- With the NHL at its 2020 All-Star break, now is a good time to assess the current standings
- The Vancouver Canucks lead the Pacific with 58 points, but four teams are at 57
- The odds to win the 2020 Pacific Division title are equally tight; who’s the best bet?
Hockey is a sport that lends itself to luck and, consequently, randomness. One bad bounce might be enough to change the complexion of a game or, in the case of the Pacific Division, the standings entirely.
Five teams in the Pacific enter the All-Star break within one point of the division lead. Understandably, they similarly packed in the latest 2020 Pacific Division odds. On average, Vegas still has the best odds to win the division (+313), followed by Vancouver and Calgary (both +325). BetOnline has all three teams tied at +300.
2020 Pacific Division odds
|Team||Odds at BetOnline||Points, Games Played|
|Calgary Flames||+300||57 PTS, 50 GP|
|Vancouver Canucks||+300||58 PTS, 49 GP|
|Vegas Golden Knights||+300||57 PTS, 52 GP|
|Arizona Coyotes||+400||57 PTS, 51 GP|
|Edmonton Oilers||+400||57 PTS, 49 GP|
|San Jose Sharks||+10000||46 PTS, 50 GP|
Odds taken Jan. 23.
Among those teams listed (aside from the Sharks, who are only shown to provide context), it’s anyone’s race. who is poised to separate from the pack?
Of course, the Pacific Division lead will change 54 times between now and April so there's that.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 23, 2020
The Vancouver Canucks are in the most-favorable spot right now, with 58 points through 49 games. Following close behind are four teams with 57 points apiece: the Edmonton Oilers (49 games played), Calgary Flames (50), Arizona Coyotes (51) and Vegas Golden Knights (52).
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 19, 2020
Mentioning the games played is key, because the Canucks and Oilers have more chances left to garner points than their division foes.
Also, divisional games tend to be largely back-loaded to the end of the season, so these teams will have many more chances to gain/lose ground on each other. To date, Vegas has the best record within the division (11-5-2), followed by Vancouver (10-5-1) and Edmonton (9-6-1).
Marchy Marchy Marchy
can’t you see
sometimes your moves just hypnotize me
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 31, 2019
I mentioned there’s some luck involved here, right? Good or bad fortune in hockey can be measured in several ways, but one of the simplest is to look at teams’ PDO ratings. That’s a measurement of save percentage and shooting percentage, a value that averages out to 100 across the league.
Teams with a PDO above 100 are considered “lucky,” while teams below 100 are considered “unlucky.”
Among the Pacific contenders, Vegas finds itself the unluckiest with a 98.4 PDO at 5-on-5 (27th in NHL), followed by Calgary at 99.0 PDO (26th). Those teams appear due for some positive regression.
They grow up so fast ☺️ pic.twitter.com/PpJ4iQaAY7
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 22, 2020
Vegas is also second in the NHL in 5-on-5 expected goals percentage (54.29 percent), which is measured based on the quantity and quality of scoring chances a team generates and allows. In actual goals percentage, Vegas ranks 22nd (48.15 percent).
Sometimes it’s nice just to know a team has been there before. Experience can matter in a stressful stretch run.
Vancouver has missed the playoffs four consecutive years. Calgary won the Pacific last year, but has only been to the playoffs three of the past 10 years. Edmonton missed last year and has been just once in the past 13 years.
"When the puck's not going in for you … you still have to pay attention to what you're doing away from the puck."
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) January 19, 2020
Arizona hasn’t made the playoffs since 2012. And then there’s Vegas, which is only in its third season of existence and made the playoffs in both previous years (including a Pacific Division title in 2018).
The pick that makes the most sense might be Vancouver, since it has the narrow lead and a couple games in hand on some of its opponents. But if you accept the randomness of hockey and want to cling to some statistical support, Vegas is the right choice.
What hurts Vegas is that it has the fewest games remaining. But the Golden Knights have been statistically unlucky and have proven an ability to beat Pacific foes. There’s still plenty of time to gain the top spot.
Pick: Vegas to win the Pacific Division (+300)
Let's have fun and keep it civil.