Friday, April 16, 2010

NHL Playoff Thoughts


Back in December, I wrote a post on what .500 means in the NHL. Now that the season is over, I want to quickly revisit that topic to see if any teams made it to the playoffs with below-average records.

The season comprises 1230 games, of which 301 ended in an overtime loss for one team. What this means is that there were 2761 total points available, or 92 points per team. Makes sense: 301 OT losses, 30 teams equals about 10 OT losses per team. So an average finish would be about 92 points in the 82-game schedule. Looking at the standings, every playoff team in the Western Conference succeeded in this task, as 8th-place Colorado finished with 95 points. But in the East, Boston, Philly, and Montreal all ended with less than 92 points. The Habs and Bruins each won only 39 games, which means that the NHL playoffs are still letting in some weak teams who can't even manage to win more than they lose.

Playoff Upsets?

There's only been seven games so far in the playoffs, and already people are talking about all the "upsets". Apparently Ottawa is so terrible that defeating Pittsburgh is a surprise. But they split the season series and Ottawa plays a team game that can frustrate a more talented team. Philadelphia over New Jersey? Not at all unexpected as the Flyers took 5 of 6 from the Devils this season. Montreal's OT win over the Caps - not shocking when you consider the season series went 2-2 with Montreal winning one in OT while Washington took a shootout win. Jose Theodore is still suspect as well.

In the West, San Jose lost but that's nothing new either. The other three games had the home team winning, but I just wanted to make the point that these squads are not so far apart in talent. In a short series, a key matchup can be exploited to a weaker team's advantage, and goaltending is critical to success. So just dig a little deeper and you won't be so surprised when a road team wins an early game.

Of course, not all of these teams will win the series either. Often the favourite team comes out nervous and loses early, but finds it's footing in game 2 and beyond. Let's see what transpires over the next two weeks.

Update (April 18th): All the teams that lost game 1 have won game 2. Only the Nashville-Chicago series has yet to see a second game but I'd bet the Old MacDonald farm on the Blackhawks evening it up tomorrow.

Update (April 20th): Chicago did win game 2 so the farm is safe. But 5 of the 8 "underdogs" took 2-1 leads, so perhaps the upset trend will happen after all. Gotta keep watching, these are some great playoffs so far!

F1 Update

I've added a few F1 posts - links are in the April section to the left. They are backdated to preserve chronological order, but please have a look if you are interested, there's some good photos there.

Best,

Sean

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