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It's Never Too Late For the Wheels to Fall Off

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I was just looking at the standings, the ones that have the Kings in 5th in the Western Conference. I noticed that they have played more games than most teams behind them. That's not good. Let's look at the standings a couple of different ways. First, the tradition way, by points:

  1. SJS - 28
  2. COL - 26
  3. CHI - 20
  4. CGY - 23
  5. LAK - 22
  6. CBJ - 20
  7. PHX - 20
  8. DAL - 20
  9. VAN - 20
  10. EDM - 18
  11. DET - 17
  12. STL - 16
  13. NSH - 15
  14. ANA - 14
  15. MIN - 14

Now here it is by winning % (actually it's points-per-game, which is WIN% times 2):

  1. SJS 1.474
  2. COL 1.444
  3. CHI 1.250
  4. CGY 1.438
  5. CBJ 1.250
  6. LAK 1.222
  7. PHX 1.176
  8. DAL 1.176
  9. DET 1.133
  10. VAN 1.053
  11. EDM 1.000
  12. STL 1.000
  13. NAS 0.938
  14. ANA 0.933
  15. MIN 0.824

Kings move down one to 6th. Wings jump from 11th to 8th. Now, here's a third method, which may be crackpotty, and I've only ever seen it used by me. Ignore it if you want to. It's related to WIN%, but not. It's points-lost. If you are 6-2-0, your total is 4 (2 losses times 2 points each); if you are 0-2-0, your total is also 4. The difference between this and WIN% is a team gets no bonus for having played more games. It's all about the points you've blown. (In these standings, a lower point total is better, because obviously the fewer points blown the better.)

  1. SJS 10
  2. COL 10
  3. CGY 11
  4. CHI 12
  5. CBJ 12
  6. DET 13 (up 5)
  7. LAK 14 (down 2-4; depending on how you break the three way tie)
  8. PHX 14
  9. DAL 14
  10. STL 16 (up 2)
  11. ANA 16 (up 3-4)
  12. NSH 17
  13. VAN 18 (down 4)
  14. MIN 20

I don't think I missed any of the teams that moved two or more spaces. What leaps out at me is this: (1) DET is doing much much better than people think. (2) ANA is not doomed. (3) The Kings are doing well but not as well as it seems. (4) The Kings are in a three-way tie for 7th, which is to say they are a hair away from 10th. (5) They are two points, i.e. one loss, away from 12th. (6) They are also one win away from 4th.

This early in the season, I find it useful to keep in mind what a win or a loss does to a team's position in the standings. There's a big difference between being in 1st and so far ahead that a few losses won't hurt you, and (as SJS is) being in 1st such that one loss could drop you to 6th. So I prefer to think of a team's position in the standings as a range, the range being (at the top) where you could be tomorrow morning if you win and the right teams lose, and (at the bottom) where you could be if you lose and the "right" teams win.

Looking at it that way, the Kings' range is between 4th and 12th in the standings.