Looking at Some Last Tens

The “last ten” statistic is a good way to analyze what trend a hockey team is on. You can’t really tell much from a game or two, but ten games is a pretty good sample size. That’s probably why the NHL keeps track of these statistics and displays them on the league’s standings page.

But what does looking at the last ten games tell us?

The best last ten record in the NHL belongs to the New Jersey Devils, who haven’t given up hope that they can make the playoffs.  They have a 9-1-0 record in their last ten and they haven’t lost back-to-back games since a home-and-home with the Flyers on January 6th and 8th.  Of course, those two losses came at the end of a 2-15-0 run which put the Devils in the dire situation they’re currently in.

New Jersey is currently 10 points out of a playoff spot, and they have 19 games remaining in the regular season.  They have 60 points right now so they’d have to go 15-4-0 in those remaining 19 to each 90 points and have a chance to qualify for the postseason.  As weird as it sounds, that doesn’t seem impossible right now.

The worst last ten record in the league is held by the Colorado Avalanche. At one point, a couple of months ago, it looked like the Avalanche would be in the mix in the Western Conference playoffs.  Right now, however, they’re clearly on a downward spiral going 1-7-2 in their last ten.  A ten game losing streak in late January/early February likely sealed the Avalanche’s fate for the season.  ShrpSports tells us that on January 1st, the Avalanche sat in the seventh position in the Western Conference and trailed Vancouver by six points for the Northwest Division lead. Now they’re in 14th place in the conference and while they have the same 60 points that the Devils do, they’re clearly trending in the opposite direction.

Another team with a last ten record that has pushed them out of a playoff spot is the Atlanta Thrashers.  They were once the feel-good story of the NHL but, after going 2-7-1 in their last ten games, they’re now seven points out of the final playoff spot in the East and another bottom five finish could be in the Thrashers’ future.

Atlanta’s most famous trading partner, the Chicago Blackhawks, look to be rounding back into form in their last ten games.  They’re 7-1-2 over that stretch which is beaten by only the aforementioned Devils and the San Jose Sharks, who are 8-2-0.  Both of those teams have risen to the occasion recently and they currently occupy the third and fourth spots in the Western Conference.  For a while it looked like the Blackhawks would actually miss the playoffs in the year following their Stanley Cup win, but that’s looking more and more unlikely as the wins keep piling up.

Momentum and piling up standings points is incredibly important at this point in the season as teams prepare for the playoffs.  Riding a hot streak into the postseason can get emotions up and intimidate opponents, so winning right now is pretty important.