Aug 172008
 

1 Montreal Canadiens
2 Pittsburgh Penguins
3 Washington Capitals
4 Philadelphia Flyers
5 Ottawa Senators
6 NY Rangers
7 New Jersey Devils
8 Carolina Hurricanes
9 Tampa Bay Lightning
10 Boston Bruins
11 Buffalo Sabres
12 Florida Panthers
13 Atlanta Thrashers
14 Toronto Maple Leafs
15 NY Islanders

Again, I’m going to have to disagree with THN over this. If the Pens had managed to keep Ryan Malone and/or Marian Hossa I’d be inclined to agree that they would finish atop their division, but they won’t. When you potentially have Miroslav Satan as your top scoring winger you’re not going to go anywhere fast. The rest of the team remains largely the same.

I have a hard time believing the Sens will finish ahead of the Rangers and Devils. Despite the fact that Wade Redden‘s game is in decline, losing him will hurt because they didn’t replace him. The Sens are still looking for ways to fill out the rest of their roster, but like so many other teams in the East, goaltending is their primary concern. If Martin Gerber doesn’t hold up, they’re slightly above average at best by virtue of their incredible top line.

The Bruins are going to make some noise this year, especially with a completely healed Patrice Bergeron. Michael Ryder will head into camp as the favourite to land the first line right winger slot, and considering the success Claude Julien had with Ryder, along with an elite playmaking centre in Marc Savard, he could be a very nice surprise. Once again, however, they head into training camp with a 1A-1B tandem of fan favourite Tim Thomas and the disgruntled Manny Fernandez.

The East is much more clear cut than the West because so many teams have holes. The Habs, arguably the best team in the East, also has a shaky goaltending situation considering how Carey Price fell apart last year. These goaltending problems also plague at least 3 of the playoff teams listed. It’ll be interesting to see how this season plays out – a lot of teams have areas to improve, and considering the mass exodus of players from the East heading West, this year could be rather different.

Aug 162008
 

The Hockey News’ Rankings in the Yearly Yearbook were released, and for the West they’re as follows:

1 Detroit Red Wings
2 San Jose Sharks
3 Minnesota Wild
4 Dallas Stars
5 Anaheim Ducks
6 Edmonton Oilers
7 Chicago Blackhawks
8 Calgary Flames
9 Nashville Predators
10 Phoenix Coyotes
11 Vancouver Canucks
12 Columbus Blue Jackets
13 Los Angeles Kings
14 Colorado Avalanche
15 St. Louis Blues

Detroit at the top is an absolute no-brainer. They won the Cup and somehow got better by adding Marian Hossa. They’ve got Pavel Datsyuk locked up for awhile, and it’s hard to see Henrik Zetterberg not follow suit. Niklas Kronwall, and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Ericsson, look to take over Nicklas Lidstrom‘s mantle when he retires. They’re going to remain a powerhouse for years to come.

I have a hard time believing Minnesota will finish atop the Northwest Division. They lost key offensive pieces in Pavol Demitra and Brian Rolston, and replaced them with two aging veterans (Owen Nolan, Andrew Brunette) and a mid-level winger in Antti Miettinen. Their biggest acquisition is Marek Zidlicky, but the Flames have improved more – Calgary’s the early division favourite.

I don’t think the Oilers will finish that high. Adding Lubomir Visnovsky was huge, but they will miss Jarret Stoll‘s shot on the PP. Erik Cole was also another nice add, but I don’t think Visnovsky and Cole makes them better than the Coyotes. Their biggest question mark remains in net, and with some quality goaltending in the West that might be their downfall.

The Coyotes to me are a playoff team – they’ve got a talented forwards, a responsible captain, a respectable defense highlighted by a rejuvenated Ed Jovanovski, and good goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov. The dogs have tons going for them, and with Kyle Turris expected to make the squad out of training camp the team will be loaded with offense, led by the newly-acquired Olli Jokinen, who might get his first taste of playoff hockey this season.

