Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

If you’re a paranoid puckhead like me, I’m sure that you’ve been following your team of choice over at  Math confuses me and makes me cry, but this is one time that crunching numbers is useful to me – though more often than not it still makes me cringe.  All season I double check to see what my teams’ playoff chances are, even during week 3 when you know that anything can change.

Of course, this time of year I check it every single morning.  The percentage fluctuations are greater now – a single loss can drop you twenty percentage points.  A win can bump you up just ten.  Last season was the first time in a while that I looked at it for anything other to see when the Thrashers and Blues were officially out – the Blues’ playoff run had me checking about ten times a day to make sure that what I was seeing was real.

Me, this time last season.  I would steal & sell a TV to see how close the Blues were to the playoffs.

Unfortunately, the Blues aren’t making me do it with the abandon of Bobby Brown at a crack house this season.  Despite a record of 34-30-9 going into last night’s game, the Blues are almost mathematically eliminated from the race.  That win over the Kings that the Post-Dispatch was making a to do over, and that players were saying “hey, one point at a time!” about?  It bumped up our chances to .06%.  Yes, we gained 2 points on Calgary, but 9th place does you absolutely no good.

My good buddy DanGNR over at St. Louis Game Time (not to be confused with just Dan.) does a daily Excel spreadsheet of the Western Conference outsiders and their Tragic Numbers – here’s yesterday’s (click for a larger view).


So, you’re saying there’s a chance?  Towing the company line after the win, the guys that were interviewed (specifically Chris Mason) on KMOX’s post-game show said yeah, sure, you never can tell.  I’m no math wiz, but I think I can.

The Thrashers, though, well their daily debacle continues to yoink around the fans.  The 4-0 loss on Tuesday didn’t kill their playoff hopes, and the overtime loss yesterday only dropped them 3.4% down to 14.7%, but each of these could be enough to keep them out of the playoffs.

The Rangers with just the one win last night raised their hopes to 20.9%, and they’re a spot behind us.  The Bruins, though, with their loss to the Bolts, dropped their odds to 72.1%.  Yes, that is still significantly higher than the Thrashers’ chances. However, their odds dropped 11.1%.  The higher you are, the more a screw-up drops you.  Think of high school – that class that you had an A in and you figured “Hey, so what – it’s just a homework grade.  It won’t drop me that much!”  Well, what happened?  Yep.  Less room for error when you’re in the bottom half of the top 8 than there is when you’re in the top half of the bottom 7.  If (big if) the Thrashers can get back on track, and if the Bruins continue their on again/off again energy level, there’s always a chance.  These next two games against the Canes are practically do or die.  I would say something about the goalie situation, but we make backups look like Jacques Plante, so I’ll stay mum.

About Laura Astorian

Laura Astorian is the head editor for the SB Nation blog St. Louis Game Time and has been a Blues fan from childhood. She promises that any anti-Blackhawks bias will be left at the door. Maybe.