Monday, March 24, 2008

Measuring division strength

Here's a look at how well the six divisions do in play outside of their division. Every team outside of New Jersey and Boston, who face each other next week, has played exactly 50 non-division games this season:

Division GP W L T Pts Pt% /82
1 Atlantic 249 131 87 31 293 58.8% 96.5
2 Northeast 249 126 88 35 287 57.6% 94.5
3 Northwest 250 130 95 25 285 57.0% 93.5
4 Pacific 250 131 100 19 281 56.2% 92.2
5 Central 250 122 95 33 277 55.4% 90.9
6 Southeast 250 109 113 28 246 49.2% 80.7

Since we're into a stretch of purely divisional games, there's an obvious benefit to playing in a weaker division. Points are going to be harder to come by in the Atlantic and Northeast Division battles, as those teams have made up a lot of points against the Southeast, while the Northwest rates slightly better than the other two Western Conference divisions.

Keep in mind that Anaheim's 94 points as part of the Pacific Division isn't necessarily better than Calgary's 88 in the Northwest. Strength of schedule has played a part in shaping the standings, and that'll play a big role in the final two weeks.


At 2:01 p.m., March 24, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) So are the Atlantic/NE divisions 'stronger' due to playng 4 games each against the 'weak' SE OR is the SE so bad because they have to play 2 of the stronger divisons in the NHL?
2) Consider that 3 of the 5 SE division teams have .500 or better records against the West this season

At 3:07 p.m., March 24, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The fact the Southeast has posted the equivalent of an 82-point season against the West, a record that's good for about 22nd in the NHL, isn't all that impressive.

At 3:10 p.m., March 24, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

Consider that 25 out of 30 NHL teams have .500 or better records, the "3 out of 5 SE division teams having .500 or better records against the West" really tells little, especially given that they have not faced 5 out of 15 Western Conference teams at all.

On the other hand, I do agree that the picture is a little bit skewed due to the fact that 40 out of the 50 non-divisional games are within the conference.

At 3:25 p.m., March 24, 2008, Anonymous Darren said...

I guess there's a difference between the 'strongest' division and the 'toughest'. I'm a Canucks fan, and therefore biased, but in recent years I've felt that the Northwest division has been the toughest, because it's consistently had five competitive teams.

Only eight points currently separate the first and fifth place teams, and they're all in the playoff hunt. Maybe this implies that there are five good-but-not-great teams, but given all the divisional play, the NW teams have fewer 'soft' opponents than other divisions.

At 4:44 p.m., March 24, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Faux Rumors makes a good point (his first one) in that the Eastern divisions play far more games against the Southeast, and that would skew things.

I look at it this way: The Northwest is the toughest division in the toughest conference, which means it's pretty difficult to come out of there. There's a reason the division leader in that group is finishing third every year.

At 8:22 p.m., March 24, 2008, Blogger Kel said...

When ranking the top 3 seeds in a conference, perhaps the NHL should consider using only points gained from non-divisional games. With a more balanced schedule next season, it probably won't be necessary, however.

At 10:10 p.m., March 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where was the NHL's version of the Bell Curve when I was in university. Even the sh!tty performers grade out at nearly 50%. With that kind of measuring stick, I coulda been a rocket surgeon, instead of a blog commenter.


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