inside the numbers

NHL Early Season Analysis: Contenders, Pretenders, and the In-Between

The NHL season has kicked off, and while it's still early days, patterns are beginning to emerge. Some teams are already off to a roaring start, while others are stumbling out of the gate. Meanwhile, a few squads are simply holding steady, neither impressing nor disappointing.

To get a clearer picture, we've analyzed teams based on two key metrics: straight-up (SU) record and strength of schedule (SOS). Here's a tiered breakdown of where teams stand:

Top Tier: The Contenders

1. Boston Bruins: With a 6-0 record, the Bruins are looking unbeatable. Their SOS at 30.56% suggests they've had a relatively easy run, but a flawless record is still commendable.
2. Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche, like the Bruins, have started with a 6-0 record. Their SOS is slightly higher at 31.67%, but they're definitely a team to watch.
3. Dallas Stars: An 80% win rate with a 51.33% SOS suggests the Stars are shining bright early this season.
4. Vegas Golden Knights: The Golden Knights have come out swinging with a 7-0 record. Their SOS at 38.64% is higher than both the Bruins and Avalanche, which makes their unbeaten run even more impressive.

Middle Tier: The In-Between

5. Detroit Red Wings: A 5-2 record with a 41.90% SOS suggests the Red Wings are in good form but have faced slightly easier opposition.
6. New York Rangers: At 4-2, the Rangers have had a good start. Their 40.48% SOS indicates they've been up against moderately tough teams.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs: Like the Rangers, the Leafs have a 4-2 record, with a similar SOS at 40.24%.
8. Vancouver Canucks: Another team with a 4-2 record, the Canucks have faced slightly easier opponents with a 36.51% SOS.

Lower Tier: The Pretenders

9. San Jose Sharks: Things are looking bleak for the Sharks, who are yet to win a game this season. Their 0-6 record, combined with a 72.62% SOS, suggests they're struggling against formidable teams.
10. Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers' 1-5 record is a cause for concern. A 54.37% SOS indicates they've faced some tough opponents, but their performance has been below par.
11. Washington Capitals: With a 1-4 record and a 45.71% SOS, the Capitals need to turn things around quickly.
12. Chicago Blackhawks: Their 2-5 record combined with a high 78.57% SOS suggests the Blackhawks are having a tough time against strong teams.

The Resilient: .500 or Higher with Tough Schedules

1. Dallas Stars: Despite facing tough opponents with a 51.33% SOS, the Stars have managed an impressive 80% win rate.
2. Los Angeles Kings: With a 50% win rate, the Kings have held their own despite a challenging 65.48% SOS.
3. Philadelphia Flyers: At 50% win rate and a 60.56% SOS, the Flyers are managing to stay afloat against strong competition.

The Sleepers: Losing Records but Tough Schedules

1. Chicago Blackhawks: While their 2-5 record isn't impressive, their 78.57% SOS indicates they've been up against some of the league's toughest teams.
2. San Jose Sharks: A 0-6 record is worrying, but their 72.62% SOS suggests they've had a brutal schedule.
3. Anaheim Ducks: Their 2-4 record combined with a 70.48% SOS indicates they've had to contend with some challenging matchups.

It's important to remember that the season is still young, and there's plenty of hockey left to play. Teams can turn their fortunes around, and early leaders might face challenges down the road. However, as of now, these are the teams that have made their mark, for better or worse.

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