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Thursday's Number: 54.3 - Redux

These two have combined for one hell of a resurgence by the Canucks in the stand... ah, hell. It's all Cory Schneider.
These two have combined for one hell of a resurgence by the Canucks in the stand... ah, hell. It's all Cory Schneider.

There was movement in the Western Conference standings from December 1st last season to the final day. 14 teams were displaced, moving either up or down the table, with the exception of the Edmonton Oilers, who had a conference-low 18 points after November and a conference-low 62 points once the dust settled on April.

54.3% is the Canucks Fenwick percentage with the score tied; it is the true talent of this Vancouver Canucks' team. With the score tied, the Canucks will earn 54.3% of all shots and missed shots at even strength, which will end up Their success in controlling possession is paying off, what with the Canucks winning five straight and finally shooting better, as Semi_Colon will note.

Indeed, the Canucks are one of the few teams in the league that has consistently shown an ability to shoot the puck in the net at a higher rate than their opponents, finishing in the top five in the league in this statistical category in the last three seasons. Either way, after shooting just 6.6% through the first 20 games and recording a PDO of 97.5%, the Canucks in recent days have shot up to a more normal shooting percentage of 8.2% and their PDO has crept up to even.

What has really happened in recent days is, the effect of what I predicted here:

They are a much better team than the record indicates, which is good, because being on pace for just 90 points, they aren't on a playoff pace just yet. But if the team continues to play like they have all season, the percentages will continue to balance out, and the team will be just fine in the long run.

When we look at the Western Conference standings from last season, we can easily see that a team's tied Fenwick number after December has a much greater ability to predict the teams final spot in the standings than their point total after December:

FenTied Nov Pts Apr
Vancouver 0.547 117
San Jose 0.544 105
Detroit 0.540 104
St. Louis 0.533 87
Chicago 0.531 97
Nashville 0.525 99
Columbus 0.519 81
Los Angeles 0.514 98
Calgary 0.504 94
Phoenix 0.501 99
Colorado 0.476 68
Minnesota 0.466 86
Anaheim 0.455 99
Dallas 0.452 95
Edmonton 0.444 62

(For you math folks, the r-squared is .35)

The team's tied Fenwick score at the end of November predicted the top three teams in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, goaltending, hockey's great equalizer, came back to bite St. Louis and Columbus in the rear—they were better teams than their record indicated. Despite a couple of outliers at one or two ends of the table, we can see that FenTied does an adequate enough job at predicting point totals at the end of the year, much less than a team's point total after November does:

Pts Nov Pts Apr
Detroit 34 104
Chicago 30 97
Dallas 29 95
Columbus 28 81
Colorado 28 68
Vancouver 27 117
St. Louis 27 87
Phoenix 27 99
Anaheim 27 99
San Jose 26 105
Los Angeles 26 98
Nashville 25 99
Minnesota 24 86
Calgary 22 94
Edmonton 18 62

(For you math folks, the r-squared is .18)

Nashville, San Jose and Los Angeles all turned it around after November and their records more reflected their strong possession stats than their production after 20-or-so games. Vancouver shot up the standings after a percentage explosion. Dallas and Colorado tumbled when poor play caught up with them.

Basically, what I've attempted to show here is that judging team standings after November is tricky, and every time somebody says "yeah, well 70% of teams in playoff position after November make it, so we, the Ottawa Senators/Dallas Stars/Minnesota Wild/Toronto Maple Leafs/Los Angeles Kings have a sure shot of making it", a puppy somewhere, dies. (Although the puppy death may be unrelated to the statement. Correlation does not imply causation)

Sh% Sv% PDO
Before Ottawa game 6.5% 90.1% 96.6%
Ottawa game and after 10.6% 98.5% 109.1%
Total 7.2% 92.1% 99.3%

The current wins are the effect of a strong PDO. It doesn't mean it's sustainable (but the Canucks entire season is, to this point at even strength). Remember, after their hot, 7-0 start, the Washington Capitals had a PDO of 106.5%. The percentages don't necessarily favour the best teams, and the Capitals, despite being one of the best FenTied teams in the league, have yet to regain their form, even after firing their coach.

(h/t to BTN and TOI for all the stuff, as per usual)