How the Kings are ahead of the Avs and Blues is beyond me. Technically, they don’t even exist in the NHL because they’ve yet to reach the salary floor. Even with they do be re-signing all their RFAs, their team is laughable at best, and just might win the Calder Cup. This team needs at least two more season to grow before they’re even a playoff contender – it looks like they’re going for the John Tavares sweepstakes and rebuilding Pittsburgh-style.

The Avs, even without Joe Sakic for most of the season, remained competitive until the late stages of the season. Should Sakic retire, they don’t have a player to take over as captain or offensive dynamo yet, although Paul Stastny comes close. A healthy Ryan Smyth and having Adam Foote for a whole season, with some of Darcy Tucker‘s toughness, will make them a respectable squad, but like the Oilers, their biggest question mark remains in net.

Stay tuned for the East.

Mar 042008
 

There are a number of ways of trying to predict where each team will end up in the standings come seasons end. You can simply pro-rate their current records to 82 games or you can do more complex stuff like looking at their difficulty of schedule or calculating probabilites of where they might place but here is a slightly different look that I haven’t seen elsewhere. What I have done is to look at how many games each team has remaining and then predicting that they will play those remaining number of games with the same record as their past number of games. So, if teams continue at the same pace, here is how the eastern conference will look come seasons end.

Team GP Pts GR RP PredPts
New Jersey* 66 80 16 21 101
Pittsburgh 67 81 15 19 100
Boston* 65 76 17 23 99
NY Rangers 66 76 16 23 99
Montreal 67 81 15 16 97
Ottawa 67 80 15 12 92
Buffalo 66 71 16 19 90
Carolina* 68 73 14 17 90
Toronto 67 68 15 20 88
Philadelphia 66 74 16 13 87
Washington 67 70 15 17 87
NY Islanders 67 69 15 15 84
Atlanta 67 65 15 15 80
Florida 68 66 14 13 79
Tampa 65 59 17 15 74

GP=Games Played
Pts=Current Points
GR=Games Remaining
RP = Points in past n games where n=GR
PredPts = Pts + RP
*Division Winners will be seeded 1,2,3

When you re-seed your playoff matchups will end up being:

New Jersey-Buffalo
Boston-Ottawa
Carolina-Montreal
Pittsburgh-NY Rangers

There are a couple interesting matchups there including Pittsburgh-NY Rangers which would be an NBC dream matchup.

One team worth watching is the Philadelphia Flyers who have seemingly turned their game around after their 10 game losing streak. As such I doubt they will finish with just 13 points in their final 16 games. More likely they get 18-20 points putting them in the 92-94 point range which would bump Buffalo out of the playoffs.

Playing a prime spoiler role will be the Toronto Maple Leafs who have most of their games left against playoff teams.

Boston-3
Buffalo-3
Montreal-2
Ottawa-2
New Jersey-2
Philadelphia-2
NY Islanders-1

That is a very tough schedule for the Leafs if they have the playoffs in mind but by playing so many teams they are chasing it does give them an opportunity to make up ground if they continue to play well.

The other team to watch is the Ottawa Senators who have been struggling significantly over the past month or so. The Senators have a tough schedule as well with 3 more west coast games (San Jose, LA and Phoenix) plus 3 games against Boston, Buffalo and Montreal and two against Toronto with single games against Carolina and St. Louis mixed in.

All in all it should be a fun playoff race where if you lose 4 or 5 games in a row you can fall from comfortable in the playoffs to on the outside looking in or vice versa with a 4 or 5 game winning streak.

