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2014-15 nhl playoffs preview: round one

The playoffs are finally here and I’ve already written about the best way to pick winners (analytics) and who the favourites are (there aren’t any really). Now I want to take a look at each individual series and what I think will happen and why it will.

For that, I’m using a method that has predicted 73 percent of playoff results since 2007-08 and 27 of 30 over the last two years which is pretty good. It’s a small amount of series so far, but it’s an encouraging number nonetheless.

This year’s playoff teams are super close so predicting who’s going to win seems absolutely foolish, so let’s do it anyways.

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2013-2014 nhl playoffs preview: round one

I wrote something yesterday about how I would be predicting the playoffs this year, based on a combination of stats. That stat is better used over larger sample sizes especially with how volatile special teams can be. But just for fun, this is for the “what have you done for me lately crowd.”

Basically I took 25 game averages throughout the year of each team’s POP and compared it to the teams opponent. It’ll be interesting to see if this works better than looking at a team’s overall number, and it also shows how close the teams have been throughout the year. Also, due to the small sample size, some teams will be over 100%, which is pretty neat I guess. Also, for the record, anything below 70 is really bad. No team has ever made the playoffs with a POP below 70, and some of the teams below played like that for significant stretches of time.

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predicting the nhl playoffs

Using Stats to Predict the Playoffs

No single stat will ever tell you the entire story in hockey. And that’s especially true when you want to use them to to look at what the future holds. On any given night, any team can win. Luck plays a big factor in that.

Over a large enough sample size, some of that randomness will be tuned out.

But then we get to the playoffs and it’s decided in a gruelling seven game series, where luck again plays a huge role because of the small number of games. It’s why the playoffs are so exciting, they’re unpredictable.

And yet, everyone tries to predict them.

Some just say “well this team stacks nicely up against this team” with their chests puffed out, knowing full well they’ve probably seen both teams play two or three times a year when they came through Toronto to play.

Most people use what they remember from watching those past games and using any number of stats to fill in the blanks. Mostly because using just one stat won’t tell you the whole story.

If you did, these are the stories they would tell.

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