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The Colonel

The Colonel has written 293 posts for The OGA Blogs

Increasing Goal Scoring

I am convinced of something reference adjusting the ice (playing) surface to compensate for bigger players in order to score more goals.

To tactically change the game, you might think the overall intent is to increase the complexity of the ice for the goalie. If you get him to have to think in multiple directions simultaneously, you multiply his dilemmas and increase the possibility of him allowing a goal.

I would have thought increasing the distance behind the goal line (net) would have done it. This happened this year to some extent when the net was made shallower. The advantage now goes to the skater who can make a wrap-around faster than the goalie can move post to post.

So if you put more square footage behind the net, would the goalie not be drawn to both the back AND front of the net when a skater with the puck is behind it?

Not really. Most of the focus by Goalies is on the puck, or the belief of where it is, in relation to the net opening than what the options are for the next pass. More room behind the net WOULDe have the Goalie hugging the appropriate post until puck movement shifts. But the Goalie will continue to follow puck movement and still square up to the shooter once the disk comes back out front. That’s because where the puck is only becomes a true threat when you shoot it on net. It is also why Olympic-size ice is not the answer either.

Add to your lack of space for the puck finding the net the propensity to collapse back in toward the goalie and cut down on passing and shooting room. AND there is a going thought that goalies under six feet tall don’t even get much of a look if they are not touted as the next Dominik Hasik.

No, I am convinced now the only way to adjust the ice surface in order to score more goals is to increase the size of the net itself. Players are about 10% bigger than when the rules for rink dimensions were written, so I say the net opening increases about 10%. That would be roughly six inches higher and six inches wider. That, in my opinion, would be a prudent attempt to adjust for the ever shrinking net.

And for those who say the NHL, as one of the top three sports, tinkers with their sport way too much, I would remind you ours is the fastest of the four. That tempo requires a constant eye toward how the game looks. And when something does not look right, it requires adjusting.

So I say expand the net 6 x 6 inches to increase instances of one of the three things (besides a fight and a shootout / penalty shot) that brings fans out of their seats.

NHL Week 19 (Saturday, 8 February): What Have We Learned?

We are beginning G60 calls.

The NHL As A Whole

1. East versus West. The East continues to increase its Winning Percentage (W%) against Western Conference teams:

Eastern Conference versus the West are 150 – 137 – 41 / 52%, a W% increase of +1.2% from our last blog. At 111 games played cross-Conference, the East was only sporting a 42.3% so have come up almost 10% since the first week in November.

Atlantic Division versus the West are 79 – 69 – 20 / 53%, a W% increase of +1.9% from our last blog.

Metro Division versus the West are 71 – 68 – 21 / 50.9%, a W% increase of +.5% from our last blog.

2. OT/SO numbers. The total number of games going to extra frames is 223 of 880 played, or 25.34% as of 8 February. At the end of the 2010/11 season, the total percentage was 24.15% for reference. Of those games progressing past regulation time, 42.6% are being decided in OT this season versus 50.2%, again, at the end of the 2010/11 season.

3. PP and PK leaders. The PP leader in the NHL remains Pittsburgh with a 25.4% efficiency rate. Florida is still the bottom dweller with the man advantage, performing at only a 9% clip. New Jersey displaces Pittsburgh as the leading PK team for this blog with an efficiency rating of 87.4%, while Florida holds down the bottom position here, too, at 77.2%.

4. Corsi For % (CF%) leaders. Here are the current numbers through 8 February for this advanced stats category.

Top CF% in All Situations (we are looking for a 50% or better, here) – LAK @ 55.4%.

All CF% at or better than 50% in All Situations – LAK, CHI (54%+), SJS, BOS (52%+),  NYR, NJD, STL, CAR (51%+), DAL, FLA, DET, VAN, PHX, OTT, PHI, WPG and NYI.

Worst CF% in All Situations – TOR @ 43.9%.

Top CF% when on the PP 5–on–4 (the best teams are at a 90% or better) – CBJ @ 92%.

All CF% at or better than 90% when on the PP 5–on–4 – CBJ, NYI (91%+), VAN, DET, COL (90%+), LAK, PHX, BOS, and STL.

Worst CF% when on the PP 5–on–4 – DAL @ 85.6%.

Top CF% when on the PK (the best teams are at a 12% or better) – PHI / WPG @ 15.7%.

All CF% at or better than 12% when on the PK – PHI, WPG, CAR (14%+),  OTT, BOS, MTL, NYI, SJS (13%+), CGY (12%+),  DAL and CBJ.

Worst CF% when on the PK – PIT @ 5.7%.

