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NHL Week 1 Tuesday Through Saturday: What Have We Learned?


The NHL has played through what, in effect is, the first weekend of the NHL’s Week 1 (minus the three games today). What in the heck have we learned while we are still in the euphoria of all of our teams making the playoffs come next April?

The NHL As A Whole

A couple of VERY premature notes here:

1. While we will not give you our Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) numbers, we will talk to you all season about how teams are playing against it. However, one – to – three games per team equals a decrease in the overall Eastern Conference PQC and an increase in the Western Conference. Note here that the Eastern Conference has played more games than the West as one reason this is so. And they went 1 – 5 – 1 against the West in early, cross–Conference action.

2. The OT/SO percentage after the first few days is 25%. This is about 3% more than the last couple of seasons. Parity, parity, parity…

3. And PP / PK chances are high. After only a handful of games, just eight teams have both failed to score a PPG and scored a SHG. Two of the teams at 100% on the PK – Boston and Vancouver – have also scored four of the six SHG’s registered so far this season.

We’re off and running folks. But how do the Conferences look?

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates the Conference standings through Saturday’s games:

NHLeast5Oct.emf

Some notes here:

1. The Metropolitan Division is distinguished by the light red tint to the cell with the teams’ names in them.

2. The teams are arrayed from 1st through 16th NOT strictly as the current, official Conference standings have them listed. They are instead a combination of those standings and projected points at the end of the season. NOTE – PROJECTED POINTS AT THE END OF THE SEASON ARE ASKEW UNTIL AROUND GAME 10 OF THE SEASON.

3. Projected playoff position shows the Top 8. The interesting twists about this year are:

a. Number 1 plays Number 8

b. Number 1 from the other Division plays Number 7

c. The highest ranking divisional team that’s left is the home team for Round 1

4. Because No. 3 above can be confusing, we added the “If The Playoffs Were Played Today” section at the far right of each section.

5. And the note that Washington is ‘Playing below difficulty level’ is directly related to our blog about the difficulty levels of Eastern Conference team schedules for this season.

Interestingly, many prognosticators would call some form of the top three pairings being Eastern teams they would put in the playoffs. Carolina at the Islanders may or may not meet the mail for a lot of folks. Remember, too, that Carolina has only played one game so far this year.

The Western Conference

Our chart below indicates the Conference standings through Saturday’s games:

NHLwest5Oct.emf

Some notes here:

1. The Pacific Division is distinguished by the lighter blue tint to the cell with the teams’ names in them.

2. The teams are arrayed from 1st through 16th as was done for the Eastern Conference standings above. Here, unlike in the East, we are on an even keel with all teams having played two games each.

3. For the playoff pairings here, you might be throwing a shoe. At least half of those teams were not in the pre-regular season prognostications.

4. Difficulty level ratings are directly related to our second blog about the difficulty levels of Eastern Conference team schedules for this season. Notes here:

a. Calgary is playing well above their difficulty level for Games 1 – 10 this season. When you consider Columbus let them out of their building with a win, and you hear Columbus spent several days before that game working special teams and not 5-on-5 fundamentals before the game, you might correctly think right now Calgary is playing with the freedom of low expectations. (Big Tex has written about it before.)

b. Edmonton is riding a 10-game stretch that is equal to the best they are going to get this season based on our ‘Over The Boards’ criteria linked above. Edmontonians will have to cut Dallas Eakins some slack so he is the appropriate amount of ‘compete hard’ on the team or they will lose more than they should before Game 10.

c. Colorado, Phoenix and Nashville are playing right about on track with their difficulty level. Colorado is in the easiest stretch of the year for them and need to store up wins while the winning is hot. Both Phoenix and Nashville are on one of two of their most difficult stretches. Nashville is also goal-scoring challenged, which does not help at all. But take heart, Preds fans, Games 11 – 20 are one of Nashville’s most conducive furlongs.

More to follow next week as by Saturday the majority of teams will have played half of the first furlong. Once we get past Game 10, our updates will come daily, in the evenings and through the previous day’s games.

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