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How Lucky Has Your NHL Team Been This Season?

Rob VollmanContributor INovember 6, 2013

How Lucky Has Your NHL Team Been This Season?

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Though NHL hockey is a game of tremendous skill, puck luck can have a huge influence in the standings. Is there a way to quantify those breaks and bounces and figure out which teams have been most fortunate so far in 2013-14? 

    Five separate luck-based factors are considered in a system first introduced in Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract. The data is sourced directly from NHL.com, up to and including Sunday night's games.

    • A team's record in overtime and shootout
    • A team's record in one-goal games decided in regulation time
    • The team's injuries, as measured by adding up the cap hit of the injured players (source)
    • The difference between a team's shooting percentage and that of its opponents
    • The difference between a team's power-play percentage and that of its opponents

    These factors aren't added up without adjustment. Each of these factors need to be reduced to remove their skill-based component, and to remove any double-counting between categories. Then they can be converted to points in the standings in order to achieve the final ranking. 

    Don't like the results? Then use the Team Luck tool at Hockey Abstract to make your own ranking. As for mine, they obviously begin with some basement dwellers and finish with exactly the team you'd probably expect.

     

    All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted. 

     

30. Florida Panthers

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-3

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 0-3

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.64 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -4.4 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -10.2 percent

    Net Impact: -9.0 points

     

    Just like last year, the Florida Panthers can't catch a break in any department.

    Opponents are scoring on 10.9 percent of their shots, and their only quasi-capable goaltender, Tim Thomas, is on injured reserve.

    Meanwhile, their three top shooters—Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky—have scored on just five of their combined 114 shots. As a team, the Panthers have scored on just 10.2 percent of their shots on the power play, the fourth-lowest rate in the league.

    The Panthers shouldn't be this bad. Thomas, Tom Gilbert, Scott Gomez and Brad Boyes were all good value pickups, Aleksander Barkov is one of the league's best rookies and they should normally be playing at roughly the league-average level. If their luck changes, they could catch some teams by surprise.

     

29. Buffalo Sabres

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    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-1

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 0-6

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.20 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -2.3 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -4.5 percent

    Net Impact: -8.8 points

     

    Bad luck, like the kind that leaves you on the losing end of all six one-goal games decided in regulation, is probably something that doesn't even bother Sabres management right now.

    In trading away Thomas Vanek, the Sabres potentially signaled their desire for a good draft lottery position to help add to their already incredible organizational depth.

    While there's no doubt that the Sabres would be struggling even with neutral luck, it's still fair to say that the Sabres aren't as bad as their 3-13-1 record suggests.

     

28. Edmonton Oilers

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    Andy Devlin/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-4

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $2.24 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -4.1 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -11.4 percent

    Net Impact: -8.8 points

     

    With a league-leading 90 man-games lost to injury, the Edmonton Oilers are on pace for 492 over a complete season. The unofficial modern-day record for man games lost to injury is 629 by the 2002-03 Los Angeles Kings. The highest confirmed total is 592 by the 2008-09 New York Islanders.

    To make matters worse, the injuries have been affecting their best players, including Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Devan Dubnyk and Justin Schultz. They currently have eight players on injury reserve, with another three having a questionable day-to-day status.

    It's probably no surprise that their power play is converting on just 12.2 percent of opportunities, barely half of their opponent's 23.6 percent. To make matters worse, the Oilers have been on the losing end of five of their seven close games.

    The Oilers are not a great team, but, when healthy, they're not a terrible team, either.

     

27. New Jersey Devils

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 0-4

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.26 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -3.9 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +0.9 percent

    Net Impact: -5.8 points

     

    The New Jersey Devils actually outshot their opponents by 5.4 shots per game last year, the best differential in the league. And yet they missed the postseason because their opponent's scored on 10.6 percent of their shots while the Devils scored on just 8.1 percent of theirs.

    This rare problem has actually gotten worse in 2013-14. They are now scoring on only 7.4 percent of their shots while their opponents are still sniping away at around 10.3 percent. Even though they're still outshooting their opponents (but by less than a shot a game), they're still at the bottom end of the standings.

    To make matters worse, the Devils have been struggling with injuries to both key offensive and defensive players, and coach Peter DeBoer insists on starting 41-year-old legend Martin Brodeur for half the team's games. The bad luck in New Jersey may take some time to resolve.

     

26. Winnipeg Jets

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-4

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.52 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -2.3 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -5.5 percent

    Net Impact: -5.5 points

     

    Like most playoff bubble teams, the Winnipeg Jets could not afford a slow start.

    Nine Winnipeg games have ended regulation time either tied or within a goal, a situation that should ideally result in about 13.5 points, but instead, the Jets have skated away with just eight. Those extra five or six points would be enough to squeeze the Jets into the top 10.

    While most of Winnipeg's injuries have fortunately been to secondary players, the Jets have been on the losing end of both shooting percentage and power-play percentage. Their top six shooters have scored on just 20 of 312 shots, or 6.4 percent. Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little are the only two top players having any success finding twine.

    With room in the postseason for eight of the 14 Western Conference teams, the Jets still have the potential to play hockey in May, but it will require their shooting luck to turn around, and fast.

25. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 0-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 3-4

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.36 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -3.6 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -6.4 percent

    Net Impact: -4.7 points

     

    In their 13 games, how many times have the Philadelphia Flyers scored more than two goals in a game this season? Once, a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Their opponents have done it seven times, including the infamous 7-0 clobbering at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

    The Flyers are taking shots, but things are not connecting. Their power play has scored on just five of 53 opportunities, and they've scored on just 5.3 percent of their shots overall, down from 9.5 percent last year. Superstar Claude Giroux is yet to score at all!

    As any hockey player will tell you, these things can and do happen. Players and sometimes entire teams go on stretches where their shots miss the net, deflect wide, hit the post or run into a hot goalie. That's hopefully what's currently happening to the Flyers, who otherwise have the type of accomplished lineup that would never be expected to have this much trouble generating offense.

     

24. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 0-3

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.29 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -0.9 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -5.3 percent

    Net Impact: -3.7 points

     

    Some of the Blue Jackets' bad luck was to be expected. Everyone knew Nathan Horton would be out for the first half of the season, everyone knew that Sergei Bobrovsky would cool down somewhat and not a single analyst had them finishing higher than fourth in the new Metropolitan Division. But even with all of that in mind, Columbus is still several points behind projections.

    If there's a legitimate issue in Columbus, it is likely on the blue line. While Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin have generally been sound two-way players, the remainder are either offense-focused (Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski) or younger players who are still developing (Dalton Prout, David Savard, Ryan Murray).

    The addition of some veteran blue-line assistance might improve the struggling penalty kill (77.3 percent, 26th in the NHL) and provide the stability that could help turn the Jackets' luck around.

     

     

23. New York Rangers

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    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-1

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.87 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -3.5 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +2.5 percent

    Net Impact: -2.8 points

     

    Starting off the season with a nine-game road trip, combined with injuries to Carl Hagelin, Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash, will generally lead to slow starts. Back at home, and with everyone but Nash and Dominic Moore back in the lineup, things are already starting to turn around.

    In fact, the Rangers have won three of their last four and haven't given up more than two goals in a game since New Jersey blanked them 4-0 way back on October 19th.

    The last remaining remnant of their slow start is their 6.0 percent team shooting percentage. It's a big reason why they've been outscored 40-26 despite outshooting their opponents 432-414 so far this year.

    Of their 10 players with at least 20 shots, only Derek Stepan (three) and Brad Richards (five) have more than two goals. Two players have exactly two, four players have one and two players, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman, are scoreless. The return of Callahan and Hagelin, who already have five goals in 23 shots over 10 games combined, should help reverse this trend.

22. New York Islanders

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-3

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-4

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.50 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +0.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +2.7 percent

    Net Impact: -2.0 points

     

    There are no major luck-related problems with the New York Islanders, who have been relatively injury-free and are scoring goals at about the same rate as they're allowing them.

    Two minor problems have added up to perhaps a single win in the standings. A losing record in one-goal regulation games and also in those decided in overtime/shootout.

    One alarming trend is allowing three goals or more in all but three of their 14 games. Fortunately, their offense has been almost as prolific. Hopefully the Islanders defense will tighten up before players like Kyle Okposo (17 points) and Frans Nielsen (16 points) cool down.

     

21. Ottawa Senators

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-4

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-3

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.17 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +1.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +5.7 percent

    Net Impact: -1.7 points

     

    The Ottawa Senators were absolutely ravaged by injuries last season but have been almost completely unaffected this year. They also have solid special teams and are scoring on a higher percentage of their shots than their opponents.

    So what's the problem? First of all, they're allowing far more shots than usual. Last year, the Senators outshot opponents by 1.9 shots per game. This year, they're being outshot by 6.2 shots per game. That's a swing of over eight shots per game!

    The Senators have now lost five in a row, already "besting" the four-game losing streak they began in the middle of their season-opening six-game road trip. Seven of their 10 losses have been by a single goal, and four of those seven came in overtime or shootout. Edmonton scored an empty-netter, or else it would have been eight one-goal losses.

    Maybe bad luck played a factor in some of those close-game losses, but not in getting outshot by 6.2 shots per night. Ottawa needs to correct this or it will remain near the bottom of the Atlantic division, even when its luck does turn around.

20. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 0-3

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 4-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $2.45 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -3.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -4.4 percent

    Net Impact: -1.3 points

     

    The Carolina Hurricanes are suffering a five-game losing streak, during which they've never exceeded two goals and their opponents have never failed to score at least three.

    Obviously, part of Carolina's problems are of their own making, but at least some if it is due to factors outside their control.

    Take injuries, for example. If you include the preseason injury to Joni Pitkanen, the Hurricanes have five players on injured reserved and two more as questionable day-to-day cases. Worse yet, this includes their leading scorer in Jeff Skinner and both of their goalies, Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin. Carolina has struggled with Justin Peters, going 0-5 with a goals-against average of 3.49—partly due to his .890 save percentage.

    Carolina has also been without shooting luck. Its team shooting percentage is just 6.4 percent, and not a single one of its 10 players with at least 20 shots have a double-digit shooting percentage.

    Given time, Carolina's shots will start going in, but without a goaltender, they won't stay out.

19. Montreal Canadiens

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 0-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-5

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.96 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +2.5 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +9.3 percent

    Net Impact: -1.1 points

     

    The Montreal Canadiens are playing very well, besting their opponents in both shooting percentage and power-play percentage, but are probably still a point or so off the pace.

    One reason is that their record in one-goal games is 1-5, without a single one of those games being taken to overtime where they at least could have gotten a so-called "loser point." Saturday's 4-1 loss to Colorado was actually their only loss by two goals or more so far this year.

    They've also been hit harder than most in the injury department. Max Pacioretty was out nine games, Daniel Briere has been out seven (so far) and they're missing a handful of useful defensive-minded veterans, too.

    Montreal is a far more talented team than its 8-7 record suggests, and any team that forgets that could be caught off guard.

18. Los Angeles Kings

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 6-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 0-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.06 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -2.3 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +0.4 percent

    Net Impact: -1.0 points

     

    The Los Angeles Kings have lost just a single player to injury, and for only a single game. They also have a sparkling 6-0 record in overtime/shootout games. So why aren't they on the positive side of the luck ledger?

    First of all, they're 0-2 in one-goal games that were decided in regulation time, with one further game involving a late empty-net goal. 

    More importantly, Jonathan Quick's .896 save percentage has also been uncharacteristically low, resulting in six more goals against than a league-average goalie would have allowed. The Kings have consequently outshot their opponents by a combined 102 shots in 15 games but have outscored them by just three goals.

    In the end, the good luck and the bad luck are close to cancelling each other out, leaving the Kings one point off the pace, at most.

17. Dallas Stars

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.56 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -0.6 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -5.2 percent

    Net Impact: -0.7 points

     

    With one exception, the Dallas Stars have had pretty even luck. Their record in one-goal games is an even 2-2 in both regulation and overtime/shootout. Their injuries have been minor, and their shooting luck is about the same as their opponents, right around the league-average rate.

    The one exception? Power-play percentage. While their penalty-killing is humming along at a league-average rate, their power play is five percent below league average. They have just six goals in 47 opportunities.

    Still, that's pretty small potatoes and bound to correct itself as the new players and the new coach adjust to each other. In the mean time, the Dallas Stars will likely continue as a league-average team, which should be enough to qualify for the postseason in a conference where only six of the 14 teams will be left out.

     

16. Calgary Flames

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 4-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.49 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -1.3 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -7.3 percent

    Net Impact: -0.3 points

     

    Ranking sixth in their division is nothing to pop open the champagne over, but not a single analyst predicted the Calgary Flames to finish anywhere other than the Pacific Division basement this year.

    Of course, Calgary's current placement is more a consequence of Edmonton's terrible luck than any particularly good fortune on the Flames' part. Indeed, unfortunate injuries to Mark Giordano and Lee Stempniak may soon have the Flames battling for last place, especially with their lack of defensive-minded replacements.