Mar 282007
 

With most teams having just 5 or 6 games left to play it is really getting down to crunch time in the playoff races and there is still a lot left to be decided. Here are the predicted standings as of March 28th.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Points Schedule
Strength
Future
GP
Future
SchedStr
Pred.
Points
Total
Points
1 Buffalo 75 103 0.483 7 0.431 10 113
2 New Jersey 76 98 0.462 6 0.452 7 105
3 Ottawa 77 98 0.481 5 0.469 6 104
4 Pittsburgh 77 98 0.463 5 0.499 5 103
5 Atlanta 76 88 0.475 6 0.452 7 95
6 NY Rangers 77 87 0.472 5 0.432 6 93
7 Carolina 76 84 0.474 6 0.426 7 91
8 Montreal 77 86 0.486 5 0.499 5 91
9 Tampa Bay 77 86 0.477 5 0.476 5 91
10 Toronto 76 84 0.492 6 0.440 7 91
11 NY Islanders 76 84 0.469 6 0.487 6 90
12 Florida 76 78 0.478 6 0.449 6 84
13 Boston 76 76 0.491 6 0.528 5 81
14 Washington 77 65 0.484 5 0.475 4 69
15 Philadelphia 75 51 0.480 7 0.526 4 55

I think we can pretty much give Buffalo top spot in the eastern conference and I am fairly confident that Atlanta will be able to hold on to top spot in the Southeast division and the 3rd seed. After that pretty much everything is still up in the air. New Jersey and Pittsburgh are going to battle it out for top spot in the Atlantic division and the second seed and the loser there will battle it out with Ottawa for 4th spot and home ice advantage when they meet in the first round.

The Rangers, Carolina, Montreal, Tampa, Toronto and the Islanders are going to battle it out for the final 3 spots. Despite Lundqvist looking very ordinary last night against the Canadiens I still believe that the Rangers will make the playoffs and most likely will grab the final playoff spot. After that, anything can happen but with that said, I don’t like the Islanders chances with DiPietro injured. Tampa is having goaltending problems again and have lost 5 of their last 7 games and given up 12 goals in their last 2 games. Carolina looked downright horrible last night against the Leafs but have a chance to redeem themselves tonight against the lowly, but well rested, Flyers. That leaves the two Canadian teams, Toronto and Montreal, who are both playing very good hockey right now. Montreal has won 5 in a row and the Leafs, aside from 15 minutes in the third period against Buffalo on Friday have been outstanding. The Leafs have outscored their opposition 16-4 in the past 4 games not counting that 15 minute disaster. Maybe that gives the Leafs and Habs the inside track on the final couple of playoff spots but with the inconsistency shown by most of the teams in the playoff race throughout the season anything can still happen.

Here are the six teams remaining schedules.

Rangers(5): at Phi, vs Tor, at NYI, vs Mtl, at Pit
Toronto(6): at Atl, vs Pit, at NYR, vs Phi, at NYI, vs Mtl
Montreal(5): at Ott, vs Buf, vs Bos, at NYR, vs Tor
Islanders(6): at Buf, vs Ott, vs NYR, vs Tor, at Phi, at NJ
Carolina(6): at Phi, vs TB, at Fla, at TB, vs Atl, vs Fla
Tampa(5): at Car, vs Was, vs Car, vs Fla, at Atl

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Points Schedule
Strength
Future
GP
Future
SchedStr
Pred.
Points
Total
Points
1 Detroit 76 103 0.510 6 0.487 8 111
2 Nashville 77 105 0.508 5 0.555 6 111
3 Anaheim 76 100 0.512 6 0.456 8 108
4 Vancouver 76 99 0.528 6 0.484 8 107
5 Dallas 76 98 0.509 6 0.528 7 105
6 Minnesota 77 98 0.526 5 0.528 6 104
7 San Jose 77 98 0.507 5 0.554 5 103
8 Calgary 76 92 0.526 6 0.543 7 99
9 Colorado 76 85 0.529 6 0.568 6 91
10 St. Louis 76 74 0.528 6 0.529 5 79
11 Columbus 76 71 0.520 6 0.607 4 75
12 Edmonton 77 69 0.544 5 0.475 5 74
13 Los Angeles 77 66 0.532 5 0.514 4 70
14 Chicago 75 63 0.525 7 0.581 5 68
15 Phoenix 76 63 0.532 6 0.511 5 68

It was a nice late season surge but I am now prepared to call the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff hopes as good as done. Yes, I realize that the Avalanche and Flames still play each other twice but even if the Avalanche win both of those games they will still have to make up 3 points in 4 games. Certainly not impossible but 3 of those 4 games are against Minnesota, Vancouver and Nashville. Even getting 2 wins against those teams is going to be tough.

