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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….

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  • ...This suggests that the LAK will defeat CHI in Game 6 to play the NYR for the Stanley Cup 4 months ago
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  • ...So those stats point to the NYR claiming victory tonight and playing the winner from the Western Conference in the Finals 4 months ago
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