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It’s Thanksgiving Plus a Few Days – Are ECHL Playoff Teams Already Decided?

Monday, November 28th
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I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and were able to spend time with family and friends. On a personal note, Nancy and I became grandparents for the first time with the birth of our granddaughter on Saturday. A special time in our lives for sure.

–  I had to chuckle when I saw this description of Thanksgiving by comedian Jim Gaffigan: “Thanksgiving. It’s like we didn’t even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is, we overeat. ‘Hey, how about on Thanksgiving we just eat a lot?’ ‘But we do that every day!’ ‘Oh. What if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us after three hours?”

– It is time for my “Thanksgiving Day Playoff Theory” blog which predicts the 16 ECHL playoff teams based on the standings as of today. No need to worry any more, the fate of your favorite team is already decided. A little overstated but not by much. I decided to wait until after the weekend games were completed because the ECHL had a delayed start this season (October 21). That was 10 days later than the typical first games before COVID.  By including the weekend games the percentage of games completed by each team is about the same as in the past (18%-25%).

– I have talked about this in the past after reading numerous articles about the history in the NHL, where data proves somewhere between 75% – 80% of playoff teams are already decided by now. Here is one of the more informative stories about this subject from the Hockey News several years ago: http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/out-of-the-playoffs-december-1-done-like-thanksgiving-dinner

– It is strange to think with about 20% of the ECHL season complete, you can predict who will be in the playoffs with close to 80% accuracy. Nothing ventured, nothing gained so here are the playoff teams strictly by the numbers plus where I think the “Thanksgiving Day Playoff Theory” might be wrong. The numbers in parentheses are the current winning percentages. Here are your 2022-23 playoff teams.

NORTH DIVISION

  • 1. Worcester (.853)
  • 2. Newfoundland (.794)
  • 3. Reading (.633)
  • 4. Trois Riviéres (.469)

The top two in the North Division are pretty much a lock but the last playoff team will come down to Trois Riviéres, Adirondack or Maine. Based on their records the last 10 games, Trois Riviéres should hang on to the final playoff spot. Norfolk (.139) is the only team in the division that is already out of the playoff picture. The Admirals have started trading players for future considerations which are players they will get at the end of the season.

SOUTH DIVISION

  • 1. Florida (.700)
  • 2. Atlanta (.679)
  • 3. Savannah (.654)
  • 4. South Carolina (.643)

The South Division has six teams with a points percentage above .500 and in playoff territory. Greenville is at .567 and Jacksonville is at .533. Only Orlando (.406) is out of the picture right now. Jacksonville and Greenville made the playoffs last season and could jump into a playoff position. Savannah is a first-year franchise and has cooled down (4-3-3–0 in last 10 games) after a great start to the season (5-1-0-0). It will be hard for the Ghost Pirates to maintain a playoff position.

CENTRAL DIVISION

  • 1. Cincinnati (.821)
  • 2. Indy (.656)
  • 3. Kalamazoo (.536)
  • 4. Wheeling (.467)

Of all of the divisions the Central is the most likely to have a different outcome than it looks like today. It is hard to say Fort Wayne (.464) and Toledo (.393) won’t make the playoffs based on past history. Iowa (.321) is unlikely to make the playoffs, but I could see Fort Wayne and/or Toledo leap-frog Kalamazoo and/or Wheeling for a playoff spot.

MOUNTAIN DIVISION

  • 1. Idaho (.844)
  • 2. Kansas City (.607)
  • 3. Wichita (.600)
  • 4. Tulsa (.533)

This is another division where every team, but one has a record of .500+. Rapid City and Utah are lurking just behind Tulsa. Utah was the #1 team in the regular season last season and Rapid City was #2, so it is easy to see them moving into a playoff position. Allen is in last place in the division with a .393 points percentage and is the only team out of contention for a playoff spot at this point.

– History says if you are more than five points out of the fourth playoffs spot the chances of making it into the playoffs spot is almost nonexistent. That is bad news for Norfolk who is already 10 points out of a playoff spot.  Three teams (Orlando, Iowa, Allen) are exactly five points from a playoff position and would have to pass two teams to get into a playoff position, so their chances are slim.

– Historically, teams more than five points clear of the final playoff spot in the division at this point can start selling playoff tickets as they rarely miss the playoffs. Teams in this category include Worcester, Newfoundland, Cincinnati, Indy and Idaho.

– The bottom line is most playoffs teams are already decided but as important it is to make the playoffs; it is a myth that once you make the ECHL playoffs any team can win the Kelly Cup. In the last 15 seasons the Kelly Cup champion has never finished worse than seventh in the regular season. In 13 of the last 15 seasons the Kelly Cup champion finished in the top five during the regular season. Half of the time the eventual champion has finished in the top three during the regular season. History says any team that finishes below #7 in the regular season and makes the playoffs has almost zero chance of winning the Kelly Cup.

– Keep in mind this is all done in fun and I will definitely revisit it at the end of the season to see how many of the 16 teams in playoff positions now, will in fact make the playoffs. If your favorite team is currently out the playoffs, remember even with 80% accuracy, three or four teams currently on the outside of a playoff position will make the playoffs.

DID YOU KNOW: The list of ECHL teams that have won multiple championships is not very long when you consider the league has been around since 1988 and there have been something like 60 different  teams depending on how you count. Here are the eight teams that have won multiple ECHL championships with winning coaches in parenthesis:

  • Alaska Aces – 2006, 2011, 2014  (Davis Payne, Rob Murray, Rob Murray)
  • South Carolina Stingrays – 1997, 2001, 2009  (Rick Vaive, Rick Adduono, Jared Bednar)
  • Hampton Roads Admirals – 1991, 1992, 1998  (John Brophy)
  • Florida Everblades – 2012, 2022  (Greg Poss, Brad Ralph)
  • Colorado Eagles – 2017, 2018  (Aaron Schneekloth)
  • Allen Americans – 2015, 2016  (Steve Martinson)
  • Cincinnati Cyclones – 2008, 2010  (Chuck Weber)
  • Idaho Steelheads – 2004, 2007  (John Oliver, Derek Laxdal)
  • Toledo Storm – 1993, 1994  (Chris McSorley)

The post It’s Thanksgiving Plus a Few Days – Are ECHL Playoff Teams Already Decided? appeared first on Allen Americans Hockey Club.

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