Thursday, November 5, 2009

CLS shares its "NHL BCS" (First Week of Nov.)

I've been throwing some fun little statistics at you lately, but numbers are only fun when they lead to people writing angry comments. That (along with porn and pirating music/movies/ships) is what the Internet is for, right?

So to cause you a conniption or two, I took the composite average of each teams rankings in the four categories (Net Goals, True PP, True PK and Special Teams Plus/Minus). Granted, some stats are more important than others ... and it is still a small sample ... but let's see where each team stacks up.

The Excel Spreadsheet will be listed at the bottom of this post so you can see for yourself.

Please Note: these rankings are based on stats taken before Tuesday's games, just like the stats from yesterday's post.

Final Note: This is a COMPLETELY impartial list based strictly off the numbers. There may be Power Rankings based on projections and opinions in the future, but for now this is just rankings along with commentary.

(The commentary is delightfully biased, however.)

The Elite

1. San Jose Sharks

Average: 5

My fearful Stanley Cup pick is doing pretty well so far. They're the second ranked team in Net Goals and Special Teams Plus/Minus. Maybe they won't stay at #1 all season but they're likely to be an elite team in just about any numerical system barring catastrophes.

2. Philadelphia Flyers

Average: 5.25

Much like last year, the Flyers stand out once you consider True PP and True PK. They're also pretty damn solid at 5-on-5, to boot. So far people who chose a SCF run for Philly are looking fairly bright.

3. New York Rangers

Average: 5.5

Their True PP and Net Goals Scored could be altered quite a bit if Marian Gaborik cannot stay healthy and their young D slows down. Still, their strong showing is a sign that Torts knows what he's doing.

4. Colorado Avalanche

Average: 6.25

While only being solid on the PP, the Avs have been an elite team in the other three categories. Who knows how long they can keep this up, but so far the numbers say "top 10 team."

5. Atlanta Thrashers

Average: 7

An Ilya-free team could drop precipitously, but the chink in Atlanta's armor has been Net Goals instead of Penalty Kill. Can their out-of-nowhere strong goaltending continue? Who knows.

Strong Contenders

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

Average: 10.5

Injuries to Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and others will probably mean that the Penguins' numbers will fall a bit (or dramatically) across the board. It's still pretty impressive that the Penguins have managed a 7-0 road record, so far.

7. (tied) Phoenix Coyotes
Average: 11.25

The only below average unit appears to be their Penalty Kill (seventeenth best True PK%). Phoenix might not be playing a crowd-pleasing style, but winning is a good thing, too. Good luck 'Yotes.

7. (tied) Calgary Flames

Average: 11.25

A highly efficient (third best True PP) powerplay is what makes the Flames dangerous so far this season. I'd also like to say "not employing Mike Keenan" is another strength in their favor.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets

Average: 12.75

Oddly enough, the Blue Jackets are a little bit weak in Net Goals Scored (19th best) while having strong special teams. Don't be shocked if this club makes the playoffs again this year.

10. Chicago Blackhawks

Average: 13.75

A surprisingly tepid PP (ranked 20th in True PP) underscores just how scary this group will be whenever they get healthy returns from Captain Serious and Marian Hossa. The John Madden acquisition looks like a smart move.

11. (tied) Ottawa Senators

Average: 14

The Heatley-free Senators are pretty weak with a man advantage (25th in True PP) but sport the best True PK in the league. Hell, they've only allowed seven PP goals while scoring four shorthanded!

11. (tied) New York Islanders

Average: 14

Perhaps the biggest hole in this ranking system, the Islanders have at least shown a notable friskiness so far this season. They've managed to stay in a lot of games with efficient special teams but lack the talent level to do much 5-on-5. You cannot ask NYI to do much better than 5-5-5 in 15 GP.

13. (tied) Vancouver Canucks

Average: 15

The Canucks' numbers are all over the place, but ultimately they're fittingly middle-of-the-road. It's going to be tough for Vancouver to make the playoffs this year, let alone win their division, with the schedule and obstacles (Luongo injury) they are facing.

