Hot and Cold Teams in the NHL

I wrote an article a few weeks ago that showed how important it is to play well in the final few weeks of the regular season. My statistics showed that in the past three years, teams with higher points per game after March 1st won more often than the higher seed. The even more interesting statistic is that teams that have 0.25 more points per game after March 1st than their opponent are 16-2.

Here is how the teams in the playoffs or in the playoff hunt currently rank:

DET 15 1.67
PHX 14 1.50
WSH 14 1.43
MTL 13 1.38
PIT 14 1.36
NSH 17 1.35
VAN 15 1.33
BUF 15 1.27
CGY 14 1.14
NJD 15 1.13
SJS 14 1.07
NYR 14 1.07
BOS 16 1.06
ATL 17 1.06
PHI 16 0.94
LAK 15 0.93
COL 14 0.93
OTT 14 0.93
CHI 14 0.86

As you can see, the Detroit Red Wings are on an excellent streak with 25 points in only 15 games since the Olympic break. This team is looking a lot like the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. They were fighting for a playoff spot in early March but had a 14-2-3 record in their final 19 games, earned the fourth seed and won the Stanley Cup.

At the bottom of the list you have the Chicago Blackhawks who have won only five of their last 14 games. The loss of Brian Campbell was a big one and I wouldn’t be surprised if they got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Using the 0.25 points rule, which I explained earlier, here are some interesting things to consider for each conference.

Western Conference:
-The only team that could stop the Detroit Red Wings are the Phoenix Coyotes.
-The Phoenix Coyoyes should beat the Calgary Flames, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks if they faced them.
-The Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators are the best teams in the Western Conference but, if things stay the same, they will all face each other in the first round.
-The Chicago Blackhawks would lose to any team except the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.

Eastern Conference:
-The Washington Capitals are still the best team in the Eastern Conference but the Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres are within 0.25 points per game.
-The Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers would be pretty much sure things to lose in the first round if they played any of the four teams I named above.
-The Montreal Canadiens have the best chance of creating an upset. They are second in points per game and are currently the seventh seed in the East.

A lot of things could change in the next 12 days but as you can see, I believe there will be quite a few upsets in the playoffs this season. In two weeks, I’ll of course post my predictions for each series, which will in part be based on this rule.

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