Predicting the Western Conference

Yesterday I posted my 100% statistics based predictions for the eastern conference, today here are the predictions for the western conference.  See the eastern conference predictions for more details on how these predictions are calculated but generally speaking I use my player rating system and combine them with my estimates for ice time for every player to come up with a predicted goals for and against for every team.  I haven’t converted the goal differentials to won-loss records because I actually think looking at the predicted goals for and against and goal differential provides better insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each team.

Predicted Last Season
Chicago 235.6 205.0 30.6 252 220 32
Vancouver 238.7 213.0 25.8 258 180 78
San Jose 228.3 208.2 20.1 243 208 35
St. Louis 233.3 217.9 15.4 236 228 8
Calgary 234.1 223.2 11.0 241 230 11
Detroit 241.7 233.9 7.8 257 237 20
Los Angeles 216.6 211.5 5.0 209 196 13
Nashville 214.0 210.3 3.7 213 190 23
Anaheim 237.2 234.7 2.5 235 233 2
Dallas 221.7 221.6 0.1 222 226 -4
Phoenix 210.5 217.9 -7.4 226 220 6
Minnesota 210.7 230.1 -19.4 203 228 -25
Columbus 216.9 239.4 -22.5 210 250 -40
Colorado 205.4 239.5 -34.1 221 287 -66
Edmonton 204.9 252.0 -47.1 191 260 -69

As I mentioned in the eastern conference predictions, while I think the above standings seem for the most part reasonable I think there will be more spread in the goals for column.  The top offensive teams will probably end up scoring 20+ goals more than is predicted above.  Last season Vancouver had 258 goals to lead the conference and that was a low total for a conference leader.  The prior 2 seasons the leader had 268 and 289 goals scored.

As far as surprises go, seeing St. Louis fourth and Calgary fifth were definitely surprises but then Calgary’s goal differential is predicted to be the same as last season and the Blues goal differential only rises moderately from +8 to +15.4 based mostly by reducing the goals against.  These teams weren’t that far from making the playoffs either so while a little surprising on the surface, might not be all that unreasonable of a prediction.  Los Angeles being predicted to score only 5 more goals than they give up is a surprise too.

Team GF Team GA
Detroit 241.7 Chicago 205.0
Vancouver 238.7 San Jose 208.2
Anaheim 237.2 Nashville 210.3
Chicago 235.6 Los Angeles 211.5
Calgary 234.1 Vancouver 213.0
St. Louis 233.3 St. Louis 217.9
San Jose 228.3 Phoenix 217.9
Dallas 221.7 Dallas 221.6
Columbus 216.9 Calgary 223.2
Los Angeles 216.6 Minnesota 230.1
Nashville 214.0 Detroit 233.9
Minnesota 210.7 Anaheim 234.7
Phoenix 210.5 Columbus 239.4
Colorado 205.4 Colorado 239.5
Edmonton 204.9 Edmonton 252.0

It looks like it could be another tough year for fans in Edmonton and Colorado as they are predicted to be the bottom 2 teams in goals scored as well as be the bottom 2 teams in goals allowed.  I am sure the fans in Washington are smiling since they have Colorado’s first round pick which they acquired in the Varlamov trade.  Based on the predictions above, I’d say there is a more than decent chance it is a top 5 pick overall.

The final interesting thing is that these predictions predict the eastern conference to have a better goal differential than the western conference.  This is a change from recent seasons when the west has generally been the better conference.  Not sure if this will become reality or not but it is worth watching.  There were a number of quality players that moved from the west to the east this summer (Brad Richards, Ilya Bryzgalov, Brian Campbell, Christian Ehrhoff, Robyn Regehr, Tomas Fleishmann, Scottie Upshall, Steve Sullivan, Matthew Lombardi, Joel Ward, etc.) which probably weren’t fully offset by the players going west (Carter, Richards, Wisniewski, etc.).  Whether the shift is enough to make the east as good or better than the west we’ll have to wait and see.


This article has 4 Comments

  1. huh… I live in MN, and would have expected a bit more of a bump in GF for the club. Even if the expectation is last years production for Heatley (matching Havlet’s outgoing…), Setoguchi looks like an upgrade.

    Maybe the model doesn’t accept 73+ games each from Bouchard and Latendresse? Last season PMB didn’t start play until Dec and Lats played only 11 games. Right now it looks like a full season is possible from each of these players…

    Still, I’m a fan of the team. So I’ll be hopeful they outperform your modeling a bit.

    1. Don’t forget that you lost Havlat (22g), Brunette (18g), Miettinen (16g), Burns (17g), Madden (12g) and Kobasew (9). That is 94 goals to make up. So assume Heatley gives you 40, Setogutchi 25, Latendresse 25, and Bouchard 20 that is 110 goals minus the 12 Bouchard got last year and the 3 Lantendresse got and you have 95 goals, just enough to offset what they lossed. The model predicts them scoring 7.7 goals more so to me that seems reasonable.

      1. heh…

        True. We added Powe on the third line, 7 goals last season. Looking at lines, going from

        Bruno-Koivo-Miettinen to Seto-Koivu-Heatley
        havlat-Broadziak-PMB to Lats-Cullen-PMB
        kobesew-Cullen-Clutterbuck to Powe-Brodziak-Clutterbuck
        Nystrom – Madden – Staubitz to Gillies-Nystrom-Staubitz/rookie

        But there’s balancing the disruption of a new coach vs. the failings of the old coach too. So many places where it could go right, or fail impressively. It’ll be fun to watch anyways, and it’s good to get closer to watching games again.

        Thanks for the posting, usually food for thought.

  2. I think Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the new guy for Edmonton will give out a boost to Edmonton. But, he won’t be able to bail out the team by himself. However, I think Edmonton WON’T be dead last.

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