Simulating the 2016-2017 NHL Playoffs

As with prior years, I've run my NHL playoff simulator for the playoffs that start tonight. Here's the table, including the Sports Club Stats predicted percentage to win the cup for reference.

Win Round 1 Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup SCS
Montreal 46.90% 26.60% 8.90% 4.20% 4.00%
Ottawa 38.90% 13.70% 3.10% 1.10% 0.80%
Boston 61.10% 28.00% 8.70% 3.90% 3.40%
NY Rangers 53.10% 31.80% 11.40% 5.80% 5.70%
Washington 81.70% 53.60% 40.30% 28.80% 32.10%
Pittsburgh 43.50% 16.20% 9.50% 5.20% 6.10%
Columbus 56.50% 24.60% 15.70% 9.40% 8.20%
Toronto 18.30% 5.60% 2.40% 0.90% 1.10%
Chicago 57.30% 25.30% 13.40% 5.30% 5.10%
Minnesota 67.90% 43.80% 28.20% 14.30% 14.00%
St Louis 32.10% 15.00% 7.00% 2.40% 1.90%
Nashville 42.70% 15.90% 7.30% 2.40% 2.30%
Anaheim 58.80% 28.20% 12.50% 4.60% 4.80%
Edmonton 55.90% 32.60% 15.90% 6.60% 6.60%
San Jose 44.10% 23.00% 9.90% 3.50% 2.60%
Calgary 41.20% 16.10% 5.70% 1.60% 1.30%

Washington is once again the odds on favourite to win the cup this year. Maybe they'll do it this time? They have to get out of a pretty tough group though: the winner of that Pittsburgh-Columbus match is going to give them a run for their money I think.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are the favourites to upset the divisional leaders Montreal. This playoff format is so weird with one of the best teams in the East ending up in a wildcard spot due to the strength of one division (and the weakness of the other).

In the West, Minnesota looks like a sleeper pick based on their finishing position. The thing that's interesting about them is they haven't played well down the stretch. But they're still a scary team on paper.

In other news, my hometown Edmonton Oilers are in the playoffs for the first time since I started running this playoff simulator. Hard to believe I've been doing this since 2008, and all this time my team hasn't made the playoffs. Here's hoping they last at least a few rounds into the post season!

Round 2 (Posted April 25)

First a quick review of round 1: Hooray for the Oilers!

Win Round 1 Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup SCS
Montreal 46.90% 26.60% 8.90% 4.20% 4.00%
Ottawa 38.90% 13.70% 3.10% 1.10% 0.80%
Boston 61.10% 28.00% 8.70% 3.90% 3.40%
NY Rangers 53.10% 31.80% 11.40% 5.80% 5.70%
Washington 81.70% 53.60% 40.30% 28.80% 32.10%
Pittsburgh 43.50% 16.20% 9.50% 5.20% 6.10%
Columbus 56.50% 24.60% 15.70% 9.40% 8.20%
Toronto 18.30% 5.60% 2.40% 0.90% 1.10%
Chicago 57.30% 25.30% 13.40% 5.30% 5.10%
Minnesota 67.90% 43.80% 28.20% 14.30% 14.00%
St Louis 32.10% 15.00% 7.00% 2.40% 1.90%
Nashville 42.70% 15.90% 7.30% 2.40% 2.30%
Anaheim 58.80% 28.20% 12.50% 4.60% 4.80%
Edmonton 55.90% 32.60% 15.90% 6.60% 6.60%
San Jose 44.10% 23.00% 9.90% 3.50% 2.60%
Calgary 41.20% 16.10% 5.70% 1.60% 1.30%

The simulator doesn't do great this year, predicting only 4/8 for 50%. Its only "sleeper" pick to work out was the Rangers. This year's first round was a lot of one-goal games - many of them going to overtime for resolution. NHL parity coming into play?

Let's look ahead to the next round:

Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup
Ottawa 33.50% 6.90% 2.60%
NY Rangers 66.50% 22.30% 12.20%
Washington 69.30% 52.60% 39.60%
Pittsburgh 30.70% 18.20% 10.70%
St Louis 50.70% 22.20% 7.10%
Nashville 49.30% 21.30% 6.60%
Anaheim 45.30% 24.40% 8.60%
Edmonton 54.70% 32.20% 12.60%

The cup favourites are still the Capitals, but anecdotally they are in tough against the defending champions. The Capitals escaped a round one series against the Leafs that was way closer than they would've liked. That's probably the series to watch of this round (unless you're an Oiler fan like me!).

The St Louis/Nashville series looks too close to call: I almost wonder if we should just not score or ding the simulator for that given that it thinks they are so close.

