Saturday, January 27, 2007

One Team Is Definitely Not Mediocre

The current NHL CBA is designed to create parity. It is very hard to be an elite team since it is hard to keep successful teams together.

In the previous CBA, there were elite teams, slightly above average teams, average teams, slightly below average teams and bad teams. This CBA is designed to break up the elite teams and to prevent any teams from being bad teams. For the most part, it has succeeded in keeping away elite teams (in fact none existed last season). How is it doing at preventing the truly bad teams?

One look at the NHL standings shows there is a team that has been awful this year in the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia has only 27 points. They are 13 points behind 29th place Los Angeles. This season has been a total write-off for the Flyers. They are on pace for 47 points, which is the least point total since the overtime loss point. It is the least point total since the 1997/98 Tampa Bay Lightning had 44 points.

The CBA does not eliminate truly bad teams. Murphy's Law prevents that. Whatever can go wrong will and its going wrong in Philadelphia this year. We have a situation where elite is prevented but terrible isn't and that just makes things worse for the NHL fan.

You don't think that a healthy Ducks team is an elite team? Or the Sabres? There are some damn good teams in the NHL right now...
I think the Ducks *might* be an elite team maybe. See this.

The top team in the NHL (Nashville) has about 70% of the points in their games (I am too lazy to work this number out exactly figuring out how many overtime losses for their opponents). Philadelphia falls in the low 20's% range. From those numbers alone, Philadelphia is further off from the mean (50%) than anybody on top is.

This season, so far, its quite clear that Philadelphia has been worse than average by a significantly larger margin than anybody has been better than average. I think this will be a regular occurance under this CBA. Bad will still remain and be worse than is possible by any good team.
The Ducks don't have the depth of true elite teams. They have 4 or 5 superstars but the true elite teams (Red Wings of the late 90's, Oilers of the 80's, Islanders of the early 80's, Canadiens of the 70's, etc.) have top quality depth too. Anaheim has Joe Dipenta, Shane O'Brien and Sean O'Donnel as regulars on defense and those aren't elite team regulars. They also have a huge number of youngsters playing up front which is also not indicitave of elite teams of the past. Getzlaf, Perry, Penner, Shannon, and even Kunitz all play significant roles and all are relatively inexperienced. Not a lot of NHL teams with that much inexperience win Stanley Cups let alone can be classified as an elite team.

Buffalo is a very good team as well but they just seem a little inconsistent to be an elite team. They also lack any true superstars, just a lot of very good players.

In my mind the team closest to an elite team is the Calgary Flames. They have the elite calibre goalie, they have an excellent defense with depth and experience, and a star power forward in Iginla. If they just had a bit more scoring depth I would consider them an elite team.
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