Apr 232013

With the win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night the Leafs have made the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season and they are doing it largely on the backs of an elevated shooting percentage which currently sits at a lofty 10.52% (5v5 only). Here are all the teams with a 5v5 shooting percentage above 9.00% since 2007-08 season and how they have done in the playoffs.

Season Team 5v5 Sh% Playoff Result
2012-13 Maple Leafs 10.52 Made playoffs
2012-13 Stars 10.04 Fighting for playoff spot (10th)
2011-12 Lightning 9.73 Missed Playoffs
2009-10 Capitals 10.39 Lost in first round
2009-10 Canucks 9.14 Lost in second round
2008-09 Penguins 9.76 Won Stanley Cup
2008-09 Canucks 9.23 Lost in second round
2008-09 Bruins 9.15 Lost in second round
2008-09 Thrashers 9.02 Missed Playoffs
2007-08 Senators 9.03 Lost in first round

Prior to this season there have been 8 teams with a shooting percentage above 9.00%, 2 missed the playoffs, 2 lost in the first round, 3 lost in the second round and one team won the Stanley Cup. That isn’t very much success at all which is not a good sign for Leaf fans (myself included) hoping their team can go on a playoff run.


Offense doesn't win in the playoffs…

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May 092012

With just one series remaining to be won in the second round there have been 11 playoff series won so far in these playoffs so I decided to take a look at which teams won those playoff series and the results seem to be quite telling.

The team that had the better regular season goals against average has won 7 of the 11 playoff series and lost 4 of them.

The team that had the better regular season save percentage has won 6 series and lost 3 while two series featured teams with nearly identical save percentages (PHI-PIT, LA-VAN).

Most remarkably, the team that had scored the most regular season goals has just one series win in the playoffs.  That one win was New Jersey over Florida.

Here is a table summarizing the results.

Series Most Goals Won Best GAA Won Best Sv% Won
NYR-OTT No Yes Yes
PHI-PIT No No Tied in Sv%
NJ-FLA Yes Yes No
VAN-LA No Yes Tied in Sv%
PHX-CHI No Yes Yes
SJ-STL No Yes Yes
PHX-NSH No Yes Yes
NJ-PHI No Yes Yes
Record 1-10 7-4 6-3

If the Rangers defeat the Capitals they will become just the second team who scored more regular season goals to win a playoff round but they only scored 4 more goals than the Capitals and they held significant leads in GAA and save percentage.

Other observations:

  • 5 of the top 6 teams in regular season save percentage made it to the second round.  Only Vancouver did not, but they lost to a team in the top six.
  • None of the bottom 7 teams in save percentage made it to the second round and only one of the bottom nine did – Philadelphia who defeated a team with an equally bad save percentage in Pittsburgh.
  • Four of the top 5 teams in goals against average made it to the second round (Vancouver did not) and two are already in the conference finals and the Rangers could make it three.
  • None of the bottom 9 teams in GAA made the second round and if the Capitals go on to lose to the Rangers, none of the bottom 21 teams will make it to the conference finals
  • Of the top 10 teams in regular season goals scored, only Philadelphia and Nashville made it to the second round, and both defeated top 10 goal scoring teams in the first round to do so.
  • None of the top 10 regular season offensive teams have made it to the conference finals.

It is really quite remarkable that only 2 of the top 10 offensive teams made it to the second round and none to the conference finals while six of the top 10 defensive teams made it to the second round and possibly (if Rangers win) 4 of the top 9 defensive teams will make it to the conference finals.  Defense is clearly winning these playoffs.  After a few seasons of offense dominating post lockout the league has once again transitioned back to a defense-first league.

The western conference finals sees the Kings face the Coyotes.  The Coyotes had a marginally higher regular season save percentage (92.5% to 92.4%), while the Kings had a better goals against average (2.03 to 2.32) so defensively the edge probably goes to the Kings.  The Coyotes scored more goals than the Kings (210 to 188) which so far these playoffs is a negative so I guess that suggest the Kings are the favourites in the second round.

If the eastern conference finals is between the Rangers and Devils, the Rangers scored more regular season goals (222 to 216), had the higher regular season save percentage (92.0% to 90.7%) and had the better goals against average (2.18 to 2.45).  Rangers would have to be the favourites.

If Washington comes back to defeat the Rangers, the Capitals marginally out scored the Devils (218 to 216), had a marginally higher save percentage (90.9% to 90.7%) but had a worse goals against average (2.45 for NJ to 2.72 for Washington).  The Devils should probably be considered the favourites over Washington.


Feb 132009

Teams have about 28-30 games left in the season but if the playoffs started now, what would they look like? Since teams have played a different number of games, instead of using points, I looked at points per game played to rank teams. In the east nothing changed among playoff teams but in the west Dallas and Vancouver swapped positions and Anaheim falls right out of the playoffs. The playoffs match ups would be:

Eastern Conference
Buffalo at Boston
Florida at New Jersey
Montreal at Washington
NY Rangers at Philadelphia

Definitely some interesting match ups there. You have divisional rivals Boston and Buffalo and New York Rangers and Philadelphia and then two less physical, more skilled teams going at each other in Montreal at Washington. A few years ago Florida at New Jersey would have been a complete snooze fest but New Jersey is a bit more interesting team now with the skill of Parise, Elias, Gionta and others and Florida, while a defense first team, has some good young players. Still, with that said, this would not exactly be the most exciting hockey one could see.

Western Conference

Edmonton at San Jose
Minnesota at Detroit
Vancouver at Calgary
Dallas at Chicago

Good news, bad news for Edmonton fans. The good news is you made the playoffs, the bad news is you face a near impossible challenge of beating the San Jose Sharks. As good as Detroit is, Minnesota with their good defense and goaltending could put up a good challenge, particularly if Gaborik can find a way to get back in the lineup for the playoffs. Vancouver vs Calgary would be a match up made in Western Canada heaven. Like Minnesota, Vancouver’s goaltending could post a threat to the Flames, but otherwise the Flames are a better all round team. Dallas at Chicago is the veteran team vs the up and comers. I tend to think that Dallas could upset the Blackhawks but this series might come down to which team gets better goaltending. Turco hasn’t been great this year but you know he has the ability and Khabibulin has been pretty good but might be the streakiest goalies in the NHL so is more than capable of going on a cold streak. Huet is a solid goalie ready to step in if needed though.

What are your thoughts? Which teams do you think will make the playoffs and do you have any dark horse candidates to make a lengthy run in the playoffs?