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2012 Stanley Cup Finals: NJD v LAK Analysis

On Goal Analysis is here to provide you our 2012 Stanley Cup Finals analysis of the NJD versus LAK matchup that begins on Wednesday, 30 May. So far, we are 9 – 5 / 64.3% with post-season series’ winner predictions (after a terrible Round 2). And during Round 3, we predicted who would win each game and went 7 – 4 / 63.6%. Sure in this case you can just flip a coin and have a 50/50 chance of predicting the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion, but we like our 63%+ odds better after analyzing the patterns.

So for this review, we begin with the same analysis formula we used in our last Round 3 blog:

The Schedule

The teams’ 2012 Series

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; and Goal Differential.

We also provide CTSA on team performance as a combined average from regular season and through Round 2 of the Playoffs in terms of: Power Play %; Penalty Kill %; Winning Streak; Longest Winning Streak; Losing Streak; Longest Losing Streak; Home and Away Winning %; odds of Wins and Losses of Round 2, Game 1 and the series as a whole from historical patterns; Round 1 Closing Win Streak; Average Output Per Game by position; and a total Team Point Value. We combine these numbers because Playoff figures are inflated by as much as 1.5 times taken by themselves when compared to the regular season and depending on the category.

After a long layoff for the LAK and what should have been a decent rest period for NJD, what does our pattern analysis say about this series?

NJD vs LAK

On its face, many will tell you LAK looks like a juggernaut coming into this series. It is practically over – just write it in the books and call it a done deal. But what does our pattern analysis tell us?

Schedule

Wed, 30 May, 8p (ET) LAK at NJD [NBC, CBC, RDS]

Sat, 2 Jun, 8p (ET) LAK at NJD [NBC, CBC, RDS]

Mon, 4 Jun, 8p (ET) NJD at LAK [NBCSN, CBC, RDS]

Wed, 6 Jun, 8p (ET) NJD at LAK [NBCSN, CBC, RDS]

Sat, 9 Jun, 8p (ET) LAK at NJD [NBC, CBC, RDS – if required]

Mon, 11 Jun, 8p (ET) NJD at LAK [NBC, CBC, RDS – if required]

Wed, 13 Jun, 8p (ET) LAK at NJD [NBC, CBC, RDS – if required]

2012 Matchup

Under the current scheduling system, most teams do not get a home-and-away pair against teams from the opposite conference. (When the NHL finally reorganizes under a new CBA for 2012-13, this will be rectified.) In the case of NJD versus LAK, we got the pair, however, both of which were done before Halloween 2011.

Thur, 13 October LAK 1 @ NJD 2 SO (New Jersey leads series 1 – 0; Hedberg (w/some Brodeur) defeats Quick; NJD goals from Elias (and Kovalchuk in the SO); LAK goal from Gagne; 6 PIMs)

Tue, 25 October NJD 3 @ LAK 0 (New Jersey wins series 2 – 0; Hedberg defeats Bernier; NJD goals from Zubrus (2) and Elias; 6 PIMs)

Key Notes: LAK dropped both games home and away so has no muscle memory of beating the Devils this season; Hedberg is 2 – 0 versus Quick with Bernier, a misleading statistic at best – the stat of note as long as he stays healthy is Brodeur going 10-for-11 after a 1st Period early goal and minor injury versus Quick going 14-for-15 head-to-head in the same period because that is what we are most likely to see; leading NJD goal scorers are Elias and Zubrus (2); leading LAK goal scorer was Gagne (1) who has not yet played in the playoffs; and the series ran a miniscule average of only six PIMs per game, a low number that might be higher in this round but closer to the truth, especially if NJD maintains it’s turn-the-other-cheek mentality.

