1. 4.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Yesterday in “ (THEY’RE) GOING STREAKING!!! ”, we threw out the notion that streaks in the NHL are more than just ‘how many in a row’ a current team is. The Streak statistic is really a three-part proposition which includes a Winning Streak (WS), Point Streak (PS) and Losing Streak (LS) for every team.

We loaded you up with facts about Streaking in the Eastern Conference and provided a nice table showing you how teams stack up. And we pointed out perhaps the most telling number in these stats is the difference between the number of winning streaks versus losing streaks as they are a better indication of why a team is where they are.

So today let’s compare what you eye-balled in the East with what it looks like ‘Out West.’

Streaking Western Style

Streaks of the winning variety and in good quantity are the difference maker in Western Conference standings. They are, indeed, and indicator of who is in the hunt for a Playoff seed in almost every case. Here are the comparative figures for the WS’:

Average Western WS Length – 6.4 (high is CBJ with nine; low are EDM and MIN with four); this is more than one full game in the Streak more than ‘back East.’

Average Number of WS – 7.2 (high is DET with 11; low are EDM and PHX with four); this is .133 of a game below the East and indicates how strong the competition is in the West.

Additionally, and the reason the WS out West is an indicator of who is in competition for a Playoff spot, is because seeds 1 – 8 average 8.25 WS’. The 9th-11th place teams – all of whom are within one point of Number 8 – all have a 9.0 WS’. And the overall average of 1st – 11th place teams is 8.46 WS’. And PHX is in the top eight seeds with only four WS,’ but those Streaks have been seven, two, four and eight games long. This makes them one of those exceptions spoken of in yesterday’s post.

The bottom four spots in Western standings? CBJ, STL, COL and EDM only hold a WS average of 3.75. COL, as an example of how the lack of WS’ affects a team, has had no WS’ since 18 JAN in what has likely become an unannounced rebuilding year for the franchise.

Between East and West for teams in the mix for a playoff spot, the West’s longest WS’ beats the East 6.364 games – to – 5.667. Convexly, the average number of Eastern WS’ is greater than the West at 9.222 games – to – 8.455. But as an extreme example, if you multiply the longest WS’ by the average number of times they occur, the West’s figure is 53.808 while the East’s is 52.261 – the West will win more than 1.5 games more than the East at this pace.

In terms of the Point Streak, there is not a great deal of difference between the two conferences:

Average Western PS Length – 7.4 (high is VAN with 17, the most in the NHL; low is MIN with four); this is .133 less than in the East.

Average Number of PS’ – 8.933 (high is MIN with 14, a reason they are hanging in the race for the final seed(s); low is PHX with six); this is the same figure as in the other Conference.

Of interest here is the difference between Conferences for every team within striking distance of a Playoff seed (as of last Sunday night). In the East, positions 1 – 9 average an 8.0 PS’ while 1 – 11 in the West have a 9.273average. This is why you can add up the total points awarded by game play or projected by On Goal Analysis per team and get 74.933 / 93.281 in the West respectively and 72 / 89.891 in the East.

Losing Streaks – the LS’ – also show a significant departure both from within the Conference and when compared to the East:

Average Western LS Length – 5.2 (high is COL with 10; low are CHI and DET with three); this is .667 better than in the East.

Average Number of LS’ – 7.133 (high is PHX with 11 that average 2.546 in length, a reason they are still in the hunt for a Playoff spot; low is VAN with four, the lowest in the League); this is .533 greater than in the other Conference (because lower is better in this category).

Think there’s competition in the West? Heck, you can see it as the standings jump around each and every day. But wrap your head around this combination of stats reference the LS: while the average longest LS in the West is 5.2 and more than half a game less than in the East, for teams still within one point or less of the 8th seed, in the West that average is 4.636 versus the East’s 4.333. So the top Western teams tend to lose less games back-to-back than the East overall. That disparity plummets even greater for teams who are chasing more of their tail than the leaders of the pack (6.75 LS’ on average for the bottom, Western four teams versus 8.167 LS’ for the East’s bottom six).

The West’s Chart
Here is what it looks like, again, with the current Streak and average leaders in bold:

Of interest here is that the difference in LS’ from WS’ is greater – there are more of them – in the West than in the East. But the reason for greater actual and potential point value per team rests in the fact that LS’ in the West are shorter in average length and number.

Going into the playoffs for the West, your important note is still to watch your favorite team for runs increasing the longest, or number of, LS’. Western Stanley Cup Finalists since the Lockout over the last 10 games of the regular season have an even WS : LS ratio. And only DET in ’07-’08 did not have any LS’ in that same timespan. More telling for the West in their last 10 games is that the ratio in length of WS to LS is 3.4 : 2 with Stanley Cup Winners averaging 4.333 : 1.667. When compared to the East, these numbers indicate that Western Cup Finalists’ last 10 games of the regular season display longer WS’ and PS’. There is also a greater WS to LS. ratio present.

In Summation

By comparison, the West leads the East in terms of length of WS’ and shortness in length and quantity of LS. The East’s number of WS outdistances the West, as does their length of PS and differential between WS and LS. It all adds up to the West being more competitive than the East in terms of how long they win and how short they lose back-to-back.

The averages in the three stat categories of WS and PS and LS for Stanley Cup Finalists over the last 10 games of the regular season indicate fans should be looking for the following out of your team as the Playoffs near:

East: Average WS’ of 2.5 or more games; average PS’ of more than 3.5 games; and average LS’ of only one games.

West: Average WS’ of three or more games; average PS’ of five games; and average LS’ of two games.

Remember, however, as you line up to dog out PHI and say they are imploding before the playoffs over their recent four-game losing streak. It is, after all, their longest of the season and all…

PHI has had five losing streaks this season when the Eastern average is 7.667. Their losing streaks averaged a combined 2.8 games in length, while, again, the Eastern average is 5.867. They are also seven wins in front of the 8th seed after game splayed on Sunday night. All that needs to happen is they set their sights on getting back in the ‘W’ column at least by the end of the third game from now versus ATL, follow it up with wins versus FLA and, again, ATL, and they are back to their winning ways having endured a LS still smaller than the Conference average.

Six games in the West, on the other hand, may be unrecoverable…

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