5. Fenwick For % (FF%) leaders. Here are the current numbers through 8 February for this advanced stats category.

Top FF% in All Situations (as with CF%, we are looking for a 50% or better ranking, here) – SJS @ 55.8%.

All FF% at or better than 50% in All Situations – SJS (55%+), CHI (54%+), LAK, STL (52%+), BOS, NYR, NJD (51%+), VAN, DAL, PIT, DET, ANA (50%+), WPG, CAR, FLA, TBL and PHI.

Worst FF% in All Situations – TOR @ 42.8%.

Top FF% when on the PP 5–on–4 (the best teams are at a 89% or better) – CBJ @ 91.6%.

All FF% at or better than 89% when on the PP 5–on–4 – CBJ (91%+), VAN (90%+), DET, NYR, COL, ANA (89%+), NSH, SJS, PIT, and MIN.

Worst FF% when on the PP 5–on–4 – NJD @ 83%.

Top FF% when on the PK (the best teams are at a 13% or better) – PHI @ 18.3%.

All FF% at or better than 13% when on the PK – PHI (18%+), BOS (16%+), MTL, WPG, NYI, SJS (15%+), ANA (14%+), CGY, OTT, CAR (13%+), DAL and CBJ.

Worst FF% when on the PK – TOR @ 6.1%.

6. PDO leaders. Here are the current numbers through 8 February for this advanced stats category.

Top PDO in All Situations (we are looking for a 100% or better with a CF% and FF% of 50% or more, here) – BOS @ 102.4%.

All PDO at or better than 100% with CF% and FF% at least a 50% in All Situations – BOS (102%+), STL, CHI (100%+), and PHI.

Worst PDO in All Situations – FLA @ 97.5%.

Top PDO when on the PP 5–on–4 (here, the best teams are at a 104% or better with a CF% and FF% at or above 88%) – NSH @ 114.5%.

All PDO at or better than 104% with CF% and FF% at or better than 88% when on the PP 5–on–4 – NSH (114%+),  COL (110%+), PIT (107%+),  SJS and MTL (105%+).

Worst PDO when on the PP 5–on–4 – WPG @ 92.8%.

Top PDO when on the PK (the best teams are at 100% or better with CF% and FF% at or above 10%) – PHI / WPG @ 15.7%.

All PDO at or better than 100%, with CF% and FF% at or above 10%, when on the PK – CAR (108%+),  CGY (104%+), CBJ (100%+)  and ANA.

Worst PDO when on the PK – PHI @ 91.1%.

And now for our current analysis of the NHL…

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates how the Eastern Conference projects against the PQC through Saturday, 8 Februarys games:

NHLeast8FEB

Notes reference G60 maximum calls:

1. At G60, four Eastern Conference teams have a chance at a CS call. This is the same four who already met this mark and remain so unless conditions to make a Shot Off The Post (SotP) call are reached.

2. No teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call as we look toward G60.

3. Five teams cannot be better than In The Curve (ITC) by G60. One call is already made below, and the other four have already been determined and will be listed once they hit their G60 mark.

4. No teams are a possible Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) at G60.

5. And the same, named, seven Eastern teams remain at a Tee Time (T2) heading toward G60.

6. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. Since or last post of this information, 5th through 8th seeds have adjusted:

  • The play of PHI pushed CBJ out of the No. 6 seed by the slimmest of margins.
  • MTL slides up to the No. 5 slot as visitor to No. 3 TBL.
  • TOR drops to the No. 7 Wild Card seed based on going 1 – 1 so far this week.
  • And DET pops back up into the projected, No. 8 Wild Card slot.

This movement based solely on a loss or two in most cases shows how tight the Eastern Conference race is.

7. PQC breakdown (with new calls in bold text):

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at T2, or the first team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders have been called at T2, or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at T2, or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been called CS, the fourth team in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

17 November 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, ON – The Columbus Blue Jackets have been called at T2, or the sixth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

5 December 2013, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Penguins have been called CS, or the seventh team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

5 December 2013, Centre Bell, Montreal, QC – The Montreal Canadiens have been called CS, or the eighth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

6 December 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils have been called at T2, or the seventh team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

7 December 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, QC – The Ottawa Senators have been called at T2, or the ninth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

8 December 2013, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Boston Bruins have been called CS, or the tenth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

31 December 2013, PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes have been called at T2, or the twelfth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

8 February 2014, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Toronto Maple Leafs have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

8. The G60 Projection Schedule is (with Atlantic Division teams in bold font; teams in parentheses have already secured either a CS or T2 call):

SAT., 8 FEB – (NYI), TOR

WED., 26 FEB(MTL)

THUR., 27 FEB – DET, (NJD),NYR, (OTT), PHI, WSH

FRI., 28 FEB – (BUF)

SAT., 1 MAR – (CAR, CBJ, FLA), (PIT, TBL)

SUN., 2 MAR(BOS) (the last G60 PQC call)

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Saturday, 8 February’s games:

NHLwest8FEB

Western notes:

Western notes:

1. At G60, six Western Conference teams have a chance at a CS call. Those six calls were already made and remain unchanged unless we reach conditions to make a Shot Off The Post (SotP) call.

