2013-14 NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Final Prediction

The series we’ve all been waiting for is finally here, as the Los Angeles Kings take on the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals. I’ve described my method for picking series winners here, and through the first two rounds I’ve done well, getting nine of the 14 series correct. Let’s get to the last one.

Stanley Cup Final

Los Angeles Kings (mGF% 52.9%) vs. New York Rangers (mGF% 54.2%)

Before the start of the playoffs, I didn’t expect to see either of these teams in the Final; that said, I do expect it to be a good match-up. The Kings are a popular favorite of hockey statisticians, as far and away the best puck possession team in the NHL over the past two seasons. In these playoffs, however, facing three strong opponents in San Jose, Anaheim, and Chicago, they haven’t consistently controlled possession very often. Instead, they’ve been phenomally lucky whenever they’ve needed it most. In the first three rounds, they faced elimination seven times, but got 12.9% shooting and 0.948 goaltending at even-strength in those games. Against Chicago, they continued to enjoy a team shooting percentage above 11%, and a PDO above 1.020. Jonathan Quick has been inconsistent throughout the postseason, and now faces a Rangers team that’s filled the net in these playoffs against the likes of Ray Emery, Steve Mason, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Dustin Tokarski. Los Angeles is decidedly stronger when it comes to driving possession, mostly due to superior shot prevention, and their defensive acumen could pose problems for the Rangers, though New York is capable of driving play very effectively as well. I expect the Kings to carry possession in this series, but not by much. In the Ranger net, Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding for much of the postseason, and is clearly the stronger goaltender heading into this match-up. Picking against Los Angeles hasn’t treated me well in these playoffs, but I have a hard time believing that they can keep riding the percentages in critical moments the way they have. Facing a goaltender far superior to Antti Niemi, John Gibson, or Corey Crawford, and against yet another superb opponent, my guess is that LA won’t find enough goals to take this series.

Prediction: It’s a coin flip, but New York in six games.

playoff_LANY_1

Extra Skater stats dashboards: Los Angeles, New York

About Nick Emptage

Nicholas Emptage is the blogger behind puckprediction.com. He is an economist by trade and a Sharks fan by choice.
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3 Responses to 2013-14 NHL Playoffs: Stanley Cup Final Prediction

  1. Nathaniel Emerson says:

    Hi Nicholas,
    First let me say that you are doing a great job presenting presenting statistical information. I am a mathematician and a hockey fan, so I really appreciate it.
    Disclaimer: I am a Kings fan.
    I am suspicious of your numbers for the Kings-Rangers final. Intuitively it does not make sense to me that the Kings should be an underdog. The Kings and Rangers have very similar statistics for the season, but the Kings have home-ice advantage. Moreover the are a Western Conference team, and the Western Conference outplayed the Eastern Conference this year.
    Following your advice, I checked the Las Vegas odds. I found the Kings at +160 and Rangers at -140 (http://www.oddsshark.com/nhl/stanley-cup-futures-0): approximately Kings 60%, Rangers 40%, which is a pretty large difference.

    • Nick Emptage says:

      Hi. That’s fine. The Kings have home ice and are a marginally better possession team. But they’re very scoring-challenged team (and not just this season), much more so than New York. And Lundqvist has a far more impressive track record than Quick.

      Basically, don’t let New York’s season points total fool you: after Boston, they were almost certainly the best team in the East.

      That said, I’ll reiterate that this is a coin flip. Saying a team would win 51 out of 100 repetitions of this series isn’t a clear declaration of superiority.

  2. Pingback: Am I Plugged Into The Matrix? | Rangers Review

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