30. Calgary Flames (6-12-1) Last Week: 28
The Calgary Flames had another strange week, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, but losing to the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Cats and Bolts haven’t been good lately, while the Caps and Pens have been near the top of the NHL standings.
The Flames are 28th in the league in score adjusted shot attempts percentage, meaning that their wins are going to come due to percentages. That’s how you get them beating teams like the Capitals and Penguins, but losing to teams like the Panthers and Lightning.
29. Edmonton Oilers (6-12-0) Last Week: 30
The Edmonton Oilers are missing their star rookie, and weren’t exactly a playoff caliber team before Connor McDavid went down with a shoulder injury. Though the team has star forwards in Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, and a blossoming young center in Leon Draisaitl, the defense is severely lacking, and the goaltending isn’t exactly high-end.
If the Oilers finish near the bottom of the league standings for the second straight season, they’ll have a chance to win the draft lottery and get the chance to take Auston Matthews, the American phenom who is currently averaging close to a point per game while playing in the Swiss NLA. The hockey universe almost lost its mind last year when the Oilers jumped over the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes at the draft lottery. Would people be able to handle it if Edmonton was lucky enough to take first overall two years in a row?
28. Colorado Avalanche (7-9-1) Last Week: 27
The Colorado Avalanche are struggling for the second straight season, though their possession woes have been prevalent ever since Patrick Roy took over behind the bench. Though the former Jack Adams winner catches lots of flak around the analytics community for the way he manages his team, he at least seems to know that his team has depended on world-class goaltending and favorable shooting percentages to win hockey games.
From a recent interview with TSN’s Frank Seravalli:
“Let’s not kid ourselves. Two years ago, we had 112 points. He was the main reason. I said all along, when I got the Jack Adams Award, I said it was because Varlamov was so good. He should’ve been the MVP. He should’ve won the Vezina, because he was that good. Now people are realizing how good he was that year, because of the results.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (5-8-3) Last Week: 25
The Philadelphia Flyers were exceeding expectations and looked like a bubble team at the start of the season, but haven’t looked good since then and have taken a slide down the league standings. The slide hasn’t been driven by percentages, either, as the Flyers now stand at 26th in the league in terms of sc-adj SAT-percentage.
One player who has been snake-bitten by percentages, however, is Jakub Voracek. The 26-year-old only has seven points in 17 games, and is coming off of a season where he had 81 points in 82 games. One has to expect Voracek to start producing soon, though it may not be enough to help the Flyers climb out of the league’s basement.
26. Columbus Blue Jackets (6-12-0) Last Week: 26
We can figure that the season is pretty much over for the Blue Jackets, right? They have twelve losses in only 18 games, and to reach .500 on the season they need to go 35-29 in their last 64 games. For a team that looks solid, but has struggled winning, this might be possible, but the Jackets don’t exactly look like a great team.
At best, they look like a slightly below average team. They stand at 23rd in the league in terms of sc-adj SAT-percentage, and even if they get some lucky bounces that result in high percentages, it’s highly unlikely that they end up making the playoffs this season.