2. No teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call as we look toward G60.

3. Three (down from four) teams are an In The Curve (ITC) by G60. One call has already been determined and will be posted once that club reaches their G60 mark.

4. One (up from NO) team projects as a DoC call for G60 below.

5. And four Western teams currently remain at a Tee Time (T2) heading toward G60.

6. There were two adjustments to the ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ Top 8 teams in the Western Conference since our last blog posting:

  • Based on adjustments in winning, STL has moved up to the No.1 seed and ANA down to the projected No.2 slot.
  • And based on their winning streak and PHX’s 1 – 2 record this week, DAL has moved up to the projected No. 8 Wild Card seed for the first time this season.

7. PQC breakdown (again, with new calls in BOLD FONT):

24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA – The San Jose Sharks have been called CS, or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO – The Colorado Avalanche have been called CS, or the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at T2, or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – The Chicago Blackhawks have been called CS, or the third team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames have been called at T2, or the fifth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

19 November 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The St. Louis Blues have been called CS, or the fifth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

3 December 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA – The Anaheim Ducks have been called CS, or the sixth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

7 December 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, QC – The Nashville Predators have been called at T2, or the eighth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

7 December 2013, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Kings have been called CS, or the ninth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

27 December 2013, MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB – The Winnipeg Jets have been called at T2, or the eleventh team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

8 February 2014, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Vancouver Canucks have been called at DoC, or almost eliminated from the 2014 NHL Playoffs.

8. The G60 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in bold text; teams in parentheses have already secured either a CS or T2 call):

FRI., 7 FEB – (CHI), (EDM) (the first G60 PQC calls)

SAT., 8 FEB – (ANA), (WPG), VAN

WED., 26 FEB – (LAK)

THUR., 27 FEB –MIN, (NSH), (SJS)

FRI., 28 FEB – (COL), PHX

SAT., 1 MAR – (CGY), DAL

SUN., 2 MAR(STL) (the last G60 PQC call)

So as a bottom line, the rest of our G60 PQC calls in the Eastern Conference occur on 27 FEB, and out West, between 27 FEB and 1 MAR.

Our next blog will be posted on Friday, 28 February for games played coming out of the Olympic break on 27 February…

Team Streaks And The Olympic Effect: Part 2 of 4 – The Metro Division

Coming out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, all NHL teams will be hot and heavy on the schedule through 13 April’s season closeout. So how did your favorite team do in the 10 games before and after their last two Olympic breaks, where are they going into this season, and what is their estimated post-Sochi performance? We have your numbers below…

(This is Part 2 of a four-parter covering all NHL Divisions)

Metropolitan Division Teams’ History

Carolina Hurricanes 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 7 – 3 / .700; After 6 – 2 – 2 / .700; the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 8 – 2 / .800; After 6 – 3 – 1 / .650; out of the playoffs with 80 points.

Columbus Blue Jackets 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 6 – 4 / .600; After 3 – 6 – 1 / .350; out of the playoffs with 74 points.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; out of the playoffs with 79 points.

New Jersey Devils  2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; in the playoffs with 101 points; lost in five games of Round 1 to Stanley Cup Champion Carolina.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; After 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; in the playoffs with 103 points; lost in five games of Round 1 to Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia.

New York Islanders 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 3 – 2 / .600; After 6 – 4 / .600; out of the playoffs with 78 points.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 2 – 8 / .200; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; out of the playoffs with 79 points.

New York Rangers 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 8 – 1 – 1 / .850; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; in the playoffs with 100 points, their second highest total since the Lockout the year before; lost in four games of Round 1 to New Jersey.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 4 – 6 / .400; After 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; out of the playoffs with 87 points, their lowest point total since the 2004/05 Lockout.

Philadelphia Flyers 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; After 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; in the playoffs with 101 points; lost in six games of Round 1 to Buffalo.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 6 – 4 / .600; After 5 – 3 – 2 / .600; in the playoffs with 88 points, their second lowest total since the first Stoppage; lost in six games of the Stanley Cup Championship to Chicago.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; After 3 – 6 – 1 / .350; out of the playoffs with 58 points, the second lowest NHL total since that first Lockout.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 5 – 2 – 3 / .650; After 6 – 2 – 2 / .700; in the playoffs with 101 points; lost in the seventh game of Round 2 to Montreal.

