Coming out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, all NHL teams will be hot and heavy on the schedule through 13 April’s season closeout. So how did your favorite team do in the 10 games before and after their last two Olympic breaks, where are they going into this season, and what is their estimated post-Sochi performance? We have your numbers below…
(This is Part 2 of a four-parter covering all NHL Divisions)
Metropolitan Division Teams’ History
Carolina Hurricanes 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 7 – 3 / .700; After 6 – 2 – 2 / .700; the 2006 Stanley Cup Champion.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 8 – 2 / .800; After 6 – 3 – 1 / .650; out of the playoffs with 80 points.
Columbus Blue Jackets 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 6 – 4 / .600; After 3 – 6 – 1 / .350; out of the playoffs with 74 points.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; out of the playoffs with 79 points.
New Jersey Devils 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; in the playoffs with 101 points; lost in five games of Round 1 to Stanley Cup Champion Carolina.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; After 5 – 4 – 1 / .550; in the playoffs with 103 points; lost in five games of Round 1 to Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia.
New York Islanders 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 5 – 3 – 2 / .600; After 6 – 4 / .600; out of the playoffs with 78 points.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 2 – 8 / .200; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; out of the playoffs with 79 points.
New York Rangers 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 8 – 1 – 1 / .850; After 4 – 4 – 2 / .500; in the playoffs with 100 points, their second highest total since the Lockout the year before; lost in four games of Round 1 to New Jersey.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 4 – 6 / .400; After 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; out of the playoffs with 87 points, their lowest point total since the 2004/05 Lockout.
Philadelphia Flyers 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; After 4 – 5 – 1 / .450; in the playoffs with 101 points; lost in six games of Round 1 to Buffalo.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 6 – 4 / .600; After 5 – 3 – 2 / .600; in the playoffs with 88 points, their second lowest total since the first Stoppage; lost in six games of the Stanley Cup Championship to Chicago.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 3 – 5 – 2 / .400; After 3 – 6 – 1 / .350; out of the playoffs with 58 points, the second lowest NHL total since that first Lockout.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 5 – 2 – 3 / .650; After 6 – 2 – 2 / .700; in the playoffs with 101 points; lost in the seventh game of Round 2 to Montreal.
Washington Capitals 2006 in Turin, Italy: Before 2 – 8 / .200; After 3 – 4 – 3 / .450; out of the playoffs with 70 points, tied for their lowest total since the 2004/05 Lockout.
2010 in Vancouver: Before 7 – 1 – 2 / .800; After 7 – 1 – 2 / .800; in the playoffs with 121 points, their highest total since the 2004/05 Lockout; lost in the seventh game of Round 1 to Montreal.
Where Are They Now And What Can Be Expected?
Here are the Atlantic Division parameters of historical play:
Biggest average gain: Washington at +.125
Biggest one-season gain: Washington in 2005/06 at +.250
Biggest one-season loss: Islanders in 2009/10 at –.400
Biggest average loss: Rangers at –.175
Average gain / loss: –.053
When you look at team post-Olympic averages – meaning nothing outside of the above parameters – and combine that with current team play, you get our analysis below for Metro Division play into mid-March.
Carolina Hurricanes The ‘Canes are 5 – 3 in their last eight with two to play before the break. That projects as .625 Hockey before the Olympics. They averaged a -.075 in the two previous Olympic years. If that average occurs again, they would likely be in the range of a 5 – 5 record. They project with us as just out of the Playoffs with a Winning Percentage (W%) of .536 at 85 – 88 points. This, however, is where we give our Metro Division caveat that applies to all of this division’s teams. There is a tight race right now in the Metro where 89 points projects as the possible No.8 Wild Card seed for the Eastern Conference. So Carolina on the high end of their projected points could make us wrong and land just in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Columbus Blue Jackets No team has confounded the OGA Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) like Columbus lately, giving us two – out – of – three wrong projections since the last Olympics. That said, they are 5 – 3 – 1 in their last nine games with one more to go until the break. That projects as a .611 W%. Coupling that with a post-Olympic –.150 average would drop them into something like a 4 – 5 – 1 to as high as a 5 – 5 record going into March. We already projected them as out of the Playoffs despite a current W% of .553 and between 90 and 91 points. This is potentially one of our Shot Off The Post, wrongly projected calls, but they will have to come out of the Olympics as hot as they are going in to make liars out of us.
