The first NHL Analytic Power Rankings were posted on Puck Drunk Love November 18, 2014. The correlation between being in the top 16 of the analytics rankings and making the post season was strong in 2013-14. Here is a look back at the rankings so far from 2014.
Change since the end of the 2013-14 regular season
As a refresher: shot attempts for percentage, offensive/defensive zone starts, goals for percentage and puck luck are the elements of this analytic power ranking.
Some of the most improved teams include those that had coaching changes including the Pittsburgh Penguins firing Dan Bylsma and hiring Mike Johnston, the Washington Capitals bringing in Barry Trotz and the Nashville Predators have seen the greatest improvement under Peter Laviolette.
It is not surprising seeing how far the Columbus Blue Jackets have fallen given all their injury troubles this season.
However I do not believe anyone would have thought that the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues would drop so far in the rankings as they have both been thought of in recent years as a couple of the best analytic clubs. That is a disturbing trend for those franchises and could signal that their windows are closing to compete for the Stanley Cup.
Change since November 18, 2014
Since the beginning of the analytic rankings the Winnipeg Jets have been the most improved club under the guidance of Head Coach Paul Maurice. Could this be the year they finally reward their fans with a playoff berth? It sure is looking that way.
As well, after a slow start the Los Angeles Kings are starting to fall back into familiar territory in the rankings and that should bode well for them moving forward. However that is a team built for the post season. Any regular season success aside from securing a playoff berth is secondary to them.
On the other end of the spectrum the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils have all been in free fall of late. Especially for the Wild and the Blues this has to be of great concern.
I would not be surprised to see a “big” trade or a coaching change by either general manager if things continue to trend in this direction.
Average ranking during the 2014-15 NHL season
To the right the graphic shows the average analytic power ranking of every NHL team thus far during the 2014-15 season. When comparing the top 16 teams in these rankings I found that 13 of the 16 teams are currently sitting in playoff positions as well.
The only missing teams were the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks. This is an indication that these three franchises may be in tough to hold their current playoff positions without some favorable luck and hot streaks coming their way.
It is also no coincidence that both the Leafs and Canucks were on the list of teams that rely most heavily on favorable percentages to bank points.
Team’s in the top 16 of this ranking and not in the playoffs include the Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers.
The combination of those four teams should be able to push hard for a playoff spot down the stretch and have the most potential to knock out the Canucks, Leafs and Sharks before the end of the season.