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Eastern Conference Starts - Turning Storylines Upside Down

The story in the Western Conference is how long the Wild can hold out before their own even strength play does them in and how long it takes Robert Luongo and Cory Schneider to bounce back and take the Canucks to the top of the standings.

In the Eastern Conference, the primary non-Crosby storyline is Bruce Boudreau's Capitals - supposedly a team divided, a room divided, filled with players who have tuned Boudreau out and no longer want to play for the coach.  And there are those Penguins, playing incredible hockey without the best player in the world.

As I did with the Western Conference teams, I'll look at Fenwick tied and even strength save percentage in an effort to separate the wheat from the chaff.

*Data accurate as of 11/20/2011

Team Fenwick Tied
Pittsburgh  0.538
Washington  0.534
Boston  0.525
Florida  0.523
New Jersey  0.520
Ottawa  0.504
Philadelphia  0.503
Toronto  0.501
Winnipeg 0.497
Buffalo  0.486
Long Island 0.478
Carolina  0.474
New York

  • The Penguins are really good and they're about to get much, much better.  Even without Sidney Crosby, they've dominated even strength play.
  • Bruce Boudreau may be on everyone's hot seat, but the Capitals' skaters have been quite good with the score tied.
  • The Lightning have been dominant in their 1-3-1 at...wait a second.  Tampa is getting the puck fed to them at even strength.  Maybe that 1-3-1 isn't all it's cracked up to be.
  • The Bruins' slow start in the standings has largely hidden how good that team is.  They should win the Northeast in a walk.
  • Two things I was wrong about: the Panthers are good thus far, but they should be, considering the enormous amount of long-term commitments Dale Tallon made; the Islanders aren't very good at all.  I thought they would be the surprise of the east this year, instead, they're the same old Islanders thus far.
  • The Rangers should be better than .453 while tied.  Whether that's Marc Staal's absence or there are deeper issues in New York are yet to be seen.  But if they keep that level of play up going forward, they won't get close to the playoffs.
Team EV Sv Pct. Tied EV Sv Pct
New York 0.966 0.942
Montreal 0.943 0.929
Florida  0.938 0.942
Toronto  0.935 0.913
Boston  0.931 0.932
New Jersey  0.925 0.907
Philadelphia  0.925 0.912
Buffalo  0.925 0.924
Tampa 0.924 0.912
Ottawa  0.922 0.900
Pittsburgh  0.904 0.916
Long Island 0.904 0.914
Winnipeg 0.897 0.911
Carolina  0.881 0.904
Washington  0.874 0.915

  • The Pens are getting below average goaltending with the score tied, but league average goaltending at even strength overall. 
  • Henrik Lundqvist is good, but not this good.  He'll come back to earth soon.  Couple that with the Rangers issues at even strength and the ingredients for a significant collapse are there.
  • The Flyers aren't getting $5+ million worth of goaltending (.912 overall)
  • The Senators are backwards, at least according to how everyone thought this season would go for them.  Subpar goaltending was not supposed to be the issue in Ottawa, the lack of strength throughout the lineup was supposed to keep them in the race for Nail Yakupov.
  • The Caps' goaltending issues haven't been discussed lately, but .874 with the score tied is the worst in the NHL and .915 overall is slightly below average since the lockout.
  • Carolina is one of the worst teams in the league right now.  Cam Ward is playing like a retread and the team is pretty awful 5-on-5. 
  • Data courtesy and the irreverent Vic Ferrari