As the NHL approaches the quartermark of the 2017-18 season, it’s probably worth noting that the standings are still rather packed.
The Flames, for example, currently have a 10-8-0 record – just barely above .500, but also, in a playoff spot. Their 20 points match four other teams in the Western Conference – San Jose, Minnesota, Chicago, and Vancouver – with three teams with 19 points (Colorado, Anaheim, Dallas) right behind them.
As things stand right now, it’s still pretty much anybody’s chance at the postseason.
|Team||Games Played||Points||5v5 CF%||5v5 PDO|
The Blues, with their hot start, have put themselves in a good position for a postseason berth. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have put themselves in a rather poor position, having only finally collected their first regulation win of the season 21 games in. Though it’s possible the Blues could have a major falling off, or the Coyotes could climb their way out of the hole, neither is probably something to bet on.
I’ve included teams’ 5v5 CF%s and PDOs here as something of a quick and dirty predictive tool for which teams should continue to have success, which ones may fall off entirely, and which ones could be due for a surge up the standings (as the Flames were this time last season). By no means does it mean anything will actually change, but it does provide a little more context as to why teams are where they are.
The Flames, for example, have put themselves in a good position. Their start to the season has allowed them to tread in the postseason waters, while their underlying numbers hint that they’re a pretty good team that should be able to ride through the season into a playoff spot.
Compare them to the Pacific Division teams above them. The Kings and the Sharks both look to be playoff teams, but the Golden Knights, with poor underlying numbers and a higher PDO, could be due to fall out of the race by the season’s end. They’re benefiting from one of the highest shooting percentages of the season so far; however, whenever (if ever) their goaltending stabilizes itself/stops being injured, that could allow them to get some more wins and maintain at least a playoff-level pace.
Based on the current numbers, though, I would expect the Kings, Sharks, and Flames to be the top three in the division.
As for the Pacific teams below the Flames, the only one who may be a threat to jump up and reclaim a playoff spot is the Oilers. They’ve had very good underlying numbers, but they’ve also had one of the worst shooting percentages in the league to start the year. (The Sharks are actually in a similar position, but they’ve done a better job of preventing goals and collecting wins.)
Edmonton isn’t so far behind in the standings that a comeback isn’t feasible – but they may be behind enough to not finish as high as they would like. Again, it’s kind of like what we saw with the Flames last season: a later surge did see them vault into playoff position, but they didn’t have enough points stored up to get into the top three in the division.
The Canucks, however, are a candidate to fall off, and the Ducks haven’t been the team they once were. Anaheim is missing a lot of quality players from their roster, and by the time they return, it may be too late to resuscitate their numbers, let alone contend for a playoff spot.
So as much as the Flames may fluctuate over the season, from big wins to big losses and near .500-hockey, when you look at the division around them – and the conference beyond that – they’re probably in a good spot. It could, of course, be better, but as the team continues to work on ironing out the kinks, they have put themselves in a playoff position.