NYR vs LAK Combined CTSA

Between the two teams, NJD is the most likely team to win the Stanley Cup. That is based on statistical averages of teams playing for the Stanley Cup since the Lockout. In effect, they are closer to the average, statistical Stanley Cup winner than Los Angeles is. (NJD – 1; LAK –2)

Special teams are a mixed bag. In the Playoffs only, LAK has the worst PP and best PK while NJD is at a Hi average for its PP and Lo average for its PK. Keep in mind the lack of PP production for the Kings has not harmed them to date here. And add to that a combination of NJD’s Lo average PK with the potential ability of LAK to find the net with the man advantage – surely after several days off to work on the problem they have come up with some way to improve that area. Give LAK the advantage on special teams despite the minuses indicated. (NJD – 1.5; LAK –3)

For winning and losing streaks, both NJD and LAK are even. Both teams sport: average Winning Streaks; a four-game winning streak during the course of the playoffs which is above Hi average and norm; above average Losing streaks; and average Longest Losing Streaks. (NJD – 3; LAK –4.5)

There is something of a tradeoff in terms of Playoff Home and Road records between these clubs. For winning series this 2012 Playoff season, the Devils’ Home record is the best (.750, down .05 from Round 2) of the Stanley Cup Finalists and above both Hi average and norm (where our Ten Pound Bag Theory kicks in making too much of a good thing a negative). The Kings’ home record is on average (.667). NJD’s away record is both below Lo average and norm (.600) while LAK’s ready-to-pop perfect road record is above both Hi average and norm. The Home and Away records head-to-head suggest the LAK win in five games, but we believe they will drop one of the first two games in NJ and see the series carry out closer to the 6.333 games post-Lockout finals average. (NJD – 5; LAK –5.5)

A review of W/L patterns is enlightening as well. For Los Angeles, only one team has carried a 12 – 2 record into the Finals which they lost in six games (PIT in ’08). The Kings’ W,W,W,L,W pattern that closed out the Western Conference finals is also duplicated as a series victory by nine other, post-Lockout teams. But teams with that winning series pattern are only 3 – 9 in their next series, although two of the three winners are CAR ’06 and ANA ’07 who both raised The Cup. Finally, teams who won the previous series with LAK’s pattern hold only a .250 winning percentage in their first game of the next round. Game 1 at The Rock may just be the Kings’ first road loss of the playoffs. (NJD – 6; LAK –5.5)

NJD’s playoff series record of 12-6 on the other hand, replicates three other teams holding a 2 – 1 overall record which includes both CAR ’06 and BOS ‘11 who raised The Cup. Their last series’ L,W,L,W,W,W pattern has occurred five other times with those teams finishing 3 – 2 in their following series, to include both ANA ’07 and CHI ’10 as Stanley Cup Champions. Overall, teams ending a series with that pattern bat .600 in terms of winning their next game. The advantage here goes to the LAK. (NJD – 6; LAK –5.5)

The teams’ records in their Last 10 Games are stellar, with LAK’s above both Hi average and norm at 9 – 1 and NJD above average at 8 – 2. If momentum is indeed a factor, the nod would go to NJD who closed out their series against NYR with three straight W’s versus the Kings’ closing one W streak against PHX and the long layoff they have suffered. (NJD – 7; LAK –6.5)

In terms of the average, by–position output per player in 16 statistical categories, the comparison breaks down as follows:

  • NJD leads both clubs at the Left Wing position in terms of the highest, by-game statistical average. The Devils’ Zack Parise tops the Kings’ LW leader, Dustin Penner, in this category.  Both teams as a whole are above the Hi average at this position. (NJD – 7.5; LAK –7)
  • At Center, LAK’s Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis all produce overall, by-game statistical numbers higher than NJD’s Adam Henrique. Those first three Kings also provide a higher percentage of the by-game stats for their team than Henrique does. Center is a position of distinct advantage for LAK here although their numbers fall just above average for Stanley Cup      winners while NJD’s are just below. (NJD – 7.5; LAK –7)
  • Statistically speaking, the single most dominant player coming into this matchup is Los Angeles Right Wing Dustin Brown. This seems to be S.O.P. for the Kings as he has been a leader since the      Playoffs began. The Devils’ David Clarkson and Dainius Zubrus are the next two performers at the RW position and stand in front of L.A.’s Justin Williams. The Kings’ RW average is above the Hi average and norm while NJD’s is below Lo average. (NJD – 8; LAK –8)
  • The west coasts’ Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell and Andy Greene all provide greater per-game statistical input into their team’s overall performance than the Devils’ leaders (Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky). With numbers rivaling the 2010 Blackhawks’ defenders, LAK is above both Hi      average and norm while NJD’s is right at average for Stanley Cup winners. (NJD – 8; LAK –9)
  • And at the Goalie position on a per-game basis, L.A.’s Jonathan Quick leads the Devils’ Martin Brodeur in Goalie per-game performance stats. You might think with Quick’s 12-2 record that he is a substantial leader. But, again, on a per-game basis, Brodeur’s Save Percentage is better and his GAA Percentage is also just off Quick’s mark. And for as well as Quick has played, he only leads Brodeur two SO’s to one. What this position comes down to is will the rested new-comer best the wily old veteran? (Oh! And both teams’ Netminder numbers are above both Hi average and norm. (NJD – 9; LAK –10)

