The Collapse to the Finish in the Eastern Conference



Back on March 5th, I published a story looking at how Eastern Conference teams had finished the season after trade deadline day. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the last month in the East is just how atypical the playoff race has been. In MOST years, the playoff bubble teams up the ante and earn points at a slightly higher rate than they did before the trade deadline. It makes sense that the playoff bubble teams have the most to play for and they usually elevate their performance.

So far this spring we have seen the opposite of the typical pattern. Let's run through the bubble teams.

  • OTT was playing like 97 point team before the trade deadline, slumped to 88 point pace after.
  • ATL was on pace for 86 point before, has been just been on a non-playoff 77 point pace since, the collapse of the Flyers has made them appear more competitive.
  • PHI has been terrible, slumping from a 93 point pace to 67 point pace that would put them in draft lottery land over a full season.
  • But the biggest collapse award goes to TBL who were hanging around with a 83 point pace, but have since been an expansion team bad 56 point pace.

Who has stepped up?

  • MTL has really steeped it up. They rose from a pace for 85 points before to 105 points pace after.
  • NYR slightly increased from 85 point pace to 88 point pace--will it be enough to catch faltering Flyers?
  • BOS at least held serve. They were playing like a 87 point team before and have maintained exactly the same pace after the deadline.

Other notables trends

  • NJD have played been very mediocre since acquiring Kovalchuk, this patten has not abated. Prior to the trade deadline they were on pace for 104 points, since the deadline they have played like a bubble team 87 point rate.
  • In the post-lockout NHL, it has typically taken 93 points to qualify for the post-season in both conferences. In the East this year it appears that 87 points will suffice to get in, while in the West it will probably require 95-96 points.

How would the East Standing look if each team's post-trade deadline pace were projected over a full season? Leafs and Hurricanes would be playoff bound and Devils would be just shy of post-season.

  1. WSH 120 points
  2. TOR 113
  3. BUF 108
  4. MTL 105
  5. PIT 100
  6. CAR 97
  7. OTT 88
  8. NYR 88
  9. FLA 87
  10. BOS 87
  11. NJD 87
  12. NYI 82
  13. ATL 77
  14. PHI 67
  15. TBL 56

The Eastern Conference is unusually weak this year. The window was open for the Thrashers to sneak in this spring, but they failed to even maintain their previous pace and blew their opportunity to cash in points at home and against weaker teams.

 

 

 

Team Pre Pts Post Pts Final Pts PRE W% Post W% Final W% Pre Pace Post Pace Final Pace Likely Outcome
WSH 90 22 112 0.726 0.733 0.727 119 120 119 IN
NJD 79 16 95 0.637 0.533 0.617 104 87 101 IN
PIT 78 17 95 0.619 0.607 0.617 102 100 101 IN
BUF 75 21 96 0.615 0.656 0.623 101 108 102 IN
OTT 76 15 91 0.594 0.536 0.583 97 88 96 IN
PHI 69 13 82 0.566 0.406 0.532 93 67 87 IN
BOS 65 17 82 0.533 0.531 0.532 87 87 87 IN
ATL 64 16 80 0.525 0.471 0.513 86 77 84 OUT
NYR 65 15 80 0.516 0.536 0.519 85 88 85 OUT
MON 66 18 84 0.516 0.643 0.538 85 105 88 IN
TAM 63 11 74 0.508 0.344 0.474 83 56 78 OUT
NYI 60 14 74 0.476 0.500 0.481 78 82 79 OUT
FLA 58 16 74 0.468 0.533 0.481 77 87 79 OUT
CAR 57 19 76 0.460 0.594 0.487 75 97 80 OUT
TOR 49 22 71 0.395 0.688 0.455 65 113 75 OUT

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