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NHL Week 7 Thursday (14 November): What Have We Learned?


We are now in NHL Week 7, bringing us the beginnings of our Game 20 (G20) calls. Why haven’t we updated things since Tuesday? Turmoil. Turmoil and chaos in the PQC. But we are sorting things out.

So here we go with our notes…

The NHL As A Whole

1. The West Versus East saga continues and is having an impact on predicted outcomes – see No. 4 below. Another weekly update was posted on yesterday’s blog and will be updated again next Sunday until the ship right rights itself.

2. The current OT/SO percentage update will also come next Sunday.

3. And ditto for Week 7 PP / PK numbers.

4. After games on Tuesday night, there was a bit of a change in the Eastern Conference. For the first time since the season began, the average winning percentage in the East rose above .500. After Thursday night, it is at .507 with seven teams topping that average. In order, they are Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Washington and Montreal.

At the beginning of the week with the loss of Steven Stamkos to relatively long-term injury, the media immediately claimed the Bolts cannot replace Stammer and would surely sink in the standings. Speculation was further fueled by the night’s 3 – 0 loss to Boston. Since then, however, they have merely responded with a SO victory in Montreal as they adjusted to new line mates, and a convincing win against the Pacific Division leading Anaheim Ducks. Tampa Bay done? Not just yet…

And for fans of the East, it is also good to see Washington on that list playing above the Conference average along with Pittsburgh. It has looked since the season began as if the Metro Division was the old Southeast Division with a little makeup dabbed on. The Capitals are also, in fact, tied with Montreal for the third best winning percentage against the Western Conference where the East has had its struggles this season.

Just for reference, the West’s average winning percentage is .622 with eight teams playing above that line. Note here that those eight teams sport a combined 51 – 13 – 8 / .764 Hockey record against the East with no team except Anaheim suffering more than two losses in inter-divisional play.

These facts – especially Western winning percentages against the East – have played hell on the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) so far this season. We continue to sort it out for you in our efforts to exceed OGA’s 90% Playoff call standard.

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 Thursday, 14 November’s games:

NHLeast14Nov

Some notes here reference G20 maximum calls:

1. Two (down from four) Eastern Conference teams can still earn a CS call for G20. One has actually attained that call and will be announced at their Game 20 mark.

2. One (up from NO) team can currently obtain a maximum of a Sharpening Skates (SS) call, or just short of IN the post-season.

3. Nine (down from 10) teams can surpass a maximum In The Curve (ITC) call. Four (up from three) of them are already a lock and will be announced on their Game 20 call date.

4. One (up from NO) team currently projects as a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.

5. And three (up from two) teams are a T2 projection or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention. Two are already identified – see below – and the third T2 team will be announced on their Game 20 call date.

6. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. There was one change from the last blog’s final seedings projection – Montreal projects as the No. 8 Wild Card seed, displacing Ottawa.

7. PQC breakdown:

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at Tee Time (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 Tee Time (T2), or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. The Islanders are suffering in projections primarily from their 1 – 5 record over the end of the G20 furlong. In that span, they have lost by an average of just a bit over two goals per game. These losses are following the Moulson for Vanek trade which includes four injured games and a total of eight SOGs for the new Islander. So at the very best, you can say the Isles lost synchronization with Moulson’s departure. And at the very worst, you can sum up the team with mostly NHL-average goaltending and say Garth Snow might have thrown away the Islanders’ season in November. We called them out early in last year’s shortened season with a note that they could very well make liars out of us. For Isles fans’ sake, once can only cling to the same hope.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Atlantic Division teams are in BOLD Text):

TUE., 12 NOV – BUF

THUR., 14 NOV – NYI

FRI., 15 NOV – DET, FLA, MTL, WSH

SAT., 16 NOV – CAR, NJD, PIT, TBL, TOR

SUN., 17 NOV – CBJ, NYR, OTT

MON., 18 NOV – BOS

TUE., 19 NOV – PHI (the last G20 PQC call with COL and STL)

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Thursday, 14 November’s games:

NHLwest14Nov

Western notes:

1. Five (down from eight) teams out of the West can still earn a CS call by G20. Of note, two were called at G10 as listed. We already know of one other who will get the call on their G20 call date.

