Monday, March 26, 2007

The Crazy Cryin' Crazy Amazo-crazy Western Conference

So the West is good. Ridiculously good. Right now the Sharks have 96 points, only good enough for 7th in the West. To put that in a bit of context, 96 points is higher than any 7th seed for the past 20 years. Probably longer, but I didn't feel like going back any further. It's likely that the top 7 seeds in the West will have over 100 points, the first time that has ever happened.

But now that there are so many extra points given the shootout, aren't those numbers inflated? Of course. Right now, teams are earning an average of 1.115 points per game, so the whole two-points-for-a-win thing is skewed by the number of OT games where 3 points are awarded. So how do we normalize?

We normalize by the number of wins, not points. The number of season games has stayed constant long enough that we can make some historical comparisons. And we cut out shootout wins. That gives us the number of wins a team made in regulation and OT, which avoids the new requirement that there has to be a winner. So here's the new top 8, sorted just by regulation and OT wins:

  1. San Jose - 45
  2. Detroit - 43
  3. Nashville - 42
  4. Anaheim - 40
  5. Vancouver - 40
  6. Dallas - 38
  7. Calgary - 38
  8. Minnesota - 35
If I had bothered to run the numbers before I started the post, I guess I could have made the theme about how the Sharks are getting screwed by the shootout, but it's already too late. My original thesis is still good. It's entirely likely, even probable, that seven teams in the West will have 40 wins or more.

Since the expansion era in the early 90's, that has never happened. Most years it's not even really close. This year's Western Conference is the best collection of teams in a conference in at least 15 years, and probably more.

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