So the theory is that if you have a playoff spot near the end of November, you are likely going to hold onto that spot and be a playoff team. Obviously, nothing is written in stone but the percentages are very good and by we should be able to know the difference between a hot start and a talented team.
According to data from the Toronto Star in 2010: 77.5% of teams that held a playoff spot on Thanksgiving made the playoffs. 84% of teams with 17 or fewer points did not make the playoffs. 89% of teams with 28 or more points made the playoffs. With that in mind, let’s look at the Canadian Team’s chances.
First in their division, 28 points 3rd overall in the East
They have slipped a bit after their torrid start the season, largely based on injuries. The big reason for their success is their top line that boasts the leagues leading goal scorer in Phil Kessel and red-hot Joffrey Lupul. Dion Phaneuf has returned to his dominant form from a couple of seasons ago and would be a Norris candidate as this point.
When healthy, Tim Connolly is a great #1 center but he is never healthy enough. Two predictions; the Leafs will indeed make the playoffs but the injuries are going to continue which will tax everyone and everything. Of course the man that invented hockey Ron Wilson will find a way to overcome the adversity. MVP so far is Phil Kessel with honourable mention to Joffrey Lupul.
Second in their division, 26 points 6th overall in the West
Really? WTF? To be fair, Thanksgiving was yesterday and if you want to split hairs they were actually 9th in the conference before yesterdays game but with the win moved up to 7th. Can this keep up? The numbers suggest that they are a playoff team but the West is crazy right now. In fact, 5 points separate 1-11.
They are going to have to win at least 6-7 games for every ten game segment for the rest of the year. Getting great contributions from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Smyth who would be the comeback player of the year except for team MVP Nikolai Khabibulin steals that award too.
Have to find a way to dress 6 healthy NHL defensemen, which has been a challenge for this organization since 2006 ended. Prediction – 8th place finish, which is an epic improvement.
Third in division, 25 points 10th overall in the West
EVERYONE predicted a slow start and a Stanley hangover for the Canucks. True to form they were brutal in October and have had a wonderful November. This is still the best team in the North East division and they will easily win the div title, probably by 8-10 points.
Cory Schneider has been very good despite an average win/loss record and once again the Sedin twins are leading the team in goals and points and at the moment we will give them the co-MVP award. They will probably finish 3rd overall in the conference and play Chicago in the first round again.
Fifth in the division, 17 points, 13th overall in the West
Sorry Calgary fans but this not good. Almost every key player is past his prime with very few young players having an impact. Your goalie is 35 and your Captain, heart & soul; top offensive player Jerome Iginla has a lot of miles on the track behind him.
Sure, they are only 9 points out of a playoff spot BUT they are only 3 points out of 30th overall in the league and currently sit in a lottery position. It’s time for the upper management in Calgary to show some stones and be leaders; this needs to be blown up. Jay Feaster was quite adamant in the summer that a re-build was out of the question and took some shots at the Oilers so he needs to recant as quickly as possible.
Alex Tanguay is your leading scorer and Olli Jokinen is second to him with 15 and 13 points. Miikka Kiprusoff is still battling and has very respectable numbers so I guess he is the MVP. Historically Calgary always has a nice run and rips of 6 or 7 wins in a row. Flames fans had better hope they trade away enough assets before they do that and jeopardize a lottery position…that being said, I see them doing enough (again) to finish 10th.