Quick odds for the NHL playoffs

I’ve already spent so much time lamenting the drawbacks of different ways points are given out in hockey, I’m not going to do that anymore. Nor am I going to talk about the new setup NHL has for the playoffs this season, because that’s another post, for later this week. But, the NHL playoffs are kicking off, so I decided to calculate the odds of each series.

Like with the Finnish league, I focused on the winning percentages for the teams, and, by calculating home and visiting win percentage separately, took into consideration also the home advantage. I did not include any measures to control for the strength of schedule, partially since these are, in effect, within division series.

Western Conference

* St. Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild

The Blues have an impressive win percentage of 62.20%. Broken down to home and visiting, they have won 65.85% and 58.54% of their games, respectively. For the Wild, those same figures are 53.66% and 58.54%, which gives them an overall win percentage of 56.10%.

Based on those, and the series starting in St. Louis, the Blues should take the series with a probability of 55.70%.

* Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks

Nashville reached a win percentage of 57.32% in the regular season, winning 68.29% of their home games and 46.34% of away games. Chicago made me triple-check my figures, as they won 58.54% of their games. Over-all, home and away. 24 games won home, 24 games won as a visiting team.

The series starts in Nashville, but Chicago should take it with a probability of 50.64%.

* Anaheim Ducks vs Winnipeg Jets

Anaheim reached the same win percentage as Blues: 62.20%. Their home game win percentage was slightly above that at 63.41%, and away games slightly below at 60.98%. Winnipeg manages to win 52.44% of their games overall, with home and visiting win percentages of 56.10% and 48.78%, respectively.

No surprise then, that home-opening Anaheim wins the series with probability of 60.03%.

* Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames

Vancouver, like Chicago, played equally good regardless of location, winning  58.54% of their games, be it home, away, or in total. Calgary had some fluctuation: win percentage when visiting (53.66%) wasn’t too impressive, but the home win percentage of 56.10% brought the overall win percentage to 54.88%.

That’s not enough for Calgary, though, and Vancouver should claim this Canadian series with a probability of 53.71%.

Eastern Conference

* Montreal Canadiens vs Ottava Senators

Montreal is another team that reached an overall win percentage over 60 by winning 60.98% of their games; 63.41% at home and 58.54% when on the road. Ottava, on the other hand, barely managed to break 50. Overall win percentage of 52.44% was boosted by the home win percentage of 56.10%, but brought down when the team only won 48.78% of the games when visiting.

As expected, then, Montreal should take the series, with probability of 59.10%

* Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings

Tampa, another Club-60 team. Regular season win percentage of 60.98%, and home game win percentage of whopping 78.05%! Too bad they only won 43.90% of their away games. Detroit was consistent, if nothing else. Home win percentage of 53.66% and 51.22% away, combine to overall figure of 52.44%.

Tampa’s strong home game really is an advantage, and with probability of 58.34% they’ll win the series.

* New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Rangers won an amazing 64.63% of their games! 60.98% of home games and 68.29% of away games. Penguins, on the other hand, played weaker on the road, winning only 48.78% of the games, as opposed to 56.10% at home. Overall they won 52.44% of their games.

Despite Rangers being relatively stronger on the road than at home, and them starting the series at home, the odds are still in their favor: 61.41% probability Rangers win the series.

* Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders

Washington won 54.88% of their games this regular season: 56.10% of home games and 53.66% of away games. Islanders, on the other hand, won 57.32% of their games. Their home win percentage was 60.98% (same as Rangers, mind you!) and as a visiting team they won 53.66% of the games.

Washington may have the home advantage, but that’s not going to help them. Islanders will take the series with a probability of 51.60%

The Usual Disclaimer

As always, these are not even an analysis, there are simple exercises in probability mathematics. There are several factors that play into the outcome of a game and of a playoff series, practically none of which are used here. Not to mention, that the win percentages quoted above don’t even control for the strength of schedule. But I guess you could use these as a starting point to a more sophisticated analysis on team strengths and outcome probabilities.

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