Friday, May 28, 2010

Final Playoff Thoughts


Both the NBA and NHL seasons are nearing completion. Yet again the mindless media talks incessantly about the NBA, which saw 3 sweeps in their conference semi-finals and what looked to be a couple of boring semi-final series before Phoenix won the last two over the Lakers and Orlando found a heart. Still, a rather dull playoffs overall but the American media yaks on and on about LeBron and he's not even playing!

The NHL, on the other hand, has put on a great show to almost no fanfare. Philadelphia's comeback over Boston, Halak's performance in the first two rounds to knock off Washington and Pittsburgh, and the young Hawks reaching their potential are just some of the compelling stories.

In the NHL, it was interesting that the East and West were polar opposites in each round: there were 3 upsets in the East in round 1 but only one in the West (an upset is when the lower seeded team advances and yes, I am counting Detroit over Phoenix as one), then two more upsets in the East semis while the West favourites advanced. If the trend continued, either a Chicago-Philly or Montreal-San Jose final would result and we got the former. Should be a good series as neither team has won for a few decades, so at least one long-suffering fan base will be rewarded. If Chicago wins, then Toronto will be the team to have gone longest without a Cup. Lovely. (It happened.)

When the season ended, I wrote a post detailing how the Bruins, Flyers, and Habs were not deserving playoff teams. Naturally, all 3 teams won their first-round series and the Flyers are in the finals. I still feel that 16 teams out of 30 in the playoffs is too many, but clearly those teams deserved their berth. I stand corrected.

Another intriguing note that I've not seen anywhere else is how the first round of the playoffs actually followed the regular season series in all 8 cases. Simply put, the team that won the regular-season series won the playoff series. If the teams split the season series, then OT wins should be discounted and SO wins even further as they don't happen in the playoffs. For example, Montreal and Washington split their 4 regular season games. But one of Washington's wins was in a shootout while Montreal had one overtime win. Therefore Montreal "won" the season series and went on to win the playoff series as well.

If the teams split the regular season and there were no OT or SO wins, then the team with home advantage would be expected to win. This only applied to Pittsburgh over Ottawa, and the Penguins won that. In the other six series, the team who had a better head-to-head record in the regular season won the series. A great betting tip for next season perhaps?

For completeness, the next round did not see this trend continue as only Chicago's win over Vancouver would have been predicted using this method. The semi-finals though did see both "expected" winners emerge. So out of 14 series, 11 could have been correctly predicted using this formula.

For those of you who wish to bet on the finals, Philadelphia defeated the Blackhawks in their only meeting on March 13th, 3-2 in Philly, when Chris Pronger scored with 2.1 seconds left. It marked the 8th straight loss for Chicago in Philadelphia, so based solely on this little tidbit, I'll wager that Philly will upset Chicago and bring Lord Stanley back to Broad Street. (Well, they didn't).

If the NHL final goes 7 games, it will finish on June 11th. That's the first day of the World Cup! When that ends on July 11th, NHL teams should be opening training camp for the 2010-11 season. Well, not really, but it won't be that far off. It sure is tiring being a sports fan!

Best,

Sean

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That's some analysis.

    Me, I'll root for the Blackhawks (a former Greenville Grrrowl is in that organization now).

    And, I am so looking forward to watch the World Cup.

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