Vulgar Statistics: NHL Power Rankings
Look, I understand that Power Rankings are essentially meaningless. The teams are arranged on a whim by “professional” analyst who can’t possibly have an informed opinion on more than three or four teams. That’s why, two years ago, I sought to create a Power Rankings system that at least means something. Not surprisingly, this system is based on statistics. Now this means it does have to be taken with a grain of salt, but at least when someone asks me why a team is in a certain slot, I have a better answer than “that’s just how I felt.”
It’s pretty simple, I simply ascertain the team’s ranking in five key areas and take the sum of those five numbers. Those areas are overall points within the conference, goals per game, goals allowed per game, power play %, and penalty kill %.
Now I only compare teams within their own conference because, honestly, I don’t care how Calgary compares to Florida unless it’s June and they’re both still playing (and neither should you).
Oh yeah, and I use pretty colors. Now some of this is skewed because the power play and penalty kill numbers for a lot of teams are still unrealistic, and because a terrible power play or penalty kill for a good team can drag them down (but isn’t that what happens in the playoffs anyways?).
But it also shows which teams could come falling down to earth as the season moves along. Tampa Bay is not going to be able to count on winning 4-3 games every night. Likewise their power play (and the Islanders’) will likely drop to more reasonable numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both those teams in spots 4-8, but I’d be shocked to see them fighting for a division title late in the season.
Not Surprising – Boston is going to be tough to handle.
Surprising – New Jersey has been across-the-board-awful this season. They’re simply terrible to watch, though this year it’s for a different reason than usual.
Hey Edmonton, Anaheim! Comfortable down there? Good.
Not Surprising – The ageless Red Wings at the top of the standings.
Surprising – The Stars up in the standings despite special teams numbers that are, quite frankly, “special.” Could they be better than we think?
The bottom line is that like all Power Rankings, these shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but they can at least give an impression of how good teams really are. Since they’re based on numbers, and not my opinion, you’re unlikely to see me moving inconsistent teams up and down wildly. The numbers don’t lie.
Also, you should totally e-mail ESPN and ask them why they’re not employing me.