Sep 272011
 

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
Team GF GA GF-GA GF GA GF-GA
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.

 

Oct 062010
 

The 2010-11 NHL season begins tomorrow so I should get my predictions out.  Today I’ll make my western conference predictions and tomorrow the eastern conference.

1. Detroit Red Wings, 109pts – Unlike last year, this year they are healthy.  Their third line consists of Jiri Hudler, Mike Modano and Daniel Cleary all of whom are capable of scoring 15-20 goals.  Not many teams can boast that kind of depth and their defense and goaltending isn’t too shabby either.

2. San Jose Sharks, 103 pts – Lost some depth when they lost Malholtra but their young players are another year more experienced which makes their top 2 lines as good as anyone’s.

3. Vancouver Canucks, 103pts – I am not sure the Sedin’s will repeat last years performances but as a team the Canucks are good from top to bottom.

4. Los Angeles Kings, 101pts – The Kings are the up and coming team.  They may not be quite true Stanley Cup contenders but they are getting awfully close and they will take another step in that direction this year.

5. Chicago Blackhawks, 98pts – They lost a lot of depth in the off season and a goalie tandem of Turco and Crawford isn’t without uncertainties so one has to assume they will take a big step back this season.  They will still be good though, but it will be a bit of a transition year until some of their young replacements get up to speed with the NHL game.  Long term I think they might regret not keeping Niemi though.

6. Phoenix Coyotes, 96pts – Hard to predict where the Coyotes will end up.  Two years ago they had 79 points, last year they had 107 points.  They won’t repeat last seasons success but how far will they fall?  I’ll say they will get 96 points, but I may be optimistic.

7. St. Louis Blues, 95pts – The Blues are the team in the west that I think will make big strides forward.  I like Halak in goal and I think Boyes will have a bit of a bounce back year.

8. Calgary Flames, 93pts – There always seems to be high hopes in Calary but it seems they also seem to fizzle those hopes away one way or another.  They still don’t have another high end forward to support Iginla nor a quality goalie to back up Kiprusoff.  The time is running out on the Iginla-Kiprusoff led Flames as they both are about to enter their post-prime years.

9. Colorado Avalanche, 92pts – After being a big surprise in the first half of last season the Avalanche almost fell out of a playoff spot struggling through much of the second half depending too much on a fatiguing Craig Anderson in goal.  Hard to see how they will be any better this season so will be in a dogfight with a handful of other teams for the final couple playoff spots.

10. Nashville Predators, 91pts - The Predators are neither a great team, not a bad team.  I think they will miss Jason Arnott and his 2-way play but they have enough good players to be competitive for a playoff spot, but not enough to be a great team, much like the past several seasons.

11. Anaheim Ducks, 89 pts – If they had a little more on defense I might have given them a playoff spot but there are enough issues with their defense and their overall depth that they will probably be on the outside looking in again this year.

12.  Minnesota Wild, 86pts – They have strengthened their team down the middle with the additions of Scott Cullen and John Madden but they lack the game breakers up front to make their transition from a defense first team to a more offensive style of play a successful one.

13 – Dallas Stars, 80pts – The franchise is going through a transition both on and off the ice.  Their goaltending is a huge question mark from the injury prone Lehtonen to the downright bad Raycroft.  They will be lucky if the floor doesn’t completely fall out and they end up merely a bad team.

14 Columbus Blue Jackets, 79 pts – Beyond Rick Nash they have some decent forwards but lack a lot of depth and their defense lacks a true top pairing guy and they have question marks in goal.  It will be yet another mediocre season for the Blue Jackets.

15 Edmonton Oilers, 76pts – The Oilers may not be good but they should be better than last season and there should be some reason for optimism about the future.  A healthy Hemsky along with some up and coming young talented forwards will help the Oilers win a few more games and as inconsistent as Khabibulin can be he would be an improvement over what Deslauriers and Dubnyk provided last year.