Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The end of '.500'?

Saying a team is 'at .500' is still common phraseology in NHL commentary these days, but given how drastically things have changed in the standings the past few years, what does it really mean?

It's a decent question to ask, especially given that, heading into tonight's games, 13 of the 15 Eastern Conference teams had at least as many wins as losses (thereby earning the designation of being 'at .500' or better.) The thing is, however, if everyone can hit that mark, it's certainly not as valuable as it used to be back when .500 teams were those bound for the playoffs.

Perhaps it's time to retire the phrase altogether? (More at Globe on Hockey, including a look at the standings minus all the bonus points that have been added in recent years.)


At 10:12 p.m., December 12, 2006, Anonymous Logan said...

It means you've picked up half of the available points.

At 10:30 p.m., December 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many are available — two a game, or three a game? How can you know?

At 11:16 p.m., December 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new rules give 2.22 points per game instead of 2.
"winning %" = PTS/(games*2.22)

eg. 30 points in 30 games:
30/(30*2.22) = 45%
So a 0.500 team should get 1.11 points per game: so 33 points in 30 games.

At 1:32 a.m., December 13, 2006, Anonymous David said...

Maybe you'd have to do this on a team by team basis?

1.00 regulation win
.666 ot/so win
.333 ot/so loss
.000 regulation loss

That'd make the most sense in terms of percentage of points IMO, instead of a league-wide comparison. Of course, it wouldn't mean anything for the standings, but it could be interesting nonetheless. I could run it easily if anyone wants.

At 9:24 a.m., December 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With no ties, just divide the number of wins by the total number of games played.

At 9:37 a.m., December 13, 2006, Anonymous Logan said...

Seriously- it's not rocket science. You can't pick up three points in a game, even if three are given out. If a team is 5-5-3 they have 13 points out of a possible 26. That's 50%.

At 10:10 a.m., December 13, 2006, Anonymous Julian said...

Maybe I'm mistaken here (the maths are not my strong point), but wouldn't ".500 means getting 50% of the available points" mean that more than 50% of the league will be "above .500" then?

The problem is that some people use .500 as a benchmark for mediocrity, when it's actually below mediocrity if more than 50% of the teams are above the mark. Ten years ago, when you'd say "We'd like to be at .500 by the end of the month" or whatever, everyone knew what it meant. Now.... it doesn't mean the same thing, but it keeps getting used in the same manner.

Put it this way : Last season, 22 teams had more than 82 points, which would be "above .500". But if there are only 30 teams in the league, you can't have over two-thirds of them be "above average" teams.

I think Javageek has got the right idea.

At 10:11 a.m., December 13, 2006, Anonymous showtyme21 said...

Ok, so I did some research (not in-depth, just on the surface), and here's what I found:

Using the "if the points are more than the games played method" (more or less what was used before), there were:

-3 teams in the east that were below .500
-4 teams in the west that were below .500

Then using the formula suggested here (PTS/(games*1.11), there were:

-9 teams in the east that were below .500
-7 teams in the west that were below .500

If you ask me, the 2nd option is far more valuable information. If teams claim that they're over .500, and claim that they're successful, it becomes completely useless using the first option because then any team can be successful, even when they suck.

At 12:59 p.m., December 13, 2006, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

It's not quite a new phenomenon. As I noted during the summer, just looking at Pacific in-division games, no team had a sub-.500 record.

So yeah, it's a pretty useless benchmark. I like JG's method OK, though I doubt we can take 1.11 pts/game as a constant. I suspect in different seasons that figure would change.

At 4:32 p.m., December 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

.500 in the classical definition of earning points in 50% of your games and finishing with 82Gms/82Pts is dead in all but NHL marketing.

Naturally it sounds a lot nicer to say a team is playing above .500 hockey... even if they may have 5-6 more losses then wins, those points for losing in OT probably make the teams fans feel a lot better if they can claim .500 hockey.

Realistically I still view 41 Wins in a season as .500 hockey, and equal number of wins as losses. Regardless of whether the losses come in regulation time, OT, SO.

At 2:52 p.m., December 14, 2006, Anonymous Steve said...

Doing the math over last season and this one, the new ".500" is a hair over .550.


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