Just a few tidbits to share as we start off a very busy hockey week for CBJ fans:
Playoff Math -- Chapter 1 Here are the updated standings, projected to year end, based upon each team playing at the same pace they have season to date: (Division winners get top 3 slots)
1. San Jose 126 points
2. Detroit 118 points
3. Calgary 104 points
4. Chicago 106 points
5. Dallas 91 points
5a. Vancouver 91 points
7. Minnesota 89 points
7a. Edmonton 89 points
7b. Columbus 89 points
10. Anaheim 86 points
11. Los Angeles 85 points
12. Nashville 83 points
13. St. Louis 79 points
13a. Phoenix 79 points
15. Colorado 76 points
As you can see by my liberal use of a, b, c, etc., you can throw a blanket over 5 teams vying for 4 slots, and only a slightly larger blanket brings 3 more teams into it. Even the bottom 3 are just a long winning streak away. Keep in mind that Phoenix was solidly in 5th place on January 20th. . .
Of course, teams do not play at the same pace all season long. Of the 7 contending teams, here is how they look in terms of percentage of possible points won over recent time spans:
Since 12/1: Dallas 64%, Edmonton 59%, Columbus 58%, LA 52%, Vancouver 50%, Anaheim & Minnestota 45%
Since 1/1: Dallas 63%, Columbus 61%, Edmonton 61%, LA 59%, Minnesota 55%, Vancouver 53%. Anaheim 48%.
As you can see, Columbus fares pretty well in either analysis. No matter which way you view it, it reads the same: dogfight to the end.
Playoff Math -- Chapter 2 In today's Dispatch, it was noted that the average point total of the 8th place team in the West since the Jackets entered the league is 93, and then moved on to discuss the kind of record the Jackets would need to reach 93. Fair enough, but not terribly valid, in my opinion. Here's why -- there are a finite number of points possible in any given season, even allowing for 3 point games. How those points get distributed depends upon both divisional make-ups and performance of all of the other teams in a given conference.
This season provides a bit of an object lesson. Look at the West vs. the East. Right now, it would take 64 points to get a sniff of 8th place in the East, while 61 points in the West puts you in a virtual tie for 5th. However, using the same projection methods above, the East has the bottom 5 teams in the league. With divisional play, the strong prey upon the weak, escalating point totals above.
Historically, playoff points have demonstrated a strong correlation to the competitive level of the conference. Last year is instructive -- 91 points took the 8th slot, with 3 teams right behind with 88, 2 more over 80, and nobody lower than 71. This year is even more competetive, with the lowest team projected at 76 points. With this massive, tightly bunched group beating each other up, the point threshold gets lowered. Unless there is a significant shift over the next 2 - 3 weeks, it is looking like 89 or 90 points will do it in the West.
Since the new CBA went into effect, there has been a linear relationship between the points required for the 8th slot and the number of teams with fewer than 85 points. In 06-07, there were 6 teams below that mark, and it took 96 points to get in the playoffs. In 05-06, 5 teams were below 85, and it took 95 points. Last year only 4 teams fell below 85, and not by much, hence the number was 91. This year, it will be 3 or 4 teams, with the points at the bottom even larger. 89 - 90 is still my projection.
Remembering When -- With 28 wins already under their belt, the Jackets have equalled their win total for their inaugural season of 2000-2001, and have exceeded the win totals for 01-02 (22) and 03-04 (25). With a win tonight, they will equal the win total for the 02-03 season. The club record for wins is 35 in 05-06. We are on pace to score 224 goals this season, which would beat the record of 223 in the 05-06 season by 1 goal. Finally, our current pace would have us giving up 227 goals for the season, just off of our record of 218 set last year. Keep in mind, however, that we are 7th in the NHL in Goals Against per Game.
Fun numbers to play with, but the bottom line is that we need to just take one game at a time. Go Jackets!