Washington Capitals 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 2 – 8 / .200; After 3 – 4 – 3 / .450; out of the playoffs with 70 points, tied for their lowest total since the 2004/05 Lockout.

2010 in Vancouver: Before 7 – 1 – 2 / .800; After 7 – 1 – 2 / .800; in the playoffs with 121 points, their highest total since the 2004/05 Lockout; lost in the seventh game of Round 1 to Montreal.

Where Are They Now And What Can Be Expected?

Here are the Atlantic Division parameters of historical play:

Biggest average gain: Washington at +.125

Biggest one-season gain:  Washington in 2005/06 at +.250

Biggest one-season loss: Islanders in 2009/10 at –.400

Biggest average loss: Rangers at –.175

Average gain / loss: –.053

When you look at team post-Olympic averages – meaning nothing outside of the above parameters – and combine that with current team play, you get our analysis below for Metro Division play into mid-March.

Carolina Hurricanes The ‘Canes are 5 – 3 in their last eight with two to play before the break. That projects as .625 Hockey before the Olympics. They averaged a -.075 in the two previous Olympic years. If that average occurs again, they would likely be in the range of a 5 – 5 record. They project with us as just out of the Playoffs with a Winning Percentage (W%) of .536 at 85 – 88 points. This, however, is where we give our Metro Division caveat that applies to all of this division’s teams. There is a tight race right now in the Metro where 89 points projects as the possible No.8 Wild Card seed for the Eastern Conference. So Carolina on the high end of their projected points could make us wrong and land just in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Columbus Blue Jackets No team has confounded the OGA Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) like Columbus lately, giving us two – out – of – three wrong projections since the last Olympics. That said, they are 5 – 3 – 1 in their last nine games with one more to go until the break. That projects as a .611 W%. Coupling that with a post-Olympic –.150 average would drop them into something like a 4 – 5 – 1 to as high as a 5 – 5 record going into March. We already projected them as out of the Playoffs despite a current W% of .553 and between 90 and 91 points. This is potentially one of our Shot Off The Post, wrongly projected calls, but they will have to come out of the Olympics as hot as they are going in to make liars out of us.

New Jersey Devils The Devils go into the Olympic break sporting a 3 – 3 – 2 / .500 record. Averaging with the previous two Olympic breaks, you only get a .550 W% team. At a post-break 5 – 4 – 1, we project them out of the Playoffs with a .518 W% and between 85 and 88 points, but likely more toward the lower number. They should fall a couple of wins short this season.

New York Islanders After giving the Penguins a run for their money in last year’s shortened-season Playoffs, the Islanders are going to fall short of the post-season this year. They are 2 – 5 – 1 in their last nine with one to play before the break, making them only a .278 team. Averaging a –.200 after the last two Olympics and adding that to their current total would make them a 0 – 10 to 0 – 9 – 1 team. What will likely happen is you will see them about where they are now and maybe as good as one to three wins better. We have them out of the Playoffs at a .441 W% with between 72 and 73 points.

New York Rangers After a stinker of a start, the Rangers have fought back to a nicely done 6 – 3 / .667 W% in their last nine with one more to play before the break. They average a –.175 post-Olympics, which just may be a bit more affected depending on the final performance of their star netminder for Team Sweden. That would have them a bit below .500 at between 4 – 6 and 4 – 5 – 1, a potential problem for holding on to a Metro seed come playoff time.  We see them on the cusp or either in or out of the Playoffs and too close to call yet despite an overall W% of .560 and as much as somewhere between 92 and 93 points. Bottom line? This team needs to be as good as they are now on the far side of the Olympics to see the post-season.

Philadelphia Flyers This is another team who had a stinker of an opening to their season. Playing more respectably of late in search of keeping their captain’s promise of making of the Playoffs, they are currently 4 – 4 – 1 in their last nine with one game to play before the Olympic break, or playing .500 Hockey. Following each of the last two Olympics, they broke even in terms of play, so they are likely to be some combination that equates to a 5 – 5 record. Their projection is on the verge of the playoffs like the Rangers with a .552 W% and between 90 and 92 points. They need to come out of the chute hard come 27 February.

Pittsburgh Penguins This team is the class of the Metro Division this season. They are 6 – 3 / .667 in their last nine with one more left before the break. Their average post-Olympics is even, and if they continue as they currently are playing, they have no worries of retaining their playoff seed. They project as a 6 – 4 to 7 – 3 team going into mid-March with a W% of .719 and between 118 and 119 points.

