Sunday, April 13, 2014

NHL Playoff Predictions


The NHL playoffs are set with a true bracket. Only one wild card switches to the other conference, the Dallas Stars, who move to the Pacific and take on Anaheim in the first round.

I like to play out the whole playoffs using season series results to see who would win the Stanley Cup. Of course, the regular season results won't hold up through 15 playoff series; when I did this in 2011 and 2012, the Finals had Philadelphia and Nashville. I'm using a variation on NHL tiebreakers when teams have the same number of points against each other:

1) Regulation, then overtime wins (not regulation and overtime wins).
2) If an odd number of games was played, ignore the first game played in the city with the extra home game.
3) Better team - I ignore goal differential here.

So what happens this year. Let's do this by division.

Atlantic
Detroit over Boston 3-1 - Wrong!
Tampa Bay over Montreal 3-0-1 - Wrong!

Tampa Bay over Detroit 4-1

Metropolitan
Pittsburgh over Columbus 4-0 - Right!
NY Rangers and Philadelphia split their series with each team winning both home games. The Rangers finished with the better record, so they advance. - Right!

Pittsburgh and the Rangers also split their four games, with each team taking a 4-3 shootout win on the road. Pittsburgh had the better record, so they move on.

Central
Colorado over Minnesota 3-0-1 - Wrong!
St. Louis beat Chicago 3-2 in games, but 2 of their wins were in the shootout, meaning the teams tied in points at 6, and Chicago moves on here due to 2 regulation victories. - Right!

Colorado over Chicago 4-1 (interestingly, St. Louis won the season series over Colorado, so the regulation wins means something here)

Pacific
Dallas over Anaheim 2-1 - Wrong!
Los Angeles over San Jose 3-1-1 Right!

Dallas over Los Angeles 3-2

Conference Championships
Pittsburgh over Tampa Bay 3-0
Colorado over Dallas 4-1-1

Stanley Cup
Colorado over Pittsburgh 1-0-1

So look for Patrick Roy's surprising Avalanche to raise the Cup in two months time. - Wrong!

Personally, I expect Pittsburgh to beat LA in the final, so let's see if either of these ends up correct. Update: my two picks are still alive after round 1. Update 2: Pittsburgh lost to the Rangers in round 2, but the Kings made it to the finals, amazing to win 3 game 7s on the road.

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Further update: The first round saw the season series winners take 4 of 8. Here are the remaining playoff rounds by season series, which has been a pretty meaningless predictor so far:

Boston-Montreal - Habs 3-1 - Right
Pittsburgh-Rangers - Pittsburgh as above - Wrong!

Pittsburgh-Montreal - Habs 2-1

Chicago-Minnesota - Wild 3-1-1 - Wrong!
Anaheim-LA - Ducks 4-0-1 - Wrong!

Anaheim-Minnesota - Ducks 2-1

Anaheim - Montreal - Habs 2-0

Further update:

After two rounds, season series are 5-7.

Montreal-NY Rangers - Montreal 2-1 - Wrong!
Chicago-LA - Chicago 3-0 - Wrong!

So season series are 5-9.

The finals are LA vs NYR, they split their two games with each winning on the road. The Rangers took won 3-1, LA won 1-0, therefore the Kings will win the Cup since season series are wrong this year.

Best,

Sean

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