Thursday, January 13, 2011

LA Kings are the Stanley Cup Favourites?


The NHL has passed the halfway point and so it's time to check how each team is faring after exactly 41 games. The standings below show each squad's record at the midway mark. Naturally some teams have played games since then so the current standings are slightly different, but from the table below, we can set up the playoffs at the halfway pole.
East GP W  L  O Pts
Phil 41 26 10 5 57
TB   41 24 12 5 53
Bos  41 22 12 7 51
Pitt 41 26 12 3 55
Was  41 23 12 6 52
NYR  41 23 15 3 49
Mtl  41 22 16 3 47
Car  41 20 15 6 46
------------------
Atl  41 20 15 6 46
Buff 41 18 18 5 41
Flo  41 19 20 2 40
Tor  41 17 20 4 38
Ott  41 16 19 6 38
NYI  41 13 21 7 33
NJ   41 10 29 2 22

West GP W  L  O Pts
Van  41 27 8  6 60
Det  41 26 10 5 57
Dal  41 24 13 4 52
Nsh  41 22 13 6 50
LA   41 23 17 1 47
Minn 41 21 15 5 47
Col  41 21 15 5 47
SJ   41 21 15 5 47
------------------
Phx  41 19 13 9 47
Stl  41 20 15 6 46
Chi  41 21 17 3 45
Ana  41 20 17 4 44
Cmb  41 20 18 3 43
Cal  41 18 20 3 39
Edm  41 13 21 7 33
That's quite a logjam in the west, with 9 teams within 4 points. Ties are broken using the NHL rules which takes total wins first then head-to-head results, then goal differential.

Using the theory that the team that wins the season series will win a playoff series (with overtime wins less valuable than regulation wins but more valuable than shootout victories), the playoffs would play out like this:

Conference QF

Philadelphia over Carolina
Washington over Pittsburgh (one win each but Pittsburgh's was in a shootout)
Tampa Bay over Montreal
Boston over NY Rangers (one win each so take the better team)
Vancouver over San Jose
Los Angeles over Nashville
Detroit over Colorado
Dallas over Minnesota

Conference SF

Boston over Tampa Bay
Washington over Philadelphia (OT win vs SO win)
Dallas over Detroit
Los Angeles over Vancouver

Conference Finals
Boston over Washington
Los Angeles over Dallas

Wow, a Boston-LA final! What is this, the NBA? LA wins here too, based on their shootout victory in November. So the Los Angeles Kings are your Stanley Cup favourites.

Of course, the flaw in this theory is that early season games are just as important as those later in the season. LA knocked off Vancouver twice back in October, but the Canucks are now nearly unbeatable. So don't take this prediction to your bookie just yet; it's just for fun. I'll do it again after 62 games to see what's different.

Best,

Sean

Update (Jan 21st):  LA have gone 1-5 to open the 2nd half and are five points out of the playoffs. Guess the pressure of being the favourite got to them.

Update (June, 2011): Well, Boston won the Cup, not bad for this method that saw them take the East out of the third spot halfway through.

Update (June, 2012): LA won the Stanley Cup a year later out of the 8th spot. Hmm, maybe this theory needs 18 months to come true.

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