The eastern conference will be a bloody massacre this year. With all teams competing to make the playoffs, only one team is likely to make them in most scenarios: the Florida Panthers. Then, there are eight teams that could top the conference and twelve teams that could win their divisions. In contrast with the west, no team can be written off, as even the team that’s last in the mean performance assessment could end up as high as sixth in the conference.
This wide open range of scenarios in the eastern conference means that there will be blood. Some good teams will miss the playoffs, other teams with under average rosters (for the East) will end up grabbing spots ahead of the better on-paper teams. Early streaks will probably make stressed out GMs do moves they’ll either celebrate or regret later on. Also expect a lot of disappointed GMs that won’t understand why their team that’s so good on paper can’t perform.
That’s life in the East this year folks, as everyone built their team for the finish line and no one really has thrown the towel before the start of the season. To put things into perspective, a team like the Islanders would have a mean of 8 in the West instead of their 11 in the East, which would place them into the playoffs with a season that’s in conformity to their roster strength.
So here’s the evaluation of each team in the East, divided into different categories with a ranking in the East depending on team performance.
Each category was assessed through analytics. The high/mean/low rankings were done using a normal distribution curve with the high and low reflecting a difference of one standard deviation.
In general, the teams with the best offense all have overall better ratings and a higher mean. Top defensive teams can also move a few spots up but are scattered around in the rankings. This also doesn’t consider potential improvements over the year. For example, the Senators will see their numbers improve when they add Radulov. Other teams that rely mostly on a couple of very good players, like the Bruins, could very well end up doing better than expected; if their top players mesh, they could go beat the one standard deviation and finish even higher than their assessed high ranking.
In the race for the East, considering a one standard deviation variation, every team except the Leafs, Bruins and Canadiens are in the running to win their divisions. That’s phenomenal! On the low side, the harsh reality is that all teams except the Panthers could miss the playoffs.
In the end, it should be a very entertaining and unpredictable battle in the East, with lots of blood and sweat. A real treat to watch… from the backseat of the western conference!