Tackling the NHL standings: A more visual approach

We have arrived at (roughly) the midway point of this shortened 2013 NHL season, and as long as you’re a fan of any team not named the Buffalo Sabres, you probably can at least imagine your team in a playoff series come late April. However one thing that has always been bothersome to me is examining the NHL standings throughout the progression of a given season.

Looking at the standings, or “table” as some may call it, is pretty straightforward in the other main North American sports. There’s wins, losses, and in the very rare instance in football, ties. The most wins gets you the best position in the standings. Not so in hockey. With an odd system that rewards any two teams that simply get a game to overtime and awards what is effectively a “bonus” point to the eventual winner, the NHL standings every year since the inception of the current system look much more convoluted than they should. I’m a visual person, so naturally I set out to make a more visual representation of the jumble of numbers I see when checking standing of my sad, sorry hockey team.

Here are the current NHL standings, through the games of Sunday, March 10th:

NHL standings through March 10th

courtesy of espn.com

While this conventional format allows for easy digestion of all the important numbers a fan may be concerned with, it is very difficult to grasp what many of those numbers may actually mean.

The two charts shown below present the current standings (split into Eastern and Western Conferences)  through the games of Sunday, March 10th in a drastically different presentation than what you regularly see. At the start of the season, I placed each team in these two groupings at the same point on a chart. With each result of the games every team played throughout the season, they would receive an upward tick in the chart (win-2 points), a  horizontal tick (overtime loss-1 point) or a downward tick (regulation loss-0 points) moving rightward across the chart. The spread of possible points moving left to right on the chart thus opens by a margin of 2 points per each of the 48 games the teams will play this season.

2013 Eastern Conference standings

2013 Eastern Conference standings

2013 Western Conference standings

2013 Western Conference standings

A couple things should immediately jump out of this more visual version of the standings. One might be the utterly absurd first half of the season the Chicago Blackhawks have had. Before their eventual two regulation losses, the Blackhawks had earned only three points less than the MAXIMUM possible point total of 48. You get a much better appreciation for the cushion some teams may have versus the clustering of teams elsewhere in the standings, particularly positions 3 through 11 in the Western Conference.

Additionally, due to the fact teams with more games played may often have a higher point total than those who have played fewer, even if only by a difference of a point of two, they will appear ahead in the conventional tabular standings. However, while the Boston Bruins are currently situated “below” the Montreal Canadiens, they could lose the four games they have in hand, so long as they earn a point by each by taking them to overtime, to re-obtain the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Thus the tabular standings often fail to illustrate the favorable positions of teams who may have played fewer games versus those who are more vulnerable having played more and failed to pad their point total.

In both conferences, by drawing a line from the “zero point” on the left, to the 48-game line on the far right, intersecting  the lowest-lying playoff-positioned team on the chart (teams 1 through 8 qualify in each conference), it’s possible to project 53 points as the approximate necessary point total to make the playoffs.

So… Any questions? Curious to know if others find this model more or less helpful that the traditional way the standings are presented.

Bueller…? Bueller…?


Follow-up: Deal sealed!

Todd and Alex are officially married! And I have the wedding favor to prove it.

It was a pleasure to be part of what was a lovely ceremony and reception. And the monogram I designed for their wedding was used, well, plentifully from the church to the banquet hall. Thanks to Expressions Studios for the images below.


Sealing the Deal

wedding monogram

Todd and Alex are getting hitched! And we’ve got the wax seal to prove it.

Only one couple I know would be crazy enough to get married in Buffalo, New York in February, and it happens to be one of my very best friends, Todd, and his wonderful—and patient—fiancée, Alex(andra). As a member of the wedding party, I thought designing a monogram of their initials (“A & T”) to commemorate the big day would make for a pretty neat gift. And with the help and insistence of Tory Novikova we had it made into a customized wax seal stamp to use on their wedding correspondence.

wax seal stamp

Just heat up the wax and press…


A flat version of the monogram printed with the favors.

To Todd and Alex: congratulations! =)

Rebranding the Bisons

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

November isn’t exactly baseball time, but it is if you’re rebranding your ball club (in this case it’s our ball club). Yes, the Buffalo Bisons unveiled their new logo at Coca-Cola Field earlier today as well as new/old manager Marty Brown.
Here it is. And here.

However, I too spent some time assembling a brand proposal of my own, which I submitted to the front office in early October. Now that the Bisons have put their mark out to the public, it’s a good time for me to do the same:

The proposal I put forward to the Bisons put a degree of emphasis on the new affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays while still maintaining a personality of its own, seizing on the equity of the longstanding Buster Bison mascot as well as the most recent wordmarks and typography  of their previous uniforms. With all due respect to the Bisons organization after seeing the mark they selected, I believe mine was a better approach.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Criticisms?

Anyways, Go Bisons, and Go Jays, eh.

Post-Sandy Subway Service, Day 2, Part 2

Baby steps towards full service…

Baby steps towards full service…

More updates to the subway system as it inches back towards full service: as shown in the newest version of the diagram above, the 5-train spur in the Bronx is now up and running, and the 1 & 2 trains are now running to Penn Station. According to Governor Cuomo, big chunks of the system will be restored shortly after the power comes back on in Lower Manhattan.

Here’s your Moment of Zen (photo-edition):

Poor little guy...

Poor little guy…

Post-Sandy Subway Service, Day 2

Day 2 of in the Post-Sandy subway world

Day 2 in the Post-Sandy subway world

We have some updates to the subway system in New York City, thankfully. While the Lower Manhattan stations continue to be pumped out, the announcement came today that some M- and 7-line service is being restored in advance of the Friday morning rush hour.

The diagram above reflects these most recent updates.

Post-Sandy Subway Service (EEEEEEEE!)

Post-Sandy subway service diagram

Post-Sandy subway service diagram

Greetings from Brooklyn! We’re alive here and the power is on.

As is well-known now, the New York City subway system took an unbelievable beating during Hurricane (Superstorm? Shitstorm? Supershitstorm?) Sandy, earlier this week. However, according to city and MTA officials, very limited service will be resuming for the Thursday AM rush hour. Conveniently, for the past year I have been working to design a New York City subway map, mostly out of dissatisfaction with the current one. Also, though slightly less conveniently—seeing as my offices’ building is still powerless and pumping out Hudson River water—I’ve had some time to kill. So, for all my friends and colleagues who may be enduring the very tedious commute in the coming days and probably weeks, here is a “Post-Sandy” subway diagram.

Here is the official info from the MTA.

As you can see in the diagram, all service in Manhattan south of 34th Street is completely suspended. Alternatively, three shuttle buses will be running from Brooklyn up to 57th Street via the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges and then up the East Side.

This was assembled in haste over the course of the last 12 hours, but hopefully it can be a modicum of help to anyone getting around town. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as more service resumes for updates to this diagram.

Stay safe (and warm).



Oh, and Go Nets.