Despite the playoff race being all but done, the race for playoff positioning is still going down to the wire on several fronts. Detroit and Nashville are in a dog fight for top spot in the central division and in the conference with the Ducks. Vancouver and Minnesota are in a battle for top spot in the Northeast division and it isn’t out of the question that Vancouver could even get into the fight for top spot in the conference or at least over take the Ducks for second seed.

Mar 232007
 

Here are the predicted NHL standings after last nights games.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Points Schedule
Strength
Future
GP
Future
SchedStr
Pred.
Points
Total
Points
1 Buffalo 73 101 0.479 9 0.438 13 114
2 Ottawa 75 96 0.478 7 0.456 9 105
3 New Jersey 74 94 0.461 8 0.438 10 104
4 Pittsburgh 74 92 0.463 8 0.478 9 101
5 Atlanta 75 88 0.474 7 0.445 8 96
6 NY Rangers 74 83 0.472 8 0.420 10 93
7 Tampa Bay 75 86 0.473 7 0.498 7 93
8 Carolina 74 82 0.471 8 0.455 9 91
9 NY Islanders 73 81 0.467 9 0.467 9 90
10 Montreal 75 82 0.484 7 0.485 7 89
11 Toronto 73 80 0.486 9 0.484 9 89
12 Florida 74 75 0.477 8 0.460 8 83
13 Boston 73 73 0.487 9 0.507 8 81
14 Washington 75 65 0.482 7 0.475 6 71
15 Philadelphia 74 51 0.478 8 0.517 5 56

The race is still extremely tight in the east with 6 teams predicted to finish with between 89 and 93 points. Looking at each teams remaining schedules we find that those 6 teams play each other an awful lot.

Toronto(9): at Buf, vs Buf, vs Car, at Atl, vs Pit, at NYR, vs Phi, at NYI, vs Mtl
Montreal(7): vs Was, vs NYR, at Ott, vs Buf, vs Bos, at NYR, vs Tor
Islanders(9): at Phi, vs NYR, vs NJ, at Buf, vs Ott, vs NYR, vs Tor, at Phi, at NJ
Rangers(7): at Bos, at NYI, at MTL, at Phi, vs Tor, vs Mtl, at Pit
Carolina(8): vs SJ, at Tor, at Phi, vs TB, at Fla, at TB, vs Atl, vs Fla
Tampa(7): vs Ott, vs Fla, at Car, vs Was, vs Car, vs Fla, at Atl

If I had to handicap the race I would say that the Rangers are in the best shape as they have a fairly easy schedule but more importantly Henrik Lundqvist has been playing awsome in goal for them and Shanahan has returned from his concussion. I am fairly confident the Rangers make the playoffs. Tampa is in pretty good shape too but with their goaltending you can never get too comfortable. With DiPietro back I like the Islanders as a team but with 2 games against New Jersey and one each against Buffalo and Ottawa it won’t be easy for them to make up the ground lost while he was out. And then we have the Hurricanes, Canadiens and Leafs who need something to go right for them make the playoffs. For the Hurricanes they need someone to really step up and take control. Last year Staal was that guy but he has been pretty ordinary this year. If he can step up his game for the final two weeks then the Hurricanes have a chance to move into a playoff spot. For Montreal it is all about goaltending. They aren’t that good of a team so need top tier goaltending to be competitive. Halak has provided that the past few games and because of that they have remained in the playoff race but can he, or a soon to return Huet keep that pace up? If they can, they have a chance. For the Leafs it is all about smart, hard working team play and getting some secondary scoring after the top line. Kaberle returning should certainly help but O’Neill, Stajan, Steen, Battaglia, Devereaux, Pohl and Kilger have combined for 3 goals and 8 points in March and that is not going to cut it. They need to pick up their game for the Leafs to be able to grab a playoff spot.

