## How will this Conference Turn Out?

Hey look, it's March!

And in the NHL, that means it's time to get ready for the playoffs.  For some teams, they are already shoe-ins to make it to the ball.  For others, it's still a dog race to even get a playoff spot, especially in the Western Conference this year.  And then there's those who might as well look towards the draft, since there's no way they're making it.

I know I've been promoting the Sports Club Stats pages like crazy, but a table of numbers can only provide so much insight, especially for those of you who might not be such big fans of numbers.  So, I've decided to do a weekly column for the rest of the season, looking at projected point totals based on the games each team has left in each division and their average points-per-game in those divisions.

Before we jump into it all, a quick explanation on what I've done:

I begin by listing each team with their current points in the standings as of after the March 1st games, along with how many games they have left to play.  I then look at who these games are against, and categorize them by their divisions: Northwest, Pacific, Central, and East (I grouped the entire Eastern conference together for simplicity).

I then look at the team's record in each of those divisions this year, and find a points-per-game average by dividing the total numbers of points earned in that division so far by the number of games played.  I then multiply this number by the number of games left to play in that division to get a projected points earned.  Once I do this for each division, I add these to the current points to get a projected total points.

That was quite wordy, so here's an example:  the Canucks have 7 games left to play in the Northwest division this year.  So far, their NW record is 13-2-2, which is 28 points in 17 games or 1.65 points/game.  I multiply this by 7, which gives me an average of 11 projected points (I rounded down for most of the calculations) in the Northwest.

Below are all the teams, listed in the order in which these totals will be shown in the standings.  Please note that I was not able to include analysis of tiebreakers in here, and that these are just calculated expected points.  There is some analysis on the results at the very bottom.

1. Vancouver Canucks: currently at 89 points, 18 games left.
Remaining games against: Predators x2, Kings x2, Ducks, Coyotes x2 , Sharks, Flames x2, Wild x2, Avalanche, Red Wings, Thrashers, Blue Jackets, Oilers x2.
Divisional matchups: 4 games against Pacific, 4 games against Central, 7 against Northwest, 1 against Eastern Conference.
Predicted points: 5 from Pacific, 11 against Northwest, 5 points against Central, 1 against East ==> 111 points.

2. Detroit Red Wings: currently at 84 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Ducks, Sharks, Coyotes, Kings, Oilers, Blues x2, Capitals, Blue Jackets, Predators x2, Penguins, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks x3, Wild, Hurricanes.
Divisional matchups: 4 against Pacific, 3 against Northwest, 8 against Central, 4 against East.
Predicted points: 4 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 8 against Central, 6 against East ==> 107 points.

3. San Jose Sharks: currently at 80 points, 18 games left.
Remaining games against: Red Wings, Stars x3, Predators, Canucks, Rangers, Blackhawks, Wild, Blues, Flames, Kings x2, Coyotes x3, Ducks x2.
Divisional matchups: 10 against Pacific, 3 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 1 against East.
Predicted points: 14 against Pacific, 3 against Northwest, 5 against Central, 1 against East ==> 103 points.

4. Chicago Blackhawks: currently at 74 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Flames, Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Panthers x2, Lightning x2, Capitals, Sharks, Stars, Coyotes, Ducks, Red Wings x3, Bruins, Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Blues.
Divisional matchups: 4 against Pacific, 1 against Northwest, 5 against Central, 9 against East.
Predicted points: 5 against Pacific, 1 against Northwest, 6 against Central, 12 against East ==> 98 points.

5. Phoenix Coyotes: currently at 76 points, 17 games left.
Remaining games against: Kings x2, Red Wings, Canucks x2, Flames x2, Ducks, Oilers, Blackhawks, Blues, Blue Jackets, Sharks x3, Stars, Avalanche.
Divisional matchups: 7 against Pacific, 6 against Northwest, 4 against Central.
Predicted points: 6 against Pacific, 9 against Northwest, 5 against Central ==> 96 points.

6. Los Angeles Kings: currently at 74 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Coyotes x2, Canucks x2, Stars x3, Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Predators, Blues, Ducks x3, Flames, Sharks x2, Avalanche, Oilers.
Divisional matchups: 10 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 4 against Central.
Predicted points: 10 against Pacific, 8 against Northwest, 3 against Central ==> 95 points.

