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NHL Week 8 Friday (22 November): What Have We Learned?


We are now in NHL Week 8. The Game 20 (G20) furlong is also now complete and with it, a bit more than 25% of the season. 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.

And this week we begin to turn our attentions toward the G30 stretch. The Conference graphics show the G30 maximum possibilities in the upper, Conference projection numbers. All final G20 calls today are in the lower sections. Tomorrow (following games on Saturday, 23 November), we will have everything relating to G30 calls.

So here we go with our notes…

The NHL As A Whole

1. The West Versus East rundown continues on Sunday, 24 November. In the meantime, have a look at paragraph 4 of our preamble from last Saturday’s blog for a good rundown.

2. Current OT/SO percentages will be detailed next Sunday as well.

3. And Week 8 PP / PK numbers will also be reviewed this weekend.

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, 22 November’s games:

NHLeast22Nov

Some notes here reference G20 and G30 maximum calls:

1. We close out our G20 PQC calls in this blog below. Starting with Sunday, 24 November’s blog, we turn all attention toward G30. Our projections for calls immediately below are for the G30 stretch.

2. Eight Eastern Conference teams have a shot at earning a CS call for G30.

3. Two teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call by G30, or just short of IN the post-season.

4. Two teams cannot surpass an In The Curve (ITC) call by G30.

5. No teams currently project a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call, or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.

6. And four Eastern teams remain a T2 projection, or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention.

7. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. There are two changes from our last blog’s final seedings projection:

  • Based on their wins over the week, New Jersey has taken over the third seed in the Metro Division, knocking the Rangers out of a Playoff berth.
  • And based on Ottawa losses, Montreal has taken over the last Wild Card seed.

8. 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.

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.

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.

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.

17 November 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Senators have been called In The Curve (ITC), and the Columbus Blue Jackets have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the sixth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Simply put, Ottawa is a .500 team. The issue with a .500 team is they hang in there for most of the season, and then fall off in the last 10 – 20 games, failing to make the post-season. As Sens fans watch them play and root for them to improve, be mindful at G20 that their current 10 wins is the second lowest total any of their Playoff teams since 2005 have displayed at this point in the season. And Columbus, full of hope and vigor coming into the season, have slipped to the point we have no choice but to call them a Tee Time (T2) club. They held their own through G10, and then slipped to only 3.5 wins in their last 10, sinking their chances to earn an Eastern playoff slot. They are at their fifth best G20 in the last eight seasons. And they rest below 50% in Corsi For % (CF%) and Fenwick For % (FF%) and below 100% for PDO. So all indicators are for an early exit to the golf course come April.

17 November 2013, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – The New York Rangers have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. Wow! What a difference home cooking makes! Through Game 10, the Rangers played .300 Hockey. And then they were finally home from the road and have been a .700 team through Game 20. They also are Top 10 in CF% and FF%.  Their PDO ranks them in the 20’s, however, due primarily to a low shooting percentage for injured, key players and a save percentage that should rise from its current 91.4% as more games are played.

18 November 2013, RSBC Center, Raleigh, NC – The Boston Bruins have been called Sharpening Skates (SS), or just short of IN the Playoffs. Games 10 – 14 were rough for the Bruins as they went 1 – 3 – 1. IN Games 15 – 20, however, they countered with a record of 5 – 1 to bring the Bruins just short of a Chasing Stanley call. Their advanced stats are Top 12 or better. And they are currently 2 – 1 – 1 against the West which, although a small sample size, indicate some success where most others in their Conference struggle. We need to watch the Bruins push past their current level of play a step better to earn a CS call going forward.

19 November 2013, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Flyers have been called Dusting Off Clubs (DoC), or just short of OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Talking about late arrivals… Philly was almost a T2 call at Game 10 and has fought back to earn a DoC call for the second straight furlong. Make no mistake, however. Their 5 – 3 – 2 record this furlong, and most importantly, points in eight of their last nine games played, have fueled a resurgence. And their goaltending has been very solid as of late. Maybe it is not too late for Flyers fans to hope for a Playoff appearance. Time will tell.

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 Friday, 22 November’s games:

NHLwest22Nov

Western notes:

1. Again, our chart shows G30 projections at top and G20 final calls below today.

2. Eleven teams out of the West can earn a CS call by G30. This, of course, is too many for the number of teams that can make the 2014 Playoffs. But several will fall off before the end of the furlong.

3. No teams currently project as an SS call by G30.

4. One team cannot surpass an ITC call out of the West.

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

6. And two teams remain T2 calls for G30.

7. There were several changes to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on games through Friday night:

  • Projecting one more possible win, Colorado is the Central Division’s No. 2 home team, pushing Chicago down to the No. 4 seed as their visitor.
  • Phoenix and Anaheim have switched No. 2 and No. 3 Pacific Division seeds respectively.
  • And due to Los Angeles wins and a Minnesota loss to open the week, the Ducks move to the No. 7 seed while the Wild drop to No. 8 in the Wild Card ranks.

8. 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 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, AB – 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 this team plays 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.

17 November 2013, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC – The Dallas Stars are an In The Curve (ITC) call, or just about average for Western Conference play s. Dallas has picked up their game, going 7 – 2 – 1 in the G20 furlong while edging closer to Minnesota and their projected Wild Card seat. Kari Lehtonen has returned from injury in excellent form, and the Stars speed and skill has been popping the twine with the puck. This is a team on the rise and at a relatively steady pace. So keep an eye on this team as we go forward.

19 November 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The St. Louis Blues have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the fifth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs. This is the Blues team we have seen Ken Hitchcock pilot into the playoffs the last several seasons.  Big, banging bodies up front, a strong defensive core behind them, and great goaltending, mostly from Jaroslav Halak are what define the Blues. They are as competitive as they come in the West and may be the only Central Division team that can challenge to dominate Chicago. Stay tuned for more of the same from St. Louis.

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 Sunday, 24 November, with an emphasis on the G30 PQC…

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