Playoff Contenders and Pretenders Predictions (Updated)

In the first post I discussed three metrics I use in quickly gauging a teams over all strength. Here I will apply them to the 30 NHL teams to break teams into different Categories. I added another category between Bubble Teams and You Suck, the Outside looking in teams.

1: Stanley Cup Contenders: These are teams whose cumulative scores are where historical Conference Finals teams usually are.

2. Strong Playoff teams: These are teams whose scores show a solid team that will make the playoffs, but not at the score level of historical Conference Finals teams.

3: Bubble Teams: Teams whose scores are marginal for potential playoff teams, these are the teams that will be clawing and scrapping through March and April to get at least an 8th seed.

4. Outside looking In: Teams who do not show real playoff potential, but may scrape it out and fight a way in.

5: You Suck: Title explains all, scores indicate a level of suckiness that will not get beyond week 1 in April.

Current Conference Standings

Here are the Conference breakdown of the teams by SRS, DRS and GF-GA-L (sorted by DRS)

Team SRS SRS Rank DRS DRS Rank GF-GA-L Pace Rank
Boston Bruins 1.41 1 2.932 1 55 104.88 1
New York Rangers 0.65 4 2.482 4 24 44.73 3
Pittsburgh Penguins 0.32 9 2.172 6 2 3.64 9
Philadelphia Flyers 0.37 8 1.999 9 7 13.05 8
Washington Capitals -0.09 15 1.586 12 -17 -30.98 13
Toronto Maple Leafs -0.03 13 1.551 14 -19 -34.62 15
New Jersey Devils -0.11 17 1.483 16 -17 -30.98 13
Ottawa Senators -0.07 14 1.448 17 -17 -29.04 12
Montreal Canadiens -0.14 18 1.309 19 -31 -55.26 20
Florida Panthers -0.27 21 1.069 21 -26 -47.38 17
Winnipeg Jets -0.38 24 0.723 25 -37 -65.96 22
Tampa Bay Lightning -0.76 30 0.689 26 -56 -102.04 29
New York Islanders -0.58 26 0.482 27 -49 -91.32 27
Carolina Hurricanes -0.65 28 0.447 28 -56 -95.67 28
Buffalo Sabres -0.62 27 0.413 29 -48 -85.57 26
Team SRS SRS Rank DRS DRS Rank GF-GA-L Pace Rank
Detroit Red Wings 0.94 2 2.724 2 29 51.70 2
Vancouver Canucks 0.72 3 2.587 3 19 33.15 4
San Jose Sharks 0.62 5 2.414 5 13 24.79 5
St. Louis Blues 0.54 6 2.171 7 10 18.22 6
Chicago Blackhawks 0.41 7 2.069 8 8 13.96 7
Nashville Predators 0.00 11 1.793 10 -14 -24.96 10
Phoenix Coyotes -0.01 12 1.758 11 -22 -38.38 16
Los Angeles Kings 0.08 10 1.586 13 -15 -26.17 11
Dallas Stars -0.10 16 1.516 15 -26 -47.38 17
Colorado Avalanche -0.18 19 1.379 18 -34 -58.08 21
Minnesota Wild -0.21 20 1.137 20 -29 -51.70 19
Edmonton Oilers -0.28 22 0.999 22 -39 -71.07 23
Anaheim Ducks -0.34 23 0.965 23 -43 -78.36 25
Calgary Flames -0.39 25 0.827 24 -41 -71.53 24
Columbus Blue Jackets -0.75 29 0.241 30 -66 -120.27 30


  • Stanley Cup Contenders

Stanley Cup Contenders (Conference finalists) are usually the following

Top 6 in SRS (11 of past 16)

Top 7 in DRS (11 of 16)

GF-GA-L of +13 (13.91 AVG since 2003)

The teams that meet each of these are the current Stanley Cup contenders are in order of strength

Boston Bruins (1st in all)

Detroit Red Wings (2nd in all)

Vancouver Canucks (2-3rd, 1-4th)

New York Rangers (2-4th, 1-3rd)

San Jose Sharks (5th in all)

St. Louis Blues (2-6th, 1-7th)

6 teams meet the SC contenders requirement 2 for the East, 4 from the West.


  • Strong Playoff Teams

These are teams who may have scored in the SC contender range in some scores, but not all and/or all scores are above the average 8th seed in all scores (Positive SRS and top 16 in DRS and GF-GA-L >-22)

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins

Philadelphia Flyers (in SC range for GF-GA-L, not SRS or DRS)

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks (in SC range for GF-GA-L, not SRS or DRS)


  • Bubble Teams

Teams who have only 1 or 2 scores above the average for 8th seed

Eastern Conference (4 projected spots available)

Washington Capitals

Toronto Maple Leafs

New Jersey Devils

Western Conference (2 projected spots available)

Nashville Predators

LA Kings

Phoenix Coyotes

Dallas Stars

1 Western team from this group will be left out, however 1 spot is leftover from the Eastern Conference to this point, meaning 1 Eastern team that does not average the 8th seed in any category right now will probably sneak into the 8th spot.


  • Outside looking In

Teams who do not average above 8th in ant category, but do score above historical mins of 8th seeds in at least two of the three scorings. They stand an outside chance of making the playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Montreal Canadiens (3)

Ottawa Senators (3)

Florida Panthers (2)

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche (3)

Minnesota Wild (2)

Edmonton Oilers (2)

At least one from the Eastern Conference should get in since up to this category only 7 seeds have been taken. Don't be surprised if all these Western Teams stay home in April.


  • You Suck

Teams that score below the 8th seed average in all categories

In the East and West none of the teams should make the silly season.

Eastern Conference

Winnipeg Jets

Tampa Bay Lightning

New York Islanders

Carolina Hurricanes

Buffalo Sabres

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks

Calgary Flames

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • In Summary

Eastern Conference

Western Conference


  • Teams Overachieving today

These are teams whose position in the Standings does not truly indicate who well overall they are playing. Expect these teams to fall in the standings.

Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators. They can certainly be in the Bubble category, given on 7 of the 8 spots are claimed through them, but expect both PIT, NJD and TOR to leapfrog them and drop them to at least 8th.

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks. But not by much, they sit atop the West in points, but the scores of 4 other Western teams beat the Hawks in each category. They are close to being in the SC Contender category, but are not there. Do not be surprised to see the Hawks drop to 5th, but it is not a certain fact the scores are close.


  • Teams Underachieving today

Expect these teams to make a move up the standings. Their scores indicate they are better then their points total.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins

Toronto Maple Leafs

PIT should move into the 4th seed. If it was not for the NYR outstanding play, they could challenge for the Division. TOR right now is on the outside looking in, expect this to reverse before long.

Western Conference

Phoenix Coyotes. Also on the outside looking in, this should correct itself soon. They have decent at or above average scores in SRS (just below average by 0.01) and an above average DRS that is stronger then 4 of the teams above them.


These tallies are made ONLY off of these scores, and does not consider injuries, recent moves, etc.. I understand those can affect the future as well. I am only using the 45-48 games per team and how they have done during those to make these brackets. They will change somewhat, but I think this should give at least a decent idea of the developing playoff picture, who is toast and the heavy SC favorites.

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