Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Why Washington Won't Win the Stanley Cup


The NHL playoffs begin Wednesday and the Washington Capitals are considered one of the favourites to hoist Lord Stanley's mug come June. They won the Presidents' Trophy, which is obviously no guarantee of a playoff title (11 out of 30 Presidents' Trophy winners also won the Cup), but they have been snakebitten in the playoffs since Alex Ovechkin joined the team, not even making the finals once. If they beat Toronto, they will then have to contend with the winner of Pittsburgh and Columbus, and even if they escape the Metropolitan bracket, they might end up facing divisional foe NY Rangers in the conference finals (yes, the NHL playoff system is stupid).

It is not an easy path regardless, and I'm here to tell you that the Capitals will not win the Cup. Why? Because when you simulate the playoffs using season series results, the Capitals wind up on top. And every year that I have done this simulation, it has been completely wrong. Here is how the playoffs would happen if the season series held:

Atlantic
Montreal over NYR (3-0)
Ottawa over Boston (4-0)
Montreal over Ottawa (3-2)

Metropolitan
Washington over Toronto (2-1)
Columbus over Pittsburgh (2-2)*
Washington over Columbus (3-2)

Central
Chicago over Nashville (4-1)
St. Louis over Minnesota (3-2)
Chicago over St. Louis (3-2)

Pacific
Anaheim over Calgary (4-1)
Edmonton over San Jose (3-2)
Edmonton over Anaheim (3-2)

Semifinals
Washington over Montreal (2-1)
Edmonton over Chicago (2-1)

Final
Washington over Edmonton (1-1)*

* The final tiebreaker is overall goal differential for the entire season.

So based on the season series, Washington would win the Cup. Which means that they won't because this method is always wrong. So who will win? I'd guess ChicagoPittsburgh, which is a pretty boring pick. I'll follow up after the playoffs.

Best,

Sean

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