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Vulgar Statistics: Playoff Power Rankings: The Semifinal Round

04/29/11

And I’m back with my stats-based power rankings.  I actually did better than I thought ranking teams in the first round.  The higher ranked teams in their series according to my statistics went 5-3.  From here on out, I will forget about the regular season and only gauge teams on what they have done in the playoffs.  And since going the extra mile is important in the postseason, I have decided to track some extra stats.  We will be ranking the teams remaining top to bottom in the following categories:

  • Regular season points (okay maybe we won’t completely forget about it).
  • Goals per game.
  • Goals allowed per game.
  • Power play percentage.
  • Penalty kill percentage.
  • Shots on goal differential.
  • Team save percentage.
  • Team faceoff success rate.
  • Blocked shots.
  • The percentage of games in which that team has scored first.

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This time I will be crossing conferences because the chance of these teams eventually meeting has increased exponentially.

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And this is where even I start to hate stats.  I was like, “Tampa Bay, really?”  But give them credit, they didn’t beat Pittsburgh by sucking.  They did a lot of things right, they know Washington very well, and they will be a very, very dangerous team.

There were two trends that were pretty prevalent among teams that advanced.  The first is pretty obvious, every team that managed more shots than their opponent moved on except for one.  The second is less apparent, that being that of the top eight shot blocking teams, only two (Tampa Bay and Boston) moved on to the semi-final round.  Maybe they’re not such a good thing.  (Of course the easy answer is that those losing teams have to block a lot of shots because their opponent was carrying the play.)

Final Thoughts – Washington vs. Tampa Bay:

I think Washington is the most well rounded team left in the playoffs, and their big question mark, goaltending, is peaking at the right time.  It should be a bitter dogfight, but I think the stats end up being wrong and Washington prevails.

Final Thoughts – Philadelphia vs. Boston:

Let us Sabres fans take a minute to laugh at Boston’s abysmal power play…then cry because they somehow advanced anyway.  Philadelphia really isn’t any better, and if they manage a power play goal in this series, it will be their first against Boston this year.  This is the toughest one to call because there are so many question marks.  How will Philly play against the team that doesn’t turn the puck over 15 times a game?  Will Boston’s efforts to choke away playoff series continue?  I took Philly, but it’s a coin flip.

Final Thoughts – Vancouver vs. Nashville:

I expected these teams to be higher, and it’s funny their troubles have come in areas they’re supposedly very good in.  Nashville has had problems keeping the puck out of their net, and Vancouver has had scoring woes.  Very, very strange.  I think this one ends up being a mirror image of the Canucks – Stars series from 2006-2007 with the Canucks losing this one.

Final Thoughts – San Jose vs. Detroit

Yes, Detroit is ranked higher, but consider that they just ran through a Phoenix team that didn’t show up in any way and didn’t get any help from the officials either.  In spite of those things, San Jose is pretty much right on their tail, and they were tested much more by a hurting, but sharp Kings team.  I have San Jose going against my rankings and winning this one as well.

Final Final Thoughts:

Looking at the numbers, every matchup is extremely close.  Six of the eight teams are right next to their semifinal opponent, which can only bode well for hockey fans everywhere.  The first round tied the NHL record for most games (with 49), let’s hope that the second can do the same.  I for one wouldn’t mind twenty-eight more games of hockey before we move on to the next round.

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