Playoff Push: Comparing the Winnipeg Jets to the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings

Nothing is guaranteed.

Indeed while the Winnipeg Jets have their best shot at making the playoffs in the version 2.0 era, there remains a good chance that the club will miss the playoffs yet again for the fourth consecutive time since relocating to Manitoba.

We previously looked at how the Jets match up against their most likely playoff opponents. Now we turn our series to the competition.

Let’s take an an in-depth look at the players in the race after the jump.

Playoff Chances

There is an outside shot that the Vancouver Canucks or the Minnesota Wild may end up on the outside of the playoffs, but realistically it’s a three-horse-race between the Flames, Jets, and Kings but only last place loses.

Micah McCurdy’s model – which uses score, venue, and opponent-adjusted Corsi percentage – is the best fit predictive model available to the public, and it currently projects Western Conference playoff probabilities as so:

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(Courtesy of hockeystats.ca)

Sports club stats meanwhile has similar but slightly different odds, with Flames at 72.4 percent, Jets at 67.9 percent, and Kings at 61.9 percent.

At this sample level, the talent differences in goaltending and finishing talent is too small to act out anything beyond what would be expected from near randomness.

Season Numbers

Even Strength (5v5)

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When it comes to 5-on-5 play, the Los Angeles Kings have been one of the most dominant teams basically since around the time they traded for Jeff Carter. Their Corsi percentage is the best in the league and their goal differential is pretty good too.

While not as dominant as the Kings, the Jets are still a top 10 team in terms of 5v5 goal differential and Corsi percentage, with their control of shot attempts trending up ever since Dustin Byfuglien was moved back to defense.

Interestingly, the Calgary Flames are not this team that is bad only in Corsi percentage. Despite slightly inflated percentages they are still not a team that has outscored their opposition (okay they have by ONE goal). They score just as effectively as the other two teams, but depend more on percentages for that scoring. Their goal repression though has been more porous than the other two western squads.

Special Teams

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Believe it or not, Jets have the strongest performance for special teams. On the power play they perform best in all four measures: all shot attempts, unblocked shot attempts, shooting percentage, and goals. On the penalty kill the Jets are not the best shot repressor of the bunch, but their goaltending (shockingly) places them ahead of the pack.

The Kings are not as effective as either the Flames or Jets in generating shot attempts, but the Kings are able to prevent their shots from being blocked more effectively and score more goals relative to the Flames. The Kings have always been extremely efficient in shot repression and they are no different on the kill and come out ahead in terms of goals against than the Flames.

Despite winning for much of the season, the Flames are not as capable as the two other bubble teams in either special teams in addition to even strength situations. It may make you wonder why they won so much in the first place.

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The numbers above are simply the power play numbers subtracted by the penalty kill numbers. Essentially what you would guess the team’s differentials would be if the team spent equal amounts of ice time in both situations.

In overall special team effectiveness, the Jets perform best in terms of shot attempts, but the Kings do best when ignoring blocked shots. Winnipeg still performs best in goals due to have more fortunate (or in reality, less unfortunate) percentages. None of the three teams though has been overly impressive on special teams.

Despite the Flames being the worst team in special team skill, the Flames goal differential from their special teams is the best of the three. A league best penalty differential of +69 means the Flames have had enjoyed a man (or more) advantage for a league leading 69 times. That’s very nice.

Despite being outscored in one minute of power play time for every one minute of penalty kill time, the Flames have still enjoyed a heavily slanted ratio of power plays to penalty kills. This is ultimately why the Flames currently fight for a playoff spot despite being the weaker team in all other areas.

Head-to-Head Numbers

The Calgary Flames play each one of the other two teams once in their final three games.

So far this season, the Calgary Flames holds a winning record against both the other two teams.

The Flames are 3-1-0 against the Kings, with two of their wins coming from overtime. In their four games the Flames have outscored the Kings 11 to 10.

Against the Jets the Flames carry a perfect 2-0-0 record while outscoring 9 to 3.

The underlying numbers however expose some layers to the games.

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In both games the Flames have been severely out possessed by their opponents. Against the Jets, the Flames have benefited from some fortunate percentages and have outscored for 5v5 situations because of it. Against the Kings though the Flames have not been as fortunate in the percentage department and have relied on their penalty differential and “timely” goals to pull some wins.

All numbers are from War-on-Ice and score-adjusted unless otherwise noted.

Playoff Push Match-Up Series: