We are now complete with NHL Week 7. The Game 20 (G20) furlong will be complete and with it, almost 25% of the season, by Tuesday, 19 November. This furlong was quite difficult due to the lack of parity between West and East we have highlighted and the fact a large percentage of cross-divisional games were played to open the season. So, yes, turmoil and chaos in the PQC! But we think we are sorting things out.
So here we go with our notes…
The NHL As A Whole
1. The West Versus East saga continues to have a significant impact on predicted outcomes (see paragraph 4 of our preamble from yesterday’s blog for a good rundown). Through Saturday night’s contests, the East’s record against the West is 48 – 62 – 19 / 44.6%, a bump up in percentage last week’s 39 – 56 – 16 / 42.3%. The Metro Division is still the culprit here at 17 – 29 – 9 / 39.1% over last week’s 10 – 22 – 6 / 34.2%, but the numbers indicate a second straight week of improvement.
2. The current OT/SO percentage jumped up to 24.5% of all games played, with 33.8% of them ending in OT. Last week we saw the OT/SO numbers at 22.83% of all games played. The rise to 24%+ is a second straight uptick in the numbers. It also currently just outpaces 2010-11’s final tally of 24.15%.
3. As is generally the case while the season progresses, the Week 8 PP / PK numbers show a downward trend from the highest percentages and an upward trend from the lower. The torch for the best PP after Saturday night’s games is passed from Washington back to St. Louis, standing at a 25.8% effectiveness rate versus last week’s 28.3%. Florida continues to hold down the PP cellar with a modest improvement to 9.5% from 8.5%. Vancouver remains the top PK at 88.6%, down modestly from last week’s 89.1%. And the Islanders continue to struggle at the bottom with a PK rate of 72.3%, down from last week’s 74.1% and about at Chicago’s 72.2% from two weeks ago.
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, 15 November’s games:
Some notes here reference G20 maximum calls:
1. Only one Eastern Conference team is a CS call for G20. That team is now announced below.
2. One team can currently earn a maximum of a Sharpening Skates (SS) call, or just short of IN the post-season.
3. Nine (down from 10) teams cannot surpass a maximum In The Curve (ITC) call. Eight of them are already a lock and announced below.
4. One team currently projects no better than as a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.
5. And four teams are a T2 projection or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention. Three are already identified, and the fourth 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 were two changes from the last blog’s final seedings projection:
- The Rangers project as the third seed in the Metro Division and are visitors to Washington
- And based on Montreal’s loss to the Rangers last night, Ottawa sneaks in at the No. 8 Wild Card seed
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.
15 November 2013, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH – The Montreal Canadiens have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.
15 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – Both the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.
15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.
16 November 2013, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Toronto Maple Leafs have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. The Leafs began the year seemingly a house afire as they won 70% of their games by G10. They only pulled off 5.5 wins in the G20 stretch, placing them squarely in the ITC bell curve. Part of their issue is what the advanced stats tell us – they are 29th in both Corsi For % (CF%) and Fenwick For % (FF%). So being immediately ahead of Buffalo in those categories might sound like the end of the season already. What keeps them afloat is their PDO, ranked at No. 5. With a combined save and shooting percentage of 103.1, their netminders and ability to score when they shoot keeps them swimming along in the middle of the pack. More defense – shown by less SOG against – can help push this team over the top and into the playoffs this season.
16 November 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – Both the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. A valiant effort by the Devils has driven up their near-elimination Dusting Off Clubs call from G10 to a more solid ITC one. They are solid Top 10 in CF% and FF%, and continuing to be the antithesis of Toronto, down at No. 22 in PDO with a 98.1. Their SOG % and Save % suffer here from less effective goaltending and scoring at season’s start, but both are picking up. And the Penguins, who looked at G15 to be on track toward a CS call by G20 had the wheels come off the scoring wagon while they went 1 – 4 for G16 – G20. Not unusual for the Pens to have a wins correction during the season. But keep an eye out as their relative 12 wins at G20 is only their fourth best effort at this point in the season since the 2004/05 Lockout.
16 November 2013, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO – The Carolina Hurricanes have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. Despite playing their No. 3 organizational goalie for most of this furlong, the ‘Canes have done nothing less than hung in to earn that ITC call. You will see them in the mid– to lower–20’s in all advanced stats categories right now along with being in the lower end of the ITC bell curve. But their .500 record is buying their goalies time to recuperate for a potential, late run into the playoffs. Only in the Metro Division, however. Only in the Met…
16 November 2013, Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the fourth team in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference called IN the 2014 Playoffs. So you demoralizingly lose your franchise player for months and, convincingly, that same game 3 – 0. The cold dark winds calling for you to hang up the season are blowing now, eh? Except your team comes back to win their next two contests and finally drop their first game in eight tries to Western Conference teams in Phoenix, a Western up – and – comer. And you range Top 10 to Top 14 in all advanced stats categories, indicating excellent performance. What is even more important with Stamkos’ injury is your goaltending ranks at No. 9 in save percentage, something that will have to maintain to keep the Bolts up high in Eastern competition. Keep an eye on Tampa once the rest of the East wakes up and acts like they want to play their way into Playoff position. But Stamkos aside, we still like their chances.
8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Atlantic Division teams are in BOLD Text):
TUE., 12 NOV – BUF
THUR., 14 NOV – NYI
FRI., 16 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 Saturday, 16 November’s games:
1. Four teams out of the West will be at CS by G20. Three are now noted with one more to be announced when they hit G20.
2. Four teams – as announced – currently project as an SS call.
3. Four teams can earn an ITC call out of the West. Three (up from 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 teams project as G20, T2 calls. One is announced below and one more will be at their G20 mark.
6. There was no change to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on Friday’s games.
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.
12 November 2013, BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL – The Anaheim Ducks are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.
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.
14 November 2013, United Center, Chicago, IL – The Phoenix Coyotes are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.
15 November 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – The Los Angeles Kings are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.
15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Wild are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.
16 November 2013, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – The Chicago Blackhawks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the third team called IN the 2014 Playoffs, and the Nashville Predators are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play. Chicago, folks, arguably needs one more Stanley Cup victory to be associate with the ‘D Word’ (for Dynasty). Make no mistake – unless everything comes undone, they will be in the Playoffs again this season as their CS call today indicates, so they have every opportunity to ‘have a go at The D.’ Advanced stats? Fuggidaboudit. They have them. Team play? Yup. If there’s one chink in the armor, it’s their NHL No. 16 save percentage. But coupled with a 9.2% SOG success rate, they are in fine shape. And the Predators rally after being outscored 17 – 2 in G16 – G19 to pull off a big win last night versus the ‘Hawks to help land the ITC call. Nashville is hurting for Rinne to return from injury and needs to cut back on SOG against (30.4 per game) while raising their SOG for (28.6 per game) to round themselves out into the Nashville defensive juggernaut we have seen in the past.
16 November 2013, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary,ABN – The Calgary Flames have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fifth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Whaaat? Alberta is finished with Hockey in early April this year? Again? Yes, we’re afraid so. You had to know with the team blow up and rebuild that this was coming despite their .500 start. With only half of that winning output over the last 10 games, their inevitable fate is now sealed. So why watch, other than the play Canada’s national pastime? Because they are playing some entertaining Hockey with some good signs for the team’s near future. AND because we believe with their level of competition you just might see them in a spoiler role for many Western teams when games turn more to the intra–Conference variety.
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., 16 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 Monday evening, 18 November, with four more G20 PQC – impacting calls that include another Tee Timer…