Washington Capitals The Caps’ surge a while back has fizzled of late. They are currently 4 – 4 – 1 in their last nine with one game left to play before Sochi. That .450 W% coupled with their average +.125 boost, however, could propel them back up the standings to between a 5 – 4 – 1 and 6 – 0 team. But here’s where our gut tells us their straw that stirs the drink, Alex Ovechkin, and how Team Russia performs in Sochi could have the greatest post-Olympic effect on any Eastern team. Win a medal, Ovechkin by himself could potentially boost this team higher. Fail to medal and Alex could return in a funk that both sees the Caps forgoing the playoffs this year and fuels the fire of why NHLers shouldn’t play in the 2018 Olympics. They currently project as a coin flip for in or out of the 2014 Playoffs with a .526 W% and between 86 and 88 points. But they will not make it if they suffer a post-Sochi Ovechkin funk.

The Eastern Conference As A Whole.

Having now studied both Divisions in the East, we can provide a couple of indicators of potential post-Olympic performance with respect to the Playoffs:

1. If you throw out the 2009/10 Ottawa anomaly of a –.550 in W% post-break, no other team who dropped off in W% more than a –.100 made it into the Playoffs in a post Olympic year. Using the averages would mean teams that are most likely to be on the golf links come mid-April are Boston, Ottawa, Columbus, the Islanders and the Rangers. Whaaat?  That, of course, would mean the Bruins, who are projected in the Playoffs right now, and Columbus and the Rangers, who have a good chance of seeding in the Metro, might not play on. These teams must improve coming back from the break to ensure they reach the Playoff., although that statement applies less to this edition of the Bruins.

2. No team who displayed an improvement of better than +.250 failed to make the Playoffs. While no Eastern team averaged that high over the past two winter games, such a boost could greatly help the cause of .500 teams like Detroit and anyone at or around that level in the Metro Division.

3. The Eastern Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes were even in W% differential after the Turin Olympics in 2006.

So basically, Eastern teams who expect to move on to the Playoffs (and possibly have great success) are looking to get from the end of Sochi to mid-March at no worse than an OTL drop off in performance.

“…Part 3 of 4 – The Central Division” in this series begins our look at the Western Conference when it is posted soon. Will the math come out the same? We will see…

Team Streaks And The Olympic Effect: Part 1 of 4 – The Atlantic Division

Coming out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, all NHL teams will be hot and heavy on the schedule through 13 April’s season closeout. So how did your favorite team do in the 10 games before and after their last two Olympic breaks, where are they going in this season, and what is their estimated post-Sochi performance? We have your numbers below…

Atlantic Division Teams’ History

Boston Bruins 2006 Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 3 – 2 / .600; After 3 – 6 – 1 / .350; out of the playoffs with 64 points, their lowest total since the 2004/05 Lockout.

2010 Vancouver: Before 4 – 3 – 3 / .550; After 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; in the playoffs with 91 points, losing to Philadelphia, the Eastern Conference Champion, in seven games of Round 2.

Buffalo Sabres 2006 Turin, Italy: Before 7 – 1 – 2 / .800; After 8 – 2 – 0 / .800; in the playoffs with 110 points, losing in the Eastern Conference Finals to Carolina, the Stanley Cup winner.

2010 Vancouver: Before 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; After 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; in the playoffs with 100 points, losing to Boston in six games of Round 1.

Detroit Red Wings  2006 Turin, Italy: Before 7 – 1 – 2 / .800; After 8 – 2 – 0 / .800; in the playoffs with 124 points, their highest total since the 2004/05 Lockout, losing in six games of Round 1 to Stanley Cup Champion runner-up, Edmonton.

2010 Vancouver: Before 3 – 3 – 4 / .500; After 7 – 2 – 1 / .750; in the playoffs with 102 points which ties for their lowest total since the previous Lockout; lost in five games of Round 2 to San Jose.

Florida Panthers 2006 Turin, Italy: Before 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; After 6 – 3 – 1 / .650; out of the playoffs with 85 points.

2010 Vancouver: Before 3 – 6 – 1 / .350; After 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; out of the playoffs with 77 points, their second lowest point total since 2005/06.

Montreal Canadiens  2006 Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 3 – 2 / .600; After 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; in the playoffs with 92 points, losing in six games of Round 1 to Carolina, the Stanley Cup winner.

2010 Vancouver: Before 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; After 7 – 2 – 1 / .750; in the playoffs with 88 points, losing out to Philadelphia, the Eastern Conference Champion, in five games of the Conference Finals.

Ottawa Senators 2006 Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; After 8 – 2 – 0 / .800; in the playoffs with 113 points, their most since the 2004/05 Stoppage; lost in five games of Round 2 to Buffalo.