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Points Schedule
Strength
Future
GP
Future
SchedStr
Pred.
Points
Total
Points
1 Detroit 74 100 0.510 8 0.513 10 110
2 Nashville 75 101 0.511 7 0.534 9 110
3 Anaheim 74 98 0.513 8 0.498 10 108
4 Vancouver 74 96 0.529 8 0.506 10 106
5 Dallas 73 93 0.515 9 0.504 11 104
6 San Jose 75 96 0.512 7 0.525 8 104
7 Minnesota 75 95 0.528 7 0.537 8 103
8 Calgary 74 88 0.530 8 0.525 9 97
9 Colorado 73 82 0.530 9 0.562 9 91
10 St. Louis 73 72 0.530 9 0.516 9 81
11 Edmonton 74 67 0.543 8 0.526 7 74
12 Columbus 74 67 0.525 8 0.567 6 73
13 Los Angeles 74 64 0.537 8 0.507 7 71
14 Chicago 73 63 0.526 9 0.573 7 70
15 Phoenix 74 62 0.533 8 0.540 6 68

With a pair of wins against Detroit and Nashville the Calgary Flames are now in pretty good shape to hold on to the last playoff spot as Colorado has a tough schedule and a lot of ground to make up. The one positive for the Avalanche though is that they still have 2 games to play against the Flames. But they also play Vancouver 3 times, Nashville and a hot Minnesota team which is bad news for the Avalanche.

Mar 162007
 

I am going to post updated predicted standings a little more often now that we are closing in on the seasons end. Here is how things look today.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule
Strength
Future
GP
Future
SchedStr
Pred.
Points
Total
Points
1 Buffalo 70 96 0.481 12 0.436 18 114
2 New Jersey 71 94 0.462 11 0.446 15 109
3 Ottawa 71 89 0.483 11 0.439 15 104
4 Pittsburgh 70 88 0.464 12 0.481 14 102
5 Atlanta 72 84 0.466 10 0.488 11 95
6 Tampa Bay 71 82 0.468 11 0.495 12 94
7 NY Islanders 70 78 0.470 12 0.463 13 91
8 NY Rangers 70 76 0.476 12 0.433 14 90
9 Toronto 70 77 0.487 12 0.476 13 90
10 Carolina 72 78 0.468 10 0.452 11 89
11 Montreal 71 76 0.486 11 0.477 11 87
12 Boston 70 73 0.487 12 0.495 12 85
13 Florida 71 71 0.475 11 0.452 11 82
14 Washington 71 61 0.477 11 0.479 9 70
15 Philadelphia 71 51 0.480 11 0.506 7 58

The east is just crazy but a lot could happen this weekend. I am prepared to say Florida is done and barring a miracle Boston is done. Montreal’s playoff hopes could all but die this weekend as well with a tough game against Pittsburgh tonight and then Toronto tomorrow. Should they lose both, which is very possible, I think their playoff hopes are done. That would leave Carolina, Toronto, the Rangers and Islanders fighting for 2 spots. But it potentially could get more interesting too. The Rangers play the Thrashers tongiht and should they win, it isn’t unrealistic that the Thrashers playoff spot becomes up for grabs. The Lightning also have a tough game against the Sabres and a very tough schedule for the remainder of the season so their playoff spot is anything but secure as well.

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule
Strength
Future GP Future
SchedStr
Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Detroit 71 99 0.511 11 0.524 14 113
2 Anaheim 71 96 0.515 11 0.486 15 111
3 Nashville 72 98 0.511 10 0.552 12 110
4 Dallas 70 89 0.517 12 0.500 15 104
5 Vancouver 71 90 0.526 11 0.523 14 104
6 San Jose 71 89 0.517 11 0.490 14 103
7 Minnesota 72 89 0.528 10 0.518 12 101
8 Calgary 71 84 0.523 11 0.559 12 96
9 Colorado 70 76 0.531 12 0.532 13 89
10 St. Louis 70 70 0.534 12 0.523 12 82
11 Edmonton 71 66 0.537 11 0.539 10 76
12 Columbus 70 63 0.530 12 0.553 10 73
13 Chicago 70 63 0.527 12 0.572 9 72
14 Los Angeles 71 60 0.538 11 0.525 9 69
15 Phoenix 70 59 0.531 12 0.553 9 68

In the west, Colorado is doing everything it can to keep its small playoff hopes alive and Calgary’s horrible road record is doing everything it can to give the Avalanche a glimmer of hope. Detroit with their back to back wins over Nashville have opened up a small lead for top spot in the west but Anaheim and Nashville are still in the hunt.

