Monday, November 12, 2007

984 games to go

Sunday's two games brought us to exactly the 20-per-cent mark of the season, 246 games played of the 1,230 we'll see this year.

And the standings are a strange animal:



Team Div GP Pts W %



Team Div GP Pts W %

1 OTT NE 16 28 0.875


1 DET Cen 17 27 0.794

2 NYI Atl 13 18 0.692


2 COL NW 17 23 0.676

3 CAR SE 17 23 0.676


3 SJS Pac 17 18 0.529

4 MTL NE 16 21 0.656


4 MIN NW 16 20 0.625

5 PHI Atl 16 20 0.625


5 CBJ Cen 16 19 0.594

6 BOS NE 16 18 0.563


6 CHI Cen 17 20 0.588

7 NYR Atl 17 19 0.559


7 NSH Cen 16 17 0.531

8 TBL SE 17 17 0.500


8 STL Cen 14 14 0.500

9 TOR NE 18 18 0.500


9 LAK Pac 16 16 0.500

10 PIT Atl 17 15 0.441


10 DAL Pac 17 17 0.500

11 NJD Atl 16 14 0.438


11 VAN NW 16 16 0.500

12 FLA SE 17 14 0.412


12 ANA Pac 18 17 0.472

13 ATL SE 17 14 0.412


13 PHX Pac 15 14 0.467

14 BUF NE 16 13 0.406


14 CGY NW 17 15 0.441

15 WSH SE 17 13 0.382


15 EDM NW 17 13 0.382

















Washington and Edmonton tie at the bottom. (I don't think it mattered who got Nylander.)

Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New Jersey, Anaheim and Calgary would all miss the playoffs if they started tomorrow. Dallas and Vancouver are right on the bubble.

The postseason's a good five months away — but there's a good chance half of the above don't get their act together to climb back into the mix.

Maybe what's most surprising has been the hot start of teams like the Islanders, Boston, Columbus and Chicago, teams that received zero respect in preseason predictions. (If I had to pick just one reason, it'd be coaching, as all four men have done an amazing job behind the bench with these teams so far. I keep saying not to bet against Ted Nolan and then breaking my own rule, and it's hard to believe the way that team has played — something that's been obscured by the fact they've played the fewest games in the league. This is a club on pace for more than 110 points.)

How are these for nutty first-round playoff matchups (I've broken ties by goal differential at this point):

(8) Tampa Bay @ (1) Ottawa
(7) Rangers @ (2) Islanders
(6) Boston @ (3) Carolina
(5) Philadelphia @ (4) Montreal

(8) St. Louis @ (1) Detroit
(7) Nashville @ (2) Colorado
(6) Chicago @ (3) San Jose
(5) Columbus @ (4) Minnesota

Ranking the divisions
The six divisions sorted by average projected point total:
  1. Central 98.6
  2. Northeast 98.4
  3. Atlantic 90.4
  4. Northwest 86.1
  5. Pacific 81.0
  6. Southeast 78.1
That's pretty lopsided. (And cue the Southleast jokes.)

Both the Eastern and Western conferences have played 123 games, with the East being the higher-scoring side once again (2.79 GFA to a 2.72). East teams average a 2.78 GAA compared to the West's 2.73.

And, finally, scoring by division:



GP GF GA
1 Northeast 82 2.90 2.66
2 Southeast 85 2.87 3.08
3 Central 80 2.83 2.48
4 Northwest 83 2.69 2.87
5 Pacific 83 2.66 2.84
6 Atlantic 79 2.57 2.57

The Pacific's bad and they can't score. The Southeast can score but they're the worst defensively by a longshot.

How much longer will the Central be the best division in hockey?

12 Comments:

At 9:38 AM, November 12, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS 2 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 10:00 AM, November 12, 2007, Blogger Doogie said...

Maybe what's most surprising has been the hot start of teams like the Islanders, Boston, Columbus and Chicago, teams that received zero respect in preseason predictions.

And Montreal, which still doesn't?

 
At 10:35 AM, November 12, 2007, Blogger FAUXRUMORS 2 said...

1) Ted Nolan got shafted by not getting nominated for the Adams last year.
2) Ruff didn't deserve the honor last year like he did the year before. So far Ruff isn't exactly coaching the lights out without as many stars in the lineup, while Ted with LESS than last year continues to win.
3) We wonder what excuse the league will find this time around? We will not believe that Nolan wasn't/isn't blackballed until he wins ANOTHER Adams award!

 
At 10:47 AM, November 12, 2007, Anonymous oiler said...

At least the southleast can beat ottawa.

 
At 11:15 AM, November 12, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

There's been plenty of hot starters in the past, so in that sense, these results aren't surprising. I still think Buffalo is following a similar path to Ottawa last year (remember the eulogies written that Chara was the key), once the goaltending settles for them they'll slowly start building.

