Monday, March 19, 2007

The (L)Eastern Conference race

6. Tampa Bay - 2-5-0 in their last seven games
7. Carolina - 4-4-1 in their last nine games
8. Rangers - 4-1-2 in their last seven games
9. Islanders - 2-4-2 in their last eight games
10. Toronto - 7-7-4 in their last 18 games
11. Montreal - 8-13-1 in their last 22 games
12. Boston - 4-6-1 in their last 11 games
13. Florida - 3-3-0 in their last six games
Who is going to get into the playoffs in the Eastern Conference?

Whoever can play average hockey, apparently. Of the eight teams still in the running for the final three playoff spots in the conference, a designation that generously includes the Bruins and Panthers, only the New York Rangers have shown any life lately.

Over those streaks listed above, those teams' goaltending has been downright atrocious. The Lightning have been outscored 27-14 in the last seven games. The Islanders' Mike Dunham has allowed 16 goals in three games since Rick DiPietro's injury. Toronto's Andrew Raycroft has allowed five goals or more four times in his last nine starts. Montreal's tandem, meanwhile, have had 35 goals sneak by them over the last eight games.

Goaltending since the trade deadline:
6. Tampa Bay - nine games, 3.67 GAA, .870 sv%
7. Carolina - nine games, 2.11 GAA, .918 sv%
8. Rangers - 10 games, 1.70 GAA, .939 sv%
9. Islanders - nine games, 3.78 GAA, .898 sv%
10. Toronto - nine games, 3.33 GAA, .881 sv%
11. Montreal - eight games, 4.38 GAA, .858 sv%
12. Boston - nine games, 3.00 GAA, .915 sv%
13. Florida - nine games, 3.11 GAA, .899 sv%
Who's going to make the playoffs in the East? At this rate it won't matter, because with netminding like this, no one has a chance to get out of the first round.

(Of note, however, is how good the Hurricanes' numbers have been, even with John Grahame in goal. Now they just need some wins, which shouldn't be a problem given their relatively soft schedule.)


At 1:45 PM, March 19, 2007, Blogger mike said...

Despite their onslaught of injuries, the Rangers look like they might not only make the playoffs, but they might jump as high as sixth place with the Isles and Lightning collapsing. Henrik Lundqvist is playing at a much higher level than the rest of the Eastern Conference netminders right now. The stats indicate that what he is doing for the Rangers ranks at the very top of the league in terms of goaltender performance. Given their softness and bizarre tendency to brainlock, Ranger defensemen regularly allow at least 4 to 5 odd-man rushes a game. If they make the playoffs this season it will be due to King Henrik's magnificent performance in the Ranger nets.

At 1:48 PM, March 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who's going to make the playoffs in the East?"

8. Rangers - 10 games,1.70 GAA,.939 sv%

"At this rate it won't matter, because with netminding like this, no one has a chance to get out of the first round."

With netminding like this you can steal a series. Lundqvist had been the best goalie in the league for the past 3 months.

At 1:57 PM, March 19, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

:) You guys are right; the Rangers are certainly a noted exception lately.

At 2:07 PM, March 19, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

Yeah, I took a look at the goalie stats since Jan 1 a few weeks ago and I was shocked at Lundqvist's numbers and how little attention he has been getting.

I would want to face goaltending like that in the first round.

At 2:45 PM, March 19, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. Cam Ward had a horrible regular season last year (3.68gaa, .882 save%) and a mediocre one this year (.901 save%) but we all know what he did in the playoffs last year.

At 5:47 PM, March 19, 2007, Anonymous Fan in Japan said...

The Hockey Rodent at had a spiffy analysis of this. In addition I think there is quite a lot to be said for looking at team trends after New Years or from Mid-January, especially with teams that had coaching changes or a lot of personell turnovers in the off-season.

At 6:50 PM, March 19, 2007, Anonymous ak said...

Hi, I'm new to this site, but just out of curiosity, do you ever use objectivity in your analysis or do you always search for facts to support your own conclusion? Your analysis of recent trends and your resort such an arbitrary figure of games played per team completely removes any ability to compare the teams and critically analyze. What reasons do you have for searching as far back as 22, 18, and 11 games for certain teams, and only 6 for others? While this may come off as being aggressive, that's certainly not my intent. I am however completely at a loss of what your intent was in conducting an analysis in such a manner. if say you used a benchmark of 10 games for ALL teams, maybe then a reader could properly gauge the actual trends of teams heading into the post season. Maybe then you would show that in their last 10 games Florida has gone 7-3, and is one of the hottest teams in the East.

While I agree with your underlying conclusion, your approach is bewildering. Personally I'm a die-hard Rangers fan, so I'm happy that my team luckily gets shown in good light via your "analysis," but I'd certainly love to know why you couldn't employ a more objective standard.

At 7:06 PM, March 19, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I'd like to know: How is this a subjective approach? What's the bias here?

The fact is, none of these teams, other than the Rangers, have played particularly well the past handful of games (I've got more games listed for Toronto and Montreal only to show their skids have lasted longer than other teams). The goaltending statistics since the trade deadline bear that out, regardless of what numbers you use.

At 8:26 AM, March 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bias is that you are trying to make all the teams look worse than they really are. First, you formed the conclusion that these Eastern teams stink. Then you went and molded the data to fit what you wanted the story to be. Someone could do the same thing in the other direction to prove how well these teams are playing. Florida is 10-3-2 in their last 15. Carolina is 4-2-1 in their last 7. Montreal is 3-1 in their last 4.

At 8:43 AM, March 21, 2007, Blogger mike said...

To accuse James of subjectivity here is really kind of silly. There is no real objectivity in theories, despite the even-handedness of most people who theorize. James did some good work here following up one of his own insights--whether or not his data pool accomodates a full schedule of games is irrelevant, particularly when he announces that he is analyzing trends over a short period of time relating to a number of teams that are struggling to grab the bottom rungs of the playoff ladder.

The Eastern Conference won the Cup last year; James' opinions do not indicate that teams like Buffalo, NJ, and the Rangers have no shot to win it this year. Rather his analysis is pretty thoughtful, methinks....

At 2:46 PM, March 21, 2007, Blogger PPP said...

Typical West Coast Media Bias James!

The Leafs are on a one game winning streak. I bet you feel bad for dumping on them now!


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