Mar 122007
 

There are only four weeks left in the schedule so the playoff races are getting down to crunch time with teams having between 12 and 14 games left to play.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule
Strength
Future GP Future
SchedStr
Pred Pts Total Pts
1 Buffalo 68 93 0.484 14 0.435 21 114
2 New Jersey 69 92 0.463 13 0.454 17 109
3 Ottawa 69 85 0.486 13 0.443 17 102
4 Pittsburgh 68 84 0.464 14 0.495 16 100
5 Atlanta 70 82 0.472 12 0.465 14 96
6 Tampa Bay 70 82 0.471 12 0.495 13 95
7 NY Islanders 68 78 0.471 14 0.466 16 94
8 NY Rangers 69 76 0.477 13 0.447 15 91
9 Toronto 69 75 0.489 13 0.479 14 89
10 Carolina 70 76 0.470 12 0.471 12 88
11 Montreal 70 74 0.487 12 0.479 12 86
12 Boston 69 71 0.489 13 0.489 13 84
13 Florida 69 71 0.475 13 0.471 13 84
14 Washington 69 60 0.482 13 0.472 11 71
15 Philadelphia 68 49 0.482 14 0.502 9 58

The race is still extremely tight in the eastern conference. Buffalo, New Jersey, Ottawa and Pittsburgh should easily make the playoffs while Atlanta, Tampa and the Islanders are in pretty good shape. The Rangers currently look to be int he best shape for 8th spot with by far the easiest schedule of any in the group looking for that final playoff spot but Toronto and Carolina are right on their tails with Montreal,, Boston and Florida needing to go on a hot streak to realistically get back in the race.

The good news for Leaf fans is they just came through an extremely tough period of their schedule (Buf, at NJ, Buf, Was, Ott, Ott) and managed to stay in the race. They have an easier week this week with games against Tampa, Washington and Montreal followed by a tough week next week with a game against New Jersey and a pair against Buffalo. After that they finish the season with Carolina, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Rangers, Philadelphia, Islanders and Montreal. The games against Carolina and the Rangers could be huge.

It could be a tough week for the Hurricanes with a game against the suddenly red-hot Florida Panthers tomorrow followed by back to back games against the Devils on Thursday and Saturday. The Rangers have a tough game against the Senators tomorrow night then play Atlanta Friday and Boston Saturday.

The only good news for the Montreal Canadians is that they play both the Leafs and the Rangers two more times this season as well as Boston 3 times and Washington once. But they desperately need to start playing some good, consistent hockey if they want to turn their freefall around.

The Bruins are in much the same situation as the Canadiens but they have to make their move in the next two weeks because the end of their schedule is very tough. This week they play Washington and the Rangers followed by Montreal twice and the Rangers again next week. If they don’t get right into a playoff spot with those 5 games it will be tough to gain ground with Pittsburgh twice, Ottawa twice, Atlanta, New Jersey Montreal and Buffalo to play in the final 2 weeks of the season. Ouch, that’s a tough way to end the season.

The Panthers meanwhile are 9-2-2 in their last 13 games to keep their remote playoff hopes alive. They have 3 games left against Carolina which will be huge for them. They have a mixed schedule otherwise with some tough games against Ottawa, New Jersey and Buffalo but some easier games against Washington (twice) and Philadelphia.

All in all, it should be an fun race to the finish line.

