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Northwest vs Southeast Division 2005-10

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There seems to be some incredulity about my statement that on the basis of their negative shot differential in head-to-head games, the NW division teams have not been better than the SE division teams.  How can this be possible if, in 107 head-to-head games, the NW has a .570 winning percentage?

Well, it all comes down to unsustainable and uncharacteristic save and shooting percentages:

 

NW vs All NW vs SE SE vs All SE vs NW
S% 6.28 6.23 6.24 4.16
SV% 940 958 937 938
PDO 1002 1021 999 979

 

Both divisions played 2050 games over five seasons and ended up with roughly the same save and shooting percentages over all of those games.  But in 100 head-to-head games in the regular season, the southeast division shot just 4.16% (and the northwest division got a 958 save percentage).  Those rates have no relationship with the teams' true talent levels observed over thousands of games, but it is possible to sample 100 games where we see uncharacteristic percentages.  In other words, sometimes strange things happen - but it doesn't mean that the NW division is better than the SE division.

Here's the division-vs-division PDO grid with the NW-SE pairs in bold:

 

atl ne se cen nw pac
atl 1000 1001 999 1015 989 1010
ne 999 1000 1005 1008 1002 989
se 1001 995 1000 1001 979 999
cen 985 992 999 1000 1000 1004
nw 1011 998 1021 1000 1000 998
pac 990 1011 1001 996 1002 1000

 

And the composite PDO, Sv% and Sh% for each team against other divisions since 2005:

 

atl ne se cen nw pac
oth div 1001 1002 996 1000 1002 999
oth conf 1005 1000 992 992 1010 1000

 

sv% atl ne se cen nw pac
oth div 946 945 945 942 943 943
oth conf 946 941 942 941 949 941







sh% atl ne se cen nw pac
oth div 5.57 5.66 5.17 5.73 5.84 5.91
oth conf 5.89 5.97 5.03 5.15 6.08 5.91

 

There is something real here - SE shooting percentage is 0.4% lower than the league-wide average (goaltending is exactly average.)  But there's no reason to expect them to have a 979 PDO against the NW.