If you add up the by–position, per–game averages through Round 3, LAK has the lead in terms of total combined, by-game stats. (NJD – 9.5; LAK –10)

NJD’s grade for all stat categories gives them a “High C” (almost a ‘B”) while the LAK’s have a “Low C” which is still an improvement over their regular season grade coming in to the Playoffs. (NJD – 9.5; LAK –10.5)

Summary

This series is just about a tossup. Straight up Home and Away winning percentages suggest the LAK’s get to a fourth W before NJ, a stat that is enough for most people to hang their hat on. The minuses for performing too high above or too low below stats averages indicate, however, that a slight advantage goes to NJD. So how do we call this one?

NJD wins this series if:

  1. They can check Dustin Brown better than any other team has done so far these Playoffs.
  2. Their forecheck can stymie the speed Los Angeles throws on the ice.
  3. Brodeur is the monster he was the last time the Devils were in the finals.

LAK is the winner if they simply continue to play with the same intensity they have shown so far, although we believe you will see at least one Away loss this round for them and likely tonight in Game 1. (We do wonder how LAK will psychologically take losing their first road game tonight which veterans such as Richards and Carter will need to help overcome in the dressing room.)

In each game, the winning ‘tell’ for both teams is that they are undefeated when leading at the conclusion of the 2nd Period. For the series winner, the closest tells you get are either the Game 4 winner or the old standard of ‘first team to three W’s’.

Our call?

We are without a doubt, conflicted. Likely more so than most people who will straight up go with L.A. based on their dominating, 12 – 2 Playoff record. The W/L record by itself indicates LAK will be the victor. But the statistical pattern analysis says the Devils will be win. We say, more gingerly than most, that the Kings nudge out the Devils in six games, partying with the cup on their trans-continental U.S. flight back home overnight on June 11th.

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 3 Fin: NYR v NJD Analysis

On Goal Analysis completes their 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 3 analysis with the NYR versus NJD matchup that begins on Monday, 14 May. For this review, we provide the same analysis formula we used in our previous Round 3 blog:

The Schedule

The teams’ 2012 Series

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; and Goal Differential.

We also provide CTSA on team performance as a combined average from regular season and through Round 2 of the Playoffs in terms of: Power Play %; Penalty Kill %; Winning Streak; Longest Winning Streak; Losing Streak; Longest Losing Streak; Home and Away Winning %; odds of Wins and Losses of Round 2, Game 1 and the series as a whole from historical patterns; Round 1 Closing Win Streak; Average Output Per Game by position; and a total Team Point Value. We combine these numbers because Playoff figures are inflated by as much as 1.5 times taken by themselves when compared to the regular season and depending on the category.

After a long layoff for both teams, what does our pattern analysis say about this series?

NYR vs NJD

This matchup is being billed as a fierce rivalry between two opponents separated by a river crossing. True, there has been intense combat between these two teams during the regular season. True outcomes were close. But you have to wonder who will be affected most – the Devils by their long break, or the Rangers by their long series? What does our pattern analysis tell us?

