The Playoff Watch

Posted: 01/29/2011 by bc in Uncategorized

Since December 28 our Ducks have gone 10-3 and improved their P% to .571. The Kool Aid drinkers on most Ducks sites have assumed our Ducks have already made the playoffs. By their take on it, you’d think the season ended yesterday.

I can’t help but notice the facts. Our Ducks still have 30 games to play.As impressive as a 10-3 run is, our Ducks find themselves in a dogfight with no margin for error. One look at the standings says it all:


Rank Team GP W L OT PTS GF GA Home Away Last 10 Streak
1 Vancouver 50 31 10 9 71 165 121 17-3-5 14-7-4 4-2-4 Won 2
2 Detroit 49 30 13 6 66 166 143 15-6-4 15-7-2 6-3-1 Won 1
3 Dallas 50 30 15 5 65 147 137 16-6-4 14-9-1 7-2-1 Won 1
4 Nashville 50 27 17 6 60 134 119 11-4-5 16-13-1 6-4-0 Lost 2
5 Anaheim 52 28 20 4 60 140 146 17-7-1 11-13-3 7-3-0 Won 2
6 Phoenix 51 25 17 9 59 149 145 10-9-5 15-8-4 6-4-0 Won 1
7 Chicago 50 26 20 4 56 157 139 16-13-0 10-7-4 6-3-1 Lost 2
8 San Jose 50 25 19 6 56 139 138 12-10-3 13-9-3 4-5-1
9 Colorado 50 25 19 6 56 161 165 14-11-3 11-8-3 4-5-1 Lost 1
10 Minnesota 49 25 19 5 55 130 134 11-11-2 14-8-3 6-4-0 Won 1
11 Los Angeles 50 27 22 1 55 143 124 17-9-1 10-13-0 5-5-0 Won 3
12 Calgary 51 24 21 6 54 144 152 14-9-1 10-12-5 6-1-3 Won 4
13 Columbus 49 23 21 5 51 130 152 12-11-1 11-10-4 3-5-2 Lost 1
14 St. Louis 49 22 20 7 51 130 146 15-8-3 7-12-4 2-7-1 Lost 3
15 Edmonton 49 15 26 8 38 122 168 7-13-4 8-13-4 2-7-1 Lost 1

As you can see, the 10-3 run is welcome but our currently 5th place Ducks haven’t put much distance on the nine teams battling for five playoff spots. The reason is that other teams are winning as well.

Take a peek at the Western Conference teams records just over the past ten games. Even though our Ducks are tied with Dallas for the most wins, our Ducks are 3rd in points over the same stretch. The 7-2-1 Dallas Stars and the 6-1-3 Calgary Flames each have 15 pts to the 7-3 Ducks 14 over the same stretch.

And that’s why P% is such a critical statistic. Over the same ten games Dallas and Calgary are collecting points at a .750 rate while our Ducks who have actually won one more game than Calgary are accumulating points at a lower .700 clip.

To anyone who thinks our Ducks are a shoe in would do well to consider this and I’m going to add emphasis:

If the currently 12 place Calgary squad gains one point every ten games and they win the GIH, we finish just one point ahead of the Flames at the end of the season.

And that bold and italicized fact can happen even with our Ducks going 21-9 down the stretch! What do you think of our margin for error now? Still think we’re a shoe in?

No doubt the 3 point game is producing a nail biter playoff stretch run. For a fairly young team like our Ducks the intensity of these stretch run games is experience you can’t buy.

Some say there’s no great secret to what our Ducks need to do to enter the 2nd season. They say, “Just win.” As you see with the Calgary example winning isn’t enough.

With nine teams competing for five playoff spots the new tie breaker system will probably come into play.

Here’s how the league rule book looks now:

NHL By-Law 27.3 now reads as follows (with the approved revision in underlined italics):

At the conclusion of the regular Schedule of Championship Games the standing of the teams in each Conference shall be determined in accordance with the following priorities in the order listed:

a)        First place in each of the three divisions seeded 1, 2 and 3.

b)        The higher number of points earned by the Club.

c)        The greater number of games won by the Club (excluding games won in the Shootout).

d)        The higher number of points earned in games against each other among two or more Clubs having equal standing under priorities (b) and (c).

e)        The greater differential between goals scored for and against by clubs having equal standing under priority (d).

Of the nine teams scrunched together Nashville and Calgary have 6 SO wins. Kings 5; Ducks, CBJ 4; Avs, Hawks, Sharks & Blues 3. If the season ended today our Ducks would take 4th place ahead of Nashville by virtue of the third tie breaker.

