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!