James Mirtle has a look at the league standings and the strength of the six divisions at the 20% mark of the season. That inspired me to try to find ways to look at the standings which would make the Leafs look good.
Turns out that short of just replacing 'ottawa senators' with 'Toronto Maple Leafs' the following two measures push the Leafs out of the playoff picture. However, it does paint a bit of brighter picture as it highlights the dross that is behind the Leafs.
The first table is pretty straightforward in that it simply re-aligns the standings according to points earned per game.
The Eastern Conference looks like it will be as tight as it was last year as aside from the division leaders both Montreal and the Islanders will more than likely come back to the pack after hot starts as they did last year.
It's really nice to see the Sabres helping to prop up the rest of the standings but it's a little odd to see Anaheim going from 3rd to 12th. Both the Ducks and my fantasy team sure could use a returning Scott Niedermayer sooner rather than later.
This one requires a little more explanation and the good folks at Sports Illustrated obliged with this six year old article. Basically, the formula (Goals For ^ 2/ (Goals For ^ 2 + Goals Against ^ 2) was derived by Bill James, the father of Sabermetrics for baseball, using runs to derive an expected winning percentage based on goal differential. The winning percentage is then applied to the available points and you get how many points a team should have accumulated and the difference between their actual points and that expected number is how much the team has under/overachieved. Last year that number showed that the senators were not as bad as we had all hoped since their Pythagorean Winning Percentage was actually pretty good.
As for how the table reads, the Leafs actually should be doing worse and have about 2 points more than they should. However, a part of that can be attributed to the three blowouts (7-1 Caps, 5-1 sens, 7-1 Canes) without which the Leafs would have a Pyth% of 0.588 (55GF and 46GA). The two numbers that really jump out are the ottawa senators' overachievement of 4.32 points and the Islanders' 5 point differential. The former could mean that the 1976 Habs' records are safe after all while the latter hopefully means that the Isles ridiculous hot streak will fizzle out. The Isles also have a couple of blowouts (8-1 Leafs, 8-3 Canes) that will skew the results somewhat at such an early stage. Without those two they would have a Pyth% of .705 which would be more indicative of the pace at which they have earned points this season.
Anyway, it's just something I am playing around with and I'll be updating the tables every couple of weeks. I had some trouble searching for current articles so if you find any please send them along.