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Vulgar Statistics: We Shall Cut Lindy in Two!

04/17/11
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I’ve actually been sitting on this data for a while, but then it was like “oh we might make the playoffs,” followed shortly by, “hey we did make the playoffs,” which quickly turned into “hey, I should probably talk about the playoffs.”  And now I have a bit of a free week when I can finally use this data, and to be honest, it made sense to wait until the regular season was done anyways.

So right, what the hell am I talking about?  As sports fans, we’re always comparing the present to the past, usually the best case past scenario, I think because it comforts us.  We can say, “well we started off crappy in year-X and things turned out pretty well so that bodes well for this season.”  Then there are the contrarians who are like “well, there was also the year we started off really awesome and then decided to method act the sinking of the Titanic.”  (I am totally going to abuse both quotes and teenage girl-speak in this article.)  Of course me being me, I wonder, which holds true more often, does the team tend to start hot and sink, or the opposite?  The reason Lindy Ruff gets drawn into this argument is that the latter scenario is often seen as the mark of a great coach, someone who gets the team to pick it up as the season wears on.

Isn’t there a chart coming soon?  Why yes, yes there is…

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(Note: PCT = Points Percentage)

For the average season I opted to merge the ties with the overtime losses to be applicable to the modern NHL.  And plus it’s annoying to have more than three columns in a team’s record.  Can you imagine a system that awards different points for regulation wins (the vaunted 3-2-1 system)?  What’s your team’s record?  Uh 35-19-14-14.  Glad we did away with that.

The difference in points between eras makes it a bit difficult to really gauge things, as does what I like to call fake .500 (a .500 pts percentage, but not a .500 winning percentage) so I added the plus-minus column so we can track improvement without worrying about how 94 points in one season and 94 points in another aren’t exactly comparable.  And like always I hate rehashing things that you all can read yourselves so…have at it.

Final Thoughts:

I actually expected a bit more pronounced of a difference, though I guess in thirteen years of coaching, a few bad seasons will bring the numbers down quite a bit.  Still, Lindy Ruff’s teams play better in the second half of the season more often than they don’t and I think the long playoff runs the team has been on speak to how important that momentum can be.  This season’s second half improvement is tied for the second best during Lindy Ruff’s tenure, and the last time the team went into the playoffs riding this kind of a wave, they made it all the way to the Conference Finals.  Let’s hope this year they can make it two steps further.

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