’t seem to make any sense. How could 9-0 Buffalo be ranked 12th overall? But finally I decided that I would post them with some explanation of what we are seeing.

First off, you will notice that the western conference teams dominate the top 10 or so positions. The reason for this is because the western confernce has a dominant record (14-5-3) against the eastern conference and since strength of schedule is a significant factor in the algorithm to calculate these power rankings most of the western conference teams get a big boost. Although I do see the western conference as being the better conference it is unlikely that they will continue to win at the same rate versus the eastern conference so over time things should settle down a bit.

So with that said, it is best to consider the power rankings as how eastern conference teams rank against eastern conference teams and how western conference teams rank against other western conference teams.

Now, some of you migh tthen point out that Atlanta and Washington are ahead of undefeated Buffalo in the standings and that doesn’t make sense either. Well, Buffalo has 3 shoot out wins which the algorithm considers as ties so Buffalo’s record is, for the purposes of calculating these rankings, 6-0-3. Atlanta’s record is 7-1-1 so in 9 games they have an equal number of points. So the difference comes in the fact that Atlanta has played a tougher schedule. As for Washington, they are getting a huge boost from playing one of the toughest schedules of any eastern conference team largely because they have played Minnesota once and Atlanta twice and going to overtime or a shoot out in all 3 of those games.

So I guess my final word of advice is to take these power rankings with a grain of salt. While there is some useful information held within them it is still pretty early in the season for them to be real accurate. That said, the prediction algorithm, which is loosely based on these rankings, has performed fairly well so they might not be completely out of whack.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 5 San Jose 0.778 0.608 0.972
2 4 Minnesota 0.750 0.643 0.969
3 2 Dallas 0.833 0.580 0.891
4 8 Anaheim 0.812 0.603 0.862
5 7 Edmonton 0.750 0.598 0.768
6 1 Vancouver 0.550 0.624 0.760
7 19 Atlanta 0.778 0.437 0.634
8 21 Colorado 0.444 0.638 0.628
9 3 Detroit 0.438 0.616 0.602
10 10 Los Angeles 0.350 0.693 0.586
11 16 Washington 0.429 0.535 0.541
12 6 Buffalo 0.833 0.373 0.522
13 13 Ottawa 0.429 0.470 0.454
14 18 Montreal 0.500 0.426 0.452
15 20 Florida 0.450 0.444 0.427
16 9 Toronto 0.556 0.430 0.418
17 25 Tampa Bay 0.438 0.444 0.391
18 24 Chicago 0.500 0.458 0.382
19 17 Carolina 0.389 0.430 0.379
20 14 New Jersey 0.500 0.387 0.370
21 23 St. Louis 0.312 0.561 0.357
22 12 Columbus 0.286 0.591 0.357
23 27 NY Islanders 0.375 0.497 0.356
24 11 Calgary 0.286 0.564 0.349
25 15 Pittsburgh 0.571 0.366 0.327
26 28 Nashville 0.375 0.455 0.312
27 30 Boston 0.357 0.415 0.288
28 22 NY Rangers 0.375 0.353 0.259
29 29 Phoenix 0.222 0.560 0.253
30 26 Philadelphia 0.188 0.357 0.134

AdjWinP is a teams winning percentage when shootouts are considered ties and there are no points awarded for overtime losses
SchedStr is an indication of a teams relative difficulty of schedule

This article has 8 Comments

  1. its cool that u posted these. but i always found it stupid when computers are used to rank things. stats dont tell the truth. but its fun to look how crazy some of it is, and it gives u a different percpective. also, i think it would have been nice to put either the league standings or the teams current points in the table to. just to give us a view of how everything is holding up.

    i always thought power rankings were useless during the first half of the season cuz they depend so much on stats and trends, and for the most part stats and trends arent really easy to pick up on during the first 40 games.

  2. On some level I agree with you though I think afrer 20 or so games it should be fairly stable.

    On another level I disagree and that largely has to do with the fact that I use these as a basis for my prediction algorithm which is actually fairly successful even this early in the season. So far my prediction algorithm is 19-10 which isn’t too shabby.

