Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NHL Playoff Predictions


Last year at this time, I ran a simple simulation of the NHL playoffs based on the regular season records. Overtime wins are given priority over shootout wins, and if a series is tied, the team with the better record moves on.

Here's how this year's playoffs shape up:

East
Ottawa over NY Rangers 3-1
Washington over Boston 3-1
Florida over New Jersey 2-1-1
Philadelphia over Pittsburgh 4-2

All upsets - the four favorites actually lost the season series.

Ottawa over Florida 3-1
Philadelphia over Washington 3-1

Philadelphia and Ottawa tied 2-1-1 but Philadelphia advances because their extra-time win came in OT while Ottawa needed a shootout.

West
Vancouver over LA 2-1-1
St. Louis over San Jose 4-0
Phoenix over Chicago 3-1
Nashville and Detroit tied 3-3, Nashville advances based on the better overall record although Detroit outscored them (more on that later)

The four teams with home advantage won the season series.

Nashville over Vancouver 2-1-1
St. Louis over Phoenix 3-1

Nashville over St. Louis 4-1-1

Stanley Cup Final
Philadelphia and Nashville split their two games. Nashville wins based on their slightly better overall record although Philadelphia outscored the Predators 6-5.

Amazingly, this is the same matchup as predicted last year, with Philly taking that one. As you know, it wasn't very accurate. This year will be different I am sure. Update: No, it won't.

The real NHL tiebreaker rules include goal differential, which I ignore in this little simulation. It makes no difference in the East, but in the West, Detroit would advance instead of Nashville. Vancouver would then beat Detroit (series was tied 2-1-1 and tied in goals as well, so Vancouver moves on based on better record) . St.Louis beats Vancouver 2-1-1 to make it to the final where they would beat Philly based on their win in their only meeting back in October.

My personal predictions are essentially the opposite in the East, where Pittsburgh and the Rangers should meet in the final with the Penguins moving on to win the Cup over Nashville, who will eliminate Vancouver in the Western Final. As always, it should be an interesting and exciting playoffs.

Update: My Cup picks have both been eliminated, so I give up. Truly a bizarre playoff with road teams dominating.

As for the season series simulation, it was right 5 of 8 times in the first round and 3 of 4 in the second (Philly edged NJ 7-6 during the regular season).

For what it is worth, the Kings beat Phoenix 8-7 during the season with 3 of 6 games going to overtime. The Rangers outpointed New Jersey so look for a Rangers-Kings final and a very happy NHL.

The four possible finals and the season series:
NYR-LA - Kings won the only meeting in OT, game was the season opener in Stockholm
NYR-Phx - Rangers took both games, including one in a shootout
NJ-LA - Devils took both, including one in a shootout (didn't matter, Kings won the Cup 4 games to 2)
NJ-Phx - Coyotes won the only matchup 5-3 at home

Best,

Sean

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