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The New and Improved LHH NHL Power Rankings

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It's back, baby! Why are you sobbing, baby? You'd rather watch Sesame Street? Ah, what do babies know, anyways?

Leaving a teammate hanging: Zero Power Ranking Points!
Leaving a teammate hanging: Zero Power Ranking Points!
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

OK, we have enough data now to get our own new and improved power rankings up and running. But first, let's see what the media has to say about the Isles:

Weekly Round-Up of Opinion Polls

Well, they're not merely opinion polls anymore. At least two of the polls use numbers (other than wins and losses) to some extent. One, TSN, has always used some player stats, but now list a few team numbers right along with their narratives.

Another (as pointed to me by fellow LHH commenter afrosupreme) is by the Washington Post, who hired Neil Greenberg (of "Tavares not 25 under 25" fame around these parts). That one uses adjusted winning percentage and Fenwick Close.

It's starting to sound like people are coming around to the notion that they shouldn't just go with their gut anymore. Imagine that!

Site Date Published Current Ranking Prior Ranking Comments
1 CBS 10/21/2014 6 12 Perhaps the season's best story to date, the resurgent Islanders still have a lot to prove, but John Tavares could be in for a huge season on the Island. He is keying a potent scoring attack.
2 ESPN 10/20/2014 4 7 The 4-1 Isles were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday by the Penguins, but it's still a stellar start for the boys on Long Island.
3 TSN 10/21/2014 6 14 The Islanders suffered their first loss of the season, against Pittsburgh Saturday, but they've been much improved early in this season -- maybe even better than expected from optimists who lauded their offseason moves. If they could do something about their league-wrost penalty killing, that would be another obvious step for improvement.
4 Fox Sports 10/16/2014 13 --- Offense, thy name is Brock Nelson (seven points in three games), but the secret to a quantum leap forward this season may be the last-minute acquisitions of defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy.
5 USA Today 10/20/2014 6 22 The acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy have made the Islanders dangerous.
6 WaPo 10/20/2014 6 --- 0.606 AdjWin%, 0.558 AdjFenClose%
Average 6.8 13.8 When you get good players, you win more. Who knew?!

Apparently Metro doesn't do their power rankings that often. Also, it's nice to see today's The USA Today tossed out last year's script. Also note that all of the posts above do not count last night's debacle against the Leafs. That sounds like a great idea!

So without further ado...

The First LHH Power Rankings of the Year

For all games through 10/20/14. If you didn't read last week's preview, the rankings this year treat regulation wins better than OT wins, OT losses better than regulation losses, and shootouts are in the middle. More importantly, shootout results don't matter (going to a shootout gets you half the points, whether you win or lose; essentially, it's considered a tie, as it bloody well should be). A full explanation will be shown at the bottom of the page.

Reg OT OT Reg LHH LHH
Team GP W W SO L L Pts Rating
1 Pittsburgh Penguins 4 3 0 0 0 1 18 173
2 San Jose Sharks 6 3 0 2 0 1 24 160
3 Dallas Stars 5 2 0 1 1 1 17 154
4 Nashville Predators 5 3 0 1 1 0 23 151
5 Washington Capitals 5 2 0 3 0 0 21 148
6 Tampa Bay Lightning 6 2 1 1 0 2 19 133
7 Anaheim Ducks 6 4 0 1 0 1 27 132
8 Ottawa Senators 5 3 0 1 0 1 21 122
9 New Jersey Devils 5 3 0 0 0 2 18 117
10 St. Louis Blues 5 2 0 1 0 2 15 115
11 New York Islanders 5 3 0 1 0 1 21 111
12 Chicago Blackhawks 4 1 1 1 1 0 15 107
13 Montreal Canadiens 6 3 0 2 0 1 24 102
14 Philadelphia Flyers 5 0 1 2 0 2 10 101
15 New York Rangers 6 2 0 1 0 3 15 99
16 Calgary Flames 7 2 1 1 0 3 19 94
17 Detroit Red Wings 5 2 1 1 0 1 19 94
18 Los Angeles Kings 6 3 0 1 1 1 23 93
19 Vancouver Canucks 4 2 0 1 0 1 15 91
20 Columbus Blue Jackets 5 3 0 0 0 2 18 85
21 Toronto Maple Leafs 6 1 1 0 1 3 12 75
22 Edmonton Oilers 6 1 0 1 0 4 9 74
23 Arizona Coyotes 4 1 1 0 0 2 10 73
24 Florida Panthers 5 1 0 1 1 2 11 71
25 Minnesota Wild 4 2 0 0 0 2 12 67
26 Winnipeg Jets 5 1 0 0 0 4 6 63
27 Boston Bruins 7 2 0 1 0 4 15 60
28 Colorado Avalanche 6 1 0 0 1 4 8 56
29 Carolina Hurricanes 4 0 0 2 0 2 6 48
30 Buffalo Sabres 6 0 0 1 0 5 3 32


