Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Importance of a Preseason Record

It's ok, Varly. You'll save it when it matters - right?

Last night's 6-0 drubbing by the Los Angeles Kings seems to have a lot of Avalanche fans worried.

In fact, Twitter filled with so much worry that Matt Duchene felt the need to give us the following two tweets:
Sorry to all the fans that paid their hard earned money tonight to watch that terrible performance of ours. We WILL be better
[...]
This Avs team is not the same one from last year so don't get used to seeing games like that. We're not gonna disappoint you guys again
As Adrian Dater put it,
Four games into the preseason, and we’re already getting apologetic tweets to fans from Avalanche players. This can’t be good, right?
So what I'm wondering is, does Colorado's current 1-3 preseason record (two games to play) indicate anything about the season to come? I took a look back at a decade's worth of preseason games and compared those results with the amount of regular season success. Here's what I found:

2000-01
Preseason: 5-2-1
Regular Season: 118 Points, President's Trophy, Stanley Cup Champions

2001-02
Preseason: 2-5-0
Regular Season: 99 Points, 2nd in West, Lost in Conference Finals

2002-03
Preseason: 2-5-0
Regular Season: 105 Points, 3rd in West, Lost in Round One

2003-04
Preseason: 4-2-1
Regular Season: 100 Points, 4th in West, Lost in Round Two

2005-06
Preseason: 4-0-2
Regular Season: 95 Points, 7th in West, Lost in Round Two

2006-07
Preseason: 5-1-0
Regular Season: 95 Points, 9th in West, No Playoffs

2007-08
Preseason: 4-0-2
Regular Season: 95 Points, 6th in West, Lost in Round Two

2008-09
Preseason: 4-1-1
Regular Season: 69 Points, 15th in West, No Playoffs

2009-10
Preseason: 3-3-0
Regular Season: 95 Points, 8th in West, Lost in Round One

2010-11
Preseason: 2-5-0
Regular Season: 68 Points, 14th in West, No Playoffs

For those of you keeping score at home, over the last ten preseasons, Colorado has had a winning record six times, a losing record three times, and a .500 record once.

In the years they had a winning record, the Avs averaged 95.3 points. There are two outliers (the team's best year, 2000-01, and one of the team's worst, 2008-09) but even if we take them out, the average only rises to about 96 points.

From these winning preseason teams, there came one Cup Champion (01), three Round Two losers (04, 06, 08), and two No Playoffs (07, 09).

In the years they had a losing or .500 record, the Avalanche averaged just 91.75 points.

From this group, there was one Conference Finals Attendee (02), two Round One losers (03, 10), and one No Playoffs (11).

What does all of this say?

Not much. The Avs are normally a pretty decent preseason club, with an overall record of 35-24-7. Is the 3.55 point gap between the winning and losing teams that significant? Not at all. The Avs have remained remarkably consistent through the years. If we take out the stellar Stanley Cup season, the winning preseason record teams are left with an average of just 90.8 regular season points.

The lesson from all of this?

These games don't count, and for guys who have to put 100% effort into 82+ games over the next 7+ months, it has to be pretty hard to get full adrenaline pumping over a meaningless preseason game.

I understand that people are worried that Landeskog hasn't scored and that Duchene isn't dominating, but things will come around. If Avalanche history has taught us anything, we're looking at, the very least, 95 points this season.

If not, be ready for a lottery pick, Capitals fans!
Go Avs

*Thanks to AvalancheDB for preseason numbers

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