by PuckStopsHere on 02/02/11 at 05:28 AM ET
One of the best predictors of how good a team will be in their near future is their goals for and against. It is a better prediction than won-loss records. In fact every team in the NHL right now that has scored more goals than they have allowed would make the playoffs if the season ended now except for the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings currently have 56 points, which is two back of the playoffs. This places them in eleventh place in the West Conference. They are barely out of the playoffs right now, but in a multi-team playoff race.
Los Angeles has 18 more goals than they have allowed. That is the fourth best team +/- in the West Conference. So why is Los Angeles under-performing their team +/-?
A big part of the answer is that they do not lose in overtime and shootouts. They have only done so twice so far this season. That is the fewest regulation tie points given to any team in the league so far this season.
This points out an important aspect of the current NHL point system. Regulation tie points skew the standings significantly. If you don’t get them and your opponents do, you will fall in the standings.
Los Angeles has been a good young team in the recent past. They were predicted by many to win the Pacific Division this season. It doesn’t look like may happen, but they clearly are a good team. They are better than their current position in the standings and will likely see a second half improvement. In all likelihood part of that “improvement” will be a few more regulation tie points. Right now, Los Angeles is the team that has been most hurt by the NHL’s ridiculous point scheme. If we merely remove regulation tie points, the Kings would be tied for fifth in the West Conference with Nashville. I think that position would be much closer to their performance so far this season.
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