Obviously, I'm happy with the Oilers having the highest Western conference chance to take home the Cup. It's a long road, but this team has shown resiliency throughout the regular season and now through the first round. They are a pleasure to watch.

And that Ottawa series may look lopsided, but I ruled Ottawa out too early. They are playing pretty well too - so look out there. They're running into a hot Lundqvist though so we'll see what happens!

Go Oilers Go!

Round 3 (Posted May 12)

Well, that was disappointing. The Oilers fell to the Ducks in a fairly dramatic serious with a little bit too much controversy from where I sit. But hey, I'm a biased fan. How else did we do in round 2?

Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup
Ottawa 33.50% 6.90% 2.60%
NY Rangers 66.50% 22.30% 12.20%
Washington 69.30% 52.60% 39.60%
Pittsburgh 30.70% 18.20% 10.70%
St Louis 50.70% 22.20% 7.10%
Nashville 49.30% 21.30% 6.60%
Anaheim 45.30% 24.40% 8.60%
Edmonton 54.70% 32.20% 12.60%

Wow, that's a first. The simulator bricks the entire round and now is 4/12. This has been a strange playoffs... the Senators spent so little time in the lead against the Rangers, but managed a couple of miracle comebacks and well-timed goals to launch them into an unlikely conference final appearance. The Capitals continue to fail to beat the Penguins. That Nashville/St. Louis matchup was pretty close on paper and on the ice. And the Oilers went farther than anyone expected and now we're disappointed they didn't go all the way.

What does next round look like?

Win Rd 3 Win Cup
Ottawa 29.50% 11.70%
Pittsburgh 70.50% 42.70%
Nashville 45.90% 19.80%
Anaheim 54.10% 25.70%

Well, Pittsburgh pushed past their toughest opponent and now are big favourites to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Crazy. Still, Ottawa gave the Rangers a heap of trouble so let's see what happens. Maybe the simulator is picking the losing teams this year!

Given that the Oilers are out, I'll be following the playoffs a little less closely. It's tough to watch games when they start at 3 in the morning here!

Stanley Cup Final (Posted May 27)

The finals are here! Ottawa gave Pittsburgh a run for their money but in the end Pittsburgh pushed through to the finals. The Preds also knocked off the Ducks (YAY!), which leaves us here:

Win Rd 3 Win Cup
Ottawa 29.50% 11.70%
Pittsburgh 70.50% 42.70%
Nashville 45.90% 19.80%
Anaheim 54.10% 25.70%

So the simulator goes 1/2 here and 5/12 overall. Not a good year for the sim!

Here's what the final stacks up as:

Win Cup
Pittsburgh 63.10%
Nashville 36.90%

It'll be an interesting final. Nashville is a good team, and I think they will give Pittsburgh a run for their money. I think it's pretty likely Pittsburgh wins the cup again this year though.

When to Cut

Every Frame a Painting is always a good watch from my point of view, but his newest video is fascinating.

I don't think I'd make much of a movie editor ... it seems like it would take too much patience and looking at the same footage over and over and over. I guess you could make that argument for what I do as a job: programming. But somehow it feels different. But this channel - and particularly this video - give me a strong appreciation for what the art of movie making. I love it.

Simulating the 2015-2016 Playoffs

We're back! Playoff season is back upon us. As with last year, I'm running my simulator as a curiosity to see how it does. It's been interesting to run it since 2008, and if I can figure it out, it might be interesting to see how it does farther back than then.

Anyway, on to this year!

Round 1 (posted April 13th)

Win Round 1 Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup SportsClubStats
FLA 59.7% 35.9% 16.6% 9.1% 8.7%
NYI 40.3% 20.4% 7.6% 3.4% 3.3%
TBL 68.2% 33.8% 14.2% 7.1% 6.9%
DET 31.8% 10.0% 2.5% 0.8% 0.8%
WSH 77.7% 48.9% 32.5% 21.3% 21.7%
PHI 22.3% 7.4% 2.7% 1.0% 1.2%
PIT 61.1% 29.1% 17.0% 9.7% 10.2%
NYR 38.9% 14.6% 6.9% 3.2% 2.7%
DAL 60.9% 32.9% 17.4% 8.2% 10.2%
MIN 39.1% 16.8% 7.1% 2.7% 2.2%
STL 49.1% 24.4% 11.9% 5.1% 5.0%
CHI 50.9% 25.8% 12.7% 5.6% 5.3%
ANA 56.9% 27.7% 14.2% 6.4% 7.2%
NSH 43.1% 17.9% 7.9% 3.0% 2.5%
LAK 50.6% 27.7% 14.6% 6.8% 7.0%
SJS 49.4% 26.8% 14.1% 6.5% 5.3%

Washington comes out looking super good this year, and it's pretty unsurprising. They swept away with this year's regular season, and with the team pretty healthy, they've got their best shot at winning a cup since 1997-1998.

