Just so we're all clear, the goal from here on out is for Toronto to end up in the bottom five of the NHL, with the lower we finish, the better. The idea is to beat the draft lottery, land the number one pick, and draft Steven Stamkos. What we're going to do here every day from now on (or pretty much every day, hopefully) is update these 'reverse standings'. These will be standings that, instead of sorting from most points on down (with the first team on the list being the best in the league/conference/division), it will have fewest points at the top of the list. That's because you WANT to finish last. Because this is the first post in this (again, hopefully) daily series, I'll lay down the ground rules and some other important information.
1) How does the lottery work?
The lottery contains all of our hopes and dreams. Designed to prevent teams from tanking (losing intentionally) a season in order to grab the top pick, the lottery takes the fourteen teams that miss the playoffs and give them weighted odds to win. If you win the lottery, you can move up a maximum of four places. This is important because it means that only the teams ranked 26-30 in the league (or, in our Stamkos standings, 1-5) actually have a chance at getting the top pick. Finishing last gives you the best chance of getting the number one selection in the entry draft. Here are the actual odds:
But, as I mentioned, only the 26th-30th teams can actually get the top pick. If 17th-25th win the lottery, they'll move up four spots, but the 30th team will still get the number one pick. The most recent example I can think of this, off-hand, was in 1999, when the Chicago Blackhawks, the 23rd finishing team, won and moved from 8th to 4th with their draft pick. Last-place Tampa Bay kept the first pick. This ended up meaning pretty much nothing, since Vancouver grabbed Chicago's pick, Tampa traded down to fourth and then traded that pick to the Rangers, and Atlanta ended up picking Patrik Stefan first overall. Therein lies a good example of risk: just because you do pick first doesn't guarantee you a real difference making player. Of those bottom four picks, Stefan went first, Vancouver took the Sedins second and third, and then the Rangers took Pavel Brendl fourth. The Sedins have turned out nicely, but the other two pretty much sum up the '99 draft: it sucked.
That was a pretty odd tangent to go off on, and I can't think of a way to segue from that into re-listing the odds for who actually ends up with the top pick, so let's just post them anyway:
This shows that while it's important to finish in the bottom five to get yourself a shot at the top pick, it's way more important to finish in dead last to give yourself the BEST shot at getting that pick. Have teams finished 26th, won the lottery, and picked first? Yes they have. Chicago actually pulled this off last year, moving from 5th to 1st and taking Patrick Kane. The Islanders did this in 2000 as well, ending up with the top pick, which they turned into Rick DiPietro. Still, the odds aren't in your favour. That's why every loss counts.
2) Reverse standings? Stamkos standings? What the hell are you going on about?
This is really simple. All we're doing is taking the overall NHL standings and flipping them upside down. We're simplifying them to only show pertinent information. Example: TSN's standings show home record, away record, conference record, last ten game record, present winning/losing streak, regulation losses, overtime/shootout losses, and goals for and against. With the Stamkos standings, only Goals For and Goals Against from that list are kept, although it's combined into one number, goal differential. It's the same concept as a regular set of standings, except that we're rewarding whoever is the worst team (the reward is the best chance to get Stamkos, hence the name of the standings... I really feel like I'm repeating myself here).
3) So, are you listening the entire NHL here every day?
No, definitely not. Are you kidding? Look at how often we post here. That's waaaaay too much work for us. No, there are certain qualifications to get on this list. It isn't a fixed number of teams or anything, and you can be on it one day and off the next, or vice versa. Here is how you qualify:
a) Do not presently occupy a playoff spot (this mostly goes for the Southeast leader, presently Washington, who are like six points ahead of Tampa Bay for last in the East). If you are in the top 8 in your conference, you don't make the list. I'd say sorry, but you're in the playoff hunt, and I'm a Leafs fan, so fuck you.
b) Have a winning percentage of less than .550. Why .550? Well, we're all familiar with the .500 standard, right? With all of the loser points being thrown around post-lockout, 95 point teams (Colorado last year) not making the playoffs, and Toronto actually only being three games below .500 this year despite the fact that they are awful and should be shot into the sun, .500 isn't a good standard anymore. .550 is the new one. Why .550? It's a pretty good separator between 8th and 9th place at face value, and if you do the math, the NHL is actually playing .5505 hockey this year. I guess we could round that to .551, but not only does it leave for uglier math, but it doesn't stroke my ego in the way that eye-balling .550 does.
4) Does Toronto beating Montreal last night royally fuck us then?
Thankfully no, because Edmonton won the night before, and (somehow) Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and Chicago all won last night as well. We didn't fall back at all. Plus, Montreal didn't win, which is always good news. That's not to say it's not ALL good news: with another Islanders loss, they're suddenly only one point behind us, a Blues loss puts them closer to Stamkos and farther from the playoffs, and Steve at Hockey Analysis outlines just how badly this month could go for us. But that's ok, because we still have hope. And hope is a good thing.
Points is the first tiebreaker, obviously. The less points you have, the higher you are. Beyond points, we're going to rank by games played (because if you have games in hand, it's more likely you'll get points and move ahead), wins (since that's the official first tiebreaker in the NHL at season's end anyway, and if you aren't winning a lot of games, that's good for your Stamkos hopes), and goal differential (again, if you're getting badly outscored, it's more likely you'll lose more games).
I think that about covers it, so let's take a look at the Stamkos standings themselves, posted in what I really hope will end up as a nice little table. It probably won't be. GP = games play, W = wins, PTS = points, DIFF = goal differential.
1. LAK 56 GP, 23 W, 49 PTS, -24 DIFF
2. TBL 55 GP, 23 W, 51 PTS, -23 DIFF
3. TOR 56 GP, 22 W, 53 PTS, -28 DIFF
4. CHI 54 GP, 24 W, 53 PTS, -9 DIFF
5. NYI 55 GP, 24 W, 54 PTS, -29 DIFF
6. EDM 56 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -16 DIFF
7. FLA 56 GP, 25 W, 55 PTS, -9 DIFF
8. STL 52 GP, 24 W, 55 PTS, -14 DIFF
9. ATL 57 GP, 26 W, 56 PTS, -30 DIFF
10. CAR 56 GP, 26 W, 56 PTS, -13 DIFF
11. BUF 53 GP, 25 W, 57 PTS, +8 DIFF
12. CLB 56 GP, 26 W, 59 PTS, -5 DIFF
13. PHO 55 GP, 28 W, 60 PTS, 0 DIFF
And there you have it. I'm out for the weekend, so I guess the next possible update for this will be Monday. Christ, day one and we're already not doing it every day. We suck.