    The Flames have also had bad luck (or is it bad execution?) with the man advantage. They have scored on just eight of their 52 opportunities (21st in the NHL), while their opponents have converted on 10 of 44 (26th).

    What's really impressive here is that the Calgary Flames have managed 14 points in 14 games, and without the benefit of great luck. If it weren't for those injuries, it might even be predicted to continue.

15. Minnesota Wild

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 0-3

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 3-1

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.79 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -0.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +0.9 percent

    Net Impact: +0.5 points

     

    The Minnesota Wild's luck has been pretty even this year, and their success has largely been due to legitimate improvements in their play.

    Last year, for example, Minnesota outshot its opponents by just 85 shots in 48 games and were actually outscored by five goals. This year, the Wild are already outshooting their opponents by 80 shots in just 15 games and outscoring them by four.

    As for the team's luck, it's been cancelled out in each area. It's 3-1 in regulation one-goal games but 0-3 in overtime/shootout. The Wild's power play has been red hot, but then again, so have their opponents'. Josh Harding's play has been inspirational, but the the Wild's goaltending has otherwise been poor enough to leave them pretty close to league average, overall.

    Minnesota's place in the standings has been greatly influenced by luck over the past few years, but not this year. The team is playing legitimately strong hockey, and it should continue, provided that its good luck evens out at the same rate as its bad.

14. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-4

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 3-1

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.13 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -0.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -5.0 percent

    Net Impact: +0.9 points

     

    The Chicago Blackhawks have just two regulation losses in their first 15 games, which is surprisingly two more than they had in their first 24 games last year.

    And yes, the Chicago Blackhawks do it with talent, not luck. With the exception of good health and a 3-1 record in one-goal regulation games, there's nothing that suggests that their record is being bloated by fortune this year.

    The one stroke of good luck that the Blackhawks are hoping for is that it's once again the best team that wins it all this year and not the luckiest.

13. Washington Capitals

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 3-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 0-3

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.53 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +1.6 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +14.3 percent

    Net Impact: +1.0 points

     

    The big story in Washington is the power play, which has scored 17 goals in 61 opportunities, over triple the Capitals' opponents (5-for-59). There could be some luck at play, however.

    The Capitals and their opponents have taken roughly the same number of shots per minute with the man advantage, but Washington has scored on 19.5 percent of its shots, almost quadruple that of its opponents, who have scored on 4.9 percent. That massive gap isn't one that's likely to persist.

    The power play will eventually start to cool off, at which point the Capitals are going to have to start generating more shots. At the moment, they're being outshot by an average of 4.6 shots per game, which is not a recipe for keeping one's nose over the .500 mark.

     

12. Boston Bruins

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-3

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.01 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +2.4 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -2.0 percent

    Net Impact: +1.6 points

     

    Last year's Stanley Cup finalists got off to an 7-2 start on the back of some truly fantastic goaltending. Tuukka Rask's save percentage is currently .940, and the team allowed just 13 goals in its first nine games.

    Unfortunately, Boston's luck is already changing. The Bruins have allowed 12 goals in their last four games, in what would have been a four-game losing streak if not for a shootout victory over Anaheim on Halloween night.

    Boston is a good example of the fickle nature of shooting luck. It comes and it goes, and no one can predict when and for how long.

11. San Jose Sharks

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-3

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-1

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $2.49 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +2.7 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +7.9 percent

    Net Impact: +1.6 points

     

    It's amazing that the San Jose Sharks could be off to such a dominant season and not be higher on a list of luckiest teams. The Sharks have just one regulation-time loss all season, and it required a David Krejci goal in the final second of the third period to do it.

    Surprisingly, the San Jose Sharks have had more than their fair share of injuries. Brent Burns, Raffi Torres, Adam Burish, Martin Havlat and Dan Boyle have all missed action thus far.

    Of course, the Sharks have enjoyed a few breaks of their own so far. Most of the team is having no trouble finding the back of the net, and both its power play and its penalty kill are in the league's top 10.

    The Sharks may have enjoyed a slight boost, but that's it. There's no denying that 10-1-3 records tend to happen naturally when a team outshoots its opponents by 12.6 shots per night.

10. Vancouver Canucks

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 5-1

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-1

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.08 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -0.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -3.1 percent

    Net Impact: +2.7 points

     

    John Tortorella and the Vancouver Canucks are off to a 10-5-1 start, which is actually only good enough for fourth in the powerful Pacific Division at the moment.

