Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blues to win Stanley Cup


Midway through every NHL season, I like to take the records of every team at the same number of games and run a playoff simulation based on the regular season records to predict the Stanley Cup winner.  I've done this a few times and have never even come close, although the Kings won the Cup the year after I said they would.

This season, I chose 60 games, just after the Olympic break, with essentially 3/4 of the season complete. There's also realignment to consider. If you haven't studied the new playoff system, it breaks down as follows:

The top three teams in each division make the playoffs, along with two wild card teams per conference. The best division winner plays the last-place wild card team regardless of division, while the other division winner plays the better wild card team. In other words, wild card teams can switch divisions for the playoffs. The second and third place teams in each division play each other and then the conference semi-finals remain in division; there is no reseeding.

Here are the standings:

East

Team   Div   W  L  OTL ROW  Pts  Pos  
Pit     M   40 16   4   36   84  1M
Bos     A   38 17   5   37   81  1A
TB      A   34 21   5   28   73  2A
Mtl     A   32 21   7   29   71  3A
Tor     A   32 22   6   23   70  1W
NYR     M   33 24   3   29   69  2M
Det     A   28 20  12   24   68  2W
Phl     M   30 24   6   27   66  3M
-------------------------------------
Cmb     M   30 25   5   26   65
Wsh     M   28 23   9   21   65
NJ      M   25 22  13   26   63
Ott     A   26 23  11   23   63
Car     M   26 25   9   25   61
NYI     M   22 30   8   16   52
Fla     A   22 31   7   15   51
Buf     A   18 34   8   12   44 

The Atlantic has 5 of 8 teams in the playoffs, so Detroit, the second wild card team, would switch to play Pittsburgh in the first round in the Metropolitan Division playoffs. Even if Detroit won, they would play the winner of the Rangers and Flyers, the other two Metro teams.

West

Team   Div   W  L  OTL ROW  Pts  Pos
Ana     P   41 14   5   39   87  1P
StL     C   40 14   6   33   86  1C
Chi     C   35 11  14   30   84  2C
SJ      P   38 16   6   29   82  2P
Col     C   38 17   5   35   81  3C
Min     C   32 21   7   26   71  1W
LA      P   32 22   6   26   70  3P
Dal     C   28 22  10   25   66  2W
-------------------------------------
Phx     P   27 22  11   23   65 
Van     P   27 24   9   24   63 
Nsh     C   26 24  10   25   62 
Wpg     C   28 26   6   23   62 
Cal     P   23 30   7   19   53 
Edm     P   20 33   7   18   47 

In this case, Dallas would make the switch to the Pacific playoff bracket.

Here is how the playoffs would shape up, based on regular-season records (as of March 2nd):

Atlantic
Boston over Toronto (2-1)
TB over Montreal (2-0-1)

Boston over TB (3-0)

Metropolitan
Pittsburgh over Detroit (1-0)
Philadelphia over NY Rangers (2-1)

Pittsburgh over Philadelphia (1-1, regular season record takes precedence)

Pacific
Dallas over Anaheim (2-1)
LA over San Jose (3-0-1)

Dallas over LA (2-1). This begs the question: Would Dallas, a Central Division team, be declared the Pacific champion?

Central
St. Louis over Minnesota (2-0)
Colorado over Chicago (2-1)

St. Louis over Colorado (2-0)

Semi Finals
Boston over Pittsburgh (2-1)
St. Louis over Dallas (2-0)

Stanley Cup
St. Louis over Boston 2-0

So there you have it. The Blues win their first Stanley Cup, avenging their 1970 defeat, when Bobby Orr scored the most iconic goal in NHL history. Interesting that St. Louis traded for Ryan Miller when they really didn't have to. Can't see that move making them any weaker though, so I'll stand by this result. Playoffs start in just six weeks, anybody else want to make a prediction?

Update: Naturally, Toronto was the only team to drop out of the playoffs over the final 22 games. I hate rooting for Toronto.

Best,

Sean

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