2010 Vancouver: Before 8 – 2 – 0 / .800; After 2 – 7 – 1 / .250; in the playoffs with 94 points, losing to Pittsburgh in six games of Round 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning 2006 Turin, Italy: Before 7 – 2 – 1 / .750; After 8 – 1 – 1 / .850; in the playoffs with 92 points, losing to Ottawa in five games of Round 1.

2010 Vancouver: Before 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; After 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; out of the playoffs with 80 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2006 Turin, Italy: Before 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; After 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; out of the playoffs with 90 points.

2010 Vancouver: Before 2 – 6 – 2 / .300; After 6 – 3 – 1 / .550; out of the playoffs with 74 points, their lowest total since the 2004/05 Lockout.

Where Are They Now And What Can Be Expected?

Here are the Atlantic Division parameters of historical play:

Biggest average gain: Florida at +.200

Biggest one-season gain:  Montreal in 2009/10 at +.300

Biggest one-season loss: Ottawa in 2009/10 at –.550

Biggest average loss: Boston at –.175

Average gain / loss: +.050

When you look at team post-Olympic averages – which is nothing outside of the above parameters – and combine that with current team play, you get our analysis below for Atlantic Division play into mid-March.

Boston Bruins The B’s are 4 – 1 – 1 in their last seven games with three to play before the break. That projects as .750 Hockey before the Olympics. They averaged a -.175 in the two previous Olympic years. If that average occurs again, they would likely be in the range of 5 – 5 – 1 to 6 – 0. They project with us as a Playoff team with a Winning Percentage (W%) of .676 and 110 – 111 points.

Buffalo Sabres Frankly stated, this is Buffalo’s worst season since the 2004/05 Lockout. They are 2 – 5 – 1 in their last eight games with two more to go until the break. They project at a .313 W%. Averaging a post-Olympic +.075 would boost them to something like a 3 – 5 – 1 to 4 – 6 record going into March. We project them as out of the Playoffs with a W% of .352 at between 57 and 61 points.

Detroit Red Wings The easy, unstudied, offhanded comment would be to say ‘Detroit moved to the East like they always wanted to and started losing.’ In fact, while making the Playoffs every year since the 2004/05 Lockout (and more), they have been in decline in terms of W% since the 2005/06 season. And yet, they are fighting hard at 4 – 2 – 2 in their last eight contests with two games to play before the break. This makes them currently a .625 W% team. Their average improvement being a +.125 would, if it holds, nudge them upwards to a 7 – 2 – 1 team after the Olympics. We project them as on the cusp of either in or out of the Playoffs with a .554 W% and between 87 to 91 points. To make the Playoffs this year, they will need a high-octane, post – Olympic effort.

Florida Panthers While not in the same boat as Buffalo, Florida’s ship has already set sail for this season. They are 3 – 4 in their last seven with another three to play before the break, making them a .429 team. Averaging a straight, +.200 after the last two Olympics added to that total makes them a .629 team with between a 6 – 4 to 6 – 3 – 1 record. We have them out of the Playoffs, however, at an overall .445 W% with between 73 and 74 points, or about five wins shy of a Playoff seed.

Montreal Canadiens The Habs are 2 – 4 – 1 / .429 in their last seven with three to play before the break. They average a +.125 post-Olympics, which would have them at a .554 W% and a possible record of between 5 – 5 to 5 – 4 – 1. Despite their slippage of late, we see them in the Playoffs with an overall W% of .571 and somewhere between 92 and 94 points.

Ottawa Senators The Senators have been erratic of late. They are 3 – 2 – 2 in their last seven with three games to play before the Olympic break, or playing .500 Hockey. Since they average a post-Olympics drop off of –.150, that could bring them down to a .350 W% or a projected 3 – 6 – 1 heaing into March. We have them out of the 2014 Playoffs at a .527 W% and between 83 and 86 points, or 2.5 – 3.5 games short of a Playoff seed.

Tampa Bay Lightning The Bolts have been playing very well, specially in light of the injury-plagued year they have suffered. They are 4 – 3 in their last seven with three left before the break. That puts them at a W% of .571. Add to that their average post-Olympics improvement of +.050 and they are looking at an early March record of between 6 – 4 and 6 – 3 – 1. We have them in the 2014 Playoffs at a W% of .627 and between 103 and 105 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs And the Leafs are 5 – 1 – 1 in their last seven with three games left until the Sochi break. That’s .786 Hockey that could be met with as much as a +.150 boost. But rather than earning a post-Olympic 9 – 0 – 1 record, let’s look at a worst-case correction, ala Ottawa in 2009/10. Toronto’s worst 10-game stretch to date was the Game 31 – 40 spread where they won four of ten. That could be the next, worst drop on this sometime roller-coaster season for Toronto. But after their last .400 stretch, they played the next 10 games at a .600 clip. Such a final 20 games and, say, a .500 finish of their last two contests would make them a .537 team with 88 points and, like Detroit, on the cusp of either in or out of the Playoffs. We project them as a potential Playoff team with between 95 and 97 points. So a bit of a fall off after Sochi may not be as devastating as the Toronto media will make it out to be just as long as there is a requisite recovery.