    Vancouver's power play has had some trouble getting going with just five goals in 52 opportunities, but the Canucks have also kept their opponents to just seven goals in 55 chances. When you consider their three shorthanded goals, including two from Brad Richardson, their special teams have essentially been drawing even.

    They have been hit with some injuries but mostly to secondary players like David Booth, Jordan Schroeder, Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen. Still, these could add up if that trend continues.

    Ultimately, the only boost for the Vancouver Canucks has been their 5-1 record in overtime/shootout, which has contributed to 15 points in nine games decided by a single goal. That alone is just enough of an edge to get Vancouver into the league's top 10 luckiest teams.

     

9. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 3-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.97 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +1.3 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +2.2 percent

    Net Impact: +2.7 points

     

    There's no one single thing that justifies Pittsburgh's presence in the top 10 luckiest teams; it's more of a result of many small things breaking the Penguins' way.

    Their power play is a little better than their opponents', their shooting percentage is a little better than their opponents' and they have a winning record in one-goal games, including both regulation and overtime/shootout contests.

    Sure, the fluke injury to Tomas Vokoun was a bad break, but Marc-Andre Fleury is playing the best hockey of his life, with a .929 save percentage and a team goals-against average of 1.83 when he's playing.

    The injuries to James Neal and Rob Scuderi are unfortunate, but as long as the injuries don't occur to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, most fans and analysts consider that lucky.

    While no boost in any one area is definitive, the Penguins are indeed enjoying a small edge in each area, all of which add up to two or three extra points in the standings so far.

8. Nashville Predators

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 5-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.18 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: -1.4 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +0.5 percent

    Net Impact: +3.1 points

     

    Historically, the Nashville Predators are a great example of a team that has been at both the bottom and the top of the luck spectrum. Thanks to their 5-0 record in regulation one-goal games, they've started toward the top so far in 2013-14.

    Losing their star (and only) goalie to a hip injury is unfortunately one of the bad breaks that will quickly send Nashville back down the list. While Carter Hutton has done a great job in Pekka Rinne's absence thus far, it won't last forever.

    Nashville is two games into a 10-game stretch that involves only a single game at home. The Preds will need more than luck to come out of that anywhere but in the Central Division's basement. For starters, they'll need to find ways to start outshooting and outscoring their opponents.

     

7. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.50 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +2.0 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +1.0 percent

    Net Impact: +4.4 points

     

    The Phoenix Coyotes are once again striving to defy preseason expectations.

    The team has really spread out the scoring, with nine players scoring between three and five goals and seven players scoring between 10 and 12 points. That's the sort of depth that makes a team resistant to injuries, although Phoenix has been lucky to have largely avoided them thus far.

    The Coyotes have been outshot by over four shots per game, but a lot of that is a consequence of being in the lead so frequently. Teams in the lead, especially late in games, tend to sit back in a defensive shell rather than take the risks required to generate more shots.

    Early in the game, and in close-game situations, Phoenix is actually playing roughly even with its opponents, shot-wise. Of course, playing even hockey and starting the year 10-3-2 requires a little bit of luck. According to the calculations, about four or five points' worth.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Overtime/Shootout Record: 4-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.97 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +3.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +6.8 percent

    Net Impact: +4.5 points

     

    The Tampa Bay Lightning have gone from the third-worst team in the league in 2012-13 to a top-10 team so far this year, thanks to a red-hot 10-4-0 start.

    Despite outscoring their opponents 47-35, the Lightning aren't as dominant as they seem. They've been outshot this season, even in the opening periods and in close-game situations where they're not sitting back to protect leads.

    The key so far has been great shooting luck. As a team, the Bolts are scoring on 12.1 percent of their shots, far more than their opponents (8.9 percent). Some of those goals have been particularly timely, as their perfect 4-0 record in overtime/shootout would attest.

    With or without the luck, Tampa Bay is a team on the rise. Maybe not a team that will remain on top of the Atlantic Division much longer, but certainly a strong playoff-caliber club.

5. Anaheim Ducks

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-1

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 5-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $2.06 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +0.4 percent

    Special Teams Differential: -19.6 percent

    Net Impact: +4.5 points

     

    The Anaheim Ducks are no stranger to good luck. Indeed, their good fortune in the 2010-11 season was what first triggered my exploration into the effect luck can have on the standings—and helped predict their 19-point slide the following season.

