Hi everybody, and welcome to the inaugural edition of the 2009-10 Bayesian Power Rankings. For those that donít know, the Power Rankings take into account a teamís results, the strength of its schedule, and the importance of luck to determine how good a team is and how well the team will perform for the rest of the season, all the way to the Stanley Cup. The Rankings are determined mathematically; I have no subjective input. Otherwise you can bet the Penguins would be higher than 11th.
Here are the power rankings, up to and including games on Tuesday, December 2nd:
O rat: Offensive rating. The typical number of goals you would score against an average team. Higher is better.
D rat: Defensive rating. The typical number of goals an average team would score on you. Lower is better.
T rat: Total rating. O rat Ė D rat. Your typical margin of victory against an average team. Higher is better.
Sched: Schedule difficulty (the average T rat of your opponents). Higher means harder.
Pr Pts: Predicted number of points at the end of the year. The standard deviation is about 14 at this point in the schedule.
Poffs: Odds of making the playoffs, in percentage.
Cup: Odds of winning the Stanley Cup, in percentage.
Rank Team O rat D rat T rat Sched Pr_Pts Poffs Cup
1 San Jose Sharks 3.11 2.57 0.54 0.07 109 86 14
Comment: Like most of last season, the Sharks top our rankings. Instead of solid team defense, this year's edition is getting it done with an explosive first line (Thornton and Heatley are sick together) and superb goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov.
2 Chicago Blackhawks 2.86 2.38 0.48 -0.03 107 85 13
Comment: What do the Hawks and Sharks have in common? They're the league's top 2 penalty-killing teams, with the Hawks leading the league with 6 short-handed goals. Any Norris Trophy conversation must now include Duncan Keith.
3 New Jersey Devils 2.73 2.35 0.38 0.01 107 85 10
Comment: Once again, the Devils are near the top of the league; once again with the best overall defense. Credit must go to Martin Brodeur, but the Devils are getting an exceptional year from Zach Parise, and rookie Niclas Bergfors has exceeded expectations.
4 Calgary Flames 2.91 2.54 0.37 0.01 105 82 9
Comment: The good news: the Flames are finally getting the kind of goaltending they need from Miikka Kiprusoff, Jarome Iginla is on pace for 50 goals, and the Bouwmeester experiment is working so far. The bad: they miss Rene Bourque.
5 Atlanta Thrashers 3.10 2.76 0.34 -0.06 101 77 8
Comment: Have the Thrashers officially replaced the Avalanche as the surprise story of the season? There is no better comeback player this year than Maxim Afinogenov, while Hedberg and Pavelec have been the most unsung goaltending pair in the NHL.
6 Washington Capitals 3.06 2.73 0.33 -0.04 105 83 8
Comment: Everything that can be said about Ovechkin has been said, so I'll just point out that the Capitals are #1 in goals per game and that Brendan Morrisson is fitting in quite well after a disastrous year last season shuttling between Anaheim and Dallas.
7 Vancouver Canucks 2.88 2.65 0.23 0.01 93 57 4
Comment: The Canucks' low place in the standings is due to their underutilization of the NHL's 3-point system, as all 12 of their losses have come in regulation time. The acquisition of Christian Ehrhoff is working out nicely, but Roberto Luongo has not been the difference-maker they need.
8 Philadelphia Flyers 2.95 2.72 0.23 0.01 95 64 4
Comment: The Flyers have hit a dry spell lately, with 5 losses in their last 6 games. Two bright spots who have been hit by the drought are Ray Emery, who was having a fantastic year until 2 weeks ago, and rookie James van Riemsdyk.
9 Buffalo Sabres 2.67 2.46 0.21 -0.09 100 75 6
Comment: To say Ryan Miller is the best in the world is an exageration, but to say he would win the Vesina and possibly the Hart if the season ended today is not. The Sabres have riden their white-hot goalie and rookie Tyler Myers to the top of the Northwest, because it's not their offense: their top goal-scorer is Thomas Vanek, with 8.
10 Colorado Avalanche 2.93 2.78 0.15 0.10 97 71 4
Comment: The Avalanche have cooled down since their hot start, but Ryan O'Reilly is for real, and Kyle Quincey is still surviving as the #1 defenseman.
11 Pittsburgh Penguins 2.93 2.79 0.13 -0.07 99 74 4
Comment: Before the Crosby fans try to lynch me, I also think the ratings are crazy to put the Penguins 11th. Apparently the Power Ranking system is not impressed by the Penguins' schedule, the 2nd easiest in the league so far. On the positive side, the Penguins' predicted 99 Points would be the same as last season, when they won the Cup. Crosby has 10 points in his last 4 games and has hauled himself back into the league scoring race.
12 Detroit Red Wings 2.81 2.71 0.11 0.03 92 53 2
Comment: What a violent drop back to Earth for the Wings, who are short Franzen, Filppula, Williams and now Kronwall, while others like Dan Cleary, Ville Leino and Chris Osgood are nowhere like their postseason selves. The Bayesian Ratings only give the Wings a 53% chance of making the playoffs, and I'd give them about the same.
13 Dallas Stars 2.85 2.79 0.06 -0.01 91 49 2
Comment: Five years ago, during Tampa's Cup run, people were talking about Brad Richards as the most complete player in the NHL. We're finally seeing that player again, and the emergence of Stephane Robidas as an offensive threat is welcome. But the Stars are lacking depth, and they'll need some secondary scoring if they're to remain on the right side of the playoff bubble.
14 Los Angeles Kings 2.83 2.84 -0.01 0.09 92 53 2
Comment: The Kings are overcoming the loss of Ryan Smyth and the implosion of their #1 line with good defense and good offensive contributions from Wayne Simmonds and Justin Williams. Drew Doughty will be one of the top defensemen in the league sooner than you think.
15 Phoenix Coyotes 2.49 2.50 -0.02 0.01 90 53 2
Comment: Everyone has noticed the play of Bryzgalov, but the unsung hero in Phoenix is defenseman Keith Yandle, who has been solid at even-strength and on special teams and has even chipped in some offense.
16 Boston Bruins 2.42 2.48 -0.06 -0.06 92 62 2
Comment: VUKOTA picked the Bruins to finish near the top of the Eastern Conference, but that was before they suffered injuries to Marc Savard and Milan Lucic. In all fairness, many players on the Bruins have disappointed, David Krejci and Michael Ryder chief among them. Despite this, the Bruins are still near the top of the Northeast, thanks to good defense from Zdeno Chara and a surprisingly awesome backup in Tukka Rask.
17 Ottawa Senators 2.77 2.83 -0.06 -0.07 91 61 2
Comment: I hope history smiles on Daniel Alfredsson, because he's one of the great players of our time. Almost 37, he again leads the Senators in scoring and is in the top 20 of the league.
18 St.Louis Blues 2.54 2.62 -0.08 -0.05 84 39 1
Comment: While the Blues have underperformed somewhat, they have some players having truly awful seasons by their standards: Brad Boyes has 6 goals (he scored 76 the last two seasons), and Paul Kariya's 0.44 points per game is half his recent average. They can always rewatch David Perron's goal to cheer themselves up.
19 New York Rangers 2.84 2.92 -0.09 0.02 86 44 1
Comment: Can the league MVP come from a non-playoff team? That'll be the question asked of Marian Gaborik if both he and the Rangers continue on their current trajectories.
20 Tampa Bay Lightning 2.62 2.73 -0.11 -0.06 88 50 1
Comment: The Bayesian Ratings aren't too impressed by Tampa, but their huge number of 3-point games means they're in the thick of the playoff race. Rocket Richard winner in 2012: Steven Stamkos.
21 Edmonton Oilers 2.87 2.98 -0.11 0.07 81 33 1
Comment: Amazingly, the Oilers' season is already a write-off since they found out that Ales Hemsky will be lost for the year. All there is left to do is watch Dustin Penner weave his magic for the rest of the year.
22 Columbus Blue Jackets 2.92 3.06 -0.15 0.07 87 45 1
Comment: I wrote an article earlier this season explaining how there's no such thing as a sophomore slump. Apparently Steve Mason didn't read it, because he's having a sophomore slump for the ages, currently sitting dead last in the NHL with a -10.4 GVT.
23 New York Islanders 2.64 2.82 -0.18 0.04 84 37 1
Comment: The Islanders should take heart watching the Blackhawks and now the Kings. They too will be good eventually, as evidenced by their top scorers John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo. For now, at least they're competitive.
24 Anaheim Ducks 2.75 2.97 -0.22 -0.06 79 26 0
Comment: So the Ducks aren't that great when Jonas Hiller isn't the second coming of Hasek. Lost in last year's playoff run was that they have no secondary scoring whatsoever; after the first two lines it's a massive black hole. Corey Perry's 19-game scoring streak sure is impressive though.
25 Nashville Predators 2.44 2.67 -0.23 0.08 87 44 1
Comment: I'm not quite sure why the Ratings have Nashville so low, as they've performed decently and have won 8 of their last 10. Amazingly, they're getting it done with a no-name cast. That being said, I'm not sure they can hold on to a playoff berth for the rest of the season.
26 Minnesota Wild 2.50 2.82 -0.32 0.00 77 24 0
Comment: Todd, can we go back to boring defensive hockey where we had a chance to win? Please? It's been a rough year in Minnesota, where below-average goaltending has compounded the traditional lack of offense.
27 Florida Panthers 2.65 2.98 -0.33 0.05 80 33 0
Comment: A team with a mediocre defense that loses its #1 defenseman should emerge with an even worse defense. This is exactly what has occurred in Florida, who are once again last in the league in shots against. You'd think they'd treat their goaltenders better.
28 Toronto Maple Leafs 2.70 3.05 -0.36 -0.05 75 23 0
Comment: Puck Prospectus will cover the Toronto Maple Leafs in depth tomorrow in the Prospectus Roundtable, so for now all I will say is this: any coach who plays Vesa Toskala when he's got Jonas Gustavsson on the bench is getting what he deserves.
29 Montreal Canadiens 2.36 2.81 -0.45 -0.02 78 25 0
Comment: A Canadiens blog recently asked: Can the Canadiens win the Northeast division? Short answer: Probably not. Long answer: any team that loses its best player on the first day of the season will suffer, and the Canadiens are no exception. Markov won't return in time to save this ship.
30 Carolina Hurricanes 2.38 3.17 -0.79 -0.05 60 6 0
Comment: Yes, the Hurricanes have just a 6% chance of making the playoffs. Less than a third of the season in, they're already more or less mathematically eliminated. While I never bought into the post-playoff hype, VUKOTA did pick them to finish 14th, so what happened? In short: everything. The goaltending has been awful, Cam Ward included before he got injured, and Eric Staal fell off the face of the Earth.
Tom Awad is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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