Schedule

Mon, 14 May, 8p (ET) NJD at NYR [NBCSN, CBC, RDS]

Wed, 16 May, 8p (ET) NJD at NYR [NBCSN, CBC, RDS]

Sat, 19 May, 1p (ET) NYR at NJD [NBC, CBC, RDS]

Mon, 21 May, 8p (ET) NYR at NJD [NBCSN, CBC, RDS]

Wed, 23 May, 8p (ET) NJD at NYR [NBCSN, CBC, RDS – if required]

Fri, 25 May, 8p (ET) NYR at NJD [NBCSN, CBC, RDS – if required]

Sun, 27 May, 8p (ET) NJD at NYR [NBCSN, CBC, RDS – if required]

2012 Series

Tue, 20 December NYR 4 @ NJD 1 (New York leads series 1 – 0; Lundqvist defeats Brodeur; NYR goals from Anisimov, Gaborik (2) and Hagelin; NJD goal from Zajac; 52 PIMs)

Tue, 31 January NYR 3 @ NJD 4 SO (Series tied 1 – 1; Brodeur defeats Biron; NJD goals from Parise, Kovalchuk [plus the SO game winner] and Clarkson; NYR goals from Stralman, Boyle and Del Zotto; 12 PIMs)

Tue, 7 February NJD 1 @ NYR 0 (New Jersey leads series 2 – 1; Brodeur defeats Lundqvist; NJD goal from Clarkson; 34 PIMs)

Tue, 27 February NJD 0 @ NYR 2 (Series tied 2 – 2; Lundqvist defeats Brodeur; NYR goals from Hagelin and Callahan; 44 PIMs)

Tue, 6 March NYR 1 @ NJD 4 (New Jersey leads series 3 – 2; Brodeur defeats Lundqvist; NJD goals from Kovalchuk, Clarkson, Carter and Elias; NYR goal from Stepan; 32 PIMs)

Mon, 19 March NJD 2 @ NYR 4 (Series tied 3 – 3; Lundqvist defeats Brodeur; NYR goals from Dubinsky, Girardi, Zuccarello and Stepan; NJD goals from Elias and Sykora; 56 PIMs)

Key Notes: The regular season series ended in a tie with both teams 2 – 1 at home as in the PHX versus LAK series; Lundqvist is 3 – 2 versus Brodeur with Brodeur starting every game in this series for NJD; leading NYR goal scorers are Gaborik and Hagelin (2); leading NJD goal scorer was Clarkson (3); and the series ran a significant average of 38.33 PIMs per game with all but one game including fighting majors.

NYR vs NJD Combined CTSA

After the defeat of BOS and OTT, NYR and NJD both are the next most likely Eastern Conference teams to compete for the Stanley Cup. It was just about a dead heat, however, with NYR holding a less – than – .1 point advantage. Both teams had the same number of statistical calls over or under averages except NYR held the dreaded #1 Conference seed. (NYR – 1.5; NJD –1)

Special teams show as a mixed bag. In the Playoffs only, NJD has the best PP and worst PK while NYR is within average limits. The Rangers hold that average when combining regular season and Playoff numbers. Predictably, NJD is above average / below Hi norm on the PP and below average / above Lo norm on the PK. (NYR – 1.5; NJD –2)

NYR is below both average and norm for Playoff Winning Streak and Longest Winning Streak – they have only once produced two consecutive Playoff victories. NJD is only below average in terms of their Longest Winning Streak in the Playoffs. Both teams are right at average in combining regular season and Playoff numbers for these stats. (NYR – 1.5; NJD –2)

Both teams’ Playoff Average Losing Streak and Longest Losing Streak are all but tied. They also are both right on average for these numbers when combined with the regular season. (NYR – 1.5; NJD –2.5)

NJD holds the advantage in terms of Playoff Home and Road records. The Devils’ Home record is the best (.800) of the four remaining Playoff teams while the Rangers’ Road record is the worst (.500). The two are much closer and right in line with averages when combining regular season and Playoff numbers, however. And if you add up the percentages head-to-head, this series requires a Game 7 for a winner to be decided. History suggests Game 6 is th end for Round 3 matchups, however. At a Game 6, NJD is in the lead. (NYR – 2; NJD –2.5)

