Monday, December 07, 2009

Classic (Standings) IV

Your Eastern Conference:

And your Western Conference:

This week's charts highlights one of the big downsides to the pity-point system: the playoff races aren't as tight.  Five of the six divisions would have closer races if the league still scored under its previous rules.  Only the Central Division would be otherwise, as Chicago's lead over Nashville and Detroit would move from five and six points to six and eight points.  The Southeast and Northeast are the strongest the other way - Washington's nine-point edge over Atlanta would be a less-comfortable five, and in the old Adams Division (the Northeast), Boston's lead over Buffalo would actually be a deficit.  That's rather a huge deal.  Instead of the third seed as the weakest division winner (and a home-ice advantage over sixth-seeded Buffalo), the Bruins would slide all the way to seventh, and have to open the playoffs on the road, against Ovechkin and the Capitals.

Further, it's harder to make up ground in the new system.  Not only are certain teams further behind than otherwise, but to make up that extra distance, they have to hope the teams ahead of them don't scrape points after regulation.  That just makes it harder.  On the surface it's more exciting to look at the standings and see your team at or above .500, a thrill that 80% of the league currently enjoys.  It's not so much of a thrill, however, when you realize that even a great run isn't likely to move you up in the standings so long as the teams you chase are getting extra points from a skills competition after the actual games end.  Think of the Columbus Blue Jackets and their fans.  13-11-5 sounds better than 11-11-7... except now they're eleventh in the conference, well out of the playoffs.  They have to pass Vancouver and Detroit and catch Dallas, currently eighth.  But in the old system, they'd already be ahead of Detroit, and they'd only be behind Dallas by one win (31 points to 29).  They could do that on Wednesday against Florida, who are fairly poor.  Oh, but not now... and not with Dallas' Marty Turco leading all goaltenders in overtime games.  If he wasn't 1-5 in shootouts, it would be even worse.

(OK, to be fair, Columbus has Steve Mason, who is the only goalie in the league currently WORSE than Turco in the shootout this season.  But is it fair to either team to have it come to this?)

No comments: