While nothing has been confirmed officially, by all accounts the NHL season will be starting on January 19th and will last for 48 games. This was, apparently, the shortest season that the NHL would have considered, which makes it awfully convenient that a new CBA deal was reached just in time for a 48-game season to occur.
Setting aside what has brought us to this point for the moment, what does it mean to have 48 games rather than 82? For starters, each game becomes nearly twice as important. Approximately 1.95 times more important, to be a little more specific. To help you visualize a 48-game season, each team plays 48-50 games before the All-Star break in a normal season.
To give you some idea of how a 48-game season changes things, I looked at what it would have meant for last season.
Over at Backhand Shelf, I posted a breakdown of the standings from last season using three different 48-game scenarios. I started with the first 48 and the last 48 games of the season, but decided that didn’t seem truly representative of how it would actually play out. In a 48-game season, what’s really missing is the middle of the schedule, when the season starts to get routine and motivation can be hard to come by, so for the third scenario, I used the first and last 24 games of the season.
Here’s how those standings would have played out for the Western Conference:
As you can see, the Canucks would have still won their division pretty handily. If you can’t see that, click the image to make it bigger.
It is slightly troubling that their worst 48-game point total came in the third scenario, the one I think most closely approximates how an actual 48-game season would go. Even then, however, the Canucks still finish third in points in the West and easily win their division.
While it’s tempting to say that the Canucks can’t afford to get off to their usual slow start, it seems pretty clear from last season that they can. The Canucks won just 4 of their first 10 games last season and picked up just 9 out of a possible 20 points. But even if it had been a 48-game season, the Canucks would have been just fine. Hopefully that precludes us all from flipping pools if the Canucks have a similar start to the coming season.
Here are the point totals for every Canuck that played at least 40 games last season prorated over a 48-game season, taking into account games missed for injury or as a healthy scratch.
Things look a little better for the Sedins if you cherry pick a little. If you just look at their first 48 games, Daniel scored 21 goals and added 30 assists for 51 points. Henrik did slightly better, scoring 11 goals and 41 assists for 52 points. In the coming season, the Sedins just need to avoid the extended scoring slumps they faced in late February and early March.
In such a short season, individual and team success require just a few hot streaks, but a couple extended cold streaks or even a few short-term injuries to key players can derail a season in a hurry. But it should be some comfort to Canucks fans that however you sliced the 2011-12 season, the Canucks were successful. There’s no reason to think that the Canucks won’t once again win the Northwest Division.Tags: Charts