There have only been two teams to win a series with a L,W,W,W,W pattern since the Lockout. One team lost their first, Round 3 game following the above for an historical 0% chance of a Devils’ Game 1 win. Overall, only two teams have carried a W/L pattern like that forward in the playoffs and they bat a .500. Nobody has produced a W/L pattern like the Rangers in any post-Lockout series, so no call can be made with that reference. In relative terms, NYR has played about eight games in a 15-day span to five games in 10 days for NJD. Fatigue is going to play a factor in Game 1 and beyond. Both teams get a minor minus in this category. [For post-Lockout comparison purposes, teams with an 8-6 record like NYR carries into Round 3 are 0-2, losing in four and five games. Teams with NJD’s 8-4 record going into the 3rd Round are 3-4 with CHI ’10 winning the Stanley Cup Championship] (NYR – 3.5; NJD –3)

Interestingly, both NYR and NJD’s records in their Last 10 Games are the same as they were to close out the regular season. These numbers put NYR below average in terms of both W’s and L’s in their Last 10, and NJD above average in both categories in terms of combined regular season and Playoff averages. The same goes for their current Winning Streaks. (NYR – 5; NJD –4.5)

In terms of the average, by–position output per player in 16 statistical categories, the comparison breaks down as follows:

  • NJD leads both clubs at the Left Wing position in terms of the highest, by-game statistical average. Both the Devils’ Zack Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk top the Rangers’ LW leader, Brandon Prust in this category. And while New Jersey’s ranking would be the highest at that position for teams still in the playoffs, they do not lose points based on our Ten Pound Bag Theory – combined regular season and Playoff averages are just that. On average. (NYR – 5; NJD –4.5)
  • At Center, NJD also has an overall by-game statistical advantage. NYR’s Brian Boyle and Brad Richards are overall leaders at this position in front of the Devils’ Patrick Elias. But after the Rangers’ two leaders, the overall statistical contributions by the rest of NJD’s Pivots give them the Playoff advantage. As with the LW position, however, combined stats for ‘both seasons’ renders the two      clubs right at average. (NYR – 5; NJD –4.5)
  • Statistically speaking, the single most dominant player coming into this matchup is New York’s Right Wing Ryan Callahan. Hot on his heels in NJD’s leading statistical player, RW David Clarkson. While Clarkson lead all scorers in these teams’ regular season series, he still is a notch under Callahan in terms of total output. But both teams are right on average in combined regular season/Playoff      numbers. (NYR – 5; NJD –4.5)
  • In order, the top four Defensemen in this series statistically speaking are NYR’s Dan Girardi, NJD’s Marek Zidlicky, NYR’s Michael Del Zotto and NJD’s Andy Greene. Those four are followed by the Rangers’ Staal and McDonagh. Overall, this position runs decidedly in New York’s favor. But as with the other skaters’ stats, the two teams come out about average when looking at regular season and Playoff totals. (NYR – 5; NJD –4.5)
  • And at the Goalie position on a per-game basis, the Devils’ Martin Brodeur leads the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist on the strength of his Winning and Saves Percentages. The difference between the two players is slight. But again, when you take into account the “two seasons’ ” numbers, both teams remain at average. (NYR – 5; NJD –4.5)

If you add up the by–position, per–game averages through Round 2, NYR has a slight point lead in terms of total combined, by-game stats. (NYR – 5; NJD –5)

Both teams’ grade out at a ‘Low C’ average. But the Rangers’ overall grade is above average / below Hi norm for a slight hit. (NYR – 5.5; NJD –5)

Summary

This series is just about as close as the PHX versus LAK call. How does this one fall out?

NYR wins this series if:

  1. Lundqvist is going to have to be just about perfect four times. That could drag this out to a third, consecutive 7-gamer.
  2. They, like the LAK’s, can produce some scoring in this round. They need to channel those 28 times in the regular season they scored four or more goals. And the one time they did it against OTT in the Playoffs. They must BE who they have been for less than 1/3 of this season.
  3. Hope NJD doesn’t figure out how to overcome the Rangers’ blocking machine.

The Devils win by solving Lundqvist and the sea of blocked shots. It is both that simple and that difficult.

It pains us to have to say this at OGA because we were Rangers fans long before On Goal Analysis (no offense intended, NJites). Our analytical side, however, cannot help but say the numbers and patterns drift just a bit more to the West side of the Hudson River. Since we are forced to make a call, we have to say NJD wins the series in six, close games.

If the Rangers win, it is likely to go seven games and they will get there on heart and perseverance, a good story in anybody’s book.

While some may sound the death knell after Game 1, you can lose that one and still go all the way to Stanley Cup victory just like BOS, ANA or CAR did. The tell in this series, as we indicated in our posting about PHX versus LAK, will be who wins Game 2 as they are undefeated progressing from Round 3 on to Round 4 since the Lockout.

So in our mind, it will be NJD taking on the LAK for the Stanley Cup Final. Let’s see how right we were as Round 3 kicks off….

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 3: PHX v LAK Analysis

On Goal Analysis continues their 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs analysis with the Round 3 PHX versus LAK matchup that begins on Sunday, 13 May. For this review, we provide our analysis formula using the information listed below:

The Schedule

The teams’ 2012 Series

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; and Goal Differential.

We also provide CTSA on team performance as a combined average from regular season and through Round 2 of the Playoffs in terms of: Power Play %; Penalty Kill %; Winning Streak; Longest Winning Streak; Losing Streak; Longest Losing Streak; Home and Away Winning %; odds of Wins and Losses of Round 2, Game 1 and the series as a whole from historical patterns; Round 1 Closing Win Streak; Average Output Per Game by position; and a total Team Point Value. We combine these numbers because Playoff figures are inflated by as much as 1.5 times taken by themselves when compared to the regular season and depending on the category.

After a long layoff for both teams, what does our pattern analysis say about this series?

PHX vs LAK

This is being billed as another, potential “1 – 0 Series” because both teams average less than two goals per game against so far through the Playoffs and that is how all matchups between these opponents ended in the regular season. Or CTSA for goaltenders also indicates PHX and LAK (respectively) produce the best, per-game statistical rating in goal. So the difference will likely come down to a combination of team scoring ability and a crucial mistake in the crease each time these teams play. We said in our Round 2 previews that for LAK to continue on in the playoffs, Quick had to be durn near perfect for four games and they had to find a higher scoring gear for their top players, both of which they did in addition to keeping their defensive game strong. For PHX, we said to beat NSH they had to ‘Mike Smith them to death’ and find another gear for Shane Doan which both happened. So what happens beginning tonight? Nothing less than the onset of a perfect storm.

Schedule

Sun, 13 May, 8p (ET) LAK at PHX [NBCSN, TSN, RDS]

Tue, 15 May, 9p (ET) LAK at PHX [NBCSN, TSN, RDS]

Thur, 17 May, 9p (ET) PHX at LAK [NBCSN, TSN, RDS]

Sun, 20 May, 3p (ET) PHX at LAK [NBC, CBC, RDS]

Tue, 22 May, 9p (ET) LAK at PHX [NBCSN, CBC, RDS – if required]

Thur, 24 May, 9p (ET) PHX at LAK [NBCSN, CBC, RDS – if required]

Sat, 26 May, 8p (ET) LAK at PHX [TBD, CBC, RDS – if required]

2012 Series

Thur, 20 October LAK 2 @ PHX 0 (Los Angeles leads series 1 – 0; Quick defeats Smith; LAK goals from Brown and Clifford; 22 PIMs)

Sat, 29 October LAK 2 @ PHX 3 OT (Series tied 1 – 1; Smith defeats Quick; PHX goals from Vrbata (2) and Langkow; LAK goals from Richards and Kopitar; 16 PIMs)

Mon, 26 December PHX 3 @ LAK 4 (Los Angeles leads series 2 – 1; Quick defeats LaBarbera (and McElhinney); LAK goals from Scuderi, Richardson, Mitchell and Brown; PHX goals from Torres (2) and Langkow; 10 PIMs)

Thur, 5 January PHX 0 @ LAK 1 OT (Los Angeles leads series 3 – 1; Quick defeats Smith; LAK goal from Doughty; 4 PIMs)

Thur, 16 February PHX 1 @ LAK 0 (Los Angeles leads series 3 – 2; Smith defeats Quick; PHX goal from Vrbata; 62 PIMs)

Tue, 21 February LAK 4 @ PHX 5 SO (Series tied 3 – 3; Smith defeats Quick; PHX goals from Vrbata (2) and Doan (2) [plus Boedker with the SO winner]; LAK goals from Doughty, Loktionov, Brown and Williams; 23 PIMs)

Key Notes: The regular season series ended in a tie with both teams 2 – 1 at home; Quick won three of six starts, but only two of those were against Smith; Smith won three against Quick, including the last two contests they played back in February; leading PHX goal scorer was Vrbata (5); leading LAK goal scorer was Brown (3); and the series ran modest PIMs at 22.83 per game but with some fighting majors issued.

