In this week’s edition of power rankings, Montreal climbs out of mediocrity thanks to improvement on the powerplay, and Minnesota vaults back up to the second spot.
Other than those two, most teams are in almost the exact same spot as last week which is good news because it means the rankings are stabilizing. The only issues remain at the top and bottom, where Pittsburgh is unsustainably higher than everyone else and Buffalo remains laughably bad.
The chart below is how things are shaking up this week.
10 Thoughts on Rankings
1. After a brief hiccup last week, Minnesota is back in the number two spot. That they’re still controlling 60 percent of play this far into the season is amazing and if they can keep it up they’re a very real Cup threat. Then again, they had a similar mark last season at this stage and finished around 48 percent.
2. The Penguins have been number one on these rankings every week so far, and that they’re still somehow this far ahead of every team is absurd. At this point last season, the highest POP was 101.8 by the Blues. A 120 mark is unheard of, and it’ll obviously drop because their special teams won’t stay this hot forever, but still very impressive.
3. After two straight blowout losses, the Leafs… are exactly where they were last week? Let me explain. Their huge win over the Bruins gave them a huge boost, which evaporated after those two losses. The other thing is that possession and goals here are both calculated when the game is close and the Leafs were blown out of the arena early in both games. They’re obviously not good at 5-on-5, we know this, but special teams and goaltending will keep them in the hunt this year, even if they look like a lottery team at 5-on-5.
4. More on the Leafs. There’s two metrics that most people use to calculate possession and they’re both based on Fenwick (shots + missed shots). One is calculating Fenwick only when the game is close to eliminate score effects. The other is score-adjusted Fenwick which weighs a team’s Fenwick based on the average per score state (leading, trailing, tied). The Leafs have the highest discrepancy in the league between Fenwick Close (49.9) and Score-Adjusted Fenwick (46.2). The reason? The Leafs are decent when the game is tied, or they’re up by two. But once that lead gets cut to one they have one of the worst defensive shells in the league. The more troubling part though: the Leafs are absolutely awful when they’re behind and it showed last night against Nashville.
5. So which one should we use? There was a really good article this week about Score-Adjusted Fenwick and its merits over Fenwick Close and in isolation it’s the better method, especially in-season due to sample size. After 82 games, there’s very little difference between the two. With regards to POP, I’ve always used Fenwick Close because it gave better results come playoff time and it was important to keep game states consistent with goals (is Score-Adjusted Goals a thing yet?) so I’ll probably continue doing it this way.
6. Buffalo is finishing last, there’s no denying that, but in the battle of McDavid, it seems that Carolina has left the arena. Cam Ward has been a huge surprise so far, and they’ve been getting decent results possession wise. The new contenders? Arizona and Columbus. With Bobrovsky back and some other players healthy, they may rise from the dead, but I don’t think Arizona is any good and they should be at the bottom all year.
7. A team that might join them soon is Ottawa. They’ve started hot, but they’ve been horrendous territorially and are being kept afloat by great and unsustainable goaltending. The same thing goes for Calgary. I doubt the good things keep going for these teams, but then again, there were those same doubts against last year’s Avalanche.
8. Chicago has been unbelievably unlucky so far. That definitely won’t last, and I think they’re going to start piling on the wins here big time.
9. Before the season I bet on Dallas to get over 89.5 points, so that’s going really well so far. They have a lot of talent up front, but not much on the back end. A lot of people expected more from this team and they started off the season fine, but this bad stretch has been just awful.
10. At what point do we start questioning whether LA can get back to the level they were at last season? They’ve had the biggest possession drop of any team and with a roster that’s mostly the same year-over-year it’s extremely surprising. They’re still getting wins, but they haven’t looked good getting them.
Again, I’ve adjusted POP because of the small samples and how early it is. Once again I looked at how far they were from average and compared that to teams in the past to get an adjusted number that would work better for projections.
Not much deviation from last week, which is a good thing. Montreal had a big jump once their powerplay predictably bounced back. They’re still not a 14-6 team, but they’re not bottom five either, obviously. The playoff picture looks pretty much as you’d expect at this point, in my opinion at least.
Also, the Patrick Plus division is a tire fire, and that’s how we’ll end this. Make sure to come back next week to read all about weekly incremental updates.