Not sure what led me to look into this but I took a look at poor defensive teams making the playoffs in the eastern conference. Over the past 3 seasons there have been just 6 teams to make the playoffs in the eastern conference with goals against averages greater than 2.80. They are:
- Tampa Bay Lightning (2010-11): 2.80
- Ottawa Senators (2009-10): 2.80
- Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-10): 2.82
- Montreal Canadiens (2008-09): 2.88
- Washington Capitals (2008-09): 2.89
- Ottawa Senators (2007-08): 2.92
Over the past 4 seasons there have been a total of 26 teams with gaa’s above 2.80 and just 6 of those made the playoffs (37.5%). There have been 18 teams with gaa’s above 2.90 and only one team (the 2007-08 Senators) made the playoffs (5.6%).
What is interesting is that right now there are currently 4 teams in eastern conference playoff spots with goals against averages above 2.80.
- Washington Capitals: 2.85
- Philadelphia Flyers: 2.90
- Toronto Maple Leafs: 3.03
- Ottawa Senators: 3.07
There are actually only 6 teams in the eastern conference with GAA’s under 2.80 so at least 2 of them over 2.80 would have to be in the playoffs. Those under 2.80 are the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Canadiens , Panthers and Devils. If history is any indication that means Pittsburgh should be able to climb back into the playoff picture and who knows, maybe there is hope for the Canadiens (wouldn’t bet on it though). But regardless, it appears there will be a few teams making the playoffs in the eastern conference with gaa’s above 2.80, and maybe even one or two above 3.00. The only eastern teams to make the playoffs with a gaa above 3.00 post lockout are the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2006-07 (3.11 gaa) and 2005-06 (3.07), Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 (3.11) and Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06 (3.04) but offense was significantly higher in those seasons. Particularly in 2005-06 when only 5 teams had sub 3.00 gaa’s in the east, all making the playoffs.
I should also point out that of the teams that made the playoffs with a GAA above 2.80 in the past 4 seasons, both Ottawa teams missed the playoffs the following season, Tampa is certain to do so this season and Montreal squeeked into the playoffs in 2009-10 with just 88 points, the lowest point total for a playoff team post lockout. Bad defensive teams don’t generally see much success and should they achieve some it is seemingly not a positive predictor of future success.