NHL Playoff Predictor 2014

It's that time of year again! This time around, the NHL playoff format changed due to the realignment so I needed to do a little bit of rework on the simulator. Hopefully I didn't introduce any new issues! Since the new format is a straight-up brackets system, it wasn't actually that hard to adjust things... Although I punted the work to actually determine which wildcard team played in which division as future work and just put it in the right place in the input. The new playoff format is a bit interesting. I think the tougher than normal divisions are going to be a much bigger disadvantage than normal. Before, the team that drew the 3rd place team in the conference had the chance of getting a softer starting series. Now, the team with the advantage is the one that is most likely to face a relatively weaker team in the 2nd round.

Anyway, on to the probabilities!

Atlantic Division

Boston 0.864 0.674 0.507 0.346
Tampa_Bay0.559 0.162 0.080 0.032
Montreal 0.441 0.112 0.049 0.017
Detroit0.136 0.052 0.018 0.005

Metropolitan Division

Pittsburgh 0.622 0.380 0.153 0.074
NY_Rangers 0.619 0.298 0.105 0.044
Philadelphia 0.381 0.136 0.033 0.010
Columbus 0.378 0.186 0.056 0.020

Central Division

Colorado 0.625 0.244 0.104 0.039
St_Louis 0.572 0.387 0.217 0.110
Chicago0.428 0.263 0.130 0.057
Minnesota0.375 0.106 0.033 0.009

Pacific Division

Anaheim0.717 0.391 0.219 0.107
San_Jose 0.549 0.294 0.158 0.073
Los_Angeles0.451 0.220 0.107 0.046
Dallas 0.283 0.095 0.033 0.009

A couple of interesting things to note. Boston is the odds on favourite to take down the cup - which is not surprising given their stellar +84 goal differential. Keep in mind though that the Eastern conference is still the much weaker of the two conferences (and Boston played in the weakest overall division). Boston also draws the only team to make the playoffs that has a negative goal differential in the Detroit Red Wings which also helps explain the boost to their chances. Pretty crazy that Columbus and Detroit exactly tie each other in points - if Columbus had eked out a single point the landscape in the Eastern conference looks pretty different! Instead, Pittsburgh draws a tougher Columbus team and the Rangers get a fairly favourable first round matchup with the Flyers.

The Western conference is a tough place to be. Check out those goal differentials! In the non-wild card teams, Los Angeles trails everyone else with "just" a +32 goal differential. (Compare that to the for the Flyers of the non-wild card Eastern conference teams). It makes for some pretty tough sledding, which is another reason Boston is so heavily favoured. The Western teams have a series of only slightly weighted coinflips along the way - meanwhile, Boston has a much easier path.

St Louis is an interesting case - they faltered incredibly down the stretch, after being so dominant earlier in the season. Since much of their +57 goal differential is from the earlier part of the season, perhaps they are over-favoured via the simulator.

Enjoy the playoffs this year, folks! I'll be back in the 2nd round to update with the new information.