Habs Failing for Nail Campaign Will Likely Fail


It's been a tough season. At times, it's seemed too long, but right about now, for those of us fans that still want to win, it's looking awfully short. We're just about at the 3/4 mark, the trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and the team still has played more games than they have accumulated points, which is a very bad sign this far into the year. Some fans have been on a 'Fail for Nail' mission for... well, we first jokingly talked about that in game threads around here back in October right before the Parry Pearn firing. The team might have held a playoff spot after 2 games this year when they were 1-1 and had a positive goal differential, and I think I remember an hour or two in November where they had briefly claimed a spot, although that changed by the end of the night. The playoffs have almost always been just out of reach.

While I can understand the desire to get the best possible result from a dreadful year, this team is simply too good to fail that terribly. What is amazing is that they're in this position at all, to be frank, that we can even talk about the potential of winning the draft lottery to move up to the #1 overall seed. One of the easiest eyeball measures I use when looking at the standings to try and figure out who might be over or underachieving is goal differential: the best teams generally post the best differential. Losing or winning games by one goal can happen for any number of reasons, and in hockey, the shootout increases the randomness of the win total.

It's certainly possible that the Habs' non-sensical results continue, but it doesn't look good for finishing in the bottom five... the competition is just too strong (well, really, too weak):

Draft Lottery Standings

Rank

Team

Pts/82

GD

SOD

Adj GD

Adj GD Rank

30

Blue Jackets

58

-53

-2

-51

30

29

Oilers

73

-18

-1

-17

22

28

Hurricanes

76

-28

-4

-24

T-25

27

Sabres

79

-25

2

-27

T-27

26

Canadiens

79

-2

-5

3

11

25

Lightning

79

-34

-1

-33

29

24

Ducks

81

-18

-3

-15

T-20

23

Islanders

82

-26

1

-27

T-27

22

Jets

82

-24

E

-24

T-25

21

Wild

85

-20

-1

-19

T-23

20

Avalanche

86

-13

6

-19

T-23

19

Stars

86

-14

1

-15

T-20

18

Flames

89

-13

-1

-12

19

17

Maple Leafs

89

1

E

1

T-13

A couple of things here: For teams with a projected point total that is tied, I've given the higher ranking to the team with the most current ROWs, the first tiebreaker in the NHL standings. Since Tampa has 22 ROWs to Montreal's 21 and Buffalo's 19, the Canadiens finish in the 5th seed for the lotto based on points projections. The Capitals and Maple Leafs are projected to tie with 89 points for the final playoff spot, but the Capitals currently have more ROWs, so they'd get that last spot. For goal differential, I've ignored tiebreakers, so there's a number of tied results.

The Canadiens being in 11th in real time goal differential and 26th in the projected standings is completely ridiculous. To show you how ridiculous: the second biggest gap between the two rankings are the Oilers, who have a 7 placement gap. 19 of the 30 NHL teams are within three placements in real time GD rank as their actual projected standing (and 25 of 30 are within 4 spots). The Canadiens placement amongst the worst teams in the NHL is completely illogical. The other teams around them are all worse at hockey than they are, and five teams in a playoff spot are worse at the whole score more goals than the other guy thing than they are. Based on that +/- 4 spots method, the Habs should typically be ranked anywhere from 7th to 15th in the NHL... and in the playoffs, or at least in the playoff bubble with Washington, Florida, Ottawa, and Toronto.

In short, there is a strong correlation between goal differential and winning. Of course, being good in the shootout is somewhat important, and the Habs have the worst shootout differential in the NHL at -5 (Carolina is 0-4 in the shootout so the Habs aren't worst by Win%), which accounts for some of that difference, but the Canadiens are still 15th when you include shootouts, and would still be leading the league in that gap without that horrid gimmick record.

This team isn't elite this year, and acquiring an elite talent via the draft would be a great addition in the next couple of years. We've got to look at ways to score a noticeable amoung of goals more than the other teams to get to that elite mark, so an influx of talent in any form is needed. But the Habs are in tough to keep down with the teams around them... the other teams are just too good at being bad.

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