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October 14, 2009
Illegal Curve
Blowout Success

by Richard Pollock

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Last week, we took a look at whether teams that had poor records in one-goal games one season saw those same results continue the subsequent season. Sticking with that theme, this week we examine the proportion of one-goal, two-goal and three-goal victories for each team from the 2007-08 through the 2008-09 season.

When thinking of an idea for this weekís article, I was, once again, struck by a couple of observations from the game of baseball. Specifically, that teams fare better the following season if they do not have to rely on a lot of one-run victories the season prior. The belief being that better teams will be able to handle their opponents with relative ease, as opposed to teams that may have luck on their side in the way of one-run victories.

Along those same lines, today we will be focusing on whether teams that see a higher percentage of their win total by a margin of three goals or more end up seeing better results the following season.

Letís take a look at the goal differential results from the 2007-08 NHL season to see if these numbers translate to more success the following season (2008-09):

Legend:

1GW: One Goal Wins

2GW: Two Goal Wins

3GW+: Three or more Goal Wins

TW: Total Wins

%Wins: Percentage of Wins

07-08_PT: NHL Point total in 07-08

08-09_PT: NHL Point total in 08-09

2007-08  	1GW	2GW     3GW+	TW	%Wins	07-08_PT 08-09_PT
Anaheim	        24	 9	14	47	30%	102	 91
Atlanta	        18	 6	10	34	29%	 76	 76
Boston	        18	12	11	41	27%	 94	116
Buffalo	        14	10	15	39	38%	 90	 91
Calgary	        22	 9	11	42	26%	 94	 98
Carolina	18	 9	16	43	37%	 92	 97
Chicago	        18	 7	15	40	38%	 88	104
Colorado	19	13	12	44	27%	 95	 69
Columbus	14	 6	14	34	41%	 80	 92
Dallas	        15	13	17	45	38%	 97	 83
Detroit	        18	14	22	54	41%	115	112
Edmonton	25	 8	 8	41	20%	 88	 85
Florida	        22	10	 6	38	16%	 85	 93
Los Angeles	10	11	11	32	34%	 71	 79
Minnesota	23	10	11	44	25%	 98	 89
Montreal	16	10	21	47	47%	104	 93
Nashville	17	 7	17	41	41%	 91	 88
New Jersey	27	 6	13	46	28%	 99	106
NY Islanders	23	 5	 7	35	20%	 79	 61
NY Rangers	16	14	12	42	29%	 97	 95
Ottawa 	        16	12	15	43	35%	 94	 83
Philadelphia	17	10	15	42	36%	 95	 99
Phoenix	        18	 8	12	38	32%	 83	 79
Pittsburgh	17	18	12	47	26%	102	 99
San Jose	26	11	12	49	24%	108	117
St. Louis	15	 8	10	33	30%	 79	 92
Tampa Bay	12	 8	11	31	35%	 71	 66
Toronto	        15	10	11	36	31%	 83	 81
Vancouver	19	 7	13	39	33%	 88	100
Washington	21	10	12	43	28%	 94	108

To better understand these numbers, letís divide the results above into four categories.

  • Teams that won above 40% of their games by three goals or more
  • Teams that won between 31% and 40% of their games by three goals or more.
  • Teams that won between 21% and 30% of their games by three goals or more.
  • Teams that won below 21% of their games by three goals or more.

40% and above

Well, the results are quite interesting. In fact, teams that won over 40% of their games by three goals or more (there were four such teams) actually saw their point totals drop by a total of five points. Wouldnít you think that teams, no matter how good they are, that handle their opponents relatively easily in a high percentage of games, would see that success translate to at least a couple more points the following season? Apparently not, but the above category only focuses on four teams.

What about teams that won between 31% and 40% of their games by three goals or more?

Between 31% and 40%

Interestingly enough, the eleven teams that won between 31% and 40% of their games by three goals or more, saw a point total differential of 0 from 2007-08 to 2008-09. Yes, there was no increase nor was there a decrease in total team accumulated points from one season to the next. Again, this result is somewhat surprising.

So, is this belief not the case at all?

Between 21% and 30%

Letís examine teams that won between 21% and 30% of their games by three goals or more.

What we find is that teams (there were twelve such teams) between these ranges saw a fairly insubstantial improvement of only 18 total standing points from 2007-08 to 2008-09. However, this was a higher increase in total points than either of the ranges mentioned above. This is somewhat odd because you would think teams that won a higher portion of their games by three goals or more would improve, on average, more than teams that won games by closer scores (i.e., the classic one-goal game theory).

Under 21%

Finally, what about teams that won under 21% of its games by three goals or more?

For these three teams we find that their collective NHL point totals dropped thirteen points from the 2007-08 season through to the 2008-09 season.

So, what does all this mean?

Well, after all sifting through all these numbers, we find that there is no real increase in success from one season to the next (at least from the 2007-08 season through to the 2008-09 season) for teams that won a higher proportion of their games by three goals or more.

Richard Pollock is Editor for the hockey website Illegal Curve.

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