BUFFALO, NY - Wait 'til last year (Hey, it was either that or a Super Bowl joke, and those are tired and just plain mean) (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
In a league like the NHL where more teams qualify for the postseason than don't, it's difficult to muster much sympathy for teams that fail to make it. That doesn't stop fans of those teams from trying to make a case anyway.
- "If we were in another division..."
- "If we were in another conference..."
- "If our main guy hadn't been injured..."
Of course, the only "if" that matters is "If your team had won more games" and that's the pin that deflates every one of those arguments (adding the phrase "boo hoo" and pantomiming the wiping away of tears is optional but recommended). Still, there could be a team or two sitting on the outside that might have made a better showing than some teams that managed to scrape their way in. And since the purpose of the playoffs is to determine a championship, it's at least a shame if the league's truly best teams aren't all fighting it out. The unapologetic homer in me will almost always say the Lightning should be there (damn it) while the intelligent hockey person in me (he is by comparison, a very, very small man) thinks the Dallas Stars could have made some serious noise if they'd gotten in.
So the question this week is simply, who among those teams that didn't make it into the playoffs, "should have"?
Clare Austin - Staff Writer / Raw Charge
Naturally, I had to go the numbers route on this one. Since I don't watch every game played by every team, I'm not really able to gauge how good or bad teams really are on the whole. So I decided to just toss some numbers out there for the discussion.
Eleven teams are completely out of the playoffs right now (NOTE: Clare answered this question Thursday morning. - cb). Eight more are on the bubble with two games left. I simply dropped the five teams who have the worst points in the league, because, well, come on. Then I gathered the 5v5 shot ratio, goal ratio, shooting %, save %, shots for /game, and shots against /game. Any time a team was the best in that category they got a plus. Any time they were the worst in that category, they got a minus.
The San Jose Sharks came out the best in shot ratio and shots for /game. The Phoenix Coyotes the best in save %. Both teams are tied in goal ratio at .521 (through this past Wednesday's games). I'd give the nod to San Jose there because goals and save percentage are more driven by random and uncontrollable/unrepeatable events than shots. Of course, either of these two teams could make the playoffs. Or not.
(Note: By this method, the Minnesota Wild is the worst team not in the bottom five in the league, with the lowest scores in shot ratio, goal ratio, and shots for / game.)
When you narrow it down to the teams already eliminated, you get Winnipeg, who has the best shot and goal ratios of the teams that have been eliminated but aren't in the bottom five. Sorry about that.
Minnesota has the best save percentage of the eliminated teams, but the worst shooting percentage. They remained a -3.
The Lightning, by the way, are tops in shooting percentage and bottoms in save percentage whether you include the bubble teams or not. But if you've been paying attention, you already knew that.
When you narrow it down to the teams already eliminated, you get Winnipeg, who has the best shot and goal ratios of the teams that have been eliminated but aren't in the bottom five. Sorry about that.Minnesota has the best save percentage of the eliminated teams, but the worst shooting percentage. They remained a -3.The Lightning, by the way, are tops in shooting percentage and bottoms in save percentage whether you include the bubble teams or not. But if you've been paying attention, you already knew that.
I'd go with Dallas and the Colorado Avalanche. It's so much tighter in the Western Conference, and those teams that end up on the outside looking in probably could've made it in, had they gotten a few more bounces going their way. In the Eastern Conference, the gap between the haves and have-nots is much more stark.
Obviously, it's the Lightning.Oh. Hm.I would say the Stars. Great goaltender and one of the most dangerous top lines in the league.
My response is simple: The Western Conference. No, not a team. About 13 of the 15 teams in the conference.The East has been lackluster all season. You can look at the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres trying to
loseclinch the final seed in the East. All through the winter it was a mess of teams that seemingly didn't have the interest in winning hockey games. They found ways to lose, or made ill-timed losses.The west, this season, has been competitive and at the same time, they haven't been nearly as competitive as you'd think in head-to-head matchups with the Eastern Conference.It's easier to think of Dallas or Colorado or the Calgary Flames as more playoff worthy than Washington, Buffalo, the Winnipeg Jets, and Tampa Bay (among others in the East).