My playoff prediction went very well this season after a bad one last season. I ended up with 12 of the 16 teams in correct, and 7 in the exact position I predicted they’d be in. Now it’s time for the round one predictions.
Washington vs Philadelphia
I am predicting Washington to overcome Philadelphia. Looking at how they matchup, with Philadelphia averaging 31 shots allowed per game, Washington, with a shooting percentage of 9.91%, scores an average of 3.07 goals per game. The Flyers, with a shooting percentage of 8.19%, average 2.34 goals per game on 28.6 shots allowed by the Capitals. Another route shows a smaller margin, but still a Caps lead, as they score 2.54 goals per game using the opposing goalie’s save percentage on the average amount of shots they take per game, while the Flyers score an average of 2.45 goals. I also look at special teams, where Washington produces .7 power play goals per game in the matchup compared to .59 for Philadelphia. Washington, I believe, will win in 5 games.
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh
This one is very close; I see a 7 game series between the two. With a 9.97 shooting %, the Rangers score an average of 2.96 goals per game on 29.7 shots vs Pittsburgh’s 2.69 on 30.4 shots and a shooting percentage of 8.85%. In the other scenario, however, with Pittsburgh’s 33.2 shots per game, even with how good Lundqvist is, they produce 2.65 goals compared to the Rangers scoring 2.36 on 28.5 shots. The Rangers are a much more disciplined team than Pittsburgh, which works to their advantage. Pittsburgh, who normally draws 3.18 power plays a game, will draw an average of 2.96 against the Rangers, producing .54 power play goals a game instead of .59. The Rangers, however, will average .58 against Pittsburgh, above their season average of .51. I’ll take the Rangers in 7.
Florida vs New York Islanders
I have Florida taking this series. With their 9.83 shot percentage, they average 2.99 goals per game on 30.5 shots allowed by the Islanders. The Islanders, with their 9.39 shooting percentage on 29.5 shots allowed, score 2.79 goals. If they were to shoot their average of 28.8 shots on Luongo, they score 2.31 goals, while Florida produces 2.33 on Halak. The area that the Islanders have an advantage in is special teams, where they are very disciplined, while Florida is not. New York this season produced .51 power play goals a game, but on only 2.79 power plays. Against a Panther team that gets penalized 3.27 times a game, New York’s average bumps up to .6. Florida scores .57 goals on the man-advantage a game, but on 3.38 tries. The Isles allow only 2.83. Florida’s averages drops down to .47 a game. Still, Florida holds the overall advantage. Plus, they have Jussi Jokinen, one of the best playoff performers in the NHL, so that will help. He’s already had a fantastic season with 60 points.
Tampa Bay vs Detroit
At first I was going to go with Tampa, as they led in both scenarios, but now, with Stamkos out, I’m not so sure. Taking in the shot percentage on shots allowed, the Lightning had an advantage of .3 goals a game, and .12 using the opposing goalie’s save percentage on shots per game. However, Stamkos allocated for .47 of those goals per game, and Drouin cannot replace that. Tampa has enough depth to get it to 7 games, but I have Detroit winning the series.
Dallas vs Minnesota
While Dallas is the much better team, the Wild could give them a run for their money. Dallas holds a shot percentage of 10.07%, but average 2.89 goals with Minnesota allowing only 28.7 shots a game (ranking 7th in the league). Dallas still wins in this scenario, as the Wild score 2.62 goals with a 9.06 shooting percentage on 28.9 shots a game. It’s the other side where Minnesota has an advantage, though. Putting 28.9 shots on Lehtonen, who has a .906 save percentage, the Wild produce 2.72 goals. The Stars, with 32.1 shots on Dubnyk, who has a .918 save percentage, score an average of 2.63 goals. Minnesota has a slight advantage on special teams, as well. Dallas has a strong power play, averaging .71 power play goals a game, but Minnesota is second to Carolina as the least penalized team, holding opponents to 2.49 man-advantages a game. That drops Dallas’s average significantly, scoring .55 power play goals. Minnesota, against Dallas’s 3.02 penalties a game, produces .56 goals. Unfortunately for Minnesota, it’s not enough to get past Dallas, and I think they lose in 6 or 7 games.
St. Louis vs Chicago
This will be another tight series. Chicago, with a shooting percentage of 9.30%, score 2.76 goals on 29.7 shots allowed by St. Louis. St. Louis averages 2.74 goals with a 8.88 shooting percentage on 30.9 shots. From the other perspective, Crawford’s .924 save percentage on the Blues 30.3 shots gives St. Louis an average of 2.30 goals, but, with Elliott’s save percentage of .930, the Blues hold the Blackhawks to only 2.14 goals per game. Something that may be a problem for St. Louis is special teams. The Blues are penalized 3.37 times a game, which leads to Chicago scoring .77 power play goals a game, compared to .61 scored by St. Louis. Overall, it is still very even, and I believe this one goes to 7, also. I could see it going either way, but I’m going to guess that St. Louis finally gets past Chicago.
Anaheim vs Nashville
Nashville will be able to put up a fight in this series. With a shooting percentage of 8.93%, they score an average of 2.46 goals on 27.6 shots, while Anaheim scores 2.36 on 27.3 shots and a shooting percentage of 8.65%. However, with an off year from Rinne, averaging a .908 save percentage, Anaheim produces 2.79 goals on 30.4 shots, while Nashville nets 2.47 on 30.6 shots with Andersen’s save percentage hovering at .919. Special teams are about even, luckily for Anaheim considering they are penalized 3.54 times a game. Both teams hover around .69 power play goals on average. Anaheim, I think, wins in 6 games.
Los Angeles vs San Jose
I believe San Jose will be looking for redemption. Not only do they win statistically, but I think they will have the extra motivation after blowing the 3-0 lead as Boston did in 2011 after blowing the lead 2010. They lead 2.62 goals per game to 2.33 in shot percentage on shots allowed and, while LA has the advantage 2.62 to 2.49 in opposing save percentage on shots per game, have the overall edge. Plus, they have a large advantage in special teams. Already averaging .76 power play goals a game on 3.35 attempts, they produce .79 with LA committing 3.48 penalties a game. San Jose, allowing only 2.88 power plays, holds LA to .57 power play goals a game. I’m taking San Jose in 6 games.