Wild fans, the league has been on for roughly one month, the standings are stratifying. There’s plenty of time for things to change completely, so why not start making some sweeping assumptions!
Before we get further, this is as of 5:10 PM on Monday, November 19.
Of these, the Canadiens, Bruins, and Lightning are all in the top 10 of the league in percentage of shot attempts controlled. Both the Lightning and the Canadiens are also in the top 10 in terms of percentage of shots on net controlled. Those aren’t guarantees of success, but they tend to indicate teams that can continue being successful.
On the other hand, the Canadiens are also in the top 5 of the league in terms of shooting percentage at a too-high-but-not-preposterous 9.57%. That could come down, but probably not enough to put them out of the playoffs. The Bruins are currently saving 94.03%, which almost certainly can’t last. The Maple Leafs sit at 93.46, which is more possible to maintain, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see it drop.
What does that mean for the Atlantic division? Well, I think we can expect the Canadiens, Bruins, and Lightning to top the division, likely with Tampa Bay at the top. The Maple Leafs certainly should make the playoffs, but could see a dip if and when their Sv% goes down.
This is an incredibly tight division after you get past the top. The Blue Jackets have 26 points. The rest of the division is all within 4 points of each other, with the Penguins at the bottom with 17 points. The Devils sit at 17. The Flyers have 20, the Hurricanes and Capitals have 21 points, and the Rangers and Islanders are tied with 22.
We can find some guidance in the underlying numbers, perhaps. The Carolina Hurricanes are currently controlling an unreal 59.06% of shot attempts; the only team in the division in the top 10 of the league. They also control the highest percentage shots on net in the league. The Blue Jackets, at 50.05%, are 15th in the league in shot attempts controlled, and second in the division.
The Hurricanes also have the second-lowest shooting percentage in the league. The rebound from that (even if slight) will help them solidify their position. Additionally, the Canes have the leagues’ 7th-lowest save percentage, something which is also hurting them. We can’t and shouldn’t expect the Canes to suddenly light on fire, but they will almost certainly not have those horrific numbers all season, particularly not controlling play like they have been (OR they’ll stop controlling play and really collapse).
The Metro is really anyone’s game. The Blue Jackets will likely win it as the only team that is consistently decent. The Capitals have too many trump cards to miss the playoffs, The Rangers and Islanders could make the postseason if they manage not to stink too terribly.
In other words: Past the Jackets, who knows?
The Sharks lead with 25 points, followed by the Flames with 23. The Canucks and Ducks have 22 and 21 respectively. The Coyotes, Oilers, Knights, and Kings all trail without having hit 20 points as yet.
The Sharks will win the division, with a roughly-league average Sh% and a Sv% that rebounds from the currently 2nd-worst 89.63%. The Flames will make the postseason based on the ineptitude of the Oilers . The fact that those two teams are top-4 in the league in percentage of shot attempts controlled will aid them.
The real question in the Pacific is the Golden Knights. There’s no mystery as to Vegas’ struggle this season; at 6.41% they have the league’s 4th-worst Sh% and at 89.24% they possess the league’s worst Sv%. Both of those certainly could rebound, and the Knights are controlling play to the tune of 56.17% shot attempts controlled. Will that be enough to drag them out of the depths? I’m betting so, but it’s going to take some work and there’s no room for missteps or injury crises.
Alas, this must come with a caveat; the Wild have played one more game than the Stars, Lanche, and Preds, and three more games than the Jets.
The Predators are probably out of the Wild’s reach. Though there’s just a two-point gap, the Predators are controlling play better than the Wild, riding a top-10 Sh%, and a top-3 Sv%. Even with those dropping, anything short of a total collapse means Nashville will win the division.
The Wild do need to worry about the Jets. Winnipeg has been playing well, is controlling play, and has good but not out-of-the-norm sh% and sv%. In short: the Wild have to turn things on if they’re going to stay ahead of the Jets. Still, the Wild should be able to hold their own to make the postseason, which is the name of the game. As we all know, once you’re in the dance, anyone can win.