This is the first in a series of NHL playoff forecasts here at Puck Prediction. I described the prediction model here, if you want a better sense of how I came up with these.
It’s obviously pretty early in the NHL season, with nearly 1,000 games left in the 2013-14 season, so take these predictions with a huge grain of salt. Nevertheless, just over a month into the campaign, this is how the playoff picture looks.
Some interesting stuff here:
- Wow, it’s only early November, but the model thinks the Minnesota Wild are a President’s Trophy winner. If it wasn’t being driven to an extent by dominating possession play, I’d say it felt like 2011-12 all over again.
- We should expect Colorado’s goaltending to regress a bit, but at this point, even a regressed Sv% is good enough for a playoff spot.
- As a Sharks fan, let me say that I would be stunned if they got this favorable a first-round playoff matchup.
- Between LA-Anaheim, Chicago-St. Louis, and Minnesota-Vancouver, the first round of the playoffs would be really, really exciting if it turned out like this.
Breaking down the East:
- It’s an encouraging sign of the model’s validity that it sees the Metropolitan as being this weak. In a normal year, teams need 92 points to make the East playoffs; Pittsburgh is the only team in the division the model expects to top that.
- Also an interesting sign: the model anticipates a heavy regression from both Tampa Bay and Toronto, with the Leafs missing the playoffs altogether and the Lightning only making it by virtue of the crappiness of the Metropolitan teams.
- While I was surprised that the model expects Montreal to win the Atlantic, this just goes to show how unremarkable this division’s teams are. With the Habs and Bruins both seeing their possession stats tumbling, the Red Wings unable to find a consistent rhythm all year, and the Senators unable to defend effectively, there doesn’t seem to be a team that’s really poised to take control.
- Boston-Detroit might be an interesting first-round series, and the Canadiens would obviously be delighted to meet Ottawa again, but overall these matchups look a little dull to me.