What remains to be seen is how the above analysis plays out in the Metro Division and for the Eastern Conference as a whole, the subject of our next posting. “…Part 2 of 4 – The Metro Division” in this series will be posted as a blog on Friday, 7 February followed by both of the Western Conference divisions during the Olympic break…

NHL Week 18 (Friday, 24 January / Sunday 2 February): What Have We Learned?

We closed out the Game 50 (G50) stretch with 21 of 30 Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) calls made. We are on our way toward G60 and the Olympic break and need to catch up. Below are some key notes about overall play, where we were with PQC calls at G50 on Friday 24 January, and how we currently look going into G60.

The NHL As A Whole

1. The season long spat of West Versus East dominance remains on the wane. Compared to where we were through Saturday, 18 January, the overall comparison looks like this:

18 January: Eastern versus the West at 118 – 114 – 31 / 50.8%

Atlantic Division: 61 – 58 – 17 / 51.1%

Metro Division: 57 – 56 – 14 / 50.4%

2 February: Eastern versus the West at 135 – 129 – 38 / 51% (a change of 17 – 15 – 7 / +.2%)

Atlantic Division: 71 – 66 – 19 / 51.6% (a change of 10 – 8 – 2 / +.5%)

Metro Division: 64 – 63 – 19 / 50.3% (a change of 7 – 7 – 5 / –.1%)

Best and worst, respectively, for the Atlantic against the West? Boston at 71.1% and Buffalo at 30.6%. In the Metro, it’s Pittsburgh at 71.9% and New Jersey at 40.9%.

2. The current OT/SO percentage is at 25.5% of all games, the same percentage as on 21 December and down a –.6% from mid-January. Games decided in OT versus a SO continue to slowly from 41% to 41.3% in the last two weeks.

3. Pittsburgh is the PP leader at a 24.7% effectiveness rate. The team holding down the cellar continues to be Florida with a frankly horrible 8.8% rate, down from 10.6% three weeks ago. Pittsburgh is also the top PK team at 87.6% and the Islanders remain at the bottom of the league with a slightly improved 76.8%.

4. The average W% continues to improve in the Eastern Conference’s favor as both Conferences converge on the mean statistic. The East is at the 54.4% mark, a slight improvement over the last few weeks. After games played on 2 February, there are nine Eastern teams at or above that mark as competition in the East heats up. The sagging West is at a 58.7% average. However, only five Western teams are currently at or above that mark.

5. Who in the East is playing their best since the 2004/05 Lockout and the birth of the PQC? On 2 February where Boston, Buffalo and Carolina were a game short of the G55 mark, teams at their best are: Columbus (+.5 games); Pittsburgh (+3 games); and Toronto (tied). In the West, teams at their best over that span are: Anaheim (+4.5 games); Colorado (at G50 was +2.5 games); and St. Louis (at G50 was +3 games).

6. Who in the East is playing their worst since the 2004/05 Lockout and the birth of the PQC? On 2 February where Boston, Buffalo and Carolina were a game short of the G55 mark, teams at their best are: Buffalo (–8 games); Detroit (–1 games); and Florida (–.5 games). In the West, teams at their best over that span are: Dallas (tied); Calgary (–4.5 games); and Edmonton (tied).

And now for our current analysis of the NHL…

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates how the Eastern Conference projects against the PQC through Friday, 24 Januarys games:

NHLeast24JAN

Notes reference Eastern G50 maximum calls:

1. At G50, four Eastern Conference teams have a chance at a CS call. This is the same four who already met this mark and remain so unless conditions to make a Shot Off The Post (SotP) call are reached.

2. No teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call as we look toward G50.

3. Five teams cannot be better than In The Curve (ITC) by G50.

4. No teams are a possible Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) at G50.

5. And the same, named, seven Eastern teams remain at a Tee Time (T2) heading toward G50.

6. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. Since or last post of this information, all but the Top 3 teams have morphed:

  • NYR has moved up to the No. 5 seed.  Their opponent would be CAR from the No. 6 seeded slot.
  • Based on TOR’s winning streak, they have moved up to the No. 4 seed and would face TBL.
  • MTL slides down to the No. 7 Wild Card slot.
  • And CBJ pops back up into the projected, No. 8 Wild Card slot.

