It is Saturday, 28 March and the season is almost over. How DO the teams look right now against their post-Lockout average? We thought a quick look at each team would be enlightening about where we are in the race for Stanley this season. Keep in mind our numbers for the team are in relation to total Wins and two OTLs equal one ‘W.’ Today will be a look at the East, and Sunday will be a look at the West as of the end of games Saturday night…
The Eastern Conference
ATLANTA – Currently, they have 37 Wins. Last year they were at 34.5 Wins. At this time of year, their best season was 2006/7 (the year they went to the Playoffs) when they had 44 Wins. OGA called them at Tee Time – OUT of the Playoffs – on 12 December 2008. Their season came off the rails by Game 30 where they had lost a combined 13 games.
BOSTON – Right now with 51 Wins. Last year they were at 43 Wins. This is their best season since the Lockout and is a full four games ahead of the end of last season with nine more games to go. OGA called them Chasing Stanley – IN of the Playoffs – on 17 November 2008. Over three, 10-game evaluation periods from Game 21 – 40, the BRUINS averaged 8-for-10 Wins.
BUFFALO – Holding 40 Wins. Last year they were at 40.5 Wins. At this point in the season, their best effort was 2006/7 (where they lost in the Conference Finals) when they had 51.5 Wins. OGA has not called them IN or OUT of the Playoffs yet this season as they have not met our criteria for either decision yet. Buffalo is in danger of missing the 2009 Playoffs based on 6.5 losses in the Game 11-20, and 6 losses in the Game 61-70, evaluation periods.
CAROLINA – Currently at 44.5 Wins. Last year they were at 44 Wins. Their best effort since the Lockout was 2005/6 when they were at 50 Wins at this point and went on to Win the Stanley Cup. OGA has not called them IN or OUT of the Playoffs yet this season but they are not far from the IN mark.
FLORIDA – Have battled to 41.5 Wins. Last year they had 40.5 Wins at this point. This is currently their best season since the Lockout. OGA has not called them IN or OUT of the Playoffs yet this season as they have not met our criteria for either decision yet. With MONTREAL having a game in hand and up two points in the standings, FLORIDA has to hope the CANADIENS drop 2.5 games more than they do between now and the end of the season.
MONTREAL – Right now at 42.5 Wins while last year being at 48 Wins. Their best effort since the Lockout was indeed last year at this point. OGA called them Chasing Stanley on 1 November 2008. The issue with the CANADIENS is that, over the previous three seasons since the Lockout, they have averaged a consistent 8.5 Wins in their last 12 games. This year, they are on pace for 6-of-12, putting them in a race with FLORIDA for the Number 8 seed.
NEW JERSEY – Right now with 49 Wins, tying their previous best on 27 March in the 2006/7 season. Last year they had at 45.5 Wins at this point, so are a little ahead of the game. OGA called them Chasing Stanley on 17 December 2008. At this point, it is a nightly battle between the DEVILS and CAPITALS for 2nd place, but JERSEY still has a shot at the Eastern crown.
NY ISLANDERS – Perhaps the most entertaining team with only 29 Wins. Last year at this time, they sported 37.5 W’s. Their best effort since the Lockout was 2006/7 where they advanced to the Playoffs and gave BUFFALO fits in a tight, 5-game series. OGA called them at Tee Time – OUT of the Playoffs – on 1 November 2008. Their season started off badly when they only Won 2.5 games of their first 10, and that was solidified with a 2-in-10 performance in Games 21-30. Since mid-January, however, the team has given otherwise-contenders fits, especially from Game 61-70 where they posted a combined six Wins despite injuries and the loss of three, key players in trades. ISLANDERS’ fans – your team has character.
NY RANGERS – Currently at 43.5 Wins, they are only one Win behind from the same point last season. Their best year since the Stoppage was 2005/6 when they were sitting with 46 Wins. This team gave their fans fits through the first three-fourths of February when they produced their worst, post-Lockout, 10-game average of 3-in-10 Wins. OGA called them Chasing Stanley on 24 October 2008, and they have won 8.5 of their last 12 games.
OTTAWA – Holding only 27 Wins, they are at their lowest total for this time of the season since the Lockout. Last year, they sat with 45.5 despite a late-season slump. Possibly as a bit of a surprise, their best season was NOT 2006/7 when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals, but the one before where they had 51 Wins on 27 March, or BOSTON’s current tally. OGA called the SENS at Tee on 19 December 2008. While they played sub-par Hockey through Game 30, they hit their lowest point in the Game 31-40 timeframe when they only earned 2.5 Wins, their worst 10-game performance since the Stoppage.
PHILADELPHIA – Currently at 45 Wins, they are right about on par with the same mark in 2005/6 (45 W’s) and 2007/8 (44). This team’s worst performances this season were ‘only’ playing .500 Hockey in the Games 41-50 and 61-70 periods. OGA called them Chasing Stanley on 13 December 2008, and they look to be in shape for a Playoff berth in one of the 4th – 7th seeds.
PITTSBURGH – Currently at 44 Wins, they are behind last season’s total by 3.5 W’s. Their best year since the Stoppage was 2006/7 when they had earned 49 Wins by this point in the season. In games 21-40, the PENS could only manage 7.5 Wins and made little headway playing .550 Hockey the following 20. But their 8-in-10 Wins in Game 61-70 pushed them back up the standings’ ladder. OGA called them Chasing Stanley on 18 November 2008.
TAMPA BAY – Currently at 32.5 Wins, you did know they were NOT the worst team in terms of standings’ points, right? The Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL, they scrap for points as they battle through chemistry and injury problems. Their best season prior to this year was in 2006/7 where they drew and then took NEW JERSEY to six games in Round 1 of the Playoffs. The team won 5.5 games for Coach Melrose at the start of the season and only eclipsed that mark going 6-for-10 in the Game 51-60 period. They are proof that the ‘three-point game’ can HARM a team as they have racked up 17 OTLs.
OGA called them at Tee Time on 8 December 2008, and they look to be staying so for this season.
TORONTO – Standing with 37 Wins, their actual, worst 27 March point was in the 2005/6 season when they were one game behind this pace. Last year at this moment, they held 40 Wins. OGA called this team at Tee Time on 6 January 2009. A better team than, but similar to the ISLANDERS, TORONTO is entertaining because they have character and heart, and they can score goals, having 13 teams with less scored currently in the League.
WASHINGTON – Currently at a post-Lockout best 49.5 Wins, their top previous effort was last year when they held 42 at this point. That’s an 11% gain in output in one season, and an improvement of 31% from the three, previous seasons’ average. Smokin’ in the ‘W’ column, OGA called them Chasing Stanley on 19 November 2008. They look to be a pretty solid 2nd or 3rd seed when the East is decided in a couple of weeks.
Tomorrow, the difficult Western Conference…
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