I know that there are several on this board that do not really get into the statistical analysis of hockey, but I wanted to get this out here for those that do. I think 59 games is more than a large enough sample size to call this team what it is. With or without Pekka. So we are going to look at exactly where the Preds stand against the historical playoff teams in the Western Conference. Until the Preds get moved to the east, arguing about statistics in that category is a reach even I am not willing to make. So let's get started.
Author's note: We will be excluding last years shortened season.
Point Percentage -
The Predators current point percentage sits at 0.508% through 59 games. We all know that isn't very good, but where exactly does that leave this team? What has it taken in the past to get in as an 8 seed?
Well... In the last last seven years (excluding last years numbers) no team has made the playoffs with a point percentage lower than 0.555%. That was done only twice. It was accomplished by the Anaheim Ducks in 2008-2009, and again by our beloved Predators in 2007-2008. The average over that time frame would be a 0.575 point percentage to make the eight spot. So we can see that the Predators are quite a ways from that benchmark. This season Dallas is currently sitting in the 8th playoff position with a 0.552% point percentage. That could be an indicator that the number will be slightly lower this season. We will have to wait and see as there is virtually no difference in a 0.552 and a 0.555 point percentage. So what will it take for the Predators to increase their point percentage to the low end of the historical average (where it currently appears the 8th team will be this season)?
It would take a point percentage of 0.674 over the last 23 games for them to get there. That is not a small jump. That is about like Evil Knievel making it over the Snake River. There are only 7 teams in the entire league that have that level of performance this season. They would need 31 out of a possible 46 points the rest of the way.
Goal Differential -
So here we are at one of the stats that is usually pointed to as being the leading indicator for a team to make the playoffs. The Predators are not fairing well here. At a -34 goal differential currently, something drastic is going to have to change. Why you ask? Well in the last 7 seasons no team in the Western Conference has made the playoffs with a negative goal differential. NONE. The closest was our beloved Predators in the 2007-2008 season with a +1 goal differential.
If the Predators are going to make the playoffs, something drastic has to change here. Getting Pekka back is not going to be enough, as we will see next. This team has to get things together on both ends of the ice to reverse this number. Goal differential is usually viewed as a trusted method to gauge a team, and we are horrible. How trusted is it? Since the Predators have been in the league only 1 team in the Western Conference has made the playoffs with a negative goal differential.
Goals For -
I have seen many a fan on this board type that all we need is a Pekka back. The numbers do not bear that out. Sure Pekka is a great goal tender, but it is not as if we have the dynamic defensive pairing any longer. Hey the defensive pairings and what that means to our current goaltending is an argument for another post. Right now I want to look at this teams scoring rate and what it means for their playoff chances.
Currently the Predators are scoring at 2.46 goals a game. In the last 7 years the only team to have scored lower than that on a per-game basis was the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Kings at 2.29 goals a game. The average over that time period is 2.87 goals a game. That is half a goal a game different. Or so far this season about 30 goals. I would feel a lot better about our chances with a negative 4 differential as opposed to the one pointed out above.
If this team cannot find a way to score more goals, and do so more consistently, the playoffs are a pipe dream.
So what do you think? I know I didn't cover every possibility, but I think I covered three pretty significant ones.