7. PQC breakdown (with new, CS or T2 calls in bold text):

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at T2, or the first team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders have been called at T2, or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at T2, or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been called CS, the fourth team in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

17 November 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, ON – The Columbus Blue Jackets have been called at T2, or the sixth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

5 December 2013, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA – The Pittsburgh Penguins have been called CS, or the seventh team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

5 December 2013, Centre Bell, Montreal, QC – The Montreal Canadiens have been called CS, or the eighth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

6 December 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – The New Jersey Devils have been called at T2, or the seventh team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

7 December 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, QC – The Ottawa Senators have been called at T2, or the ninth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

8 December 2013, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Boston Bruins have been called CS, or the tenth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

31 December 2013, PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC – The Carolina Hurricanes have been called at T2, or the twelfth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

18 January 2014, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, QC – The New York Rangers have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

18 January 2014, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Toronto Maple Leafs have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

20 January 2014, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The Philadelphia Flyers have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

21 January 2014, Verizon Center, Washington, DC – The Washington Capitals have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

22 January 2014, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – The Detroit Red Wings have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

8. The G60 Projection Schedule is (with Atlantic Division teams in bold font; teams in parentheses have already secured either a CS or T2 call):

SAT., 8 FEB(NYI), TOR

WED., 26 FEB(MTL)

THUR., 27 FEB – DET, (NJD), NYR, (OTT), PHI, WSH

FRI., 28 FEB – (BUF)

SAT., 1 MAR – (CAR, CBJ, FLA), (PIT, TBL)

SUN., 2 MAR(BOS) (the last G50 PQC call)

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Friday, 24 January’s games:

NHLwest24JAN

Western notes:

1. At G50, six Western Conference teams have a chance at a CS call. Those six calls were already made and remain unchanged unless we reach conditions to make a Shot Off The Post (SotP) call.

2. No teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call as we look toward G50.

3. Four teams are an In The Curve (ITC) by G50.

4. No teams project as a DoC call for G50.

5. And four Western teams currently remain at a Tee Time (T2) heading toward G50.

6. There was only one adjustment to the ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ Top 8 teams in the Western Conference since our last blog posting: based on current projections, MIN moves up to the No. 7 Wild Card seed and PHX slides down to the No. 8 Wild Card seed.

7. PQC breakdown:

24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA – The San Jose Sharks have been called CS, or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO – The Colorado Avalanche have been called CS, or the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at T2, or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – The Chicago Blackhawks have been called CS, or the third team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames have been called at T2, or the fifth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

19 November 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The St. Louis Blues have been called CS, or the fifth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

3 December 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA – The Anaheim Ducks have been called CS, or the sixth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

7 December 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, QC – The Nashville Predators have been called at T2, or the eighth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

7 December 2013, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Kings have been called CS, or the ninth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

27 December 2013, MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB – The Winnipeg Jets have been called at T2, or the eleventh team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 January 2014, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Wild have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

18 January 2014, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Canucks have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

21 January 2014, American Airlines Center, Dallas,TX – The Dallas Stars have been called at DoC, or just about eliminated from the 2013-14 NHL Playoffs.

22 January 2014, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB – The Phoenix Coyotes have been called at ITC, or about average for 2013-14 NHL play.

8. The G60 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in bold text; teams in parentheses have already secured either a CS or T2 call):

FRI., 7 FEB – (CHI), (EDM) (the first G60 PQC calls)

SAT., 8 FEB – (ANA), (WPG), VAN

WED., 26 FEB – (LAK)

THUR., 27 FEB – MIN, (NSH), (SJS)

FRI., 28 FEB – (COL), PHX

SAT., 1 MAR – (CGY), DAL

SUN., 2 MAR(STL) (the last G50 PQC call)

So as a bottom line, G60 PQC calls in the Eastern Conference will all occur on 8 and 27 FEB, and out West, on 8 FEB, and between 27 FEB and 1 MAR. Either way you slice it, the Olympics break us up.

Our next blog will be posted on Sunday, 9 February as the Olympic break begins where we give you a look toward G60 status and a rundown of all 30 teams…

Twitter Updates

  • ...This suggests that the LAK will defeat CHI in Game 6 to play the NYR for the Stanley Cup 6 months ago
  • Since 2005/6, when a Round 3 team wins Game 5, they lose Game 6 66.7% of the time; also, Western series are determined by Game 5.889... 6 months ago
  • ...So those stats point to the NYR claiming victory tonight and playing the winner from the Western Conference in the Finals 6 months ago
  • Since 2005/6, when a Round 3 team wins Game 5, they lose Game 6 60% of the time; also, Eastern series are determined by Game 5.778... 6 months ago
  • 4. Top 4 in each DIV play 2 rounds seeded within the DIV, 1 round versus other DIV champ and then the Finals between the Conference champs. 6 months ago

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