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.
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.
|St. Louis||233.3||St. Louis||217.9|
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.