Sunday, April 06, 2008


Handicapping - West Edition

This is the record of each of the eight Western Conference playoff teams against each other only. Naturally, because the idea here is to use the information to handicap the playoffs, all Shootout and 4v4OT results are shown as Ties. Note that DET and NSH have fewer GP; if you can't figure out why that is, this post is definitely too complicated for you. Otherwise, it's pretty straightforward.

I did this for the first time last season, because I thought it might be useful... you may recall, there was a huuugge gap between the rich and poor in the WC; 9th-place Colorado finished 22 points ahead of 11th-place Columbus. I had this idea that whether a team took 95% of all possible points vs. the crap teams, or merely 75% of them, was a lousy indicator of how they would perform against other good teams in the playoffs.

That may or may not be true, but last season, when you isolated the "Head-to-head against good teams" data, it said Anaheim was an 800-pound gorilla, and that's pretty much how things worked out. Things to note from the first table (above):
Next, some special teams stuff:

Now, the juicy stuff: goals, shots, etc.. I think there's a lot of surprising stuff here, although if you were paying attention above to which team is good!, then slightly less.

Goals For, Goals Against, and Goal Difference (between the two), plus all three expressed in per-game. Plus events (all goals except PP (and shootout) goals), Minus events (all goals allowed except while on the PK), and +/-, i.e. the difference between the two. And finally, shots for & against, the difference, and per game.
We'll get to predictions, and a bit closer look at Sharks/Flames, later in the week, but Comments lurkers were demanding this info. Go Flames.


Nice post Matt.

Do you ever notice that during an NHL season, EVERY NIGHT, the late-night sports shows replay every goal and juicy hit, but never put up a graphic like the ones Matt has just prepared? How much effort, (no really, I want to know exactly how much effort) would be required to show those quarterly charts highlighting things like goal differentials, PP/PK records, corsi numbers and tough minute tables. You only do it 4 times a year, would it kill TSN or Sportsnet to do it? Geez, no one watches the SCORE except during March Madness, that network could run it late at night or something.

Your tables are the reason I read this site.

Good luck then. Only problem is that the Sharks were progressively better as the season went on and the falmes were mediocre at best. However...that Globe/falmes journalist last year (ED) pointed out that the Stanley Cup winners were of the 3 bears variety...not too hot and not too cold. So maybe..

"Good luck then. Only problem is that the Sharks were progressively better as the season went on and the falmes were mediocre at best."

Maybe so, but the Flames still found ways to beat the Sharks in the last three games they played this season. Is it possible the Sharks have peaked?

Remember that time the Flames played the Wings in the first round of the playoffs, and they mustered like 60 even strength shots over five games, and scored only like 2 goals, and Detroit took like 150 shots over the same period and scored 9 goals or sumthin like that, and then Jamie MacLennan had to come in and he started chopping Red Wings with his goalie stick like he was a lumberjack...

That was awesome.

the Sharks were progressively better as the season went on

That's not correct. They were insanely hot at the end of the year, after a very poor 3rd quarter where only the Blues earned fewer points.

As for McLennan, I really think the proper simile is "like Bruce Willis with the sword in Pulp Fiction".

Since I was the initial requester, the least I should say is thanks. I noticed some interesting stuff re: Detroit, Matt. Until the end of January, i.e. when they were mostly healthy, they were 15-2 versus the other playoff teams. They were 2-1 vs. Nashville (even in goals) and 1-1 vs. Anaheim (even in goals). They were 12-0 against the other five teams with a goal differential of about +30. That's a holy crap stat when you're kicking playoff worthy opposition by 2+ goals a game.

Since February 1? 8-7, a goal differential of +6, and that came in 2 wins vs. Colorado. Against the rest, 6-7 and even GF-GA. We'll see if they can regain that first half form. If anyone is wondering, BTW, they didn't make hay against Nashville on the GD side, only +1 in 8 games.

The only other thing I'll add is that virtually all of Dallas' +GA came vs. Anaheim, and early in the year, or before Neidermeyer and Selanne came back. I'm at work, so I don't have everything handy, but I think they were something like +12 vs. the Ducks, and +8ish after the first three matchups alone. Thanks again, Matt.

Great stats again!

I'm sure Matt knows this already, but a quick check shows that SJ, during it's phenomenal last quarter (see Matt's previous posts), only played 6 games of the 36 they played against other WC play-off teams. That's disproportionally small, although it's true they played 4 times against EC playoff teams. Over those 6 games, they went 6-0, but 3 were overtime victories (here counted as ties), and 2/3 of the outright victories were 1-goal. Small sample size, I realize, but not exactly statistical dominance. Not that this should make anyone feel better, b/c, as we said with last year's Canucks, they seem to be getting the job done. a velociraptor eviscerating it's victims with it's long, curved talons. team's of grammarian's eviscerating their victim's with sharpened apostrophes.

I have an breakdown of the Eastern Conference on my blog--although I'm lacking the color coded charts--which are very nice.

The Caps are shockingly competitive and Pittsburgh a bit of a disappointment (racked up a ton "easy" points against non-playoff teams).

re: Sharks abused non-playoff teams to the tune of a .70 winning percentage which is tops among all 16 playoff qualifiers. Unfortunately they will not get to face those cupcakes in the post season. These numbers have caused me to change my post-season picks.

Canuckfan, that was a great reply. It's hard to know how picky to be about stuff like that in this forum, but sometimes these things have to be pointed out - as long as I am not the subject of the commentary.

Matt, does the shot differential include special team?

It does, so some of the DET/SJS advantage there can be attributed to their additional PPs.

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