Monday, May 28, 2012

Shootout Records Don't Predict Playoff Success

There was an interesting statistical pattern this year in the first round of the playoffs:  Only one of the goalies on a winning team had a better shootout win/loss record this year than his counterpart on the losing team.

Rangers vs. Ottawa:  Lundqvist 4-3, Anderson 6-1, Rangers win
Boston vs. Washington:  Thomas 7-1, Holtby 0-1, Caps win
Florida vs. New Jersey:  Theodore 4-7, Brodeur 7-2, Devils win
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia:  Fleury 9-2, Bryzgalov 3-5, Flyers win

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles:  Luongo 6-6 (Schneider 2-1), Quick 6-8, Kings win
St. Louis vs. San Jose:  Halak 3-7 (Eliott 1-3), Niemi 8-4, Blues win
Phoenix vs. Chicago:  Smith 6-8, Crawford 6-4, Coyotes win
Nashville vs. Detroit:  Rinne 4-5, Howard 7-2, Predators win

Combined totals:
Winning goalies:  34-42 in shootouts this year
Losing goalies:  55-28 in shootouts this year

This result was surely largely influenced by randomness, especially given that the trend somewhat reversed itself in subsequent rounds with Brodeur and the Devils continuing to win.  However, some matchups probably looked closer than they were in the standings because the weaker team had the benefit of a regular season shootout edge.  The Flyers, for example, would have had a better record than the Penguins if all shootouts were counted as ties (although the Penguins' goal differential advantage indicates that Pittsburgh probably still should have been a slight favourite in that series).

The shootout looks like it is here to stay in the NHL, but it does still seem unfair that it has an impact on the regular season standings that are used to determine playoff seedings.  When comparing two teams to make predictions for a playoff series, shootout results should obviously be disregarded.  That said, regular season records aren't even the best way to predict which playoff teams to bet on anyway (as the Kings and Devils are currently demonstrating), with metrics such as score-tied Fenwick and goal differential showing more predictive power anyway.

4 comments:

Robert Vollman said...

The team with the better close-game Fenwick is 7-7 so far.

I guess that doesn't sound impressive but the team with the better over-all record is 5-9. And if you only consider regulation it actually gets worse: 4-10.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

To add to that, the team with the better win threshold is 6-8. I guess none of the usual metrics are really picking them all that well this year.

Host Pay Per Head said...

oh that is such a shame because that was what I was going to use to predict playoff games, well I guess I need to find a better way

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