March/April Power Rankings: A Playoff Indicator?

"So, have you seen the latest Moulson In-Laws power rankings? You're third behind Quick and.... Jigs???? Dude, how did THAT happen?"

With the regular season well behind us, it's time to look at the final "monthly" (OK, more like five weeks this time) power rankings for the year. As for all prior months, I calculated the rankings based only on the games teams played in March and April.

Since I have always operated under the assumption that measuring teams based not only on their record, but also on the quality of their wins, shows who's really best, I wondered if the rankings for the final month of the year might hint at who the hotter teams are going into the playoffs. And by extension, who might have an advantage in their first round match-up.

But since everyone really wants to get back to the games, let's keep this short and sweet:

Power Rankings for March and April 2012

Winning
W L OTL Pts Pct PWR
1. Pittsburgh 14 4 1 29 0.763 2453
2. Chicago 11 2 4 26 0.765 2350
3. Philadelphia 13 5 2 28 0.700 2218
4. Los Angeles 11 4 3 25 0.694 2096
5. New Jersey 13 5 2 28 0.700 2095
6. St. Louis 9 5 4 22 0.611 1964
7. Buffalo 11 5 3 25 0.658 1921
8. Vancouver 11 6 1 23 0.639 1909
9. Boston 12 8 1 25 0.595 1844
10. Nashville 11 6 1 23 0.639 1811
11. Calgary 9 5 5 23 0.605 1765
12. Washington 10 6 3 23 0.605 1760
13. Columbus 11 8 0 22 0.579 1755
14. Phoenix 9 6 4 22 0.579 1739
15. San Jose 10 7 3 23 0.575 1733
16. Florida 8 6 6 22 0.550 1672
17. NY Rangers 11 9 1 23 0.548 1625
18. Carolina 9 7 3 21 0.553 1606
19. Montreal 7 5 6 20 0.556 1591
20. NY Islanders 8 9 2 18 0.474 1581
21. Tampa Bay 9 8 2 20 0.526 1570
22. Ottawa 7 8 2 16 0.471 1513
23. Colorado 8 8 2 18 0.500 1496
24. Minnesota 7 10 2 16 0.421 1476
25. Dallas 9 9 0 18 0.500 1475
26. Winnipeg 7 8 2 16 0.471 1423
27. Edmonton 7 8 4 18 0.474 1417
28. Detroit 6 9 3 15 0.417 1355
29. Anaheim 7 9 2 16 0.444 1331
30. Toronto 6 9 3 15 0.417 1316

It's nice to see that, despite Al Montanka's best efforts, the Isles still fared relatively well in the final weeks of the season. Their winning percentage was amongst the worst in the league, but the victories they did have were against other hot teams (including those two over the Pens), which helped boost them up the table a bit.

But on to the playoffs. As of the time of this story (4/18/12), the Rags just lost to the Sens in OT, and the Pens scored a zillion goals to avoid elimination. LA and Vancouver were just underway.

East:

(1) Rangers vs. (8) Senators: Both of these teams didn't exactly light it up down the stretch. The Rangers were 17th overall, and the Sens were 22nd. That would indicate a rather close series, and this one is indeed as close as it can get at the moment, 2 games apiece.

(2) Bruins vs. (7) Capitals: The Bruins were 9th overall down the stretch, while the Caps were 12th. It would again indicate that these two teams could end up in a long series. At the moment, it's 2-1 Boston; a bit too early to tell.

(3) Panthers vs. (6) Devils: Well, people were saying the Devils had a pretty easy opponent in the first round, and the rankings would seem to support that. The Devils were 5th overall and the Panthers a rather middling 16th. And yet, the Panthers are up 2-1 in the series. Again, a bit too early to tell.

(4) Penguins vs. (5) Flyers: Two of the hottest teams in the last part of the season. The Penguins were ranked first overall (and imagine how high those ranking points would be if they didn't lose to our team?), and the Flyers were 3rd. That would indicate a close series, and many predicted just that. Well, it isn't over, and the Pens hit double digits on the scoreboard tonight, but at 3-1 the Flyers are in the drivers' seat.

West:

(1) Canucks vs. (8) Kings: Well, I picked the Canucks to go all the way to the finals. Maybe if I consulted my own friggin' rankings, I might've chosen more wisely. It's not that the Canucks played bad down the stretch. They were ranked 8th overall and have the President's Trophy. But the Kings were even better, ranked 4th. That would at least indicate that this series wouldn't be easy for either team. And yet the Canucks are facing their first of four must-win games tonight.

(2) Blues vs. (7) Sharks: The Blues were ranked 6th and the Sharks 15th. The series is only 2-1 Blues at the moment, and the teams are "on serve," but one more game will prove if this will be a really long series, or a really short one.

(3) Coyotes vs. (6) Blackhawks: Another series where many were predicting an "upset" since the lower seed has a better record. And the rankings don't disagree. The 'Hawks were good enough for 2nd overall in the final weeks of the season, while the 'Yotes were only 14th. Another series that's a bit too early to tell, but the teams are on serve. The rankings would suggest that Chicago wouldn't be in this position.

(4) Predators vs. (5) Red Wings: I think this is another series were people thought the lower seed would prevail. Naturally there's a host of factors going into any series, and in this case (correct me if I'm wrong), the Preds simply haven't been able to beat the Wings. Well, a look at the rankings would tell you that the time has come for Nashville to get the monkey off their back. The Preds finished the year 10th in the rankings, while the Wings were an abysmal 28th. In fact, only three teams (the Rangers and Senators are the others) were ranked lower than 16th in the last portion of the season, which is where you would expect lottery pick teams to be positioned. At the moment, the Preds are up 3-1.

Obviously, the verdict is still out on how good the rankings can predict winners. I'll briefly revisit this at the end of the first round. We did these rankings all of last year as well. If I find my old spread sheets, I'll see how well they predicted last year's first round as well.

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