And BTW, I'll just use Toronto as an example, but 18 points in 18 games is not a .500 W% unless its a 9-9-0 record. Win % should just be wins per games played... period. 1 point, in today's NHL, is now a loss, not a tie.

You're showing points %.

Hard to believe Anaheim is only a point out of the #3 seed with the start they've had.

 
At 12:13 PM, November 12, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I pulled the stats directly from NHL.com, where they had this listed as win percentage under standings.

 
At 12:28 PM, November 12, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

I still think Buffalo is following a similar path to Ottawa last year

No. I don't know how many times I have to say this, but there are no teams in the NHL this year that are following a similar path to what Ottawa did last year. Let me repeat this again:

At this time last year, the Senators were losing more games than they won despite scoring significantly more goals than they allowed. It was easy to see that they were going be a good team at the end of the season, because they were already playing like a good team. Their record obscured the fundamental quality of their play, and the fundamental quality of a team's play is a better predictor of how they are going to do going forward than actual record is.

As soon as you follow that bit up with, "once the goaltending settles for them they'll slowly start building," you are saying that they are not following Ottawa's path, because Ottawa didn't need anything to settle for them, except some luck. Buffalo may well turn it around, but they need to do it by playing better hockey.

Until you can point to team that is losing more games than it is winning despite scoring more goals, don't bother trying to invoke Ottawa from last year. All you are demonstrating is that you aren't paying attention.

 
At 12:35 PM, November 12, 2007, Anonymous cjl said...

Amazing that FIVE teams from the Central would make the playoffs if they started today. (I got to believe at least two of the four non-Detroit teams will drop out of the top 8 before the end of the season.)

And everyone was saying that four teams from one division was exceedingly unlikely...

 
At 1:01 PM, November 12, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

Amazing that FIVE teams from the Central would make the playoffs if they started today. (I got to believe at least two of the four non-Detroit teams will drop out of the top 8 before the end of the season.)

So much for the Central being a division of cupcakes.

And logically I agree that a couple of the non-Detroit teams will probably drop out. I don't think any of them have played a whole lot of intra-divisional games yet, and either a couple teams will pile up the points to the detriment of the others, or they will all beat up on each other and sink back toward the middle of the pack.

Nice to see them all get off to a pretty good start, though.

 
At 2:11 PM, November 12, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

J. Michael Neal:

Your definition of a good team is a team that beats the Leafs 8-1 and then loses to everyone else 3-2? Because that's essentially what Ottawa was doing last year early. They couldn't win close games. I don't think that's a team that "is playing good hockey". That's a team that lacks confidence and timely goaltending.

GF vs. GA only matters on a game to game basis. Ottawa had to figure out how to win close games.

Direct me to the games in which Buffalo has been significantly blown out. They have issues to work out just like Ottawa did last year. Just because it's not the exact same issue doesn't mean they aren't in similar situations.

 
At 5:08 PM, November 12, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

One interesting trend in the early season is the high percentage of games that have been decided in regulation. After 246 games just 39, or 15.8%, have awarded the "bonus" a.k.a. "bogus" point. By way of comparison, in 2006-07 there were 281, or 22.8%, three-point games. Put another way, the league-wide "winning" percentage -- and I agree with sakshab that points percentage is a much better way of stating it -- is .540, compared to .557 at last seasons' end.

To some extent I'm comparing apples and oranges as I don't know -- and am too lazy to reconstruct -- exactly where these figures were at the 20% mark of last season. I did follow this informally throughout 2006-07 and can tell you that as the season wore on, the percentage of OT/SO games continued to rise, only breaking through the 20% level after the All-Star break and continuing the upward slope right through the end. As playoff implications became clearer, coaches became more conservative in tight games to take advantage of the NHL's wrong-headed "system". A .500 record, which under generally accepted accounting principles should be an unshakeable neutral standard and very near the playoff cutline in a league where just over half the teams qualify, is now the mark of an inferior club with no hope of making the playoffs.

 
At 2:38 AM, November 13, 2007, Blogger J. Michael Neal said...

GF vs. GA only matters on a game to game basis. Ottawa had to figure out how to win close games.

No. Wrong. Very, very wrong. Future winning percentage correlates much better with the ratio of goals scored to goals allowed (and, again, it's the ratio that's important, not the net differential) than it does with past winning percentage.

"Not knowing how to win the close ones" is a crutch for people who want an explanation for everything. There's zero empirical evidence to support this idea. Winning one goal games is not a repeatable skill, for the most part. Teams' winning percentage in such games regresses towards 50% rather quickly.

The exception to this, in hockey, is strong defensive teams who don't score much themselves. They might continue to win a lot of one goal games, because they're winning them 1-0 and 2-1. That's why the ratio of goals is more important than the differential, because good defense is a repeatable skill.

 

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