7. Calgary Flames: currently at 75 points, 17 games left.
Remaining games against: Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Predators, Stars, Coyotes x2, Canucks x2, Avalanche x2, Ducks x2, Kings, Sharks, Oilers x2, Blues.
Divisional matchups: 7 against Pacific, 6 against Northwest, 4 against Central.
Predicted points: 7 against Pacific, 6 against Northwest, 5 against Central ==> 93 points.

7. Dallas Stars: currently at 74 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Ducks x3, Sharks x3, Kings x3, Flames, Wild x2, Blackhawks, Flyers, Predators, Coyotes, Blue Jackets, Avalanche x2.
Divisional matchups: 10 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 3 against Central, 1 against East.
Predicted points: 10 against Pacific, 4 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 1 against East ==> 93 points.

9. Minnesota Wild: currently at 72 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Islanders, Rangers, Sabres, Avalanche, Predators, Stars x2, Canucks x2, Sharks, Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Blues x2, Oilers x2, Lightning, Red Wings.
Divisional matchups: 3 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 5 against Central, 6 against East.
Predicted points: 3 against Pacific, 7 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 6 against East ==> 92 points.

9. Nashville Predators: currently at 73 points, 18 games left.
Remaining games against: Canucks x2, Flames, Sharks, Wild, Avalanche x2, Kings, Bruins, Red Wings x2, Sabres, Oilers, Ducks, Stars, Thrashers, Blue Jackets, Blues.
Divisional matchups: 4 against Pacific, 7 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 3 against East.
Predicted points: 4 against Pacific, 8 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 3 against East ==> 92 points.

9. Columbus Blue Jackets: currently at 69 points, 20 games left.
Remaining games against: Oilers, Flames, Blues x3, Kings, Hurricanes, Bruins, Red Wings, Wild, Devils, Avalanche, Coyotes, Canucks, Panthers, Capitals, Blackhawks, Stars, Predators, Sabres.
Divisional matchups: 3 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 6 against Central, 6 against East.
Predicted points: 3 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 6 against Central, 9 against East ==> 92 points.

12. Anaheim Ducks: currently at 71 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Red Wings, Stars x3, Canucks, Rangers, Avalanche x2, Coyotes, Blues, Kings x3, Flames x2, Predators, Blackhawks, Sharks x2.
Divisional matchups: 9 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 1 against East.
Predicted points: 9 against Pacific, 7 against Northwest, 2 against Central, 1 against East ==> 90 points.

13. St. Louis Blues: currently at 65 points, 19 games left.
Remaining games against: Capitals, Islanders, Blue Jackets x3, Canadiens, Red Wings x2, Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Coyotes, Oilers, Wild x2, Flames, Avalanche, Blackhawks, Predators.
Divisional matchups: 4 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 7 against Central, 3 against East.
Predicted points: 3 against Pacific, 3 against Northwest, 7 against Central, 4 against East ==> 82 points.

14. Colorado Avalanche: currently at 60 points, 18 games left.
Remaining games against: Oilers x3, Wild, Ducks x2, Predators x2, Canucks, Flames x2, Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs, Kings, Coyotes, Blues, Stars x2.
Divisional matchups: 6 against Pacific, 7 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 1 against East.
Predicted points: 3 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 5 against Central, 1 against East ==> 74 points.

15. Edmonton Oilers: currently at 50 points, 18 games left.
Remaining games against: Blue Jackets, Avalanche x3, Flyers, Capitals, Red Wings, Penguins, Coyotes, Predators, Blues, Flames x2, Kings, Wild x2, Canucks x2.
Divisional matchups: 2 against Pacific, 9 against Northwest, 4 against Central, 3 against East.
Predicted points: 1 against Pacific, 5 against Northwest, 3 against Central, 3 against East ==>  62 points.

Some analysis:

• Looks like only 2 of the division winners from last year will maintain their crowns.  Detroit looks poised to take it back from those brats in Chicago.
• Chicago and Columbus are going to be wild cards, since they have 9 and 6 games respectively left to play against the Eastern Conference.  So far, Columbus is 1.5 points per game against the East, and Chicago is 1.333.  How they do will greatly affect their total points and positions in the standings.
• Since my calculations leave no room to figure out tiebreakers, I cannot say whether we face Calgary or Dallas in the 1st round.  They both sit at 93 points.
• The glut remained right up to the end.  Calgary and Dallas make the cut with 93 points, while we have Minnesota, Anaheim and Columbus all in 9th at 92 points.
• St. Louis and Colorado might as well give up.

Keep in mind, everyone, these averages can easily change over the span of a few games.  Depending on reception to this, I may update this next week.

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