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When Playoff Teams Face Each Other: Part II The West

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In part one, I noted that looking at the final regular season numbers can be deceptive because half of those games were played against team not in the playoffs. So I took the full schedule of results for every playoff team and looked at their stats when facing off against other playoff teams in the regular season. Perhaps, this will help us distinguish playoff contenders from pretenders. I have also removed all points earned for OT Wins and SO Losses since those are not awarded in the post-season.


Games VS

Playoff Opponents

Wins Losses Ties
SJS 40 21 13 6
DET 43 23 16 4
VAN 39 16 19 4
CHI 45 18 19 8
CGY 39 15 21 3
STL 44 15 22 7
CBJ 44 18 19 7
ANA 40 17 20 3


Beating the Tough Opponents

The table contains three columns showing three different ways to assess the West playoff teams. In column one, we find the official regular season standings. In column two we see those same standing with the "bonus points" stripped away. In column three we see each team's win % against only playoff teams projected over a full 82 games (with no bonus points for OTL or SOW)


Final West Standing

with SOW and OTL

West Standings

without SOW and OTL

West Standing

Versus Playoff Teams

without SOW, OTL

SJS 117 105 98
DET 112 100 95
VAN 100 94 76
CHI 104 95 90
CGY 98 91 69
STL 92 82 69
CBJ 92 83 80
ANA 91 80 76

Analysis: If a team's record versus other playoff teams is a good predictor of the playoffs the Flames and Blues are the teams most in trouble. The Flames in particular tore through the weaker teams in the NHL this year and struggled against many of the better clubs. On other hand, both Sharks and Wings earned their points against tough opposition and the young Blackhawks could be a strong post-season contender as well. In the middle you have Columbus, Anaheim and Vancouver who were neither outstanding nor terrible when facing quality opponents.

Offense and Defense

Let's move a bit deeper into other key team statistics. To get a better sense of this pattern, the table below shows the Goals For (GFA) and the Goals Against Average (GAA) and Goal Differential (GDiff) for each Eastern Club broken down into games played against other playoff teams and those played against non-playoff teams.

Team Name
GFA VS Playoff Teams GAA VS Playoff Teams Goal Diff VS Playoff Team GFA VS Non-Playoff Teams GAA VS Non-Playoff Team Goal Diff VS Non-Playoff Teams
DET 3.58 2.98 +.60 3.46 2.87 +.59
SJS 3.13 2.83 +.30 3.00 2.05 +.95
VAN 3.18 2.13 +.05 2.77 2.12 +.65
CHI 2.87 2.82 +.04 3.54 2.22 +1.32
CBJ 2.64 2.68 -.05 2.74 2.76 -.03
ANA 2.85 3.00 -.15 2.95 2.74 +.21
STL 2.73 3.11 -.39 2.82 2.37 +.45
CGY 2.64 3.21 -.56 3.44 2.81 +.63


Analysis: If we look at the offensive and defensive numbers we see that the Wings put a nearly identical Goal Differential whether they were facing playoff teams or non playoff teams. The Sharks beat up non-playoff teams but they were also strong against other good teams--but not as strong as Detroit. Vancouver and Chicago were also slightly positive against good opposition. Columbus kept the games close regardless of the opposition. But the Ducks, Blues and especially the Flames all loaded up against bad teams and struggled to a some degree against the good ones.

Team Efficiency and Special Teams

We can take this a step further and look at a breakdown of how each playoff club did with respect to stopping shots (SV%) and converting shots in to goals (ST%) versus other playoff clubs. The same goes for special teams--which clubs were able to generate PP Goals even against good teams?

Team Name
Versus Save Percentage Shot Percentage Power Play Percentage Penalty Kill Percentage
Playoff Teams .898 9.5%


SJS Non-Playoff .923 9.0% 22.7% 85.5%
DET Playoff Teams .907 9.4% 23.6% 81.7%
DET Non-Playoff .895 10.0% 26.7% 79.6%
VAN Playoff Teams .899 11.6% 16.8% 77.6%
VAN Non-Playoff .923 9.4% 20.4% 84.8%
CHI Playoff Teams .907 9.2% 20.3% 79.9%
CHI Non-Playoff .916 10.2% 17.9% 81.5%
CGY Playoff Teams .898 8.4% 14.8% 83.4%
CGY Non-Playoff .900 10.4% 19.3% 83.3%
STL Playoff Teams .891 9.6% 19.8% 81.4%
STL Non-Playoff .917 10.5% 21.5% 86.9%
CBJ Playoff Teams .909 9.5% 13.5% 79.3%
CBJ Non-Playoff .893
9.0% 12.2% 85.7%
ANA Playoff Teams .905 9.8% 21.9% 80.4%
ANA Non-Playoff .907 9.4% 25.2% 79.3%


Analysis: Everyone knows that goaltending has been an issue in Detroit this season, but who knew that the Wings goalies posted a better SV% against playoff clubs than the Sharks goalies? I certainly didn't until I ran the numbers. The Sharks relied upon better ST% and a good PP to make up for so-so goaltending against good teams.

Columbus had the best regular season SV% against other playoff teams. The Blues had the worst and Vancouver posted a surprisingly poor number as well, while Columbus PP struggled against everyone.

In the East there were few big differences in the PK%, but out West several teams saw their numbers fall considerably. The Sharks, Blues, Bluejackets all had some declines but the Canucks suffered the worst fall off by far (perhaps this is related to the lower SV%--they old saying is that your goalie must be your best Penalty Killer).

Summary: If we look at games in which playoff teams faced each other the Sharks and Red Wings clearly stand out from the pack in the West. At the other end of the scale, the Flames really struggled when playing against future playoff teams.

For the Eastern Conference click here.