The regular season is nearly over. While the playoff seeding are not yet known, the participants almost are, with the Florida Panthers in the East and Nashville Predators in the West on the outside looking it. For the teams that will be playing two weeks from now, the real question is how they stack up in the playoffs. For those left behind, the soul-searching begins. Note: these ratings were generated on Wednesday, so Columbus had not yet mathematically clinched a spot, hence their 99.2% playoff odds.
Given that the playoffs are close at hand, I have added columns indicating each team’s odds of progressing through each round. For those who are interested, I would invite you to also check out the playoff probabilities that have been posted at Hockey Reference. While Justin Kubatko and I have never compared methods (his is proprietary), the results are almost identical, which is reassuring because knowing Justin, I would have assumed that my approach was the wrong one! Note also that his table is updated daily, so the later you read this article, the less synchronized they will seem.
Here are the power rankings, up to and including games on Tuesday April 7th:
Orat: Offensive rating. The typical number of goals you would score against an average team. Higher is better.
Drat: Defensive rating. The typical number of goals an average team would score on you. Lower is better.
Trat: Total rating. O rat – D rat. Your typical margin of victory against an average team. Higher is better.
Schd: Schedule difficulty (the average T rat of your opponents). Higher means harder.
PPts: Predicted number of points at the end of the year. The standard deviation is about 1.5 at this point in the schedule.
PO%: Odds of making the playoffs, in percentage.
CSF%: Odds of appearing in the Conference Semi-Final, in percentage.
CF%: Odds of appearing in the Conference Final, in percentage.
F%: Odds of appearing in the Stanley Cup, in percentage.
C%: Odds of winning the Stanley Cup, in percentage.
Team Orat Drat Trat Schd PPts PO% CSF% CF% F% C%
1 Bruins 3.15 2.48 0.67 -0.05 116.0 100.0 74.9 53.4 36.1 22.6
Comment: The Bruins look strong entering the playoffs. While some people
remember that the Bruins finished first in the conference in 2002
and 2004, losing in the first round both years, this team is far
more dominant. If Phil Kessel and Dennis Wideman aren't injured,
anything less than the conference final will be considered an upset.
2 Red Wings 3.50 2.96 0.54 -0.01 114.6 100.0 67.8 43.3 24.1 13.2
Comment: Only two years ago, the Red Wings were "chokers." A team that,
since its cup win in 2002, did well in the regular season yet
couldn't get it done against lower-seeded teams in the playoffs.
Now they're the NHL's model franchise. Amazing what a Cup win does!
3 Sharks 3.07 2.57 0.50 -0.03 119.7 100.0 68.2 44.1 25.7 14.6
Comment: Despite their reputation as chokers, since 2004 the Sharks have won
more playoff games (27) than any team except the Red Wings (34). The
biggest injury is to captain Patrick Marleau.
4 Blackhawks 3.13 2.74 0.39 0.00 102.4 100.0 61.0 32.4 16.7 8.4
Comment: A well deserved return to the playoffs for this franchise. The
Blackhawks can be justifiably considered an example of how to
develop a team with young talent from within. While Khabibulin
is the starter for now, Huet would be a fine choice as well.
5 Devils 2.93 2.65 0.29 -0.03 104.4 100.0 57.4 31.5 14.5 7.0
Comment: Three weeks ago the Devils looked to be unstoppable, with Martin
Brodeur leading them to the Cup finals. Since record-breaking win
#552, they're 3-7-1 and both team and goaltender look very mortal.
6 Flyers 3.13 2.92 0.21 -0.03 100.6 100.0 52.6 24.1 10.7 4.7
Comment: Daniel Briere is back in top form, which means the Flyers add
another offensive weapon to their considerable arsenal, though
facing the red-hot Hurricanes in the first round would be tough.
7 Canucks 3.02 2.81 0.21 -0.01 98.5 100.0 50.9 23.5 10.5 4.7
Comment: Though this is a cliché, it's true in this case: the Canucks will go
as far as Roberto Luongo carries them. That could be far, although
they could help themselves by winning the division to earn a date
with the 6th seed instead of the Blackhawks.
8 Capitals 3.15 2.95 0.20 -0.05 108.3 100.0 58.6 30.7 12.8 5.7
Comment: For all their skill, the Capitals are a team with average defense,
average goaltending and no offense beyond 4 players. That's a
testament to how good Ovechkin, Semin, Green and Backstrom are.
It doesn't matter though as they'll definitely be favorites over
the Canadiens or Rangers.
9 Penguins 3.09 2.95 0.15 0.00 97.4 100.0 44.2 18.0 8.0 3.3
Comment: The Malkin-for-MVP train is gathering steam in the media,
and though I don't agree (for the record, Tim Thomas would
be a better choice) he's had an excellent season. This team,
on the playoff bubble 2 months ago, has responded well to coach
Dan Bylsma, though they're unlikely to repeat their finals
appearance from last year.
10 Hurricanes 2.91 2.78 0.14 -0.04 99.2 100.0 46.4 20.0 8.5 3.6
Comment: I would NOT want to face the Hurricanes in the first round.
They are playing like a team possessed. Eric Staal has been
on fire and a great spark has been provided by the return
of Erik Cole.
11 Wild 2.64 2.53 0.11 -0.01 87.3 8.3 3.0 1.2 0.6 0.2
Comment: A valiant attempt hasn't been enough for the Wild, who will
be the best team to miss the playoffs. There's nothing
fundamentally wrong with this group, although here's a
sign of their offensive struggles: the Wild are last in
the NHL in shots taken, having given up almost 300 more
shots than they've taken.
12 Ducks 2.97 2.90 0.07 0.01 90.4 88.8 30.9 11.4 5.0 1.9
Comment: The Ducks have proven the sceptics wrong and likely clawed
their way into the playoffs. While their brand of "tough"
hockey won them the Cup in 2007, it made them look silly
in last year's playoffs where they gave up 10 power-play
goals in 6 games to the Stars. They've kept those bad
habits this season.
13 Flames 3.06 3.01 0.06 0.00 98.3 100.0 44.0 17.6 6.9 2.7
Comment: ESPN recently named Miikka Kiprusoff as the MVP of the
Flames this year. I wonder what he would have had to do
to NOT win the award: while he hasn't been Toskala-bad,
his save % in March and April is 0.882. Stanley Cups
are not made of such things.
14 Sabres 2.95 2.91 0.04 -0.02 88.0 1.3 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.0
Comment: Ryan Miller's injury likely cost this team their playoff spot.
This is far from being an elite team, but with Roy, Vanek,
Connolly and Spacek they have a good core.
15 Canadiens 2.99 2.96 0.03 -0.02 93.9 92.8 34.9 11.7 5.1 1.9
Comment: As a Montrealer, I hear way too much about the Habs trials
and tribulations. They've played well enough to sneak into
the playoffs since the Panthers refuse to win, but with
Schneider and Markov injured it's unrealistic to think
they could go beyond the first round.
16 Blue Jackets 2.81 2.80 0.02 0.02 93.0 99.2 41.1 15.2 5.8 2.2
Comment: I'm happy for the Blue Jackets getting their first playoff berth.
While Mason is the big story, Rick Nash has truly matured over
the last couple of seasons. He even kills penalties! The blue
line of Hejda, Tyutin and Commodore is solid as well.
17 Blues 2.91 2.90 0.01 0.05 90.3 87.2 28.5 10.0 4.2 1.5
Comment: The Blues look very likely to make the playoffs, even more
impressive when you see the names of the players who have
led the push: Patrick Berglund, David Perron, Brad Boyes,
T.J. Oshie, Chris Mason and David Backes, all youngsters
or castaways. Unfortunately, they're first-round food.
18 Panthers 2.82 2.84 -0.02 -0.03 91.2 24.3 7.1 2.6 1.1 0.4
Comment: The Panthers' playoff push, or lack of it, has been disappointing.
Next year they should try not to be outshot by 430 shots over the
course of the season. It works for Detroit.
19 Rangers 2.62 2.72 -0.10 -0.01 93.0 81.7 23.6 7.8 3.1 1.0
Comment: The Rangers added 3 players at the deadline (Nikolai Antropov, Sean
Avery and Derek Morris) who have all been successful. As a result,
the Rangers should sneak into the 8th spot in the East.
20 Oilers 2.89 3.01 -0.12 0.01 85.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: I was expecting the Oilers to wait until the 82nd game to miss the
playoffs, but they've done it ahead of time. The loss of Lubomir
Visnovsky was big, but the Oilers lost games down the stretch
against teams like the Coyotes and Kings that you can't
afford to lose if you want to make the playoffs.
21 Senators 2.72 2.86 -0.14 0.01 84.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: The Senators would be in the playoffs easily had they played all
year as they have under Cory Clouston, 19-10-3. Chris Campoli
has been good since coming over from the Islanders. That
being said, are we sure this is a playoff team next year?
22 Predators 2.66 2.80 -0.14 0.03 87.7 16.5 4.5 1.4 0.5 0.2
Comment: The Predators still have a measurable chance of making the
playoffs, though it may be gone by the time this column goes
up. This likely clinches Steve Mason's Calder win over Pekka
Rinne. The Predators have trouble scoring at even-strength
or on the power-play, which makes it hard to win games.
23 Stars 2.86 3.07 -0.21 0.02 81.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: The same ESPN article also named Marty Turco as the MVP
of the Stars. If by MVP, you mean influential, I agree
because no one is more at fault for the Stars missing
the playoffs than Turco. The emergence of Louis Eriksson
this year gives them hope for the future.
24 Thrashers 3.05 3.28 -0.23 0.01 76.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: Ilya Kovalchuk's totals in the first 53 games of the
season: 21 G, 29 A, -16. Kovalchuk's totals in the last
24 games: 21 G, 19 A, +3. Pro-rated, that's a 70 goal,
130 point season. Regardless, the Thrashers have never
won a playoff game in their 10 years of existence, a fact
that won't change for at least another 12 months.
25 Kings 2.64 2.88 -0.24 0.02 78.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: The Kings have been in rebuilding mode since before
the lockout. While their young players are progressing,
they need some offensive punch beyond Anze Kopitar.
26 Maple Leafs 3.02 3.41 -0.39 0.03 81.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: The Leafs need to find a good #1 goaltender and they
need to fix their league worst penalty-killing. I know
it sounds crazy, but this is a playoff team if they can
27 Coyotes 2.61 3.03 -0.42 0.02 76.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: Am I the only one who doesn't see the "progress" the Coyotes
are making? They have no offense, a mediocre defense and
little depth. If new owners are brought in, I hope they
manage to turn this ship around.
28 Avalanche 2.62 3.08 -0.46 0.05 70.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: The Avalanche were so decimated by injuries this year
that it's hard to see where they really stand. The team would
have looked very different with Paul Stastny and Joe Sakic,
but Sakic will be 40 this summer and will probably retire.
I would try to sign Martin Biron or Craig Anderson
this summer, either of whom would be an upgrade on
the current goaltending.
29 Lightning 2.66 3.20 -0.54 0.02 67.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: The Lighting seem to have solved their goaltending woes
with Mike Smith. However, they now have offensive and
defensive woes. Talk of Vincent Lecavalier as one of
the league's elite seems absurd after this season,
and the blue line is thin.
30 Islanders 2.59 3.19 -0.60 0.02 63.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Comment: One of my readers pointed out that the Islanders
have two prospects, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen,
who will only get better. If the youngsters improve
and either Yann Danis or Rick DiPietro provides
superior goaltending, a return to respectability
Tom Awad is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
You can contact Tom by clicking here or click here to see Tom's other articles.