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Standings vs. Magic Numbers, 10/14/10 October 15, 2010

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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Well, it’s still early, and you can tell that by the number of surprises in the standings. Toronto leading the East? Nashville first out West? PITTSBURGH IN LAST PLACE?! Must be October.

Anyway, here’s one of an occasional comparisons I’m hoping to run this season about where teams stand officially, compared to how they stand in terms of playoff position. Yes, I look at playoff math in October. It’s actually kind of fascinating to track it on a year-long basis.

You can’t make the playoffs in October, true enough, but you can certainly be eliminated from them with too many early losses. Look at last year’s Maple Leafs: they came out of the gate flat as the National Mall, and that was that. Their season was over before it was even ten games old, because they’d given away so many top-end points that they were in must-win territory way too soon.

So, here’s a comparison chart that shows which teams in the East are where in the playoff standings, compared to where they stand in the official standings. I’m only doing the East for now–West may follow when I have time, and if there’s enough demand for it.

TEAM MAGIC NUM OFFICIAL DIFF
TOR 1 1 E
TBL 2 2 E
WSH 3 4 +1
CAR 4 5 +1
BOS 5 12 +7
NYR 6 11 +5
PHI 7 3 -4
NYI 8 6 -2
MTL 9 7 -2
FLA 10 13 +3
ATL 11 14 +3
NJD 12 8 -4
BUF 13 9 -4
OTT 14 10 -4
PIT 15 15 E

Washington and Carolina get a bump because of a surprisingly weak Atlantic Division. Mathematically, they’re in the right spots; but because Philadelphia is the best the Atlantic can do right now, it gets the 3 spot even though it has fewer regular points than the Capitals. And if you look at the magic numbers, the Flyers AREN’T the best in the Atlantic: that would be the New York Rangers who, like Boston, have had a surprisingly light start to the season. The Bruins have played all of two games, going 1-1 in the process, so Boston still has a lot of top-end points available because of games in hand (ditto the Rangers). So Bruins and Rangers fans can take heart that they’re only where they are because they haven’t had the chance to earn any more points. Meanwhile, New Jersey, Buffalo, and Ottawa have gotten their fair share of points, but they’ve also suffered enough losses to bleed away some top-end points early on. At this early point in the season, they’re over-ranked, and need to hang tough for a couple of games so that their top-end scores can stay put for a while.

Readers, what do you think? If I did this on a regular basis throughout the season, would you use it? I know it’s early, but I’m going to put this out there as something I can do if enough interest is there. Let me know.–CS

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