2. Three (up from NO) teams currently project as an SS call. Two have actually locked in to an SS call and are listed below.

3. Four (down from five) teams can earn an ITC call out of the West. Two have already been identified and one more is already a lock to be announced on their Game 20 call date.

4. No team currently projects as a maximum DoC call at this time.

5. And two (up from one) teams project as G20, T2 calls. One is announced below and one more will be at their G20 mark.

6. There was some significant change to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on Tuesday through Thursday’s games:

  • Colorado dropped from the projected No. 1 to No. 5 seed based on a pair of back-to-back losses
  • Anaheim dropped to the 4th seed from No. 2 on two straight losses
  • San Jose rose to the No. 2 seed based on points garnered in six of their last seven games in conjunction with Anaheim’s losses
  • And Chicago’s recent 7 – 0 – 1 record, including four divisional wins, coupled with Colorado’s two straight defeats, elevated them up to the No. 3 seed

7. PQC breakdown: 24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA The San Jose Sharks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO  The Colorado Avalanche have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

10 November 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA – The Vancouver Canucks open G20 PQC calls with a second consecutive In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – The Winnipeg Jets are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play. The Jets, playing in their most difficult 10-game stretch this season, fought through to solidify their ITC status. After a 1 – 3 – 1 start to the furlong and a grim outlook, they fought back to earn a 4 – 1 second half with the help of two SO wins in the mix. At this point in the season with the Corsi and Fenwick numbers in the high 40’s percentile, they are in the median of the performance bell curve. Hampering them is their shooting and save percentages where the Top 16 teams in the NHL are above 7.5% and 92% respectively while the Jets are just below that level. So they require more watching and will only get in the hunt with a sustained hot streak against the competition.

12 November 2013, BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL – The Anaheim Ducks are a Sharpening Skates call, or just about shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs. Whaaaaat? How can we not call them a CS team at this point? Here is the issue. Of 21 GP, they have played 61.2% of their games against the East to the tune of an 8 – 4 – 1 / .653 record. Why is this not simply outstanding, so get on with the CS call? Because those wins are only relative when you consider 11 other Western teams have lost fewer games inter-divisionally. They have to win those Eastern matchups to simply remain competitive with the rest of the West. So we need another 10 games to confirm they are a true, CS team in a Conference where today’s projections indicate all eight playoff teams need better than 104 points to continue play into late April.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.  What part of this could you not see coming? The Oilers were a DoC team at G10 and only managed 1.5 wins in the G20 stretch. They rest lower than they have been at this point since the previous Lockout by two Wins, have played 30 players on game rosters so far this season, and have 80% of the team as even or minus players. Confusion and chaos reign in the front office as they search for answers. And, and, and… Sorry, Edmonton, but another high draft pick is in your future, Bryzgalov or no Bryzgalov.

14 November 2013, United Center, Chicago, IL – The Phoenix Coyotes are a Sharpening Skates call, or just about shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs. Wait… whaaaaat, again? Et tu, Phoenix? Yes. See Anaheim above. Same call, same reasons, with one exception. Where Anaheim is Top 12 in Corsi, Fenwick and PDO, Phoenix is 20th or lower in Corsi and Fenwick while being bolstered by a Top 10 PDO from good – to – great goaltending and a 9.2% team shooting percentage. Yes, they went 7 – 2 – 1 in their last 10. But equally, we note they won four of those seven in the SO and one more in OT. It is great when the coach can offensively ratchet up his team into fifth gear to bring home a win. But it is the Coyotes’ hallmark defense of previous seasons that secures a Playoff berth and corresponding Playoff wins. We need another 10 games where more wins stand on their regulation merit to properly judge this as a CS team.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in BOLD Text):

SUN., 10 NOV – VAN (the first G20 PAC call)

TUE., 12 NOV – ANA, WPG

WED., 13 NOV – EDM

THUR., 14 NOV – PHX

FRI., 15 NOV – LAK, MIN, SJS

SAT., 16 NOV – CGY, CHI, NSH,

SUN., 17 NOV – DAL,

TUE., 19 NOV – COL, STL (the last G20 PQC call with PHI)

Our next blog will be posted on Saturday, 16 November, with seven more G20 PQC-impacting calls…

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