Florida also had a great regular season, and given that their division appears to be the weakest, they could have the easiest road to the cup. Detroit squeaked into the playoffs this year and doesn't resemble the Red Wings of old. The Islanders have a young team but their numbers aren't super strong, and that leaves Tampa Bay who have serious injury issues with Stamkos out. So Tampa's percent chance is probably abnormally high. With all that there and with Jagr still playing like he's a decade younger than he actually is, Florida looks like a good team too.

Pittsburgh's got a tougher road as they will likely need to beat Washington on their way through. Malkin being out also hurts their chances. But Crosby has been lighting it up lately and the Penguins are hot.

The West is a tough call. Dallas are the favourites with strong regular season numbers and a weaker division. The Anaheim/San Jose/LA division looks the toughest to my eye which hurts all three teams chances. Still, the team that survives that division might go on to win it if they can stay relatively intact.

It should be an interesting playoff this year. Enjoy, and I'll check back in soon to set the stage for round 2.

Round 2 (Posted April 27)

Oddly, this year's playoffs start the second round before the end of the first round. So we don't know who's playing against San Jose before the Islanders play the Lightning. That leaves me in a bit of an odd spot. I'd like to treat this scenario similarly to previous years where each round is distinct, but I'd also like to publish my numbers before the 2nd round starts. That's not possible this year, so what I'll do is post two charts: one presuming that Anaheim beats Nashville, and one that assumes the opposite. I'll summarise the end of both rounds in the next update.

If Anaheim wins:

Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup
TBL 55.2% 21.1% 10.3%
NYI 44.8% 14.7% 6.4%
WSH 58.9% 39.8% 25.7%
PIT 41.1% 24.4% 13.6%
DAL 54.4% 28.2% 12.8%
STL 45.6% 21.6% 9.0%
ANA 48.9% 24.2% 10.6%
SJS 51.1% 25.9% 11.5%

If Nashville Wins:

Win Round 2 Win Round 3 Win Cup
TBL 55.2% 21.0% 10.5%
NYI 44.8% 14.8% 6.6%
WSH 58.8% 39.7% 26.1%
PIT 41.2% 24.4% 14.0%
DAL 54.4% 30.0% 13.7%
STL 45.6% 23.0% 9.60%
SJS 58.4% 29.6% 13.1%
NSH 41.6% 17.5% 6.40%

Looking at these is a little interesting. San Jose would prefer to meet Nashville in the next round, and all the other teams also get a small bump in win-cup probability if Anaheim were to be upset in the first round. In other interesting matchups, the Capitals face a tough opponent in the Penguins, but the simulator really likes them due to regular season goal differential. I suspect the series is a lot closer in practice due to a number of factors including the return of Evgeni Malkin. It should be an interesting next round.

Note that because these are two different 1-million rollout samples, there are a couple of 0.1% differences in the two tables where you'd expect them to be the same. I haven't done any work to try and measure variance and error margins, but it'd be interesting to tackle that to see how much variance there is in multiple runs of the simulator. But at any rate, this is what was reported in a separate run.

Round 3 (Posted May 18)

Yeah, I'm a bit late for this round, but I was away from home so couldn't get this post up. So quickly now, I ran the simulator without taking into account the results so far in this round (both series happen to be tied at 1 game each). Here's what we've got:

Win 3rd Rd Win Cup
TBL 43.1% 21.5%
PIT 56.9% 32.3%
STL 47.0% 21.0%
SJS 53.0% 25.3%

We lost the big cup favourite Capitals in the last round leaving a pretty even set of series leftover. Pittsburgh takes over the favourite spot with San Jose the second favourite, but it seems that this year it could easily be any of these four teams. Should be an exciting 3rd round!

Stanley Cup Final (Posted May 30)

We're here! My predictor sets up the final like this:

SJS: 44.7% vs PIT 55.3%

To recap the predictions this year, the simulator went 7/14 for 50% prediction rate. Not super great, although many of those predictions had the teams very very close to an even coin flip.

Anyway, I'm rooting for the Sharks in this final as I have them in one of my playoff pools. Go Sharks!

Jerry Seinfeld has Coffee with President Obama

If you haven't seen Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, it's well worth a look. The premise, which the title does a good job getting across, involves Seinfeld picking up a famous comedian in a vintage car and going for coffee.

In a recent episode, Seinfeld visits the president of the United States. It's pretty entertaining, and well worth watching.

Also, check out the one with Stephen Colbert.