2013-14 Playoff Predictions (Retroactive)

Since I created this blog after the first round finished, I’ve decided to post my pre-playoff predictions here. A few notes worth mentioning here. Making predictions in a 7 game-series is basically the equivalent of flipping a coin seven times. We can point to reasons why a team is better or possesses the puck more often, but there is so much noise and random variation in 7 games that anything can happen. Basically, luck plays a huge role in determining a series. Arctic Ice Hockey has a short explanation of the role luck plays on team standings. Anything from the way the puck bounces to injuries to missed calls contribute to luck. Further, I often look to possession metrics to help me understand which teams control the puck more. The more you control the puck, the more chances you will have to score. For my predictions, I mostly looked at FenwickFor% at 5on5 scoreclose. FenwickFor number represents the number of shots a team directs towards the opposing net minus blocked shots while at 5on5. For example, if a team has 10 FenwickFor and 5 FenwickAgainst, their FF%(FenwickFor%) would be 66%. ExtraSkater defines scoreclose as “…game situations where the score is tied in any period or within one goal in the first or second periods.” I like using this as a proxy for possession because it eliminates special teams play, which has a smaller effect on results than most people think, and also eliminates blowout games.

With all this said, here are (were) my predictions going into the playoffs. Results are in parentheses:

Western Conference:

Colorado Avalanche v. Minnesota Wild – Wild in 6 games (Wild in 7)

St. Louis Blues v. Chicago Blackhawks – Hawks in 6 games (Hawks in 6)

Anaheim Ducks v. Dallas Stars – Ducks in 5 games (Ducks in 6)

San Jose Sharks v. L.A. Kings – Sharks in 7 games (Kings in 7)

Eastern Conference:

Boston Bruins v. Detroit Red Wings – Bruins in 5 games (Bruins in 5)

Montreal Canadiens v. Tampa Bay Lightning – Lightning in 6 games (Canadiens in 4)

Pittsburgh Penguins v. Columbus Blue Jackets – Penguins in 5 games (Penguins in 6)

New York Rangers v. Philadelphia Flyers – Rangers in 6 games (Rangers in 7)

A few thoughts: I think I did fairly well, but I also think these results are no better than picking at random. My worst pick by far was the Montreal/Tampa series. I severely underestimated how below-average Anders Lindback was. I still expected Tampa to win the series based on their possession numbers throughout the season (they ranked 10th in FF% 5on5 scoreclose) despite the downgrade in net from Ben Bishop to Anders Lindback.

I will be making predictions for the second round and writing up a post about it later tonight/tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’ve made my picks ahead of time so I won’t be influenced by the game tonight, although I can tell you right now I’m picking Boston in that series.

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