The Western Conference off to wild start
The Coyotes are in first, the Kings are in last and nothing quite makes sense in the Western Conference. Just give it time.
Of all the thing we could be saying after three games of the NHL regular season, the Sharks being 3-0 isn't that surprising. Perhaps it's not what most of us predicted (hi), but it at least falls into the realm of possibility.
Then there are the Arizona Coyotes, whose band of youngsters is also 3-0 to start the season. And they've also beaten Los Angeles and Anaheim to get there. Oh, right, the Kings — those guys are 0-3. Right. Just look at the standings.
Some of the teams near the bottom here (Hi Edmonton, Toronto and Boston) make sense and others (Hello Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Columbus) a little bit less so. I know what you're thinking, and you're right...this is the latest in a string of attacks from the Small Sample Size Monster.
To make the above chart really simple: Bottom left teams are bad and unlucky, bottom right teams are good and unlucky, top left teams are bad and lucky and bottom left teams are good and lucky. This is an oversimplification, but it's only been three games and we don't need to break down all 30 NHL teams. Also, the above chart only takes into account even strength play.
I already wrote about the Sharks being a bit lucky, mostly stemming from Martin Jones excellent play to start the season. The Kings have the opposite problem, as both their goaltending and their shooting have been absolutely trash so far. Los Angeles PDO (in all situations) is 87.6 — that number usually averages out to around 100. Below 100: unlucky, above 100: lucky.
L.A.'s craptacular PDO is driven by both sides of the simple state: They're shooting percentage (percentage of pucks that go into the net) is a paltry 2.6 percent and they're getting .850 goaltending. That PDO is the worst in the league, but it's not the worst goaltending or the worst shooting. The team with the lowest shooting percentage to start the season?
Beautiful. Couldn't happen to a nicer group of guys. While Anaheim's goaltending has been quite good, its shooting has been absolutely dreadful. You could blame this on the combined excellence of Jones, Ryan Miller and Mike Smith — but I'm going to blame it on the mumps; and by extension, I'm blaming it on Corey Perry.
So hey, about those Coyotes. This has been an extremely surprising great start to the season for the Yotes, but don't expect it to continue. Smith has certainly had his moments, but he's not going to post a .981 all season anymore than Jones will finish with a .987. Probably.
PDO measures luck, sort of, but it doesn't measure when it's going to run out. It's all too possible for a team to get a real good whiff of the PDO-magic and ride that all the way to the playoffs. Not to name names, but we're all looking right at you Calgary Flames.