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule
Strength
Future GP Future
SchedStr
Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Anaheim 70 95 0.512 12 0.481 17 112
2 Nashville 70 98 0.505 12 0.565 14 112
3 Detroit 69 95 0.507 13 0.540 16 111
4 Dallas 68 85 0.516 14 0.497 18 103
5 Vancouver 69 87 0.524 13 0.524 16 103
6 San Jose 69 85 0.517 13 0.479 17 102
7 Minnesota 70 85 0.528 12 0.518 14 99
8 Calgary 68 82 0.521 14 0.543 16 98
9 Colorado 69 74 0.528 13 0.543 13 87
10 St. Louis 68 68 0.531 14 0.522 14 82
11 Edmonton 69 66 0.536 13 0.527 12 78
12 Chicago 68 61 0.527 14 0.548 12 73
13 Columbus 69 61 0.527 13 0.550 11 72
14 Los Angeles 69 57 0.537 13 0.521 11 68
15 Phoenix 68 57 0.530 14 0.539 11 68

The western conference playoff race is all but over. Only a miracle will save the Avalanche now. But there are some good playoff positioning races. Nashville and Detroit are fighting it out for top spot in the central division. Anaheim seems pretty secure in the pacific division title race but are in a dogfight with Nashville and Detroit for the conference title. Meanwhile, the northwest title is far from settled as well with Vancouver holding a slight edge over Minnesota and Calgary.

Mar 052007
 

It’s time for another predicted standings update.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule
Strength
Future GP Future
SchedStr
Pred Pts Total Pts
1 Buffalo 65 93 0.479 17 0.460 25 118
2 New Jersey 66 87 0.464 16 0.443 22 109
3 Ottawa 66 81 0.488 16 0.447 21 102
4 Pittsburgh 65 79 0.460 17 0.507 18 97
5 Atlanta 67 78 0.473 15 0.467 17 95
6 NY Islanders 65 75 0.471 17 0.460 20 95
7 Tampa Bay 67 78 0.470 15 0.502 16 94
8 Carolina 68 73 0.473 14 0.455 15 88
9 NY Rangers 65 69 0.476 17 0.449 19 88
10 Toronto 66 71 0.490 16 0.489 17 88
11 Montreal 68 72 0.490 14 0.473 15 87
12 Boston 65 69 0.488 17 0.492 17 86
13 Florida 66 67 0.479 16 0.458 16 83
14 Washington 66 60 0.481 16 0.469 14 74
15 Philadelphia 65 45 0.479 17 0.510 11 56

A bit of a gap has opened up between 7th place Tampa and 8th place Carolina but the race for 8th spot is still extremely tight with Carolina, NY Rangers and Toronto all predicted to finish with 88 points, Montreal 87 and Boston 86. Even Florida is trying to pull itself back into the race. Strength of each teams remaining schedule is becoming critically important as it seems to be holding the Leafs and Bruins back a bit as both teams have games in hand on the rest of the pack while the Rangers benefit from the easiest schedule of the group of teams. Of the top 7 teams Tampa and Pittsburgh have extremely tough schedules and they must avoid any lengthy slumps because of that or else they could fall back into a playoff fight. The Penguins play Ottawa 3 times, Buffalo twice and New Jersey twice. They also play the Rangers 3 times, Boston twice, and once against Montreal, Toronto, Atlanta, the Islanders and Washington. They will have a lot to say on the playoff race. Tampa meanwhile starts a tough west coast swing with stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver this week. Three losses out there (and the west has dominated interconference games) and their playoff position is back up for grabs.

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule
Strength
Future GP Future
SchedStr
Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Detroit 66 91 0.505 16 0.535 20 111
2 Nashville 67 93 0.501 15 0.571 18 111
3 Anaheim 67 89 0.513 15 0.496 20 109
4 Dallas 65 81 0.521 17 0.481 22 103
5 Vancouver 65 81 0.527 17 0.519 21 102
6 San Jose 66 80 0.516 16 0.497 20 100
7 Calgary 65 79 0.523 17 0.527 20 99
8 Minnesota 66 79 0.528 16 0.534 18 97
9 Colorado 66 69 0.531 16 0.535 16 85
10 Edmonton 66 66 0.535 16 0.524 16 82
11 St. Louis 65 66 0.526 17 0.539 16 82
12 Columbus 66 59 0.525 16 0.547 13 72
13 Phoenix 65 57 0.528 17 0.544 14 71
14 Chicago 66 57 0.529 16 0.532 13 70
15 Los Angeles 65 54 0.539 17 0.509 14 68

