The NHL has completed Week 2 of play. What have we learned as most teams have passed the Game 5 (G5) mark?
The NHL As A Whole
1. We spoke last week about the skew of points leaning toward a dominant Western Conference based on play versus the East. That is more skewed this week. The East is 9 – 19 – 2 (a relative .333) versus Western teams. To break it down further, the Atlantic Division is both more than 1/2 a game ahead of the Metropolitan Division in terms of projected Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), and 6 – 7 – 1 (almost 50%) versus the West while the Metro is a whopping 3 – 12 – 1 (21.86%). The Rangers and Capitals are big culprits here with seven of the 12 Metro losses to their credit. Its effect is that Western victories are driving up the minimum number of points Western teams will need to make the playoffs. It raises our Western PQC benchmark as well.
2. The OT/SO percentage has now dropped to a more normal 20.27% versus the 25% it held in Week 1.
3. And PP / PK numbers are evening out a bit now. The PP spread ranges from 37.5% efficiency for St. Louis to 6.7% for Anaheim. Nineteen teams are at or better than 20% with the man advantage. Only Colorado is 100% on the PK with Anaheim again the lowest at 61.5% and 12 teams standing at 81% + when down at least one man.
How do the Conferences look?
The Eastern Conference
Our chart below indicates the Conference standings through Saturday, 12 October’s games:
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 REMAIN ASKEW UNTIL AROUND GAME 20 – 30 OF THE SEASON.
3. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. Some notes here:
a. Some combination of New Jersey, the Rangers, Ottawa and Washington are supplanted in most pre-season prognosticators’ minds by Columbus, the Islanders, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
b. Many would say the Detroit and Pittsburgh series would be a shame not happening until the Conference Finals.
c. And Original Six’ers have to like the Montreal at Boston pairing
4. Note Florida, New Jersey, the Rangers and Washington are ‘Playing below difficulty level’ in the notes section to the right. New Jersey and the Rangers are in a dark red / white color because they are playing excessively below their projected difficulty level based on our blog about the difficulty levels of Eastern Conference team schedules for this season.
5. And not yet shown here but being tracked by OGA is that only Boston, Pittsburgh and Toronto in the Eastern Conference still stand a chance at receiving a Chasing Stanley call by G10.
The Western Conference
Our chart below indicates the Conference standings through Saturday’s games:
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 14th as was done for the Eastern Conference standings above. Here, almost all teams have played five games each through Saturday.
3. For the playoff pairings here, Calgary, Colorado and Minnesota may be at issue for some folks. Colorado will eventually lose and no one expects Calgary to maintain their current pace. But if they did, the likes of Dallas, Los Angeles and Nashville would find themselves holding down the 19th Hole somewhere.
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 and Phoenix are playing above their difficulty level for Games 1 – 10 this season. The Flames may still be riding the freedom of low expectations train. But Phoenix is putting together the kind of play that saw them do well in ’11 – ’12 playoffs.
b. Colorado is playing at a level expected by a favorable schedule. Well, OK, maybe better than that. Their 82-game stamina will be the telling truth.
c. Nashville is also playing at about the level expected given one of their two most difficult 10-game stretches of the season. No, they don’t score goals in bunches. But when they are afforded more rest in between games and less divisional contests, in a stretch, they will perform better. Will it be enough? is the question.
d. Edmonton needs to win NOW to take advantage of a favorable schedule. If they cannot, well, it just won’t get any easier for them.
5. And Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, San Jose and St. Louis from the Eastern Conference still have a shot at a Chasing Stanley call by G10 at this point.
We will be back next Sunday with a Sunday – Saturday rundown of Week #3.