The fourth tie breaker, head to head P%, is just as jumbled. Currently our Ducks win a head to head P% against all four Pacific Division teams, Calgary and Minnesota. The fourth tie breaker doesn’t resolve anything between our Ducks and Chicago, Colorado, Columbus and St. Louis.

If the season ended today our Ducks lose the head to head goal differential against Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, San Jose and Los Angeles; tie against Colorado and win over Dallas, Minnesota and Calgary.

As you can plainly see “just winning” isn’t enough. Our Ducks have to win in RT or OT and by as big a margin as possible. Winning one goal games and SO’s could easily cost us the playoffs.

With a weak Eastern Conference, everybody in the Western Conference save Edmonton is a winning team. In other words, to make the playoffs in the Western Conference we have to beat teams with winning records by 2 or more goals.

Our Ducks can do it. What I don’t know is will they do it. Failing to make the playoffs doesn’t make them a bad team. It makes them an under-achieving team.

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  1. czhokej says:

    It’s still quite complicated, and too many games left. We cannot make any predictions yet, because it’s so close. My hope is that the Ducks are improving, and the game we play lately closely resembles hockey (much more than it did at the beginning of the season). Recent successes should not be overestimated – from last 9 games (from Jan. 7th) 7 wins and 2 losses – it looks good. However we played mostly weaker teams (best ranking opponent was Montreal – 10th (win) , then the Coyotes (ranked 12 – loss), the Sharks (ranked 16th), the Blues (18th), the Jackets (21st), Toronto (26th – loss), the Senators (27th), and Edmonton (29th).

  2. BackCheck says:

    Complicated and convoluted cz. The SO tie breaker is a joke. First it counts then it doesn’t.

    Among the things worth watching and chronicling is Carlyle’s moves. So many times we’ve seen this team get on a roll only to slump back after RC changes things around. Does he continue the endless search for 3rd line scoring or put his top 6 forwards in top 6 roles?

    We all have our own ideas on what the line should be. I don’t care so much what the lines are as I care that we get some stability. Especially for Ryan and Lupul. If it were up to me I’d put Loops with Getz & Pears and Ryan with the Finns.

    Also if we lose with our Top 6 forwards in Top 6 roles and TOI, it shines more light on the argument; is it Carlyle or the players?

  3. czhokej says:

    I cannot agree more. Lupul used to be good with Getzy and Perry, and Koivu made some nice plays and room for Ryan. My concern is still our checking line – we do not have one. With a solid checking/shut-down line, we could use most of the time only three lines, an occasionally throw in some youngsters.

    • BackCheck says:

      Good Morning cz. Still sipping the one cup ‘o joe per day they allow me now. Tried a bigger mug but Retired Hockey Mom blew her Ref whistle on that one. In case you”re wondering the official sign is a finger waive accentuated with a raised eyebrow. Like all good refs, if she’s speaking during the finger waive, she’s inviting some venting because she knows it’s a tough call. If she’s quiet and you see the raised eyebrow you’re risking a misconduct with a fine. No venting allowed.

      I may not heel and toe like the old days but I can still work a ref with the best of them ;)

      Well if you want something of a checking line, Lappy, T-bone & McMillan are probably our best defensive players among the 2nd six group. Do that and what do we do with Jason Blake? Matt Belesky? Dan Sexton?

      I hated even suggesting breaking up the Masterton Line because (1) Sentiment and (2) It ain’t broke.

      The facts are incontrovertible. Carlyle has failed to establish a consistent 3rd scoring line. That could be partly due to injuries. But it’s also primarily due to the fact RC hasn’t given any set group much of a chance to develop any chemistry.

  4. czhokej says:

    That was one of our original criticisms: changing the line combos too often and too quickly. As for checking line – I agree with the names, speed is there, but I would like to see more size, intimidating physicality. Only Lappy has that. And T-bone cannot score anymore, and he is not able to keep possession of the puck for too long. The best offensive trios in the league were scared when they were facing Sammy’s line. It usually started with the face-off, and fight for the puck control, grinding along the boards, and exhausting battle for every inch of ice. Of course it was easier back then, when our checkers knew that behind them was either Pronger, or Scotty or both of them. I apologize for my nostalgia. And take it easy with caffeine.

    • BackCheck says:

      He’s still changing the line combos too often and too quickly cz. RC even admitted that his change ups didn’t work against the Leafs. I was glad to hear him finally accept some responsibility instead of his usual blaming and excuse making.

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