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Numbers Game: Goal Differential

We have just passed the half-way point in the NHL season. With the all-star game over, GM’s will be spending the next few weeks assessing their team’s chance of succeeding in the playoffs and deciding whether they are buyers or sellers at the fast approaching deadline.

One indicator of success is a team’s goal differential. In the Western Conference, the Ducks and the Avs are the only playoff teams that have scored fewer goals than they have allowed. But their -.02 differential will almost certainly become positive. Selanne, a 40 goal scorer last year, announced yesterday that he will be returning this season and his $600,000 salary will allow Burke to make some last minute additions at the deadline. The Avs have been hampered by injuries, but as soon as Stasny and Sakic return they will receive some much welcomed and needed offensive contributions.

The only non-playoff teams in the Western conference with a positive goal differential, the Blue Jackets and the Predators, sit within a point of the 8th place Avalanche.

In the East, it is much the same story. The Bruins and the Islanders are the only playoff teams that allow more goals than they score, while the Sabres are the only non-playoff team with a positive goal differential. The fact that the Lightning have the third worst goal differential in the league despite having two of the league’s top 10 scorers in Lecavelier and St. Louis speaks to the problems they have been having in net this year.

For Illegal Curve, I am Adam Gutkin.