Thoughts on the NHL Point Total Projections From the NHL Prediction Model
The top ten teams are not much of a surprise. However, the Nashville Predators winning the Western Conference, Calgary finishing second in the Western Conference, and Colorado finishing third in the Central is surprising. It seems the “NHL prediction model” is heavily favoring the teams with consistent goaltending and scoring depth. The NHL division projections heavily favor these two factors.
Example 1: The Nashville Predators have a great goalie in Pekka Rinne and their depth between their four lines is probably the best in the Western conference, hence the projected Western conference crown.
Example 2: On the other side of this are the Edmonton Oilers. In theory, have more inconsistency between the pipes with Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. However, they may have the most dangerous top line in hockey but lack scoring depth. Their depth this year does seem to be stronger than in past years, I expect Edmonton to slowly climb up in the projected final standings in the coming weeks.
Who is Underrated?
Based on my NHL point total projections, in the Eastern conference, I could see the Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Philadelphia Flyers giving the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens a run for their money in the wild card race. Other than that, I like the projections in the East.
In the Atlantic division, the Buffalo Sabres sit in first place. While my NHL point total projections have Buffalo missing the playoffs, their current 8-1-1 record cannot be ignored. In a star-studded division, only time will tell if they can keep their current pace up as the season progresses.
In the Metropolitan Division, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, and New York Islanders seem to be in the mix for third place behind the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes. These teams need to play more consistent hockey to climb the projected rankings, but all have the potential to prove the model wrong.
In the Western Conference, specifically the Central division, the streaking hot Colorado Avalanche has projected a sixth-place finish. That is just too low for a loaded Avalanche team. Expect them to climb the division and conference standings.
The Pacific division is interesting and should be tight all season. The Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, and Arizona Coyotes are playing excellent hockey right now. Any of those teams could take a playoff spot(s), especially since the point totals for the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, and the San Jose Sharks seem to be too high.
Who is Overrated?
Personally, it does not seem like the Eastern conference has any overrated clubs in these projections, they pretty much align with current standings. The NHL point total projections seem to show this as the dominant conference.
The Western conference is a different story. In the Central division, the Nashville Predators are projected to win the West but have already suffered losses to Arizona, LA, and Detroit on the year. Who knows what will happen with the Predators between now and April, they are a contender in the West, but it is just too early to pick them as the favorite.
The Winnipeg Jets are undoubtedly overrated in these projections. With almost no defensive depth, and already accruing a -6 goal differential and a 5-6 record, fourth place in the Central is just too high for the Jets.
In the Pacific division, the Calgary Flames are not the same team as last year, their 5-5-1 record shows that. They currently sit in sixth place in the Pacific division with eleven games played. Their eleven points are tied with Arizona who have three games in hand and should easily climb up the standings.
The LA Kings have two games in hand and could overtake the Flames with two wins, and the San Jose Sharks (who beat the Flames on 10/13) have two games in hand and could tie the Flames at eleven points. If the Sharks and Kings win their next two, Calgary will be dead last in the Pacific.
Overall the first set of standings projections from the NHL prediction model look solid.