What's in a record? Looking at the standings at the quarter pole

Marianne Helm

The Winnipeg Jets playoff hopes appear to be dwindling. Is there more to it? Is there a silver lining in there somewhere?

Through 23 games played the Winnipeg Jets have collected 23 of a possible 46 standings points and find themselves ranked sixth in the Central Division and eleventh in the fourteen team Western Conference. The Jets are also falling well behind in in the NHL's number one tie breaker, regulation and overtime wins (ROW) with 5 through 23 games.

The only teams with fewer ROW at this stage of the season are the embarrassing Buffalo Sabres,  awful Florida Panthers and horrible Edmonton Oilers. To their credit, the Jets have managed to pull out wins in the shootout. This isn't a sustainable strategy, but the five bonus points are keeping them out to cellar.

Alas, here are the divisional standings:
Overall
CENTRAL GP W L OT PTS ROW
CHICAGO
21 14 3 4 32 11
MINNESOTA
21 13 4 4 30 11
ST. LOUIS
19 13 3 3 29 11
COLORADO
19 14 5 0 28 14
DALLAS
20 11 7 2 24 8
WINNIPEG
23 10 10 3 23 5
NASHVILLE
20 9 9 2 20 9

Thinking thoughts:

  • The Jets are number one in losses and seventh in ROW. That is ugly.
  • The Jets are also number one in games played.
  • It isn't listed here, but the Jets have a much better goal differential than Nashville. Minus 5 to minus 17.
  • Their goal differential is still sixth in the division - only two teams are in the minus.

Early standings can be funny. Different teams have faced different opponents and not all opponents are created equal. The win totals in the Central are extremely high and the pacing at the top is a little ridiculous, but this will even out as Central division teams go head to head later in the season. Will this create some opportunity for the Jets? Perhaps. Let's break down the records a little and take a look.

First lets take a look at how central division opponents have fared versus their divisional rivals:
VS CEN
CENTRAL GP W L OT PTS P%
CHICAGO
8 4 3 1 9 0.563
MINNESOTA
7 5 2 0 10 0.714
ST. LOUIS
7 6 0 1 13 0.929
COLORADO
6 4 2 0 8 0.667
DALLAS
6 1 3 2 4 0.333
WINNIPEG
12 3 8 1 7 0.292
NASHVILLE
10 5 5 0 10 0.500

Thinking thoughts:

  • Yuck. That's gross.
  • If the Jets are going to make any headway in the division they need some divisional wins.
  • The Jets lead the division in divisional games played and they have the worst record, so they don't have much room to rebound.
  • The fact that most other teams have played very little within their division is a little refreshing. Somebody has to lose those games.

The Jets division is downright nasty. The teams at the top have been scary good. If the Jets are going to get back into the playoff picture it will probably have to be as a wild card. They will be competing with Dallas, Colorado and Pacific division teams. Competition will be fierce.

One more thing, if Stl, Chi, Min and Col aren't playing divisional games, who the heck are they playing?

The short answer is - The Eastern Conference:
VS EAST
CENTRAL GP W L OT PTS P%
CHICAGO
9 7 0 2 16 0.889
MINNESOTA
9 7 2 2 16 0.889
ST. LOUIS
8 6 2 0 12 0.750
COLORADO
11 8 3 0 16 0.727
DALLAS
7 5 2 0 10 0.714
WINNIPEG
6 4 1 1 9 0.750
NASHVILLE
7 3 4 0 6 0.429

Thinking Thoughts:

  • The Jets have played pretty well versus their Eastern Conference opponents - almost everybody has.
  • The Jets have the fewest games played versus Eastern opponents. Perhaps this creates an opportunity.
  • Chicago, Minnesota and Colorado have collected more than half of their standing points versus opponents from the East. That is weird.

All in all those numbers paint a pretty bleak picture, but are there any other numbers? Perhaps more encouraging numbers?

WARNING! WARNING! NERD ALERT!!

Time to take a look at the nerd stats - you know, the ones that tend to hold more predictive value.

Possession Stats:

Team GP CF% FF%
1 Chicago Blackhawks 21 58.40% 57.60%
2 Los Angeles Kings 21 57.20% 56.30%
3 St. Louis Blues 19 56.70% 57.00%
4 Minnesota Wild 21 55.70% 56.40%
5 New Jersey Devils 20 54.00% 53.20%
6 San Jose Sharks 21 53.50% 53.90%
7 Vancouver Canucks 22 53.50% 54.10%
8 Boston Bruins 20 53.20% 52.00%
9 Pittsburgh Penguins 21 52.70% 54.70%
10 Dallas Stars 20 51.50% 52.10%
11 Tampa Bay Lightning 20 50.80% 50.40%
12 Anaheim Ducks 23 50.70% 52.50%
13 Detroit Red Wings 21 50.20% 50.80%
14 New York Islanders 21 50.10% 49.80%
15 New York Rangers 20 50.00% 51.10%
16 Colorado Avalanche 19 49.50% 49.50%
17 Montréal Canadiens 21 49.30% 49.70%
18 Winnipeg Jets 23 49.10% 48.10%
19 Ottawa Senators 20 48.90% 46.90%
20 Nashville Predators 20 48.50% 49.60%
21 Florida Panthers 21 48.40% 48.10%
22 Philadelphia Flyers 19 47.80% 46.50%
23 Phoenix Coyotes 21 47.30% 47.80%
24 Columbus Blue Jackets 20 47.10% 47.00%
25 Washington Capitals 21 47.10% 46.20%
26 Carolina Hurricanes 21 47.00% 46.30%
27 Calgary Flames 21 45.40% 47.80%
28 Edmonton Oilers 22 43.50% 44.20%
29 Toronto Maple Leafs 20 43.30% 42.00%
30 Buffalo Sabres 22 38.50% 38.00%

Thinking Thoughts:

  • The Winnipeg Jets look far better by shot metrics than they do by the standings.
  • The Jets rank 18th in Corsi For Percentage (49.1%) and 20th in Fenwick For Percentage (48.1%) - both numbers are for close games situation.
  • The Jets have also been surging of late. This side of their ugly loss to the Habs on October 15th the Jets have a CF% of 51.48% and a FF% of 50.39%. Of course this is me sampling selectively and perhaps creates an unfair sample, but the team appears to have improved from that point. I have no idea of the recent sample is more indicative of what the Winnipeg Jets really are, but it will be interesting to see if their upward trend can continue.
  • The leagues top 3 Fenwick teams are all from the Central Division.
  • Six of the top 7 Fenwick teams are from the Western Conference.
  • Eight of the top 10 Fenwick teams are from the Western Conference.
  • The Jets are 11th in Fenwick among Western teams with only Edmonton, Phoenix and Calgary behind them.
  • The Western Conference sucks.
  • More West versus West will perhaps even this out. Hopefully.
  • Buffalo really sucks.
What does it all mean?
Not much really. The possession stats suggest that the Jets are perhaps a little better than their ROW total, but they still don't look like a world beater. Any misfortune they have suffered is likely countered by their good fortune in the shootouts.

Over time the playoff line will probably fall a little, but the Western Conference is a bit of an asshole this season. The Jets may have an outside chance of making the playoffs IF the recent up swing in possession is more indicative of who they will be AND they start to play better versus their division. Realistically though, the Jets really aren't in the playoff picture.

How many points do you thing the Jets have some season end?

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