Alternate view of Standings

When one looks at the standings one often gets an incorrect view of them due to the difference in number of games played. For example, Buffalo trails the Rangers by 3 points but this is deceiving because the Sabre’s actually have the better win percentage having played 4 fewer games. What I prefer to look at is how many games above .500 is each team. Here is what we get for the eastern conference.

Ottawa +15
Philadelphia +12
Montreal +12
Pittsburgh +11
New Jersey +10
Boston +6
Buffalo +5
NY Rangers +3
Washington +2
Carolina +1
NY Islanders -1
Florida -1
Atlanta -1
Toronto -3
Tampa Bay -4

Based on the above you see that Ottawa, Philadelphia, Montreal, Pittsburgh and New Jersey are all in very good shape to make the playoffs barring a major catastrophe for any of them. Beyond those teams you will get one team from the southeastern division making the playoffs. The edge would go to Washington because they currently have the best record but they are also playing the best hockey right now. But realistically none of the teams can be counted out as none of them are likely good enough to pull away from the pack and all are capable of sticking with the group. That will leave the final 2 playoff spots to be decided between Boston, Buffalo and the NY Rangers. I like Buffalo to make it because I think they have the most talent but they have also been the streakiest teams in the NHL this season with some really long winning streaks and some really long losing streaks. The Rangers have been really inconsistent as well looking like an elite team one night and a complete dud the next. Drury isn’t living up to his contract, Jagr is unpredictable and hasn’t found the chemistry with Gomez he had with Nylander, and Lundqvist is looking over worked. Meanwhile Boston has just been cruising along all season neither looking spectacular, nor looking bad. They have benefitted a lot from some great Tim Thomas goaltending and so long as that continues they have a great shot at the playoffs. The Bruins and Sabres have 3 games remaining against each other starting with a game tonight in Buffalo and ending with a game in Boston the final Saturday of the season. The Bruins also have one game against the Rangers while the Sabres play the Rangers three more times. These games could go a long way to determining which two of these teams makes the playoffs.

Now for the western conference.

Detroit +30
Dallas +13
San Jose +12
Minnesota +10
Colorado +8
Anaheim +7
Nashville +7
Calgary +7
Vancouver +6
Phoenix +5
Columbus +3
St. Louis +3
Edmonton -1
Chicago -1
Los Angeles -7

The first thing you will notice is how rediculously good Detroit is. The second surprise might be Dallas in second spot. Some wrote them off as contenders early in the year when GM Doug Armstrong was fired but they have fought hard to keep pace with everyone but Detroit. I still think coach Dave Tippett deserves some serious coach of the year consideration for what he has done in Dallas this year and the past several years.

At this time last year in the western conference pretty much all 8 playoff spots were set. The Colorado Avalanche posted a late season surge to make it close but realistically at this point in the year last year the playoff teams were decided. This year is clearly different as only 3 teams, Los Angeles, Edmonton and Chicago would be considered very long shots to make the playoffs. If I had to guess I would say that St. Louis and Columbus are pretty good bets to miss the playoffs as well but of the other 10 teams anything can happen. Phoenix is currently 2 games back of Calgary but they have been one of the best teams in the NHL since they acquited Bryzgalov and have to be considered serious contenders for a playoff spot. Vancouver has struggled a bit recently thanks in large part to a rash of injuries on defense. Bieksa, Miller, Krajicek and Miller have all been out but if they can get a few of them healthy and in the lineup the Canucks should be in line for the post season. The teams that need to be watching the Canucks and Coyotes from below are the Avalanche, Nashville and Calgary as these are the teams I believe are most likely to fall. But the Avalanche are set to have Paul Stastny return from his apedectomy surgery on Saturday and Ryan Smyth should be returning from his broken ankle late February and Sakic may return from his hernia surgery in March so they have some postives happening too. Plus it would not surprise me if they win the Peter Forsberg sweepstakes which we may find out in the next week or two.

And speaking of Forsberg, that is where things get interesting. Where Forsberg decides to go could have a significant impact on trade deadline happenings, particularly if he chooses one of the bubble teams in the western conference like Colorado or Vancouver. It is going to be interesting to see how the teams react to where Forsberg ends up and whether they desperate move at the trade deadline to keep pace.

Posted in NHL

This article has 12 Comments

  1. While I understand your idea with that stat, it is still deceiving! It still doesn’t take into account the games played and games in hand.

    You are better off looking at winning percentage (you’d have to figure out something to do with OT losses).

    Team A may be more games over .500 than Team B, but Team B might have a better winning percentage than Team A, just Team B might have played 5 less games.

  2. This is nitpicky (and doesn’t affect your analysis), but it’s a pet peeve of mine when anyone refers to a team that is 27 wins, 27 losses and 4 OT losses as a .500 team. They are not a .500 team. They have 50% of possible points (which is not even true since in the OT losses, there were 3 possible points), but they are a .466 team. Thanks for listening. I’m off to my therapy session.

  3. And to Brandon S, it’s not at all deceiving and it absolutely takes into account the number of games in hand. That’s what it’s MEANT to do.

  4. Al, back when they had ties, was a 27-27-4 record a .500 win percentage? It is no different now.

    People complain that it is not a .500 record now but a 27-27-4 record means they have gained half, or .500, of all possible points.

  5. Lets say we change the point system again so that a loss is 2 points and a win is worth 4 points (regulation tie is a loss).

    Lose all your games and you collected 50% of the possible points.

    Would you be comfortable with calling an 0-82 team a .500 team just because this point system gets adopted?

  6. Why not calculate the winning percentage for points by considering the 1 point earned for an OT loss to be 1/3rd of the available points for those games… it’s not really that ridiculous. By treating losers of OT games as if they’ve achieved a zero then you completely ignore the effort of making it to OT in the first place. You could also award OT winners 2/3rds of the possible points… rather than all of them. All you have to do is make each OT game worth 3 points, rather than 2… and all the regulation games worth 2 points. It actually ends up giving you roughly the exact same top 8 teams in each conference with some minor shuffling so it doesn’t really alter anything when it comes down to it.

  7. “Al, back when they had ties, was a 27-27-4 record a .500 win percentage? It is no different now.

    People complain that it is not a .500 record now but a 27-27-4 record means they have gained half, or .500, of all possible points.”

    It IS different now….it’s a semantic difference. It’s not a ‘win percentage’ it’s a ‘points percentage’. And like I said, I’m just nitpicking but it is not mathmatically possible for there to be 23 of 30 teams with a .500 or better ‘win percentage’, and that’s how people characterize it now.

  8. I unterstand what you are saying. It is all a result of the NHL’s infinite wisdom that some games should be worth 3 points while others are worth just 2 points. It makes no sense to me or any reasonable human, just the NHL.

    But again, under the tie systems if you are 27-27-4 you still haven’t won at a .500 rate, you have just gathered points at a .500 rate.

  9. David, would you be opposed to going to a 3 point system for every game, or even a 5 point system? I know the so-called ‘purists’ don’t like the idea, but if they’re going to stick with the shoot out, I think it’s the only fair method to use. Either:

    3 for a win in regulation
    2 for a win in OT or SO
    1 for a loss in OT or SO
    0 for a loss in regulation


    5 for a win in regulation
    4 for a win in OT
    3 for a win in SO
    2 for a loss in SO
    1 for a loss in OT
    0 for a loss in regulation

    The way you adjust your rankings to account for the SO, I would think that you might embrace either of these. Or, is it just that you hate the shoot out?

  10. Here’s another way to look at the standings. In order to make last year’s playoff threshold (92 in the East, 96 in the West), here’s the record each team has to put up the rest of the way.

    (This doesn’t account for teams that might sneak into the playoffs solely due to the division-winner’s exemption.)

    1 Ottawa 9-15-1
    2 Pittsburgh 11-13-1
    3 Montreal 11-13-1
    4 New Jersey 12-13-0
    5 Philadelphia 13-12-1
    6 Boston 14-11-1
    7 Buffalo 14-11-0
    8 NY Rangers 14-9-1
    9 Carolina 15-7-0
    10 Atlanta 16-7-0
    11 NY Islanders 16-8-1
    12 Washington 16-8-0
    13 Florida 17-6-0
    14 Tampa Bay 18-6-0
    15 Toronto 18-5-1

    1 Detroit 4-19-1
    2 Dallas 10-11-1
    3 San Jose 13-12-0
    4 Anaheim 12-9-1
    5 Minnesota 14-11-0
    6 Calgary 15-10-0
    7 Colorado 15-9-1
    8 Nashville 15-8-0
    9 Vancouver 16-8-0
    10 Phoenix 17-7-0
    11 Columbus 17-6-1
    12 St. Louis 18-8-0
    13 Edmonton 18-5-1
    14 Chicago 19-6-0
    15 Los Angeles 22-1-1

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