Email Answer: Blackhawks Performance Against The Eastern vs Western Conference

I’ve opened up my email for questions. Email with any question you might have and I will either answer it in a post like this one, or with a simple reply email. I’d like people to email many whenever they have a question. This isn’t a mailbag, but rather a 24/7 question hot line.

For privacy reasons, I will default to not including the name of the person who asked the question.

An emailer asks:

“How well do you think the Blackhawks will do with winning games against the Western Region teams? Above or below .500?

Prediction questions are always tough. First I will compare the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference in an attempt to delay while I come up with an answer.

Chicago Blackhawks record this season:
vs West 15-8-3 = 69% Point Percentage
vs East 10-4-2 = 75% Point Percentage

As for the results from this season, the Blackhawks have recorded points at a higher rate when playing against the Eastern Conference. But let’s dive deeper into the numbers and see what we can find.

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When looking at the shot based stats (Corsi, Scoring Chances, and Expected Goals), Chicago has performed better when playing against Eastern Conference Teams.

However, when we look at actual goals scored, Chicago has performed tremendously vs Western Conference Teams. When playing the West, Chicago scored 62% of all 5-on-5 goals. This means that western conference opponents only scored 38% of all goals against Chicago. (100 – 62% = 38%)

When playing the Eastern conference, goal scoring is closer to 50:50.

This is a hard one to explain. Chicago is getting outplayed by Western Conference teams, but are outscoring them by a hefty margin.

Even when looking at these stats, I feel they are more descriptive than they are predictive. Chicago might have played more Eastern Conference teams when Toews or Hossa were out. Maybe Chicago has played mostly easy Western Conference foes so far this season and the schedule will become more daunting. This is so much variance at play here.

I wouldn’t put much weight into these numbers. They just tell the story of what has happened this season and shouldn’t predict how the team will play vs either conference in the future.

I’ll simply default to the record of the East vs the West.

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The West has a record of 106-101-24 against Eastern Conference teams. That is good for 236 points and a point percentage of 56%.

The East has a record of 125-77-29 against the Western Conference. That is good for 279 points and a point percentage of 67%.

If the records were closer, I might toss it up to random variance, but the East has a hefty lead over the West, which leads me to believe the Eastern Conference may just be the superior conference this season.

But as for the original question at hand, my answer is .500 on the dot or just above it. Lets call that .500 if all loses count as loses. As in a 20-15-5 record is actually a 20-20 record and therefore .500

Last season, if we take out a 12-game win streak, the Blackhawks in fact played .500 hockey. That is illustrated in this post on Blackhawks winning streaks.

I could see this season being close to the same. The Blackhawks had a couple smaller win streaks earlier this season. With those, they should have enough points banked where they can play .500 hockey throughout the season and still make the playoffs.

I see the Blackhawks as being a wild card level team that has been propped up by the best goaltending in the league. If goaltending remains the same, they could finish first or second in the division. The more likely scenario is the goaltending regresses a little, CHI deals with a couple injuries, and they finish 3rd in the division or as the 1st wild card team.

But the West appears to be down this season, so maybe they will be able to continue to beat up on the subpar conference, but I would expect a more even win-loss record down the stretch.