    This year is looking similar to the infamous 2010-11 season already. They're a perfect 5-0 in regulation games, gaining a whopping total of 15 points in the eight games that were decided by a single goal.

    On the flip side, they have been stung by a long list of injuries, including those to valuable veterans Teemu Selanne, Sheldon Souray and Saku Koivu, as well as youngsters Victor Fasth and Jakob Silfverberg. Their special teams have consequently been terrible.

    The key difference between this year's Ducks and the 2010-11 team is that the underlying team is far better. No longer are they often stuck playing in their own zone and/or without the puck; now they have the talent to compete for the division lead with or without those timely bounces.

4. St. Louis Blues

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    John Russell/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 2-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.14 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +3.5 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +6.9 percent

    Net Impact: +5.0 points

     

    Everything is finally firing in the right direction for the St. Louis Blues. Could this finally be their season?

    For the first time in years, they've been healthy, have been keeping the puck out of their net and have been finding the back of their opponents' net, all at the same time.

    Obviously, Alexander Steen is the big story, scoring 13 goals in 43 shots over 13 games. His career shooting percentage may have been 9.1 percent coming into this year, but he's scored on 30.2 percent of his shots so far in 2013-14.

    Steen isn't the only one finding twine in St. Louis this year. Eight other Blues have shooting percentages in the double digits this year, leading to a team shooting percentage of 11.6 percent.

    Talent-wise, the Blues have been one of the league's top 10 teams for several years now. If they're finally starting to get the breaks, then watch out!

3. Detroit Red Wings

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-2

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 5-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.22 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +0.4 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +2.4 percent

    Net Impact: +5.0 points

     

    Like the Anaheim Ducks, timely bounces have helped Detroit achieve a perfect 5-0 record in one-goal games decided in regulation. Unlike Anaheim, the Wings are probably only a playoff bubble team underneath it all.

    Imagine if their luck had been the complete opposite, and a few bounces had gone very differently for them instead. They'd be sitting at 4-10-2 and would be tied with Florida instead of sitting atop the Atlantic Division.

    Obviously, that scenario is a little far-fetched, but how about one that puts them around league average? After all, the Wings have been both outshot and outscored this year, which would normally result in a record a little more modest than 9-5-2.

    In the end, this hot start may ultimately prove to make the difference between the postseason and an early golf season.

2. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 2-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 1-2

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $1.13 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +5.5 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +10.6 percent

    Net Impact: +6.4 points

     

    The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken only 42.8 percent of all attempted shots so far this season, which generally means they've only had the puck or been in the offensive zone that often, too. That's second last to the Buffalo Sabres. The only Leaf who has been on the ice for more attempted shots by Toronto than its opponents so far this season is David Clarkson.

    If Toronto's underlying numbers are so similar to Buffalo's, how come the Leafs' record is 10-5-0 and so much better than Buffalo's 3-13-1? Because of the shooting percentages.

    As a team, Toronto is scoring on 12.0 percent of its shots. Buffalo? Just 6.7 percent. Toronto's team save percentage is .936, and Buffalo's is a more average .916. Phil Kessel's incredible shooting percentage is 16.4 percent, which is only good for eighth on the team.

    That's exactly how a team can get outshot and outplayed every night and still wind up on top. The problem is, that type of shooting percentage differential never lasts.

    Toronto may not be fundamentally quite as bad as Buffalo, but the Leafs aren't far off. There are 67 games left—don't be surprised if the Leafs are out of the postseason once they're complete.

1. Colorado Avalanche

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Overtime/Shootout Record: 1-0

    Regulation One-Goal Game Record: 4-0

    Cap Hit of Injured Players: $0.22 million

    Shooting Percentage Differential: +6.2 percent

    Special Teams Differential: +9.9 percent

    Net Impact: +10.9 points

     

    Despite the arrival of Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic, and the continued development of their many young stars, preseason expectations for the Colorado Avalanche this year were quite modest.

    No one expected Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere to post a .955 save percentage, especially after a season where they combined for .905.

    No one expected their power play to score on twice as many opportunities as their opponents, especially since they're generating far fewer shots per minute.

    And, of course, no one expected Colorado to sit atop the Central Division with a 12-1-0 record, thanks in part to a perfect 5-0 record in one-goal games.

    It certainly is exciting to watch and see how long Colorado can keep it up, and if this blazing hot start will ultimately be enough to propel an otherwise league-average team to a home playoff seed. 

     

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL.

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