PHX vs LAK Combined CTSA

Coming in with post-season numbers, PHX would have been the most likely of the two teams to continue on to the Stanley Cup Finals with VAN, DET, NSH, STL and SJS knocked out. Using those Regular Season Wins, Losses, Points, Conference Seed, Goals For, Goals Against and Goal Differential as measured against previous Stanley Cup winners, PHX is the leading team between the two. (PHX –1; LAK –2)

On special teams, the current PP leader is PHX by just about double and LAK leads in the PK by almost 5%. The combined regular season and playoffs numbers only see LAK as below average but above the Lo norm. (PHX – 1; LAK –2.5)

The Kings have dominated in the ‘W’ column despite their PP woes. That means in terms of the Playoff Winning Streak and Longest Winning Streak they are right on par while PHX is below average / above the Lo norm. Combining regular season performance with playoff output only nets us PHX at below average / above the Lo norm for Longest Winning Streak, however. (PHX – 1.5; LAK –2.5)

Both teams are perfectly tied in terms of regular season Average Losing Streak. The same goes for Longest Losing Streak at above both average and norm with a “1.” (Note here that no team advancing to Round 3 has dropped more than two games in a row.) For the Playoffs, both clubs are right at average in these categories. (PHX – 1.5; LAK –2.5)

With only one loss so far since mid-April, the LAK are obviously crushing the opposition in terms of Playoff Home and Away records where they beat every team except NJD’s .800 Home record. If you can win 3 – of – 4 at Home and everything on the Road, who can beat you, right? But combining both regular season and Playoff numbers show both teams are right on par with averages in both categories. (PHX – 1.5; LAK –2.5)

For Los Angeles, more post-Lockout teams (13) have carried a 4 – 0 sweep into their next round than any other W/L pattern for teams remaining in the Playoff picture. This includes the last four Stanley Cup Champions and the ’09 and ’08 runners up. Teams carrying a sweep into Round 3 went 2 – 2 in Game 1 of that series and have a .539 chance of winning their next game overall. (PHX – 2; LAK –2.5)

And for Phoenix, no teams have carried a W,W,L,W,W record into the Round 3 and overall teams were 1 – 4 / .200 in their next game after winning a series with that pattern. (PHX – 2.5; LAK –2.5) [For comparison purposes, post-Lockout only PIT '08 went into Round 3 with an 8 - 1 record like LAK and they lost in the Cup Final that year; teams with PHX's 8 - 3 record entering the 3rd Round went 3 - 5 BOS winning the Stanley Cup in '11 and CAR in '06.]

PHX’s 7 – 3 record in their last 10 Playoff games is above average. The two-game W streak they are riding sits at average. When combined with their regular season numbers, their three losses over the last 10 games is above average / below Hi norm. (PHX – 3; LAK –2.5)

The LAK’s .750 record in four Home games coupled with a perfect Road record and five straight wins may give them the best, combined playoff W/L percentage of the four remaining teams. But the average of their regular season and Playoff numbers leaves them just like PHX. (PHX – 3; LAK –3)

When you play out these teams’ Home versus Away winning streaks, you get your first team to four wins with the LAK after Game 6. Note here that the average number of games Stanley Cup Winning Teams (SCWTs) have played in Round 3 since the Lockout is 5.7 games, so advantage goes to LAK here. (PHX – 3.5; LAK –3)

In terms of the average, by–position output per player in 16 statistical categories, the comparison breaks down as follows:

