Monday, October 15, 2007

Sometimes, the hare wins...October results

Over the past two seasons, 11 different teams have secured one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. That's 16 total playoff spots available. Know how many of those teams had losing records in October?

Three...three of sixteen.*

A slow start won't kill you, but it can wound you pretty badly.

* Ottawa, New York Rangers, and Tampa Bay; all last year, and all started 5-6-0 in October, so it wasn't that big a hole out of which to climb.

Oh my God, we're doomed!

Well, now that the Caps have fallen out of playoff contention – or so one might conclude after perusing the usual online fan hangouts this fine Monday – we can undertake a bit of a comparison between this year and the previous two, through five games…


2005-2006: 2-3-0 (four points)
2006-2007: 2-1-2 (six points)
2007-2008: 3-2-0 (six points)

Goals for/against:

2005-2006: 12/26
2006-2007: 17/15
2007-2008: 11/12

Power play:

2005-2006: 6/35 (17.1%)
2006-2007: 4/36 (11.1%)
2007-2008: 4/26 (15.4%)

Penalty killing:

2005-2006: 34/47 (72.3%)
2006-2007: 21/29 (72.4%)
2007-2008: 22/27 (81.5%)

Special teams ratio (times on power play/times shorthanded):

2005-2006: 0.74
2006-2007: 1.24
2007-2008: 0.96

Shots for/against:

2005-2006: 117/186 (23.4/37.2 per game)
2006-2007: 152/168 (30.4/33.6 per game)
2007-2008: 136/177 (27.2/35.4 per game)


2005-2006: 5.20 GAA/.860 SV
2006-2007: 2.92 GAA/.905 SV
2007-2008: 2.40 GAA/.932 SV

It’s five games…6.1 percent of the season. There are 77 games upon which to improve the 2007-2008 numbers. But at the outset, the numbers are generally better on the defensive side of the ledger – goals against, penalty killing, shots allowed (Saturday’s 52-shot strafing, notwithstanding) – which has been the real problem the last couple of years.

One might expect the offense to lag, seeing as how none of the top six forwards (including when Alexander Semin is healthy) have played with one another in North America very much (and Ovechkin and Semin don’t play on the same line this year).

This is not to say a playoff spot can’t be lost in the first month (we’ll look at that another time), but that’s not to say it is won in the first month, either. There is a long way to go, kids. And, if the Caps win six points in every five games, that’s a 98-point season. One would expect that to be sufficient to earn a playoff berth.