Pacific Division Trends: Thanksgiving Edition!

USA TODAY Sports

What the heck is going on in the Pacific Division?

This is the first of a new monthly series here at JftC. At the end of each month we'll keep track of how each team in the Pacific is trending in key areas of the game. Those key areas being possession and puck luck. The way we'll track those is through using two fancystats known as Corsi and PDO.

We took a shot at explaining Corsi here. But one key takeaway from that article is that possession numbers are a better predictor of future wins than past wins are.

PDO is a way to track luck (or variance) in the NHL. All it entails is adding together shooting percentage and save percentage at 5v5. League average is always 100%. When a team is way above or below that average, some serious regression toward the mean might be on the horizon.

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  • The Kings are currently third in the division. They are the puck possession powerhouse of the group. Their numbers really jumped off after a completely dominant performance against the Oilers on Oct. 27th by posting a +38 Corsi rating. Alternatively, they got off to a groggy start in their percentages but are on an upward trend of late. They’ve really been bolstered by Scrivens’ hot run and are near league average in overall PDO. They are still shooting a wretchedly low 6.1% at 5v5, good for 27th in the NHL.
  • The Sharks currently top the division and have fared well in both possession and percentages. It is interesting to note that both of their lines are trending down after a blazing start in both of these categories. Brent Burns, who has missed some time this year due to injury, has provided a huge boost for San Jose. He has a 63% Corsi rating and is shooting at a 16% clip.
  • Anaheim's possession numbers have been consistently hanging around league average all season, yet their interstellar PDO is slowly coming back down to Earth. And so has their position in the standings. Unless they can improve their play at 5v5, look for them to give way as the season wanes. Dustin Penner has been an interesting case. During his time with L.A., he had great possession numbers but was snake-bitten by his percentages. In his first few games with the Ducks this year, that trend has completely flip-flopped. He's been average at driving play (50.7% Corsi), yet leads the league in puck luck.
  • Phoenix has been a pest despite some pretty uninspiring possession numbers. They are 22nd in the league in Corsi and have received league average goaltending. So why are they hanging around among the Pacific division leaders? The answer lies in shooting percentage. They've been shooting a blazing hot 9% at 5v5, if that percentage regresses, look for them to fade. Derek Morris, Mike Ribeiro, Michael Stone and Mikkel Boedker have been the ones running ridiculously hot in shooting percentage. I don't see that group being able to keep up that pace.
  • I think the Canucks will be a team the Kings will need to worry a lot more about as the season goes on. Their ability to drive play is starting to take off, but their down-trending percentages have made them look a little worse than they really are. Look for the division title to end up being a dog fight between the Sharks, Canucks and Kings.
  • The Flames have recently over-taken the Oilers as the division dog in puck possession. They have a pretty ugly PDO to boot. Kris Russell, TJ Brodie and Michael Backlund have been the lone bright spots for Calgary's possession game.
  • Count me as part of the club that thought the Oilers would be decent this year. They have in fact been pretty indecent, yet they are playing much better of late. I think they are a better team than the Flames and won't end up in the division's basement. David Perron has been a very solid pick-up for them, but their defense and depth lines have been woeful. If they were able to pick up a solid defenseman to shore up their back-end, that'd go along way to helping them up the Pacific division ladder. Also, talented winger Linus Omark is currently rotting away in the AHL while possession anchors like Will Acton and Luke Gazdic get playing time. #FreeLinus

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