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How Important Is Winning Early?

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC.

A few years ago, I was chatting with a GM about a team that started the NHL season very nicely.

“I believe in the 10-game rule,” he snorted. “You don’t get a true sense of a team in the first 10 games. I don’t put too much into a hot or cold start.”

Well, he’s modified that stance—slightly.

“With the three-point games, teams can’t win the Stanley Cup in the first 10 games of the season,” he said. “But they sure can lose it that quickly.”

Spent a few hours on Sunday looking up the post-lockout standings, picking the date of Nov. 1 for each year. During those six seasons, the difference between eighth place and last place in each conference ranged from four to eight points. That early, it’s difficult to create an incredible amount of separation.

Twenty teams who were not in the top eight on Nov. 1 recovered to make the playoffs. That’s an average of almost 3.5 per season. (Just to clarify, the “Top 8” includes any team with the same point total as the eighth-place team. I wasn’t going into tiebreakers so early in the season.)

Doesn’t seem so bad, right? Depends. The safety net shreds for anyone falling too far behind. Of those 20 teams, guess how many of them were more than three points out?

Two. That’s it.

continued plus 30 Thoughts…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

27. Thought a lot about Bob Nicholson’s NHL Draft proposal that Eric Francis brought up on Hotstove. Nicholson, Hockey Canada’s President & CEO, would like the draft age raised to 19, with exceptions for high-end players.

Restoring the draft age to 19 is a good idea, especially with the recent CBA.  Teams can only protect their prospects for 3 years in the minors, and it has impacted the number of home grown players.

What is lost in the discussion is how age 18 became the draft age.  It used to be 19, but the NHL was forced to change it to 18 because the WHA (draft age 18) was poaching all the best prospects.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 10/17/11 at 01:01 PM ET

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Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 10/17/11 at 12:01 PM ET

I’m not against raising the draft age, but I’m curious how a definition of “high-end players” would be made.  Theoretically, wouldn’t anyone projected to go in the first round be considered high-end?  If you’re going to change the draft age, it should be concrete, not flexible.

Posted by Garth on 10/17/11 at 01:25 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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