New Jersey Devils The Devils go into the Olympic break sporting a 3 – 3 – 2 / .500 record. Averaging with the previous two Olympic breaks, you only get a .550 W% team. At a post-break 5 – 4 – 1, we project them out of the Playoffs with a .518 W% and between 85 and 88 points, but likely more toward the lower number. They should fall a couple of wins short this season.
New York Islanders After giving the Penguins a run for their money in last year’s shortened-season Playoffs, the Islanders are going to fall short of the post-season this year. They are 2 – 5 – 1 in their last nine with one to play before the break, making them only a .278 team. Averaging a –.200 after the last two Olympics and adding that to their current total would make them a 0 – 10 to 0 – 9 – 1 team. What will likely happen is you will see them about where they are now and maybe as good as one to three wins better. We have them out of the Playoffs at a .441 W% with between 72 and 73 points.
New York Rangers After a stinker of a start, the Rangers have fought back to a nicely done 6 – 3 / .667 W% in their last nine with one more to play before the break. They average a –.175 post-Olympics, which just may be a bit more affected depending on the final performance of their star netminder for Team Sweden. That would have them a bit below .500 at between 4 – 6 and 4 – 5 – 1, a potential problem for holding on to a Metro seed come playoff time. We see them on the cusp or either in or out of the Playoffs and too close to call yet despite an overall W% of .560 and as much as somewhere between 92 and 93 points. Bottom line? This team needs to be as good as they are now on the far side of the Olympics to see the post-season.
Philadelphia Flyers This is another team who had a stinker of an opening to their season. Playing more respectably of late in search of keeping their captain’s promise of making of the Playoffs, they are currently 4 – 4 – 1 in their last nine with one game to play before the Olympic break, or playing .500 Hockey. Following each of the last two Olympics, they broke even in terms of play, so they are likely to be some combination that equates to a 5 – 5 record. Their projection is on the verge of the playoffs like the Rangers with a .552 W% and between 90 and 92 points. They need to come out of the chute hard come 27 February.
Pittsburgh Penguins This team is the class of the Metro Division this season. They are 6 – 3 / .667 in their last nine with one more left before the break. Their average post-Olympics is even, and if they continue as they currently are playing, they have no worries of retaining their playoff seed. They project as a 6 – 4 to 7 – 3 team going into mid-March with a W% of .719 and between 118 and 119 points.
Washington Capitals The Caps’ surge a while back has fizzled of late. They are currently 4 – 4 – 1 in their last nine with one game left to play before Sochi. That .450 W% coupled with their average +.125 boost, however, could propel them back up the standings to between a 5 – 4 – 1 and 6 – 0 team. But here’s where our gut tells us their straw that stirs the drink, Alex Ovechkin, and how Team Russia performs in Sochi could have the greatest post-Olympic effect on any Eastern team. Win a medal, Ovechkin by himself could potentially boost this team higher. Fail to medal and Alex could return in a funk that both sees the Caps forgoing the playoffs this year and fuels the fire of why NHLers shouldn’t play in the 2018 Olympics. They currently project as a coin flip for in or out of the 2014 Playoffs with a .526 W% and between 86 and 88 points. But they will not make it if they suffer a post-Sochi Ovechkin funk.
The Eastern Conference As A Whole.
Having now studied both Divisions in the East, we can provide a couple of indicators of potential post-Olympic performance with respect to the Playoffs:
1. If you throw out the 2009/10 Ottawa anomaly of a –.550 in W% post-break, no other team who dropped off in W% more than a –.100 made it into the Playoffs in a post Olympic year. Using the averages would mean teams that are most likely to be on the golf links come mid-April are Boston, Ottawa, Columbus, the Islanders and the Rangers. Whaaat? That, of course, would mean the Bruins, who are projected in the Playoffs right now, and Columbus and the Rangers, who have a good chance of seeding in the Metro, might not play on. These teams must improve coming back from the break to ensure they reach the Playoff., although that statement applies less to this edition of the Bruins.
2. No team who displayed an improvement of better than +.250 failed to make the Playoffs. While no Eastern team averaged that high over the past two winter games, such a boost could greatly help the cause of .500 teams like Detroit and anyone at or around that level in the Metro Division.
3. The Eastern Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes were even in W% differential after the Turin Olympics in 2006.
So basically, Eastern teams who expect to move on to the Playoffs (and possibly have great success) are looking to get from the end of Sochi to mid-March at no worse than an OTL drop off in performance.
“…Part 3 of 4 – The Central Division” in this series begins our look at the Western Conference when it is posted soon. Will the math come out the same? We will see…