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.
* 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%.
* 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.