The western conference playoff race is all but over with only playoff positioning left up for grabs and their are battles in all three divisions for the division title. Detroit and Nashville are in a tight battle for top spot in the central division and Vancouver, Calgary and Minnesota are in a dog fight for top spot in the northwest conference. Currently Anaheim has a bit of a lead for top spot in the Pacific division but San Joe and Dallas aren’t too far behind and both those teams improved their teams (at least theoretically) at the trade deadline while Anaheim didn’t so that could still turn out to be quite a race too. Calgary, Minnesota, Detroit, Nashville and Anaheim have exceptionally good home records so gaining home ice advantage in the playoffs could be a huge benefit for them.

(I leave it as an exercice for the reader to adjust the standings according to the playoff seeding rules if desired)

Feb 142007
 

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted my predicted final standings so I figured I should update them. In the west the playoff picture has cleared up a bit but in the east the playoff picture is as unclear as ever.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts Total Pts
1 Buffalo 57 80 0.473 25 0.467 35 115
2 New Jersey 56 74 0.460 25 0.439 34 108
3 Pittsburgh 55 67 0.458 26 0.473 30 97
4 Ottawa 57 67 0.481 24 0.464 29 96
5 Tampa Bay 58 66 0.466 24 0.480 26 92
6 Atlanta 59 67 0.467 22 0.477 24 91
7 Carolina 59 65 0.468 23 0.457 25 90
8 Montreal 58 64 0.484 23 0.463 26 90
9 NY Islanders 57 62 0.467 25 0.463 27 89
10 NY Rangers 56 61 0.468 26 0.458 28 89
11 Toronto 57 62 0.485 25 0.477 27 89
12 Boston 55 56 0.492 27 0.465 29 85
13 Florida 58 55 0.477 23 0.460 22 77
14 Washington 57 54 0.474 25 0.475 23 77
15 Philadelphia 56 38 0.477 26 0.485 17 55

Wow! Just 3 points separating 5th from 11th. Buffalo and New Jersey are all but guaranteed playoff spots while Pittsburgh and Ottawa are looking pretty safe so long as they can avoid and lengthy slumps. At the other end, Florida, Washington and Philadelphia can begin booking their tee times. But in the middle it is anyones guess who will get those final 4 playoff spots. Two weeks ago Montreal and Atlanta looked to be in pretty good shape but both of those teams have slumped significantly and now their playoff positions are in question while Toronto, Tampa and the Islanders have surged ahead to make things ultra interesting.

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Nashville 57 79 0.498 24 0.550 30 109
2 San Jose 55 73 0.513 25 0.512 33 106
3 Detroit 58 76 0.509 23 0.523 29 105
4 Anaheim 56 72 0.518 25 0.510 32 104
5 Dallas 56 70 0.524 25 0.506 32 102
6 Calgary 56 67 0.529 25 0.532 29 96
7 Vancouver 55 64 0.541 25 0.515 30 94
8 Minnesota 57 66 0.533 24 0.541 27 93
9 Edmonton 56 60 0.540 25 0.520 27 87
10 Colorado 55 58 0.538 26 0.540 27 85
11 St. Louis 57 53 0.536 24 0.535 22 75
12 Phoenix 57 52 0.527 25 0.562 21 73
13 Columbus 56 49 0.530 25 0.537 21 70
14 Chicago 55 49 0.522 25 0.554 20 69
15 Los Angeles 59 47 0.538 23 0.553 17 64

When I last posted the predicted standings Minnesota had a predicted 3 point lead on Edmonton and a 4 point lead on Colorado for the final playoff spot. Those leads have widened to 6 and 8 points. It is going to be real tough for the Oilers and Avalanche to earn a playoff spot now without one of the teams ahead of them slumping significantly as it would take a 16-8-1 record for Edmonton to finish with 93 points. Not impossible but highly unlikely considering they are only 4 points above .500 right now.

(Also posted on PredictHockey.com)