  • PHX leads both clubs at the LW position in terms of the highest, by-game statistical averages. While LAK’s Dustin Penner leads in terms of individual, by-game stats and the overall Playoff percentage of his team’s total effort, the rest of his LW teammates do not quite add up to PHX’s trio of Korpikoski, Pyatt and Whitney who, combined, lead every stats category. Both teams’ average, by-game output is right on par for Playoff teams, however, so no decrement occurs here. (PHX – 3.5; LAK –3)
  • The same circumstances at LW repeat themselves at the Center position. Martin Hanzal of PHX is the leader in terms of the individual and overall Playoff percentage numbers. But in stacking all Pivots in this matchup together, next come the LAK’s Richards and Kopitar. For the regular season and Playoff combined average, no decrement occurs here either as both teams are on par. (PHX – 3.5; LAK –3)
  • THE most dominant player coming into this matchup is RW Dustin Brown of the LAK. Hands down for everyone skating in front of the goal crease and evidenced by the fact he was the leader after his last series in six stats categories. Shane Doan is the PHX standout at LW, best player on his team and third best forward or defenseman in the contest. But both teams are right on average in combined regular season/Playoff numbers. (PHX – 3.5; LAK –3)
  • It is close, but LAK’s Willie Mitchell leads the top, team Defenseman in this contest, just in front of Derek Morris of PHX. The difference is not individual statistical output, but in terms of how much of their stats pack contributes to their team’s overall statistical output. Doughty of LAK is at #3 while Klesla of PHX is in fourth slot. The Playoff averages for the entire defensive corps on both clubs gives Phoenix the above average and Hi norm lead, but combined with the regular season turns out on average as with the three forward positions. (PHX – 3.5; LAK –3)
  • At the Goalie position and on a per-game basis, you might not believe it but Mike Smith of PHX has the better numbers in terms of Save % (he has faced more shots), Goals Against Average % and Shootouts. The advantage Quick of LAK has comes in terms of Winning % and TOI where less games played equals less fatigue. The combined, full-season averages give an above average but below Hi norm rating to PHX, however. And when you take into account our Ten Pound Bag Theory, that gives a hit to the Coyotes. (PHX – 4; LAK –3)

If you add up the by–position, per–game averages through Round 2, PHX has a slight point lead in terms of total combined, by-game stats. As at the end of Round 1, PHX continues to produce the highest team, by-game stats average in the Playoffs. (PHX – 4; LAK –3.5)

PHX’s current overall team grade is a ‘Low C,’ both for the Playoffs and in a combined average with the regular season. The LAK’s are a ‘High D’ in both categories, but their combined numbers are below average / above Lo norm. (PHX – 4; LAK –4)

Summary

This series is as close as it gets. When we said that going into Round 2 for PHX against NSH, it ended in a 4 – 1 series victory for the Coyotes and contrary to our pre-series call. So how do we settle this one?

PHX wins this series by doing three things: Mike Smith continues to be Mike Smith; Dustin Brown gets shut down; and team defense kicks things up another notch. Throw in goals by Vrbata, Vermette, Doan and Whitney with continued helpers from Yandle and this team sees the Finals.

How is LAK going to land in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since Gretzky faced the Canadiens in 1993? Start with Quick. Add a pinch more of Brown with a healthy dose of Richards, Kopitar and Carter. And stir in some ever-improving Doughty, Mitchell and Penner, to boot. In effect, kick it up just one more notch.

We say LAK wins the series in six games as just a bit too much for PHX to handle. The tell for this outcome will be the Game 2 winner – all Cup Finalists since the Lockout have won Game 2 of Round 3, the only 100% W/L pattern we have in this Round.

Up next will be NYR versus NJD….

Twitter Updates

  • ...This suggests that the LAK will defeat CHI in Game 6 to play the NYR for the Stanley Cup 2 months ago
  • Since 2005/6, when a Round 3 team wins Game 5, they lose Game 6 66.7% of the time; also, Western series are determined by Game 5.889... 2 months ago
  • ...So those stats point to the NYR claiming victory tonight and playing the winner from the Western Conference in the Finals 2 months ago
  • Since 2005/6, when a Round 3 team wins Game 5, they lose Game 6 60% of the time; also, Eastern series are determined by Game 5.778... 2 months ago
  • 4. Top 4 in each DIV play 2 rounds seeded within the DIV, 1 round versus other DIV champ and then the Finals between the Conference champs. 2 months ago

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