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Friday, April 21, 2006

How Did the Playoff Teams Do Versus One Another

This is simple question I’ve thought about for years. Every media outlet provides readers with regular season statistics when charting each playoff series. However, those regular season statistics might be deceptive if a team destroyed non-playoff teams but struggled against the contenders. What I really want to know is how each playoff qualifier fared when playing against quality opponents—defined as other playoff teams.

So I put all the regular season numbers into my handy spreadsheet and calculated each team’s winning percentage, power play conversion rate and penalty kill rate in games involving just playoff teams. I also calculated the Pythagorean win percentage rates for each team using their goals for and goals against in games versus other playoff teams.

Note: When calculating win percentage I ignored all points form 4-on-4 overtime wins and losses as well as shoot out wins and losses. Why? Because neither of these things will be used to decide playoff games are I presume are less meaningful for predicting playoff games. Any game not settled in regulation I treated as a tie (and all goals scored in OT or the SO were deducted from the Pythagorean win percentage calculations).

Below I list each playoff series. After each team name I have their regular season win percentage (ignoring OT and SO) and in () I have their winning percentage for their games against other playoff qualifiers. The same applies for the PP% and PK%. The number lists their PP% over the full 82 game regular season, while the numbers in () contain their PP% and PK% in those games versus playoff teams.

Western Conference
Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
ANA: 56% (44%)….57% (44%)….18.1% (16.7%)…83.5% (79.4%)
CAL: .60% (57%)….56% (54%)….18.2% (18.9%)…84.3% (82.7%)
As you can see above, Anaheim’s solid regular season winning percentage of 56% falls right off the table if you look at how they fared versus other playoff teams, while Calgary’s win percentage remained robust against stiffer competition. The Ducks power play also struggled mightily against quality opponents at just 16.7%--which ranks 14th among all playoff teams. Calgary’s numbers look remarkably stable regardless of who they were playing. Advantage: Calgary

Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
EDM: 50% (46%)….51% (45%)…18.1% (17.8%)…84.1% (83.5%)
DET: .71% (68%)….69% (65%)….22.1% (24.8%)…85.5% (82.9%)
For those who think Detroit’s terrific regular season numbers are just the product of a weak division—think again. The Red Wings’ winning percentage against other playoff teams is an outstanding 68%. An even more impressive stat is that their red hot power play unit was actually better versus playoff teams than non-playoff teams. Edmonton had the better PK unit, and they’ll need it. Advantage: Detroit

Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
DAL: 59% (55%)….58% (54%)….17.7% (17.85)…83.7% (84.0%)
COL: 54% (45%)….56% (48%)….18.8% (18.5%)…80.1% (72.0%)
During the regular season Dallas greatly benefited from the SO extra point but even after you remove those bonus points the Stars posted a solid record. When you look at the Stars’ record versus other playoff qualifiers, you can see that their winning percentage only declined from 59% to 55%. In contrast, Colorado’s fell more sharply from 54% to 45%. The most disturbing number for Avs fans is the shockingly poor penalty kill numbers (72.0), dead last among the 16 playoff clubs. Advantage: Dallas

Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
NAS: 59% (46%)….57% (41%)….18.4% (16.6%)…86.2% (79.5%)
SJS: ..54% (50%)….54% (54%)….18.2% (17.3%)…80.7% (81.8%)
If you’re looking for a team with an inflated record due to weak schedule look no further than Nashville. The Predators appear tough given their overall win percentage of 59% but they appear to be playoff pretenders once you see their pedestrian 46% win percentage against other playoff squads. The Sharks have a better record when playing against good teams and have a better power play and penalty kill then the Predators once you remove all those games against weak teams. Throw in the absence of Vokoun and this series could be a rout in favor of the Sharks. Advantage: Sharks

Eastern Conference
Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
OTT: 66% (61%)….70% (66%)….20.8% (20.3%)…84.7% (84.1%)
TBL: 49% (39%)….47% (43%)….16.7% (18.0%)…81.6% (79.2%)
The Lightning might still be the defending Stanley Cup champions, but if their record against good teams is any indication their Cup defense will be over very quickly. Ottawa put up great power play numbers versus quality opponents and had a great penalty kill. Advantage: Ottawa
Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
CAR: .60% (62%)…56% (59%)….18.2% (18.1%)…86.2% (81.2%)
MON: 51% (43%)…49% (44%)….19.2% (18.1%)…81.1% (79.7%)
For those of you who are doubters, the Hurricanes played even better versus good teams than they did when playing teams that missed the playoffs. The only thing going for Montreal is that their power play is right there with Carolina, otherwise, this one tilts heavily to the Hurricanes. Advantage: Carolina

Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
NJD: 54% (55%)….52% (51%)….17.7% (15.7%)…81.9% (81.0%)
NYR 54% (44%)….59% (48%)….18.8% (15.8%)…83.7% (83.0%)
On paper this looks like a fairly even contest. Both teams have a below average power play unit versus playoff clubs. But if you compare the winning percentage versus other playoff teams the scales tip heavily in favor of the Devils. The Rangers struggled much more against the better teams in the NHL. Advantage: New Jersey

Team:Win %………PythWin%……PP%………………PK%
BUF: 60% (51%)….57% (49%)….21.2% (19.8%)…86.6% (86.6%)
PHI: .55% (39%)….52% (43%)….18.0% (18.6%)…79.1% (78.7%)
If a team’s record versus other playoff during the regular season is a good indicator of playoff success, the Flyers are in deep trouble. This club had a solid regular season win percentage of 55%, but just a 39% win rate versus the better NHL clubs (dead last among the 16 playoff qualifiers). Throw in uncertainty about between the pipes and Forsberg’s question health and this series could end in a hurry. But Buffalo fans might think twice before getting too cocky, their club also had a much weaker record when facing off against other playoff teams. Advantage: Buffalo

2 Comments:

  • Can you go back over the last5,6,7,8 years and see if this is a good tool to use for gambling?

    By Blogger J.K. Sockey, at 7:58 PM  

  • I would if I had a) more time and b) money for gambling. Eventually I want to see if this is a better predictor of who will win each series.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 8:02 PM  

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