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NHL Power Rankings: Islanders middling, methodology explained

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Two vastly different methodologies lead to the same result.

"The colors of power are black and white," Yormark said, probably.
"The colors of power are black and white," Yormark said, probably.
Al Bello/Getty Images

This week, the Isles finished around 13th on average in the opinion polls and 12th in our own power rankings. It's a rare instance where gut feelings and cold hard calculations produce the same result.

The media opinion polls are more of a "who's hot now?" list (TSN being the notable exception), whereas the LHH Power Rankings use the results of games to tabulate who's best over the course of the entire season to date (giving equal weight to games whether they were played yesterday or on Day One of the season).

We'll talk more about how the LHH rankings are built later, but for now, let's check in with the pundits.

Weekly Roundup of Opinion Polls

Site Updated New Ranking Prior Ranking Comments
CBS 11/3/2015 13 10 A mysterious illness sidelining captain John Tavares has become a big concern for the Isles. They're winless in their last three and have struggled mightily without their star in the lineup.
ESPN 11/2/2015 11 6 With John Tavares out with illness this weekend, the Isles dropped home games to the Devils and Sabres, which in turn made Islanders fans ill.
TSN 11/2/2015 16 12 Something seems a little off with the Islanders. C John Tavares misses a couple of games with an illness, that is announced in an unusual manner, and RW Ryan Strome has been a healthy scratch for a couple of games. Figure [t]he Isles need Strome to take a good step forward this season and it hasn't happened in the early going.
Fox 11/2/2015 13 5 When you have a player as good as John Tavares out of your lineup, it really, really shows. The Islanders captain has missed two games due to illness, and the team has lost three in a row to the Hurricanes, Devils and Sabres. Yikes
USA Today 10/26/2015 --- 8 None this week (maybe they caught the flu from Tavares)
Average 13.3 8.2 One player's temporary illness shows that the team is permanently worse.

I kid about the "average" comment. But only a little. This is more evidence that these polls are a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately exercise. But JT's absence clearly was felt by the team (as the loss of a superstar would be felt by anybody), so they drop as far as 16th in one poll. That would be TSN's poll, oddly enough. I say this because TSN is the one that uses fancy stats to come up with their rankings, instead of wins, losses, and current injuries.

LHH Power Rankings: Methodology

So, how are these rankings calculated anyways? Glad you asked! I won't bore you too much, but if you feel your life wasting away, feel free to skip down to the table.

OK here goes... First of all, I didn't want to use Ws and Ls as they appear in the standings, because a win in regulation should be viewed more favorably than a win in OT, which should in turn be viewed more favorably than a win in a shootout. Winning in regulation is especially impressive, given parity within the league and teams starting to play for ties late in a game if the score is level.

So I retabulate a team's record by assigning 6 points for a regulation win, 4 for an OTW, 3 for any shootout, 2 for an OTL, and none for a regulation loss. A shootout is essentially a coin flip, so winning or losing one means nothing to our rankings formula. It's essentially treated as a tie, because that's what is should be. (As an aside, overtime wins and losses are starting to feel very random as well. I might tweak their value next year but decided to see how this year plays out first).

Once that is done, a team's winning percentage based upon those points is derived. If your team has a regulation win and an overtime win, then that's a total of 10 points out of a possible 12, or a percentage of .833. We'll just call that the LHH Average going forward, for clarity.

The power rankings rating basically add an opponent's LHH Average, multiplied by a factor. The better your team's result, the higher that factor is. Beat a team in regulation? Then multiply their average by seven. An OTW gets a factor of 5, 4 for a shootout result of any kind, 3 for an OTL, and 1 for a regulation loss. By doing this, even the losses are treated differently. There are a few other minor factors to add, such as away games getting a 15% bonus (home teams, on average, earn about 15% more points than road teams over the course of full seasons), and wins of three goals or more earn an additional 10% (a loss of three or more earns a 10% reduction).

Add up a team's score from all of the games, and divide by total number of games, and you get... well, you get a fraction of a number. Let's just call it the raw score. To make things easier to read, I find the average raw score and set that equal to 100, and prorate the other scores so that anything over 100 is an above average team, and below 100 is a below average team. That's the LHH Power Rankings Rating, and it's the final column in the table.

That's it. You could make a spread sheet and do the same exercise from home. Or I could email you my spread sheet if you wish, and you can see how it all comes together. For now, my lunch break is almost over, so let's get to the table...

For games through 11/3/15

(6) (4) (3) (2) (0)
Reg OT OT Reg LHH LHH
GP W W SO L L Pts Rating
1 Montreal Canadiens 14 11 0 0 1 2 68 147
2 Dallas Stars 13 9 1 0 0 3 58 132
3 Los Angeles Kings 12 6 2 0 0 4 44 130
4 Winnipeg Jets 12 7 0 0 1 4 44 123
5 Boston Bruins 11 6 0 0 1 4 38 118
6 St. Louis Blues 12 7 1 0 1 3 48 117
7 Minnesota Wild 11 7 0 0 2 2 46 113
8 Washington Capitals 11 7 1 0 0 3 46 112
9 Pittsburgh Penguins 11 5 2 0 0 4 38 112
10 New York Rangers 12 8 0 1 1 2 53 111
11 Vancouver Canucks 12 5 0 1 4 2 41 111
12 New York Islanders 13 6 1 1 2 3 47 105
13 Florida Panthers 11 5 0 0 2 4 34 104
14 Chicago Blackhawks 12 4 3 0 0 5 36 104
15 Arizona Coyotes 11 5 0 0 1 5 32 101
16 San Jose Sharks 12 5 0 1 0 6 33 101
17 Nashville Predators 11 5 0 2 2 2 40 98
18 Tampa Bay Lightning 14 4 2 1 1 6 37 96
19 Ottawa Senators 12 3 1 4 0 4 34 93
20 New Jersey Devils 12 2 2 3 0 5 29 93
21 Detroit Red Wings 12 5 1 0 1 5 36 88
22 Edmonton Oilers 13 4 1 0 0 8 28 87
23 Carolina Hurricanes 12 3 2 0 0 7 26 87
24 Anaheim Ducks 11 2 0 1 1 7 17 83
25 Philadelphia Flyers 12 2 1 1 2 6 23 81
26 Toronto Maple Leafs 11 2 0 2 0 7 18 77
27 Colorado Avalanche 12 4 0 0 1 7 26 75
28 Calgary Flames 13 1 2 1 0 9 17 68
29 Buffalo Sabres 12 3 1 1 0 7 25 67
30 Columbus Blue Jackets 13 3 0 0 0 10 18 66

Numbers above each column is a reminder of how many points each type of win or loss earns. LHH Points is the total of all those points. The Isles end up 12th, as some losses (both regulation and OT) dragged them down further than their one win brought them up.

As always, I will answer questions posted in the comments whenever I have the opportunity.