It’s Never Too Late For the Wheels to Fall Off

I was just looking at the standings, the ones that have the Kings in 5th in the Western Conference. I noticed that they have played more games than most teams behind them. That’s not good. Let’s look at the standings a couple of different ways. First, the tradition way, by points:

  1. SJS – 28
  2. COL – 26
  3. CHI – 20
  4. CGY – 23
  5. LAK – 22
  6. CBJ – 20
  7. PHX – 20
  8. DAL – 20
  9. VAN – 20
  10. EDM – 18
  11. DET – 17
  12. STL – 16
  13. NSH – 15
  14. ANA – 14
  15. MIN – 14

Now here it is by winning % (actually it’s points-per-game, which is WIN% times 2):

  1. SJS 1.474
  2. COL 1.444
  3. CHI 1.250
  4. CGY 1.438
  5. CBJ 1.250
  6. LAK 1.222
  7. PHX 1.176
  8. DAL 1.176
  9. DET 1.133
  10. VAN 1.053
  11. EDM 1.000
  12. STL 1.000
  13. NAS 0.938
  14. ANA 0.933
  15. MIN 0.824

Kings move down one to 6th. Wings jump from 11th to 8th. Now, here’s a third method, which may be crackpotty, and I’ve only ever seen it used by me. Ignore it if you want to. It’s related to WIN%, but not. It’s points-lost. If you are 6-2-0, your total is 4 (2 losses times 2 points each); if you are 0-2-0, your total is also 4. The difference between this and WIN% is a team gets no bonus for having played more games. It’s all about the points you’ve blown. (In these standings, a lower point total is better, because obviously the fewer points blown the better.)

  1. SJS 10
  2. COL 10
  3. CGY 11
  4. CHI 12
  5. CBJ 12
  6. DET 13 (up 5)
  7. LAK 14 (down 2-4; depending on how you break the three way tie)
  8. PHX 14
  9. DAL 14
  10. STL 16 (up 2)
  11. ANA 16 (up 3-4)
  12. NSH 17
  13. VAN 18 (down 4)
  14. MIN 20

I don’t think I missed any of the teams that moved two or more spaces. What leaps out at me is this: (1) DET is doing much much better than people think. (2) ANA is not doomed. (3) The Kings are doing well but not as well as it seems. (4) The Kings are in a three-way tie for 7th, which is to say they are a hair away from 10th. (5) They are two points, i.e. one loss, away from 12th. (6) They are also one win away from 4th.

This early in the season, I find it useful to keep in mind what a win or a loss does to a team’s position in the standings. There’s a big difference between being in 1st and so far ahead that a few losses won’t hurt you, and (as SJS is) being in 1st such that one loss could drop you to 6th. So I prefer to think of a team’s position in the standings as a range, the range being (at the top) where you could be tomorrow morning if you win and the right teams lose, and (at the bottom) where you could be if you lose and the “right” teams win.

Looking at it that way, the Kings’ range is between 4th and 12th in the standings.


  4 comments for “It’s Never Too Late For the Wheels to Fall Off

  1. tullskull
    November 13, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    Hey Quisp, I was wondering if you have tried out your “points lost” calculations on last season to see how it rings true? My first time at your sight and I really like it. Thanks for loving the kings and putting in so much time on the blogs with your comments which I always find worth consideration.

    • quisp
      November 13, 2009 at 9:09 AM

      Well, the beauty of the points-lost (or points-blown) standings is that it eliminates any advantage or disadvantage for a team based on games played. For example, last year the Kings were very low in the traditional conference standings, but were even with many teams above them in terms of points lost. As a result, when the games played leveled out after the all-star break, the Kings were suddenly right there in contention. (subsequently, they crapped out and dropped to the bottom for real.)

      The catch with “points-blown” standings is that it’s the most useful when there’s a wide disparity of games played, especially when the disparity is big in comparison to total games played. For example, it’s useful to realize that a team that’s 10-5, another that’s 5-5 and a team that’s 0-5, have all blown 10 points. A team that is 0-2 would be dead last in terms of points and WIN%, but would be in first in terms of points-blown. And 0-2 is clearly better than 0-5.

      But the more games played, the farther into the season we get, the less likely it is that there will be a significant difference in games played, and any difference will be progressively smaller relative to the total pool of games played.

      And, finally, at the end of the season, all the standings methods converge: points, WIN% and points-blown will all look exactly the same.

  2. BakoCAkingsCondorsGuy
    November 13, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    Quispie, staying with statistical analysis, an interesting article suggests there is a goal-scoring problem in the first period in the NHL:

    What are your thoughts? Intuitively seems that there should be some early game caution…

    Then, more questions about why the Kings just can’t keep it up… in the face-off department. TM seems to feel it’s the Kings’ centermen being too jumpy, especially on the road, not keeping there sticks still and getting thrown out of the face-off too often. Any statistics on that?

    • quisp
      November 13, 2009 at 2:17 PM

      I think you’re right re early game caution, or just plain old preparation. Certainly, when a team jumps out to an early 2 or 3 goal lead, one immediately assumes either that the losing team stinks or is just not ready to play, undisciplined, etc.. Certainly, any time bunches of goals are scored it’s going to be chalked up to discipline/prep/focus problems. By the second period, strategies can take hold, wearing a team down, etc., so you would expect more goal scoring for that reason. Also, as you imply, things just loosen up. Then, predictably, tighten up as the game winds toward a conclusion. Every game is of course different, but as a generalized narrative, that makes sense to me.

      It would be interesting to look at shots per period, to compare. Shots, sh%, sv%. Maybe goalies are worse in the second. Maybe shooters are better. Maybe there are more shots (thus, lax defense). One would have to drill down into the stats to see.

      Me, I have laundry to do.

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