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NHL 2012 Playoffs Round 1 Con’t: FLA Versus NJD


This is On Goal Analysis‘ third in the series running the numbers for the NHL’s 2012 Playoff season. Here at OGA, we do not collectively believe in gut calls. As a whole, we believe in predictive analysis, our reason for bringing you the 2012 Playoff previews. As a reminder, 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 third is the No.3 seed in the East…

FLA vs NJD

…Can FLA win Round 1 in their first return to the NHL playoffs in more than a decade? Or will NJD, who failed to make the playoffs last season and have not found themselves in the Round 2 since 2007, play on into May? For these answers, we consult the numbers below…

Schedule

Fri, 13 April, 7p (ET) NJD at FLA [TSN, NHLN, RDSI, FS-F (HD)]

Sun, 15 April, 7:30p (ET) NJD at FLA [TSN, NBCSN, RDS]

Tue, 17 April, 7p (ET) FLA at NJD [TSN, NHLN, RDSI, SUN (HD)]

Thur, 19 April, 7p (ET) FLA at NJD [TSN, NHLN, RDSI, FS-F (HD)]

Sat, 21 April, 6:30p (ET) NJD at FLA [TSN, NHLN, RDSI – if required]

Tue, 24 April, TBD FLA at NJD [TBD – if required]

Thur, 26 April, TBD NJD at FLA [TBD – if required]

2012 Series

Mon, 12 November NJD 3 @ FLA 4 (Florida leads series 1 – 0; Theodore defeats Brodeur; FLA goals from Versteeg (2), Weiss and Fleischmann; NJD goals from Kovalchuk, Sykora and Zubrus; 26 PIMs)

Tue, 13 December NJD 3 @ FLA 2 SO (Series tied 1 – 1; Brodeur defeats Theodore; NJD goals from Elias and Parise; FLA goals from Versteeg (2); 28 PIMs)

Fri, 6 January FLA 2 @ NJD 5 (New Jersey leads series 2 – 1; Hedberg defeats Markstrom; NJD goals from Henrique, Elias, Kovalchuk (2) and Parise; FLA goals from Samuelsson and Barch; 10 PIMs)

Sat, 11 February FLA 3 @ NJD 1 (Series tied 2 – 2; Clemmensen defeats Brodeur; FLA goals from Bergenheim, Versteeg and Samuelsson; NJD goal from Bernier; 8 PIMs)

Key Notes: Both teams each won a game in each arena; FLA played three different goalies against NJD through the season; Brodeur and Theodore split two games; leading FLA goal scorer is Versteeg (5); leading NJD goal scorer is Kovalchuk (3); and an average of 18 PIMs per game.

FLA vs NJD CTSA

There is no change to the leading Hi, Avg and Lo numbers from Stanley Cup Finalist (SCF) values as stated in our last post. We remind you FLA, with home ice advantage, has home dark red/gold color on chart background while NJD is in black text on white background wherever their stats fall within the average range of the post-Lockout SCF teams.

For both number of W’s and Points this season, FLA is outside of averages but within norms of the 2010 Flyers. (FLA –1; NJD 0)

Both teams’ Goals For are lower than average. (FLA –2; NJD –1)

FLA’s Goals Differential is below the average. (FLA –3; NJD –1)

NJD’s PK Percentage is better than both the average and the Hi norm set by VAN last season. (Remember the Ten Pound Bag Theory here. FLA –3; NJD –2)

FLA has trouble with streaks. Their average Winning Streak is below both average and the Lo norm set by EDM in 2006. And both their Longest Winning Streak and Average Losing streak are below average but within Lo norms. (FLA –5; NJD –2)

FLA’s Away Winning % is also below average but above the Lo norm set by PHI in 2010. (FLA –5.5; NJD –2)

FLA’s 2 – 8 Last 10 Games record is the lowest of any team entering the playoffs this season and for any, previous post-Lockout SCF team in terms of both Wins and Losses. Additionally, NJD’s seven wins in their Last 10 games is above average but within the Hi norm set by DET in 2008, PIT in 2009 and VAN in 2011. The Devil’s season ending six-game winning streak is also above average and Hi norms. (FLA –7.5; NJD –3.5)

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

  • FLA’s Left Wings and Centers are both below averages and norms of SCF teams on a player–per–game basis (FLA –9.5; NJD –3.5)
  • NJD’s Left Wing corps is above average but within the Hi norm set by DET in 2008. Their Centermen are below both averages and norms and even lower than FLA’s cumulative numbers (FLA –9.5; NJD –5)
  • NJD’s Right Wingers are below average but within the Lo norm set by PIT in 2009, and their Defensemen are below both averages and norms on a per – player – per – game average (FLA –9.5; NJD –6.5)
  • And both teams’ Goaltenders follow the profile of all other Eastern Conference teams as above both average and Hi norms (FLA –10.5; NJD –7.5)

If you add up the by–position, per game averages, however, FLA leads NJD 25.1 to 24.6 which trails NYR, OTT, BOS and WSH.

Both teams’ cumulative total points and final grade are below averages and the Lo norm. If it were report card time, FLA would receive an overall grade of “D” while NJD rates a low “C.” In the long run, this does not bode well for either team pushing on the Round 2. (FLA –11.5; NJD –8.5)

Overall, these two teams are closer in comparison than one might think. Both teams have won in their opponent’s home building so each will have a measure of confidence for opening games in either location. And head–to–head Goalie comparisons are difficult due to three Panther netminders playing against the Devils and Brodeur’s winning differential at only .667 goals over three contests. Add in both teams’ 20+ visits to OT/SO this season and you have a recipe for a couple of late games in this series which any team can win. These combinations have us calling this series a narrow NJD victory in Game 6 or 7, a good showing for the Panthers who can build upon this success going forward.

Summary

In terms of being this season’s Cup winner, the stats say FLA will exit in Round 1 and NJD only holds the slimmest of hopes they will contend for The Cup.

By-position analysis gives NJD an advantage in the forward positions and FLA a slight edge in Defenseman and Goalie positions. Overall, FLA has a slight advantage here, but overall NJD’s results in the remaining statistical categories gives them the nod in six or seven games.

How do the Panthers win the series? Forget all of their last 10 games except their 7 April closer against Carolina. Know they can win at The Rock. Play the kind of tight games that netted them a (tie for) League-leading 24 OT/SO games. And then rely on the veteran experience of Dale Tallon’s huge crop of off-season acquisitions to steal some close victories.

And what about the Devils? Bring the Brodeur of 2000 and 2003, especially if this is his final season to play. Feed the puck to Kovalchuk, Parise and Clarkson. And it wouldn’t hurt to figure out how to improve the Playoff Power Play.

Our overall call is contests could either be a 2 – 2 split or an NJD 3 – 1 lead by Game 4. That will be followed by either one win and an OT loss by FLA, or two close wins. In the end, the final victory at Game 6 or 7 will go to NJD.

The next preview will be the tough PIT versus PHI pairing…

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