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Let's Make Some Sweeping Assumptions Based on Small Sample Sizes!

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Teams have played between 5 and 7 games. That's not enough information for anything, but let's make some predictions!

It is far too early to make any kind of determinations about the NHL's standings or the teams that have done well or poorly. That isn't going to stop me! Let's take a look throughout the league and see who is over and underachieving. Almost all of these stats are from War on Ice.

Top O' the League

Montreal sits undefeated at 7-0, riding a 104.8 PDO and a 97.4 Sv% from Carey "I'm a Robot" Price. What's scary about the Habs is they are shooting slightly under league average at 7.4%. On the back of Price and co, the Habs are for real and will be challenging for playoff hopes, barring injury or other setbacks for their Vezina netminder.

Dallas and Nashville sit tied at 5-1-0, with 10 points apiece. Both have PDO's relatively close to 100 for this early in the season, with the Stars at 99.8 and the Predators at 102.2. Nashville is a strong team and should stick around with one of the best Blue Lines in the league, while I might expect to see Dallas drop based on their own blue line and some lingering questions in net for the Texas team.

St. Louis also has 10 points, but has played one more game at 5-2-0. The perennial postseason dropouts are playing exactly how you would expect them to, from a PDO point of view, sitting at a perfect 100. I would expect them to hang around, as they are near the top of the league in goals scored, middle of the pack in goals against, but 2nd in CF%

You may, at this point, notice that three of those teams are in the Central Conference, and none are the Blackhawks. Yep, it's gonna be a tough year again.

On Deck

There are seven teams with 8 or 9 standings points: the New York Islanders (4-1-1) the New York Rangers (4-2-1), Tampa Bay (4-2-1), the Washington Capitals (4-1-0), Winnipeg (4-2-0 and another Central Division Team), the San Jose Sharks (4-2-0), and the Vancouver Canucks (3-1-2).

The Rangers are one of two teams with a higher PDO than Montreal, at 105.2 on the back of a 9.4 sh% and 95.8 Sv%. Both of those numbers could come down, though Henrik is always a candidate for an unreal Sv%. The Capitals, while getting a reasonable 92 Sv%, are shooting 11.5%. Even with Ovechkin, that isn't going to last. Some may be surprised to see Winnipeg doing this well, but they shouldn't be. The Jets are a solid team who have struggled to find a good netminder. With Hutchinson looking like the go-to guy, that may be solved. Their 48.3 CF% leaves something to be desired, but at this early stage of the season doesn't spell doom. Tampa Bay has continued their strong play, and look likely to move up or (at the least) stay in the top end of the standings. The biggest two surprises are the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks.

After quite of bit of turmoil, the Sharks are playing well, controlling 52% of the shot attempts in their games and posting respectable, yet not outlandish, save and shooting percentages (93.6 and 7.5, respectively). The Sharks could be for real, and they will be a team to watch as the season continues. Vancouver similarly lhas posted reasonable numbers (though I'd look for their 95% Sv% to fall somewhat). However, with only controlling 46% of the shot attempts per game, they will likely be falling somewhat as the season progresses. They are getting some major help in their shot blocking; though their CF% is 46, their Fenwick-For% is 74.7. In other words, they aren't getting the most shots, just the most unblocked shots right now. That could well change in the coming months.

Middle of the Pack-ers

Minnesota leads the group of 7-point teams at 3-1-1, having played fewer games than all the others. Florida, Arizona, and Philadelphia sit at 3-2-1, and Ottawa sits at 3-2-1. Philadelphia is very similar to Vancouver- realistic enough Save and Shooting percentages, but they are only controlling 48% of the shot attempts, but 77% of the unblocked shot attempts. Their shot-blocking is a big difference right now, and that doesn't seem sustainable.

Arizona has surprised a number of people out of the gate, and it's easy to see why: their goalies are stopping 96.4% of the shots, and their shooting percentage is 12.6%. Both of those numbers will come down, and Arizona will fall back to Earth this season, considering they control merely 46.7% of the shot attempts per game.

The Florida Panthers find themselves similarly positioned to drop; though their numbers are not as inflated (95.9 sv% and 8.3 sh%), they are also only controlling 50% of the shot attempts. In other words, Florida is probably in for another rough year. Ottawa is in the same boat: overachieving somewhat (though not nearly to the extent of the other teams). Their PDO is a little high, with both save and shooting percentages a little high, but the gap between their CF% and FF% is much smaller. They are not getting as much help from blocked shots, and therefore have less distance to fall.

The Struggle Bus

There are four teams with six standings points: Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Edmonton. All are at 3-3-0, with Edmonton at 3-4-0. There are three more teams with five points: Colorado, Boston, and New Jersey, all of whom are 2-3-1.

Chicago, the defending Stanley Cup Champions, are a measley 3-3? Yes, and the reason is simple: they are shooting a mere 5.5%. Their save percentage is a little high at 93%, but that's probably close to where they'll end up. The Blackhawks are cotrolling around 51% of their shot attempts, so they will be rising in the standings, though how far they'll get without Duncan Keith is anyone's guess.

Detroit, on the other hand, appears to be out-performing their quality. Controlling only 45.4% of the shot attempts, their sh% is at 11.3 and their sv% is 93.2%. This will not stand. Detroit may rise simply due to teams above them dropping further, but Detroit is far from the powerhouse it once was.

Things do not look good for Patrick Roy's squad, as they have controlled a league-worst 39.3% of shot attempts per game

Pittsburgh finds themselves in the same situation as the Hawks: a decent save percentage (93.7) but only 5 of every 100 shots are finding twine. They will certainly rise due to that alone. There is some concern about their 49.9 CF%, however. I would still expect them to build on that and see it go up.

Edmonton, amazingly, is probably around where they will end up. Their PDO is 99.8, with a low sh% but a high Sv%. Their CF% is 45.4, better only than Detroit and Colorado. Despite having somewhere between 4 and 400 first-overall-picks, the Oilers seem to struggle year in and year out, almost as if the problem weren't entirely the players.

Colorado's shooting and netminding evens out to a 99.9 PDO, with them shooting slightly above average and their goalies being a little worse than expected. Things do not look good for Patrick Roy's squad, as they have controlled a league-worst 39.3% of shot attempts per game. That is almost unbelievably bad; in all of Hockey-Reference's databanks, only the 2014-15 Sabres are worse, and then just barely (37.7%). Will this last? Probably not. Then again, it just might.

Boston finds themselves a victim of shoddy goaltending, stopping only 87.5% of the shots (yet shooting an above-average 8.3). Their CF% of 49 shows that they may not be ready for the Stanly Cup Finals, but they are better than their current standings.

New Jersey actually control nearly half of the shot attempts per game, with a CF% of 48.5 (meaning they must take nearly 5 shots per period). Their Sv% is high at 94.2%, but their sh% is very low at 2.7. I would look to see New Jersey rise some in the standings, and settle in the middle-of-the-road purgatory (where the Wild live too!)

Bottom Feeders

There are four teams with just 4 standings points: The Los Angeles Kings, Carolina, Buffalo, and Toronto. The Kings can almost be forgiven, having played only 5 games and won 2 of them. Carolina and Buffalo sit at 2-4-0, and Toronto is 1-3-2 (with its one win being in overtime as well).

Carolina is controlling 52.6% of the shot attempts, and assuming their goaltending improves that could see them make a playoff push.

To few people's surprise, LA will not stay this low. They are controlling 62% of the shot attempts on the ice, and are only shooting 2.7%. Combine that with a Sv% of 89.5, and you have the recipe for a losing team. There is virtually no way their 92.2 PDO will stick. , particularly not when their CF% is so high (league-leading, in fact). If LA continues at this level, they could well win the cup.

Carolina suffers froma somewhat low PDO, with a Sv% of 89.7 and a 6.7 sh%; those should both come up. Impressively, Carolina is controlling 52.6% of the shot attempts, and assuming their goaltending improves that could see them make a playoff push. The Hurricanes are another dark horse this year to watch.

Buffalo is in a similar situation: controlling 51% of the shot attempts and a pitiful shooting percentage of 3.7. That will come up. Their sv% is right around the league average at 92.1% and could well stay the same. Despite years of mediocrity, Jack Eichel and Company could be a better Buffalo than we've seen in a while (COULD... I said could).

Toronto and Babcock are also candidates to rise. Their sh% is a low 6.9, while their Sv% is an OK 92.5. Despite those two numbers evening out, the Leafs are controlling play decently, with a CF% of 51.6%. In other words: the Leafs, too, could be a better team than we've seen lately. It's almost like Babcock is a better coach than Carlyle was.

The Dregs

There are three teams with three or fewer points: Anaheim (1-3-1), the Flames (1-5-0), and the Columbus Blue Jackets (0-7-0).

Anaheim will rise. They are controlling 52.6% of the shot attempts on the ice and are getting a sv% of 93.1. Their sh% is 3.2 and will not stay that low, unless Grandalf has curse Ryan Kesler and his ilk. Columbus, too, will be much better than they are now. Their 85.7% Sv% will not stay that low, nor will their 4.5% Sh%. The Jackets are controlling 52.4% of the shot attempts, and are another playoff candidate based on the early numbers. Yes, the team that is winless could well make the playoffs.

Calgary, too, will probably rise from 2nd-to-last on the standings. Their PDO of 93.2 will not last, as both their shooting and goaltending will improve. Controlling only 45.7% of the shots, however, I wouldn't expect them to rise very far. Their playoff run last year was reliant on unsustainable numbers, and they don't seem to be any better this year, just less lucky.