Key:

LHH Points: Regulation wins are 6 points, OT wins are 4, Shootouts are 3, OT losses are 2, and regulation losses are 0

LHH Rating: Adds a multiple to opponents winning percentages (depending on the result) together, and divides by the number of games played. "Normalized" so that 100 would be average.

The Isles are certainly above average, but not as high as their average place amongst the media's rankings. As you might have guessed, that has a lot to do with the strength of their opponents thus far (the Hurricanes are next to last, for example, and the Isles played them twice). The loss against the Leafs will not help matters any. I imagine the range from best to worst will close a bit after some more games are played. Also, there's an Eastern Conference team at the top! Don't blink! I'll stop now, since I have to explain all this malarkey now.

How the Rankings Are Calculated

We will use the Islanders as an example through this exercise. Please understand that the power rankings are not meant to undermine fancy stats. It's just there to try to objectively answer which team has been more impressive. Many factors go into that (a team's possession rate for one, but also every lucky or unlucky bounce they get, too). I'll leave it to the smart people like Garik to explain why certain teams are fundamentally better than others. OK, on with it....

Step 1: Don't use the NHL's stupid points system. Each game will have the same number of points for the taking:

  • 6 points for a regulation victory, zero points for a regulation loss.
  • 4 points for an overtime win, two points for an overtime loss.
  • 3 points are awarded to each team if it goes to a shootout.

Each team's record will be shown with all of those columns, and we'll call their total points earned "LHH Points" because we're so damn original. Anyway, over the first five games of the year, the Isles have a 4-1-0 record according to the NHL, but one of those wins was in a shootout, so for us, it's 3 regulation wins (18 points), 1 shootout (3 points), and one regulation loss (zero points), for a total of 21 points.

Step 2: Find a team's winning percentage.

The winning percentage will be used as the basis for the rankings. Calculating it is simple enough: divide the total number of LHH points a team has, by the maximum number of points they could have earned.

The Isles had played five games. The maximum number of points they could have earned over this period is therefore 30 points (5 games × 6 points per game). The Isles winning percentage is therefore 21 earned divided by 30, which equals .700.

Step 3: For every game a team plays, multiply the opponents' winning percentage by a factor:

  • Multiply the opponents percentage by 5 if it's a win in regulation
  • Multiply by 4 if it's an OT win
  • Multiply by 3 if the game went to a shootout
  • Multiply by 2 if it was an OT loss
  • Multiply by 1 if it was a regulation loss

The Isles beat the Hurricanes twice in regulation. The Canes only have 6 points out of a possible 24 (a winning percentage of .250). For each of those victories, the Isles would get .250 × 5 = 1.25 as a base score.

Step 4: Make two modifications to the base score

Mod #1: Home teams earn 15% more points than road teams, on average. Therefore, every road game gets weighted by an additional 15%.

The Isles road game against the Canes would therefore be 1.25 (as shown above) × 1.15 = 1.4375. The home game would still be 1.25.

Mod #2: If the team wins by more than two goals, an additional 10% is added to the score. The losing team's score is also reduced by 10%.

Neither game against the Canes ended in a lopsided victory, but the Isles beat the Rangers 6-3, so that would qualify. The Isles get an extra 10% and the Rangers get 10% deducted from their score.

Step 5: Find each team's average score

This is basically the final step. Add up all the scores from each game, and divide by the total number of games played. The Isles would have the 1.4375 from the first Canes game, plus the 1.25 from the second Canes game, plus all other scores calculated. Add them all up and divide by the total number of games played, which for the Isles would be 5.

We could just show those scores, but to make them easier to read, we find the average team score and set that to 100. Any score over 100 means the team is above average, and any score below 100 means they're sub-par.

That's how it's done. Feel free to ask questions. They'll be answered whenever possible.