What becomes a playoff team most?
Is goaltending most important? How about power-play prowess?
Maybe it's one of those, but you could do worse than making the case that 5-on-5 scoring ratio is most key, essentially the ability to generate offence even strength.
The stat measures goals a team has scored with all 12 on the ice, divided by goals allowed in those scenarios.
Detroit is the current leader, with a ratio of 1.45.
Of the Top 16 teams in 5-on-5 scoring ratio each season since the lockout, this is how many made the playoffs:
If you are a top 10 regular season team in this category, it's exceedingly likely you are going to the postseason. The only exceptions to that rule since the lockout are Toronto in 2007 (ninth) and Florida in 2006 (ninth). It should be pointed out, however, that San Jose and/or Phoenix could threaten to join as the exceptions to the rule.
This year it is looking like 13 or 14 teams of the top 16 teams 5-on-5 will be in.
Current stats here.
There's already one exception locked in - New Jersey, which has a 0.93 ratio 5-on-5. Florida, even worse at 0.88, could also join soon.
Here are the Stanley Cup champs since the lockout. The first figure is their regular season power-play ranking, the second their ranking in 5-on-5 hockey.
In five of six cases, the eventual winners ranked higher relative to their NHL counterparts in 5-on-5 goal ratio during the regular season than on the power play.
Of course, all hockey fans remember the Bruins prevailing in spite of their ineptitude with the man advantage, though it's probably not something anyone will try to emulate.
And as you can see, the Stanley Cup champions over the last five years have been in the top 8 in the 5-on-5 stat category, with two of them league leaders.
The exception was Carolina in the first season after the lockout, one my colleague Jesse Campigotto likes to call The Black Hole Year as everyone was feeling their way after a year off and the new rules (and it's largely true that if you do any kind of number crunching with NHL stats, the 2005-06 season invariably is an outlier).
Yes, past doesn't mean present, but for fits and giggles, here's the top 8 as of right now in 5-on-5:
Ottawa and Phoenix, by the way, are next on the list at 1.06.
Start placing your bets.
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