    Can you really argue that the top 4 teams in the west (and maybe even the NHL) aren’t San Jose, Minnesota, Dallas and Anaheim? Can you really argue that Montreal, Florida, Toronto and Tampa Bay aren’t middle of the pack teams? Can you really argue that Philadelphia and Phoenix aren’t the worst teams in the NHL so far? Not really to any of those questions.

  3. kudos on the difficulty of schedule stat, and the shootouts-as-ties. makes a hell of a lot of sense to me, and it’s something a lot of those other power rankings never seem to take into account.

  4. That’s exactly why I created it. That and the fact that it is unbiased unlike many which are generated by peoples opinions. It bugs me when I see weekly rankings on some sites where if you go 0 for 3 one week you can fall from 8th to 18th. Does a bad couple of games really turn you from a good team to a mediocre one? I don’t understand that. Hence my power rankings.

  5. Early in the season power ranking formulas are pretty unstable. Not enough games have been played to balance things out.

    For example, why is the east so bad against the west? One reason is that a lot of the east-west games have involved lower-ranking eastern teams. In the last two weeks, I don’t see any east-west games involving Buffalo, Washington or Atlanta. Later in the season, that will balance out, and that bias will disappear.

    Or take L.A.. The Kings have lost 8 games, but 6 were to Anaheim, Minnesota, and Dallas. Maybe L.A.’s strength of schedule is so tough because (almost) all their losses are to teams that beat them twice! It could be that they’re just bad and the teams that beat them shouldn’t get credit for beating a 10th place team. Another two months, and that question will also resolve itself.

    One place you might improve your formulas is the use of “ties”. Good teams have less incentive to try to win tied games in the 3rd period, because they can guarantee themselves a point and go for it in overtime. A tie (the “loser point”) in today’s NHL means less than it did when the game ended after 60 minutes. Phoenix getting one point out of Anaheim doesn’t really mean that they deserve an equal ranking with Anaheim that night.

    A good test of your power rankings is how close the standings in April come to your rankings in December.

  6. Buffalo has played Detroit and Washington has played Minnesota, and won in Colorado last night. so there has been some cross coference games involving those teams.

    The LA example is a good example of why regular standings isn’t a good indication of how good a team is. If you lose 4-3 to the best team in the NHL you get penalized 100%. But is that fair? Conversely if you have only played against the best teams and you lost most of them, are you a really bad team or a mediocre one? Can’t tell yet. Only more games being played will determine that. But once teams get to 12-15 games played they have usually played a good cross section of teams that things even out a bit.

  7. with power ranking theres usually 3 groups, and thats it. anyone in the top 10 is good, the middle pack is average and the bottom 20 all suck. it cant pay attention to the little things that make a difference between a number 7 and a number 2 team. face off%, special teams, goaltending duo’s, etc are all factors that make good teams great. for example when u play the wild when fernandez isnt playing its a different type of game, one u should win, but against teams like anaheim, buffalo, and san jose there are no off nights as your always up against a #1 goalie, so these teams should be wayyyy ahead of other teams. such as dallas or edmonton who will give up 20 “bad” games a season. but this is too early anyway to be analyzing power rankings. the important thing is (more or less) teams are in their respective groups… also, i agree with sensfan. LA isnt necessarily good cuz they faced strong teams and lost. it could very well be, and i think THIS is the case, that the “strong” teams have good records BECAUSE they faced LA. whether its a close game or not its irrelevant. the W is what counts so LA really has nothing to merit a high ranking.

    im also curious if u factor in long road trips into the equation? back to back games etc. i mean besides playing togh teams, rod games are a huge factor. a team at the end of a long road trip wont play as hard.

  8. I think its really interesting that the current toast of the NHL in Buffalo (who almost set a record for wins at the start of the season despite three “ties” that required shootouts) does not rank at the top of your rankings.

    I think you probably have it right. I think your ranking is much closer to what my instincts tell me when I look at their roster and their results. I didn’t imagine that it was possible to make a numerical argument that the team currently in first place is not nearly as impressive as their record suggests.

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