Because my first FanPost a couple months ago was so wildly successful (one comment from mmD and one from me), I thought I would try again.
I have two purposes here:
1) Give everyone a summary of how the WC playoff teams have performed against each other this season, as we look ahead to the first round and beyond.
2) Look at which teams might have played up or down to their competition and therefore might have an extra edge in the playoffs. I believe I saw a few comments during the season saying that the Hawks were prone to playing down to, say, the Alberta teams.
First, here are the season records of the WC playoff teams against each other. Teams are color-coded by division, and the light blue indicates the first round playoff matchups. The last column is the points-per-game average.
|Records Against Playoff Teams|
And here are the records of the playoff teams against the lower seven. The next-to-last column gives the points-per-game average. The last column gives the differential between the PPG against the playoff teams and the PPG against the non-playoff teams. The larger this differential, the more a team loaded up on points against the bottom half of the WC and fared less well against the upper half. The smaller this differential, the more a team played down to weaker competition and then pulled out their best play for the tougher teams.
|Records Against Non-Playoff Teams|
|CGY||DAL||COL||MIN||ANA||EDM||CBJ||TOTAL||playoff teams vs|
§ As you see in the last column, Nashville and San Jose have the highest differentials. That is, relative to the other playoff teams, they got better results against the weaker WC squads, and poorer results against the stronger WC squads. Then in order come Scum, Vancouver, the Blues, the Hawks and the Yotes. Finally, the Kings had almost the exact same record against playoff teams as they did against non-playoff teams.
§ Vancouver gorged itself on all those weak fellow Northwest Division teams all season. Congratulations on that President’s Trophy guys! That’s just great, a job well done!! But to give credit where due, the Canucks are the only WC team not to have a losing record against any other WC team this season.
§ Of course, some of those bad Northwest Division teams are the ones that gave the Hawks so much trouble. This was balanced by their 6-0 record against the Jackets. Overall, the Hawks played somewhat up or down to the level of the competition, but not considerably so, and just slightly less so than did the Coyotes. Perhaps more notably, they lost three of their season series against top eight teams. San Jose also lost three, and the Blues(!) lost four, suggesting that individual team matchups play a significant role for these teams.
§ Interesting that of the three Pacific Division teams in the top eight, San Jose has the second highest differential (due to its rather poor record against other playoff teams), but Phoenix and LA have the two lowest. This may reflect the fact that while this division is not as strong top to near bottom as the Central, the Pacific teams are rather evenly matched on the whole.
What does this reveal about how these teams will do in the playoffs? Of course, this is at most one factor among many, including which goalies get hot and which don’t, the impact of injuries, and perhaps for the Hawks as any other team, the role of direct matchups against the other teams. For what it is worth, the gap between the highest of these eight differentials, and the lowest, works about to one point every three games, or one game over a six game series.
And ... it is one thing for the Hawks to rise to the occasion to play against the Coyotes or the Sharks on a long road trip in February, but quite another when moving onto the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is on the line.