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So you like those chances?

Early this week, I found an article on Moneypuck.com that showed what they thought were different team’s chances of making the playoffs and winning in the playoffs. While Twitter went bonkers, some (rightly) pointed out that the Vikings’ chances looked really good after 5 games, too. So let’s see if we can understand how they came to their conclusions and what it means for the Wild.
Image courtesy of Moneypuck.com
The first thing I did when I looked at this was to see what they thought each team would get in terms of points. This might help us decipher how the Wild can have a better chance to make the playoffs than the Canadiens. In fact, as it stands this morning, the Wild have the second-highest chance of making the playoffs in the NHL.

Their model has the Wild finishing with 104.8 points, behind the Blue Jackets (114.51), Penguins (108.12), and Canadiens (104.85) and just ahead of the Sharks (103.43). So why the discrepancy? Why would you say that the Wild have a better chance of making the playoffs over a team on pace for more points? I think part of this comes from the fact that the Central just isn’t that strong of a division now, and it should be easier to make the playoffs in the Central than in one of the tougher Eastern Conference divisions.

Per their methodology page, they run simulations to determine the probabilities. The simulations are based on their home team model and road team model, which then regress over the course of the season to put more emphasis on more recent games and less on games that happened 20 or 30 games ago.

So if you look at the prediction for tonight, the fact that Columbus has won 14 straight games and had points in 16 straight games, there’s more weight there than the Wild’s 12 wins and 13 straight games with points. In other words, the Wild’s losses are “fresher” than the Blue Jackets’.

They also take into account shot attempts, rebound goals, and special teams. The Jackets have better Fenwick numbers as a team than the Wild do, and a much better power play, while the Wild have a better PK than the Jackets. They also account for rest in their model, which shouldn’t be an issue tonight as both teams have been on the same schedule since the Christmas break.

So basically tonight’s game is a battle of Columbus’ road stats against the Wild’s home stats, with a small nod to the fact that the Wild are at home.

So why would a team like the Kings or Predators have a better chance at winning the Cup than the Wild? Well, let’s look at the Predators. At this point I can only conjecture, but I would assume it has something to do with the structure of the team, and they are assuming (or rather their model assumes) that the Preds are a better playoff team than regular season team.
The Kings or Sharks, I can understand. Those two teams, playing in the Pacific, wouldn’t have the hurdle known as the Blackhawks to overcome once you get deep into the playoffs, and the Sharks are the reigning Western Conference champions.

Right now, the Central shapes up thusly:

Attached Image: Central Division Chances.png

And if you look at their model, they have the Western Conference playoffs ending this way:

1 – Wild (C1)
2 – Sharks (P1)
3 – Blackhawks (C2)
4 – Ducks (P2
5 – Oilers (P3)
6 – Kings (WC1)
7 – Predators (C3)
8 – Blues (WC2)

So the Wild would get the Blues, the Sharks would catch the Kings, the Hawks and Predators would play, and the Ducks would play the Oilers.

The Predators having a better chance of winning the Cup is still a bit of a mystery to me. Their path to the Cup still goes through Chicago, so all I can assume is that the structure of their team is somehow better for playoff hockey than the Wild’s.

Overall, this should give Wild fans some confidence in their team. As always, though, they’ll need to survive January and not hit a prolonged slump if they want to really impress me. This data tells me the Wild should be in good shape this season, but they still need to play the games.

follow Mike Berg on Twitter: @minnesotaberg
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1 Comments

Interesting read. The Wild fan in me just loves the Wild outlook but maybe even more the 2.85% chance the Avs have of making the playoffs. FTR I think the Avs odds may be too high.