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Thursday Thoughts and Reading: West Standings Based on WIN%

I was doing some browsing around the SBN blogosphere the other day to get acclimatized to the network and stumbled upon this excellent post by Mr. Plank at Fear The Fin, coincidentally, the Flames' opposition tomorrow evening. He discusses San Jose's lack of success against playoff teams this season throughout the post, but I was more interested in this chart. What he's done here is compiled a chart showing the Reconstructed Western Conference Standings based on the winning percentage of the top nine teams in the West against Western playoff opponents, excluding games that have gone to a shootout, which can be found under the GSO column. 

Reconstructed Western Conference Standings

1 Chicago
6 3.03
2.27 +0.76 16 8 66.6%
2 Detroit
4 2.78 2.53 +0.25 17 11 60.7%
3 Vancouver
4 3.25 2.43 +0.82 14 10 58.3%
4 Phoenix
9 2.15 2.33 -0.18 9 9 50.0%
5 Nashville
1 2.52 2.87 -0.35 14 16 46.6%
6 San Jose
6 2.89 2.89 E 10 12 45.4%
7 Colorado
21 5 2.42 2.88 -0.46 9 12 42.8%
8 Calgary
3 2.31 2.69 -0.38 11 15 42.3%
9 Los Angeles
25 4 2.34 2.86 -0.52 9 16 36.0%

As you can all see, the change for the Flames isn't that dramatic, they jump from ninth to eighth and into a playoff position with a 42.3% winning percentage, but if one ever wanted a partial explanation as to why this team is in ninth place in the West to begin with, look no further than their goal differential and, of course, the fact that they are three games under .500 against opponents in a playoff position. Those Chicago games, that loss to the Sharks, those losses to Colorado--it adds up. Including games against Eastern Conference playoff opponents and overtime/shootout games, the Flames are 17-17-9 against all playoff teams this season.

This chart puts Calgary, a team that has vastly underachieved, depending on who you ask, with Colorado, a team that has vastly overachieved this season. The Avs fall from fifth to seventh in the West due to their goal differential and ultimately, their record against playoff opponents, also three games under .500. I know that there have been many examples of statistical analysis done to expose the Avs for the bunch of lucky overachieving punks that they really are, and this chart drives the point home. As pointed out in the post, not all teams have played the same number of games against Western playoff opponents, so they have varying numbers of games left against said opponents. The Flames have six games left against Western playoff teams, and seven including a date with the Capitals at the end of March. 

I think one of the most interesting things about this chart is the shifting of potential first-round playoff match-ups. Calgary would get Chicago, who jump into first place, once again, which would inevitably end in angry tears and curses thrown in the general direction of Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien. The Red Wings move all the way up to second place by virtue of winning 60.7% of their games against the top eight in the West, and would play Colorado, which would be a very interesting series not only because of the historic rivalry between the two, but to see if the Avs could hold their heads above water in a seven-game playoff series against a team like Detroit.

Vancouver would stay where they are in third, but would meet the Sharks, who drop down to sixth, in the first round. Phoenix also stay where they are, but would play Nashville, who move up to fifth place. Nashville is another team that has overachieved this season, and to a lesser degree, Phoenix is as well. Their numbers are both better than Colorado's, although Phoenix has played less games against playoff teams and Nashville has played the most out of any team in the top nine. Then there are the Kings, who would miss out on the playoffs all together, falling from sixth to ninth. L.A. is seven games under .500 and has the worst goal differential of the group. They've been up and down all season, largely due to streaky play from Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Jonathan Quick, and it'll be interesting to see how they fare in the post-season; they would face the Canucks if playoff action began today. Vancouver's numbers are pretty impressive, which pains me to say. 

That's basically all I have to say, feel free to add your thoughts. 

Required reading: Eric Nystrom uses the word "bandwagon," vote on how the Bruins should execute "payback" on Matt Cooke, and the city of Abbotsford is getting fleeced worse than Darryl Sutter on Deadline Day.