Which Teams Are Hot Heading Into The 2012 NHL Playoffs?

Think how good the Preds would have been if Rinne had just a little help.

I've written a few times this year about Score-Adjusted Fenwick, which adjusts a team's shot differential (Fenwick) to account for score effects (the tendency of teams to go into a shell to protect a lead). This statistic is extremely important because of its close correlation with things like puck possession, offensive zone time, and generation of scoring chances -- if you know a team's shot differential and their goaltending skill, you know almost all of what you need to predict their future performance.

Of course, things change during the year as a result of injuries, trades, and other lineup changes. Using a larger sample size to minimize fluctuations is almost always better, but we do know that playoff predictions based on a team's last 30 games are more accurate than predictions based on their first 70 because of the impact of those in-season changes. So as we prepare for the playoffs, I'll present both the final Score-Adjusted Fenwick and the Score-Adjusted Fenwick since the trade deadline.

Team Final Score-Adjusted Fenwick Score-Adjusted Fenwick since trade deadline
PIT 55.2 (1) 55.9 (2)
DET 55.2 (2) 53.7 (4)
STL 54.5 (3) 54.1 (3)
LA 53.3 (4) 57.5 (1)
CHI 52.8 (5) 53.5 (5)
BOS 52.8 (6) 51.1 (10)
SJ 52.8 (7) 50.8 (11)
VAN 52.4 (8) 52.3 (8)
PHI 51.3 (9) 49.6 (19)
NJ 51.2 (10) 52.7 (7)
WPG 50.7 (11) 50.2 (13)
OTT 50.5 (12) 52.9 (6)
COL 50.1 (13) 50.4 (12)
DAL 49.9 (14) 48.3 (21)
NYR 49.5 (15) 50.1 (16)
FLA 49.4 (16) 49.6 (18)
WSH 49.2 (17) 51.5 (9)
PHX 49.0 (18) 47.9 (23)
BUF 48.7 (19) 50.2 (14)
ANA 48.5 (20) 50.1 (15)
NYI 48.4 (21) 48.2 (22)
CAR 48.1 (22) 47.3 (25)
MTL 47.7 (23) 45.0 (28)
TB 47.4 (24) 46.5 (27)
EDM 47.4 (25) 47.3 (24)
CGY 47.3 (26) 50.0 (17)
TOR 47.2 (27) 43.6 (30)
CBJ 47.1 (28) 46.8 (26)
NSH 46.7 (29) 49.2 (20)
MIN 44.3 (30) 43.7 (29)

Some things to note:

  • The Flyers' roster changed a lot down the stretch due to injury and trade. The additions of Nicklas Grossmann and Pavel Kubina have not been enough to make up for the losses of Andrej Meszaros and James van Riemsdyk.
  • Pittsburgh led the league in Score-Adjusted Fenwick despite playing most of the season without Sidney Crosby. If Marc-Andre Fleury can give them above-average goaltending, they will be very tough to beat.
  • Los Angeles is ridiculously hot. They have outshot 13 straight opponents, a streak dating back to March 11. They outshot those opponents 451-302 and only lost two games in regulation during that span. And it wasn't a creampuff schedule -- 8 of those 13 opponents are headed to the playoffs.
  • In February, a Washington-Boston matchup sounded completely lopsided, but since the deadline, Washington's Score-Adjusted Fenwick has actually been slightly better than Boston's.
  • Nashville was among the worst possession teams over the first 60 games, but their deadline moves improved the team to nearly average. Is that enough for Pekka Rinne to carry them?
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