First, I just want to make you aware of a new section, shown at the end of this article. If you ever wondered what life would be like if the Bettman Bonus Point (TM) only impacted the standings in a proportionate manner, I'm now tracking the teams' records with a "what if" format of five total points up for grabs, per game. But first...
When I started doing these power ranking calculations, it was because I thought the Islanders were a better team than the publications were giving them credit for. They play in a division that's consistently one of the toughest in the league, so even if their record was bad, they were at least likely better than other teams with similar records. They always seemed to get beaten up by the press simply because the other four teams in their own division were perennial playoff contenders. More on this in a minute. Let's see what others are saying this week (THN must be in their bye week):
Weekly Round-Up of Opinion Polls
|CBS||24||24||For one weekend they are kings of the tri-state area after taking wins over the Rangers and Devils in successive games. John Tavares is on fire, the goaltenders ... not so much.|
|ESPN||22||25||Big win against New Jersey on Saturday thanks to John Tavares' hat trick. Tavares is sixth in the NHL in scoring.|
|Sportsnet.ca||24||27||John Tavares (second overall in goals) and Matt Moulson (14th) are two of the NHL’s deadliest shooters, but goals are not enough. Only Florida is more porous than New York, who has given up 54 goals in 15 games.|
|TSN||25||21||Getting routed by the Flyers obscures back-to-back win over the Rangers and Devils, but it's tough to remain consistent without complementary scoring and second-liners Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo both have one goal.|
|Fox Sports||23||27||The Islanders start the week with a couple of impressive wins in the rearview, decisions over the Rangers and Devils. John Tavares, who had a hat trick in the Saturday win against New Jersey, entered play Monday with five-game scoring streak.|
|Average||23.6||24.8||Dr. Jeckyl, meet Mr. Hyde.|
Well, that's a pretty bad ranking, and after Flyers game, many might rightfully agree that this is where the boys belong. Oddly, the average ranking is a bit higher this time, but that's because some of the publications rolled out their polls prior to the Philly Phlyers Phlogging. You can tell that, overall, the publications are just like us: they swoon over John Tavares when the Isles win, but then scratch their heads and complain about all the other players when the Isles lose.
Fair enough, I suppose. So, how do the power rankings calculations treat the Isles?
LHH Weekly Power Rankings
And now on to our weekly power rankings, which measure the quality of wins for each team, based on the records of their opponents' records.
Well, better (21st overall), but only by a little bit. Keep in mind that these calculations do not count last night's loss vs. the Senators. The calculations are not very kind to the Eastern Conference, which isn't terribly fair, given that nobody from the East will have a chance to play a Western Conference team. A little more surprising is that the Isles are shown all the way up in 9th for the conference.
And that's where the victories over the Atlantic Division teams come in. The Isles are at NHL-.500 against the Devils, Penguins and Rangers at the moment, and they 2nd, 3rd, and 4th respectively in the Conference, rankings-wise. That boosts the Isles' own ranking, as many other teams with a similar record as the Islanders' have earned those records against weaker opponents, on average.
Putting discussions regarding the Islanders Scapewagon (TM) aside for the moment, an overall winning record against the Atlantic Division is an actual possibility this year. It might not be enough for the playoffs, but it is certainly progress, if nothing else. But what I take from the rankings is that if the Isles hold their own against the Atlantic, then they ought to win a majority of their other games. And that would make them a playoff team.
A Little Experiment: Life without the Bettman Point
OK I'm just a glutton for punishment, so here's something else to chew on. The Bettman Bonus Point irks many, but how badly does it affect the standings?
I think most would agree that winning a skills competition after 65 minutes of tied hockey really shouldn't introduce a phantom point into the standings. If a loss in a shootout is worth one less point than a win in a shootout, then a win in overtime should be even more valuable and a loss in overtime should be less valuable. Furthermore, a regulation victory should be more valuable than anything else, even OT wins.
With that, I decided for kicks to do the conference standings based on a more fair point system:
- 5 points for a regulation win
- 4 points for an overtime win
- 3 points for a shootout win
- 2 points for a shootout loss
- 1 point for an overtime loss
- 0 points for a regulation loss
Yes, I know that the NHL will never move to this system, because they don't want to deal with so many columns in their standings. But let's see what this yields anyway:
|(Number of points)||(5)||(4)||(3)||(2)||(1)||(0)|
|(Number of points)||(5)||(4)||(3)||(2)||(1)||(0)|
Keep in mind that both the position of the standings as I just calculated them, as well as the teams' actual position in the standings (shown in the final column), do not consider division leaders. In other words, Carolina might be shown in third in the standings because they're in first in their division, they are only seventh-best in the Eastern Conference in terms of points.
The standings aren't nearly as jumbled as I thought they would be. That might change as the shortened season wears on, but if the season ended on 2/18/13, the same eight teams from both conferences would make the playoffs. The Islanders are 9 points behind the Rangers for 8th, but that's one regulation victory and one overtime victory.
Well, this is embarrassing. I was all set to bash the OTL point, but that might not be warranted. We'll see two weeks from now, after more games are added in this short season. Perhaps we'll start to see some meaningful variance then.
I'm on vacation next week, so there won't be a power rankings update next Wednesday. That also means no FIG tabulating for a few games. I'll catch up as soon as I'm back home. Y'all be good to each other while I'm gone, ya hear?