Predicted Standings, Thoughts on playoff races

The NHL all-star break is over and it is now time for teams to put up or shut up when it comes to making their push for the playoffs because about a month from now they will have to decide once and for all whether to be buyers or sellers in the trade deadline market. So, I figure this is a good time to take another look at where each team stands when it comes to playoff positioning.

The predicted standings below are utilize our knowledge of past performance and past schedule of strength and develop an estimated future schedule of strength and ultimately a prediction on the final point totals for each teams. Lets take a look at what they show.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts Total Pts
1 Buffalo 51 70 0.463 31 0.469 41 111
2 New Jersey 50 65 0.452 32 0.428 44 109
3 Atlanta 51 64 0.455 30 0.482 35 99
4 Montreal 50 59 0.472 32 0.468 38 97
5 Ottawa 51 60 0.473 31 0.463 37 97
6 Carolina 52 58 0.463 30 0.456 33 91
7 Pittsburgh 48 54 0.447 34 0.462 37 91
8 NY Rangers 49 52 0.457 33 0.450 35 87
9 NY Islanders 49 51 0.460 33 0.445 35 86
10 Tampa Bay 51 54 0.468 31 0.468 32 86
11 Toronto 50 52 0.485 32 0.462 34 86
12 Boston 47 48 0.483 35 0.464 37 85
13 Washington 50 49 0.472 32 0.464 31 80
14 Florida 51 48 0.475 31 0.458 30 78
15 Philadelphia 48 27 0.466 33 0.480 17 44

Wow. Talk about a tight playoff race. In my opinion Buffalo, New Jersey, Atlanta and Ottawa are all but locks to make the playoffs. Montreal should make the playoffs based on their excellent start to the season but I can’t call them a lock because I believe their mediocre play of the last month and a half is more indicitave of their talent level than their first 30 or so games. But, they should be able to hold on to a playoff spot. Carolina should make the playoffs as well because I expect them to improve a bit as their defense gets healthy again. At the other end of the spectrum you can certainly count the Flyers out of a playoff spot and Florida and Washington don’t appear to have any reasonable chance to make the playoffs either.

And that leaves us with the amazing race for the final couple of playoff spots. Pittsburgh’s 2 wins post all-star break has given them a slight edge but with all the youth on that team they are likely to suffer from inconsistant play and that will stop them from separating from the pack. After that we have the pack including Rangers, Islanders, Lightning, Maple Leafs and Boston all predicted to be within 2 points of each other. And honestly, it is all but impossible to predict who will make the playoffs from that group. Probably the team that can avoid those lengthy slumps (i.e. losing 8 of 10 games) will make the playoffs but it is wide open.

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Nashville 51 75 0.503 31 0.552 41 116
2 Anaheim 50 68 0.517 31 0.529 41 109
3 Detroit 50 66 0.525 31 0.508 42 108
4 San Jose 49 66 0.516 32 0.533 41 107
5 Dallas 49 60 0.525 32 0.535 38 98
6 Calgary 48 57 0.542 33 0.531 39 96
7 Vancouver 49 57 0.546 32 0.525 38 95
8 Minnesota 51 56 0.551 31 0.538 34 90
9 Edmonton 50 52 0.556 32 0.522 35 87
10 Colorado 48 52 0.537 33 0.559 34 86
11 St. Louis 50 48 0.541 32 0.540 30 78
12 Phoenix 50 48 0.535 32 0.556 29 77
13 Columbus 50 45 0.533 32 0.545 28 73
14 Chicago 49 41 0.534 32 0.548 26 67
15 Los Angeles 52 40 0.556 30 0.536 23 63

The western conference playoff race isn’t near as tight as the eastern conference race. Teams that I believe are all but sure bets to make the playoffs are Nashville, Anaheim, Detroit, San Jose, Dallas and Calgary. I am not quite ready to put Vancouver in that group but their hot streak of late has them in a relatively comfortable position as well. Despite the recent surges by Phoenix and St. Louis I don’t feel either of them really have a chance at the playoffs. They just got too far behind early on and have too many teams to catch and pass to make the playoffs. So, those two teams along with Columbus, Chicago and Los Angeles are likely to be early golfers this spring.

That really leaves just 3 teams, Minnesota, Edmonton and Colorado, (4 if we include Vancouver) fighting for the final playoff spot (or two). Of those three teams I would have to give the edge to Minnesota right now. They seem to have the least number of holes in their lineup and Gaborik is now back and playing well. I am a bit surprised at how well Colorado has done this year but their success has largely been a result of Sakic’s excellent play (improved play from last season) and the play of rookies Stastny and Wolski. Peter Budaj has played well in goal and is slowly being given more games. If those 4 players continue their excellent play Colorado should stay int he playoff hunt. For me, Edmonton’s playoff chances are the most precarious of the three. I believe the Oilers are in tough to make a playoff spot with their current roster. They are really missing the steady force (both offensively and defensively) that Pronger provided on the blue line and none of their other defensemen have adequitely stepped up their play. They really need another top pairing type defenseman as well as a bit more consistency from their forwards if they really want to make a strong push for that final playoff spot.

This article has 7 Comments

  1. If the Leafs miss the playoffs by 1 point I will lose it. I agree that Montreal’s play the last 15-20 games is more indicative of their play. I always thought that any team that had been as manhandled by the Leafs as they were in their first 4 games (and again last night) were not a home-ice advantage team. In a week or two they could be right in the middle of the chase pack.

  2. Hey David. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but the Detroit Red Wings would be 4th, San Jose would be 5th, Dallas would be 6th, and Calgary would be 3rd because division winners are seeded 1, 2, and 3. I noticed this and thought that I would point it out in case you meant to organize it by how they would be seeded instead of overall points.

  3. I know that the Western Conference is better than the East overall, but is strength of schedule really that lopsided between the two conferences?

  4. It is hard to say. The difference probably isn’t quite as big as the strength of schedule numbers might indicate but the west does have a phenominal record against the east.

    The west definitely has the best teams. I would say that Anaheim, San Jose, Nashville, Detroit, Calgary and Dallas are probably as good as any team in the east. With the way Luongo is playing they would rank quite highly as well. And the east has Philly who are lightyears behind any other team in the NHL. So yes, the west is significantly better.

  5. Yea i just looked at the numbers. The East is 41-46-13 against the West compared to a 59-32-9 against the East. Never thought it was actually that bad!

Comments are closed.