Now we’re getting into the business end of the EIHL season, fans’ eyes start turning to both the league and playoff races, calculations begin, and people start falling back on all that maths they’ve done at school, working out outcomes, questions and decisions as they try and work out permutations of how the EIHL will finish. Sometimes these get quite complicated…remember the EIHL playoff race last season going down to the final day?
So, Chasing Dragons thought they’d make life a little easier. Each week from now until the end of the season, we’ll be crunching the numbers and taking a look at the “magic numbers” teams need to reach, both to assure themselves of a playoff spot and a title race. We’ll also keep track of the EIHL table for you, just so you don’t have to, because we’re nice like that.
The way we calculate these marks, first of all, are simple. Each week we’ll assume every team wins in regulation in every game remaining, and thus gets the maximum number of points available to them. (Yes, we know that’s plainly impossible, but like the EIHL we’re working on a rough-and-ready statute here and making it up as we go along). This will give us the maximum number of points remaining available to each team. The highest number is the “magic number” that’ll guarantee you the championship, and the 8th highest number is the number of points that will guarantee a team a PO spot without the need of tiebreakers. It’s a very rough and ready “finish line” marker, essentially.
What’s the point of doing this? Well, apart from anything else, it gives us a rough idea at the beginning of each week of how close (or far away) each team is from guaranteeing either the title and/or a playoff spot, which is the kind of thing that’s useful to track. It’ll also allow EIHL fans (hopefully) to begin to track milestones for themselves and take some of the work out of doing the maths. So…let’s crack on with the first week, shall we?
1. BRAEHEAD. Games Played 40, Pts 57. Games Remaining 12. Max Pts Total, 81
2. SHEFFIELD: GP 39, Pts 54. GR 13, Max Pts 80
3, NOTTINGHAM: GP 40, Pts 54, GR 12, Max Pts 78
4. BELFAST: GP 41, Pts 52, GR 11, Max Pts 74
5. CARDIFF: GP 39 Pts 51, GR 13, Max Pts 77
6. FIFE: GP 41, Pts 38, GR 11, Max Pts 60
7. HULL GP 36, Pts 35, GR 16, Max Pts 67
8. COVENTRY GP 41, Pts 34, GR 11, Max Pts 56
9. EDINBURGH: GP 39, Pts 33, GR 13, Max Pts 59
10. DUNDEE: GP 40, Pts 25, GR 12, Max Pts 49
Looking at this, then, we can see that right now the mark you need to be assured of a PO place is 49 points (but given that that would require Fife, Hull, Coventry and Edinburgh to lose ALL their games for the remainder of the season, a physical impossibility given that three of them are in the same conference and still face each other, we discount the lowest number and take the next one up as the “playoff place” mark. That’s Coventry on 56 points.
As for the title race-at the moment the “clinch mark” is 81 points, but again, that’s assuming that every team in the top five wins every game remaining-again, a practical impossibility. So, we don’t take the top mark-we take the lowest among teams that can still actually catch Braehead.
So-where are we when it comes to maths, playoff races and the like? Where are we right now?
AT THE TOP
As far as the title race goes, only the top five are still in any sort of contention (Hull can still mathematically win the title, but they’ll drop out of contention very shortly indeed). Cardiff have the toughest task-they need every team above them to lose at LEAST 3 games in their run in while winning all of their own However, right now the situation at the top is still so fluid, it’s probably not worth us looking closely for a little while.
THE PLAYOFF RACE
The playoff race, though is a different matter. Over the next few weeks we should start to see teams come closer and closer to clinching a playoff spot. Right now, mathematically, nine teams could still miss out on the postseason, and while that’ll change pretty dramatically pretty quickly, it’s still allowing us to focus on something other than the title race for the next week or two as the dogfight heats up. So-let’s take our first look at how the EIHL post-season is shaping up…who’s in already, and who can make sure they’re in in the very near future?
The next lowest number of points an EIHL team can possibly get this season after Dundee is Coventry on 56. Braehead already have more than this which means…good news, Clan fans…your team has already locked up a playoff spot.
Meanwhile. A four-point weekend for Belfast this weekend in Coventry could conceivably see every team down to fifth place clinch a playoff spot this weekend. How?
As of now Sheffield, and Nottingham need one more win. Any win of theirs, or indeed a regulation loss for Coventry his weekend on either day, means they’re in the postseason.
Belfast can guarantee their spot with a four point weekend in Coventry (while at the same time doing a MASSIVE favour to the other teams in the PO race by lowering the “PO clinch total” by 4 points). A 4 point weekend for Belfast and two wins (one in OT) will also clinch PO places for Nottingham and Sheffield as mentioned, while at the same time allowing Cardiff to do so with one more win.
It should be stated that these numbers are VERY rough and ready, and will change dramatically each week, with teams dropping in and out of the PO and title race on a weekly basis. But what they WILL allow us to track is which teams have already locked up a PO spot, and, as we get nearer the end of the season, what teams need to do to clinch the title. However, it’s not worth looking at the Title Race Elimination section just yet-let’s stick to just the PO race..
So…here, as of now, is your Playoff Elimination Tracker for the week ending Feb 8th-or, to put it another way-how many wins out of your remaining games will guarantee your team a PO spot irrespective of results elsewhere-and let’s also see who is close to being in already.
NOTTINGHAM: 2 (will qualify outright if Belfast win twice in Coventry this weekend irrespective of own results)
SHEFFIELD: 2 of 11, losses available, 9) will qualify outright if Belfast win twice in Coventry this weekend irrespective of own results)
BELFAST 2 of 11 (losses available, 9, will qualify with a 4pt weekend in Coventry this weekend)
CARDIFF 3 of 13 (losses available, 10) A Cardiff win coupled with two Coventry losses, however, will see them into the POs)
FIFE 9 of 11, losses available, 2)
HULL 10 of 15-losses available, 5
COVENTRY 11 of 11, losses available, 0
EDINBURGH 11 of 13, losses available, 2
DUNDEE: 12 of 12 (and also need to hope two teams of Fife, Hull, Coventry, and Edinburgh fail to reach their win targets).
Now-don’t fret, Dundee fans-while as of now, using the criteria set, your position looks grim, that’s only “theoretically” so, and only because as of now the “magic number” is set over your possible maximum total. That will change very quickly as the teams above the Stars lose games and the Stars face their conference opponents-each win against them for the Stars will cause a four-point swing in the “magic number”
Also-as of now, the “losses available” (games a team can lose of their remainder & still qualify for POs) is a stat you shouldn’t pay too much attention to right now, as it will almost certainly rise for all teams over the next few weeks before beginning to drop again as we get near the end of the season. It’s included this week purely to familiarise you with the stat.
If the number is staying the same or rising week on week, so is your team’s chance of qualification. When it starts to drop-and for some teams it will, sharply, as we near season’s end…start to worry.
As you can see, the playoff picture in the EIHL should begin to become a lot clearer after this week, with potentially over half the spots taken up.
Then, it gets really interesting-and every week, Chasing Dragons will keep you up to day on how close (or far away) your team are to either the title, the postseason, or both.
Time to kick those races into high gear, lads and lasses.