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NHL 2012 Playoffs Round 1: NYR Versus OTT


On Goal Analysis is running the numbers for the NHL’s 2012 Playoff season. While others will give you their ‘gut’ and still might not have a different call than we do, OGA collectively believes in predictive analysis. We have to show you the numbers. So here is what you get in our first round preview:

The Schedule

The 2012 Series

And finally, Comparative Team Stat Analysis (CTSA) against the Hi, Average and Lo of the previous six, post-Lockout Stanley Cup Champions including: Wins; Losses; Points; Conference Seed; Goals For; Goals Against; Goal Differential; Power Play %; Penalty Kill %; Winning Streak; Longest Winning Streak; Losing Streak; Longest Losing Streak; Home and Away Winning %; Wins and Losses in their Last 10 games played; Closing Game Streak; Average Output Per Game by position; and a total Team Point Value.

We will put these up as fast as we can go from East to West and 1st vs 8th seed to 4th vs 5th pairings. Up first is the top seed in the East…

NYR vs OTT

…So write off OTT now because they are playing the Rangers, eh? Not so fast. Let’s take a look at the numbers first.

Schedule

Thur, 12 April, 7p (ET) OTT at NYR [CBC, NHLN]

Sat, 14 April, 7p (ET) OTT at NYR [CBC, NBCSN]

Mon, 16 April, 7:30p (ET) NYR at OTT [CBC, CNBC]

Wed, 18 April, 7:30p (ET) NYR at OTT [CBC, CNBC]

Sat, 21 April, 7p (ET) OTT at NYR [CBC, NBCSN – if required]

Mon, 23 April, TBD NYR at OTT [TBD – if required]

Thur, 26 April, TBD OTT at NYR [TBD – if required]

2012 Series

Sat, 29 October OTT 5 @ NYR 4 SO (Ottawa leads series 1 – 0; Anderson defeats Lundqvist; OTT goals from Michalek (2), Neil and Spezza; NYR goals from Richards (2), Callahan and Gaborik; 15 PIMs)

Wed, 9 November NYR 3 @ OTT 2 (Series tied 1 – 1; Lundqvist defeats Anderson; NYR goals from Gaborik (2) and Stepan; OTT goals from Michalek and Foligno; 26 PIMs)

Thur, 12 January OTT 3 @ NYR 0 (Ottawa leads series 2 – 1; Anderson defeats Lundqvist; OTT goals from Spezza (2) and Michalek; 22 PIMs)

Thur, 8 March NYR 1 @ OTT 4 (Ottawa wins series 3 – 1; Bishop defeats Biron; OTT goals from Smith, Foligno, Turris and Spezza; NYR goal from Callahan; 26 PIMs)

Key Notes: OTT won in both buildings; Anderson better than Lundqvist 2 – 1; leading OTT goal scorers are Michalek and Spezza (4); leading NYR goal scorer is Gaborik (3); and an average of 22.25 PIMs per game.

NYR vs OTT CTSA

 

Firstly, the leadoff Hi, Avg and Lo is an average of the remaining four winners’ numbers when the best and worst number are thrown out to rid us of a potential anomaly. Where you see a green or red number with white background, you have a team stat that is out-of-bounds of the average Hi and Lo range, but is still within a Hi (green) or Lo (red) value a Stanley Cup Finalist (SCF) team produced. Why do this comparison? Our implication is that failing to be the closest team to the average SCF gives a team a shot at The Cup.

And second, the team with home ice advantage is in home dark jersey color for chart background while the visitor is in black text on white background wherever their stats fall within the average range of the post-Lockout SCF teams. These numbers are a comparison of all regular season team and by-position stats. We focus on where the numbers do not fall in line with averages or historical norms. The comparison or 2012 Playoff matchup teams is designed to help predict the series winner.