13. (tied) Minnesota Wild

Average: 15

The Wild make it this high because of their absolutely excellent PK and a respectable PP. The bottom line, though, is that they're 27th in the NHL in Net Goals Scored. Middle-of-the-road is probably their ceiling at this point.

15. Washington Capitals

Average: 16.75

There was a time when it seemed like Washington might compile the greatest PP unit ever. That unit slowed down considerably, but the Caps rank highly in Net Goals Scored (7th) and should be a top-1o team in these rankings by the end of the season. Even if Ovie misses a few weeks.

16. (tied) Buffalo Sabres

Average: 18

Buffalo is playing over their heads right now, with the sixth best ranking in Net Goals Scored despite mediocre special teams numbers. Let's hope Ryan Miller and friends can keep it together, though.

Ham and Eggers

16. (tied) Edmonton Oilers

Average: 18

Despite finishing with the same average as Buffalo, the Oilers are the quintessential mediocre NHL team. They rank middle of the road in all four categories. They average one point earned per game played (15). Yawn.

18. New Jersey Devils

Average: 18.25

Nothing surprising about these Devils, really. My guess is they make it to the playoffs and then find their thin defense unable to support anything more than a second round run at best. Still, with all the turnover in this decade it's amazing this team can keep up year after year.

19. (tied) Los Angeles Kings

Average: 18.5

The Kings ultimately are brought down by a fairly awful penalty kill (28th ranked True PK%) but are around the top third in the league in Net Goals Scored and True PP. The Kings really could be primed for a playoff run this season.

19. (tied) Dallas Stars

Average: 18.5

Dallas is in an odd spot this year. Yes, they do have some serious talent but this team is far from elite. It's ultimately unclear what direction the Stars want to take. Is simply making the playoffs the only goal year after year?

21. Detroit Red Wings

Average: 18.75

These stats were taken before Chris Osgood managed a nice shutout of the fledgling Boston Bruins, but it doesn't take away from the fact that the Red Wings have left a lot to be desired in their own end. Their PP is still pretty damn deadly, though. They'll be OK. Will they be great? That remains to be seen.

Government Cheese

22. Toronto Maple Leafs

Average: 21.5

Toronto is an odd duck in these stats: the best True PP% and the worst True PK% on one team. Let's face it, though, those special teams numbers won't really mean much if Toronto remains the fourth-worst team in Net Goals.

23. St. Louis Blues

Average: 21.75

Quietly one of the league's most disappointing teams.

24. Carolina Hurricanes

Average: 23.25

The worst team in the league in Net Goals and that's before the team was shutout. Yikes. Their plight shows that you shouldn't make team building decisions based off of nostalgia.

25. (tied) Boston Bruins

Average: 25

An absolutely abysmal special teams and a general lack of firepower (not to mention some crucial injuries) leave the Bruins among the dregs of society. The truth is that this team is somewhere between their current state and their euphoric year in '08-'09. My bet is that they make the playoffs, but it's going to be tough.

25. (tied) Nashville Predators

Average: 25

Is there a team more in need of a top draft pick than the Predators? All those years of barely making/missing the playoffs left them with a shallow pool of genuine NHL talent. Time to tank, I'd say.

Just Ugly

27. (tied) Montreal Canadiens

Average: 25.25

All that money spent for a team that will need to fight and claw desperately to secure a 7th or 8th seed. Without Andrei Markov, the Canadiens don't even have a particularly effective PP.

27. (tied) Anaheim Ducks

Average: 25.25

It's been an ugly season for the quackers so far. With the league's worst special teams plus/minus and some serious blueline issues, the Ducks will need even better work from their 14th-best powerplay. Anaheim managed a near-miraculous run to the playoffs last year, but can they really affordable to dig such a big hole with Los Angeles and Phoenix emerging and Dallas showing some life?

29. Tampa Bay Lightning

Average: 26.25

A real oddball team. Steve Stamkos looks like the real deal while I'm starting to wonder if Vincent Lecavalier is really overrated.

30. Florida Panthers

Average: 28.5

What happens to Florida if Vokoun walks? This team is grasping at straws as is, but without Vokoun's elite-ish goaltending they would be in some serious trouble. Then again, I guess they already are?

Here's the spreadsheet:

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