NHL

NHL teams least deserving of their success, using our proprietary Paul Westerberg-Elon Musk measure

NHL teams least deserving of their success, using our proprietary Paul Westerberg-Elon Musk measure

The season opener has some curious winners and losers. Despite preseason predictions, the Philadelphia Flyers look hot, the Colorado Avalanche can’t buy a goal, and the Washington Capitals are in between. We know in our guts that this can’t be right. Now, some teams are outgrowing their talent, and other teams are seeing success despite their flaws. Enter the Westerberg-Musk Assessment Rubric, invented by me, right now, to accurately measure undeserved outcomes.

Paul Westerberg was the lead singer and songwriter of The Substitutions, a band with great talent that exploited every opportunity to become popular. Elon Musk is the billionaire son of an emerald mine owner who was the money man for some tech companies with doubtful products. One was a dismal failure despite undeniable virtue; the other the opposite. They represent the outer ends, between which we will place the most interesting teams in the NHL.

Devils of New Jersey

Record: 6-3-0

It’s crazy what’s going on with Jersey. They are controlling the game at levels we don’t often see sustained over nine games. They attempt 64 percent of the shots and control 69 percent of the expected goals. They should be close to undefeated, but their goaltending has been garbage: a league-worst 87.5 percent during five-on-five play.

If they land a better goaltender (ie a long-term replacement for the currently injured Mackenzie Blackwood) while keeping their skaters flowing, the Devils could knock the Caps out of the playoffs.

Colorado Devessall

Record: 4-4-1

The reigning champion is having trouble finding the back of the net at even strength. Mikko Rantanen is pretty much the only one who has converted there, and the team as a whole is shooting a league-worst 4.8 percent. The team is doing well the rest of the ice, and is still converting on its power play (first in the league at 39.3 percent conversion). No one thinks they will fight for long.

Boston Bruins

Record: 8-1-0

The B’s have won 16 of the 18 points available in the standings so far. Patrice Bergeron still looks elite at 37 years old. They got Marchand back from injury earlier than expected. Pastrnak is on pace for 150 points. This is a very good team, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they won’t get 145 points this season. Their shooting (10.1 percent, third-best) is down a bit, and I don’t think they can lean on goaltender Linus Ullmark (.945 all-time) as much as they’d like.

But they will still be very, very good.

Washington Capitals

Record: 5-4-0

The Capitals are very lucky to be above .500 considering how bad their hitting stats are. They are in the bottom ten in the league in expected goals percentage they control (45.1 percent). For a team that is supposed to build its offense through defenders, they are on the heels too much on the attack even less. But they’re shooting 10.4 percent at five-on-five (behind only the Islanders), top-ten saves and penalty kill equal.

They will need real improvements among their skaters and continued good goaltending if they want to make the playoffs, which Moneypuck thinks they only have a one in three chance of doing so.

Philadelphia Flyers

Record: 5-2-1

I know a ton of Flyers fans, and none of them think this is real. I doubt John Tortorella really believes he has a playoff team on his hands. They control 38.6 percent of shot attempts and 38.9 percent of expected goals, meaning it’s like they’re playing the Devils every night. Their goal differential during five-on-five is plus one. Both special teams units are in dead center in the league. They’re shooting (9.2 percent, 8th) and saving even better (93.3 percent, 7th) thanks to Carter Hart’s bounce-back year (9 more saves than expected). according to Moneypuck).

So they’re finishing strong on a weak underlying process and hitting those goals at the best possible times to win games. It won’t last.

Although agreement on the above is mandatory, there are obviously nuances between them. Islanders and sabers are doing too well, kraken and penguins too bad. The details are insignificant; the important thing is that we agree that my Paul Westerberg / Elon Musk bit was good.

Header Images: @PaulWesterberg, Debbie Rowe via Creative Commons



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