With most teams close to the 20-game mark, I thought it might be useful to compare their first 10 games to their most recent efforts. This should give us a good idea of which teams have stepped back, and which teams have hit the gas; something that isn’t always readily apparent from the NHL standings.

One note that I should make at this juncture: these are point percentages, not win/loss records, so .500 doesn’t mean an average team. Last year, the minimum playoff number in the East was .567, and in the West it was .554.

Eastern Conference

  • Florida Panthers: .250/.688 = +.438
  • New York Islanders: .350/.727 = +.377
  • Philadelphia Flyers: .550/.857 = +.307
  • New Jersey Devils: .600/.888 = +.288
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: .200/.389 = +.189
  • Atlanta Thrashers: .550/.714 = +.164
  • Tampa Bay Lightning: .550/.688 = +.138
  • Washington Capitals: .700/.727 = +.027
  • Montreal Canadiens: .500/.455 = -.045
  • Boston Bruins: .550/.450 = -.100
  • Carolina Hurricanes: .350/.200 = -.150
  • Ottawa Senators: .700/.438 = -.262
  • Buffalo Sabres: .850/.571 = -.279
  • New York Rangers: .700/.409 = -.291
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: .900/.455 = -.445

Pittsburgh has taken a beating, and their performance over the last 10 games looks a lot like their performance under Michel Therrien while Sergei Gonchar was injured. They’ll rebound; after all, they’re probably suffering from injury more than any other team in the NHL.

Both the Rangers and Senators appear to be in some trouble after reasonable starts; recent history suggests that the Rangers will rebound and hang around in a lower playoff spot, while the Senators have less room for error.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Panthers, Islanders and Thrashers are all on good runs right now, particularly the Panthers who haven’t been getting much in the way of positive press lately.

Final note: I firmly believe the Flyers are contenders; they got better over the summer and they’re used to playing without Simon Gagne anyway. They had great special teams last year, and Chris Pronger has been playing at a Norris Trophy level so far this season.

Western Conference

  • Nashville Predators: .350/.778 = +.428
  • Detroit Red Wings: .500/.813 = +.313
  • San Jose Sharks: .550/.808 = +.258
  • Minnesota Wild: .300/.500 = +.200
  • Anaheim Ducks: .350/.444 = +.094
  • Chicago Blackhawks: .650/.722 = +.072
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: .600/.666 = +.066
  • Los Angeles Kings: .600/.666 = +0.66
  • Dallas Stars: .550/.611 = +.061
  • Vancouver Canucks: .500/.545 = +.045
  • Phoenix Coyotes: .600/.500 = -.100
  • Calgary Flames: .750/.611 = -.139
  • Colorado Avalanche: .800/.591 = -.209
  • St. Louis Blues: .550/.313 = -.237
  • Edmonton Oilers: .650/.273 = -.377

It’s great to see Nashville rebound; their offence isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s not nearly so bad as it looked during the first 10 games of the season. I think they make the playoffs.

Speaking of rebounds, does anyone doubt that Detroit and San Jose are now playing much closer to their true level of ability after a disappointing start?

St. Louis and Edmonton have both looked miserable after decent starts, and it seems likely to me that both are serious contenders for lottery picks at the end of the year. Obviously there’s plenty of time yet to turn it around, but the Oilers haven’t been a playoff team for three straight seasons, and St. Louis was simply bad before a late season drive that may or may not have been for real (keep in mind they were blown out of the water in the playoffs).

Sharp drop-off for Colorado here; they’re still sitting second in the conference but their last 11 games have been nothing like their first 10. In the first 10 games, Colorado was averaging 3.40 goals per game and allowing 2.30 (+1.10); in the last 11 they’ve averaged 2.45 goals for and 2.74 goals against (-0.28). That’s nearly a goal and a half in goal differential lost (and even excluding the 8-2 loss to Vancouver, they’ve lost nearly a full goal) and it doesn’t bode well for the remainder of their season.