In the W, L, Pts categories, OTT is below the SCF average. However, their numbers are within the range of stats for PHI in the 2010 finals. Landing amongst the anomalies is where our out–of–the–box analytical bent comes in. Hockey is a game that is just this close (read with thumb and forefinger barely spread apart) between winning and losing. Put out too much effort and you exhaust your abilities and lose. A great example is that only two of six possible President’s Trophy winners before this season have made it to the Finals and only one has been victorious. That’s a relative 1–for–12 or 8.3% chance of hoisting both pieces of hardware. Don’t put out enough effort and you lose, exhibited ably by the average difference between the 8th and 9th seed since the Lockout at 2.286 pts / 1.5 wins. We call this the ‘Ten Pound Bag Theory ‘  – you can only put in or take out 10 pounds worth of stuff from a 10 pound bag. So where teams bust the averages, they are docked 1/2 point.  (NYR 0; OTT –1.5)

In terms of the Conference seed, the Finals have seen DET in 2008, and VAN in 2011, as No. 1 seeds. Obviously that implies NYR only has a 50/50 shot of hoisting The Cup. EDM in 2006 made it to the finals as a No. 8 seed but did not win, suggesting OTT might not take home the prize either. (NYR –.5; OTT –2)

In goals for and against, NYR has scored less total goals than any previous Cup finalist. OTT’s goal differential is still greater than EDM in 2006. (NYR –1.5; OTT –2.5)

The NYR’s special teams are a mixed bag with a PP percentage worse, and a PK percentage higher, than any SCF team. So in this case, and because special teams have such a huge impact on scoring, NYR suffers for both special teams’ totals. (NYR –3.5; OTT –2.5)

For OTT, both the average Losing Streak (equal to PHI in 2010) and Longest Losing Streak (equal to EDM in 2006) are above average but within norms of other post-Lockout Finalists. (NYR –3.5; OTT –3.5)

OTT’s Home Winning % is below any post-Lockout Finalist. That said, as stated above OTT was 2 – 0 in MSG and 1 – 1 at home. Couple those figures with the NYR’s numbers and this season’s history and the implication is something along the lines of a potential split in both MSG and Scotiabank Place in the first four games and NYR just beating OTT to the fourth win, whether it is in six or seven games. The danger to NYR here is Overtime where it is truly time to flip a coin for victory. (Overall at this point, NYR –3.5; OTT –4.5)

OTT’s final streak was 0 – 3 to close the season, a number landing in the norms equal to the non–Cup winning, 2009 version of a DET finalist team. (NYR –3.5; OTT –5)

The average output by position for 16, final 2011-12 statistical categories indicates:

  • NYR’s Left Wing corps is below any post-Lockout Cup finals team on a player–per–game basis (NYR –4.5; OTT –5)
  • OTT’s LW’s are above average but within norms of DET’s 2008 Cup Winning team (NYR –4.5; OTT –5.5)
  • And both Right Wing and Goaltender positions are above the average and any norms for both teams (NYR –6.5; OTT –7.5)

If you add up the by–position, per game averages, however, NYR comes out ahead 29.7 to 27.698 suggesting that in terms of output, they are still the more talented club.

Both teams’ total points added up across the board and divided by a factor of 10 to give us something closer to a school grade of A, B, C or D indicates both teams have a total, comparative score below both averages and norms of SCF teams and in the “C” range. This implies neither team will be this year’s Stanley Cup winner. It also implies OTT can beat NYR. (NYR –7.5; OTT –8.5)

Summary

In terms of being this season’s Cup winner, the statistics indicate the team hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup does not come out of this pairing.

The numbers and history from this season also seem to imply OTT could potentially be an upset team in the 1st round although NYR is likely to win the series by a game.

How do the Rangers’ pull off victory? It has to start with Lundqvist being nothing short of spectacular in goal. This compensates for NYR’s dearth of goals scoring. To borrow Tort’s favorite expression, across the board out from the net, the Rangers then have to stiffen up every game and fight for victories.

And OTT? This team historically knows they can beat the Rangers. They need to seize that positive attitude and capitalize upon it from the first puck drop. (Think here how the 7 April Capitals played against the Rangers.) Then Anderson needs to be better than Lundqvist. And then it just might come down to the No. 11 PP in the League goading NY into more penalties and potting some goals with the man advantage.

How do we call it besides the first team to three wins will take the series? Based on by-position talent and with a split of any OT game outcomes, we are going with NYR in a close, six-game series or in a hard-fought seven games.

The next series will be BOS versus WSH…

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