Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Open Ice Hits Olympics: Synchronized Diving

I've kind of had a vague idea about what I wanted to do in terms of a post for this sport for a while.

Let's take a look at the total points accumulated by teams in the NW Division since the lockout:

2005-6: 469
2006-7: 471
2007-8: 463

Now, why am I looking at this? The consensus amongst many media sources and hockey experts is that the NW (qualitatively, at least) is no longer as hard to play against than it used to be.

From this, there is a distinct dropoff last year, though it's hardly so big that it's really statistically significant.

What is interesting is that the gap between the lowest number of points earned in the division and the highest has narrowed noticeably. Significantly, even.

2005-6: Calgary, 103 pts; Minnesota, 84 pts
2006-7: Vancouver, 104 pts; Edmonton, 71 pts
2007-8: Minnesota, 98 pts; Edmonton/Vancouver; 88 pts

Why do I find this interesting? What the pundits have termed the "fall of the NW" seems to be caused not by the weaker teams in the divison getting weaker; if anything, Edmonton drastically improved over the offseason last year (they could hardly have been worse than how they finished the season in 2007).

What we saw was that play in the division became more even. While arguably, the best teams in the division weren't quite as stellar as they had been in the past; the worst teams were not nearly so bad as they had been in years previous.

I am willing to accept Edmonton's performance in 2006-7 as a bit of an outlier, given their performance after the trade deadline. Without that, the next-lowest placing team would have been Colorado with 95 points, which puts the four teams in the NW (besides Edmonton) within 10 points of each other.

Perhaps last season, it is possible to say that the NW wasn't as tough as the year before, but it certainly (from numbers only, at least) isn't possibly to confidently state that it wasn't as tough as it usually was.

And looking ahead? I don't expect the NW division to produce as many points as it once did; quite simply the other two division in the conference have changed, and particularly in the case of the Central Division, have become better balanced. I don't believe that it's a case that we've gotten worse; merely that other divisions will be more signifcantly improved.


  1. I think it's a bit of re-alignment of expectations as well. The Flames were considered one of the strongest teams in the league coming out of the lock-out. The last few years have proven that that's not true.

    The steps back by Colorado and Vancouver the last few seasons is hard to ignore as well, though.

  2. Edmonton, too, though their decline became more obvious much faster.

    And arguably the team that's done the best in the last year and a half is Minnesota... and they've never precisely excited or terrified anybody.