2012 NHL Playoffs – First Round Predictions

This is our first attempt to predict the outcome of playoff series based on our analysis of the value of the players on the team.  Since our approach looks at the body of work of team over the entire year and does not adjust for any other factors other than injuries it will be interesting to see how good our methodology is a predictor of success.  Because our methodology only determines the total value of the team (as the sum of its players) we will not be in how many games a team will win by, since that would be replacing data-driven conclusions with opinion. Please keep in mind that injuries to key players, in particular any top goalie will likely affect the outcome of a series by the reducing the true value of a team.

Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators ($59.6M) over the New York Rangers ($57.2M)

We have to admit this one immediately surprised us, in fact we had to go back and double check our numbers to make sure this wasn’t a mistake.  But despite some questionable goaltending, Ottawa has some a balanced offence compared to the Rangers excellent goaltending, but weaker defence and overall offensive threat.


Boston Bruins ($64.7M) over the Washington Capitals ($56.2M)

Even without Nathan Horton, the Bruins balance and depth is quite impressive.  Tim Thomas’s performance this year was just okay, but given the team in front of him, the Bruins will put the puck in a lot more then they will take the puck out of their net. Washington’s injuries at the goalie position and below-average scoring ability really don’t bode well for them to upset the Bruins.


Pittsburgh Penguins ($65.9M) over the Philadelphia Flyers ($66.1M)

Statistically these two teams are equal in terms of their 2011-12 overall performance.  However when you adjust for the injuries to key Flyers like Van Riemsdyk, Meszaros, Briere (and Pronger even though his absence is already reflected in the numbers) their team isn’t as valuable right now as it has been all year. When you combine that fact with the obvious, that a healthy Sidney Crosby for the playoffs and no key injuries to Penguins, Pittsburgh’s true value for the first round is higher than their regular season numbers show.


New Jersey Devils ($58.1M) over the Florida Panthers ($53.4M)

New Jersey has above average goaltending and scoring while the Panthers are below average in each category (Goaltending, Defence and Forwards). In particular, Florida is significantly challenged on offence and will likely struggle to score goals.


Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks ($61.5M) over the Los Angeles Kings ($46.8M)

The strength of Vancouver was not a surprise, but the weakness of the Kings was more than just a little shocking.  Our analysis showed not only the obvious, the lack of scoring ability for L.A., but also a lack of depth on the blue line.  The Kings have by far the lowest value defensive corps due to the departure of Jack Johnson.  Despite their quality goaltending, the Kings will continue to struggle to put the puck in the net.  The Canucks have the best goalie tandem in the league and solid defense. The only question for Vancouver is around scoring.


San Jose Sharks ($61.5M) over the St. Louis Blues ($55.5M)

Even though the Blues swept the Sharks during the regular season, the difference in team value is quite apparent.  Clearly the Blues have excellent goaltending and good defence, but a lack of scoring from their forwards especially compared to the Sharks balanced attack should be noticeable.  Despite average goaltending and a balanced defence, the overall depth of the Sharks should be enough to get by the Blues.


Chicago Blackhawks ($62.9M) over the Phoenix Coyotes ($58.3M)

Chicago is above average across the board, although not by much. The offense they can generate from their defence will be the key to their success.  Phoenix has some solid goaltending in Mike Smith, but the Coyotes lack of depth in their skaters is expected to show over the course of the series.


Nashville Predators ($63.4M) over the Detroit Red Wings ($62.1M)

This is another one that was closer than we expected.  Nashville has quality goaltending and potent offensive upside from their defence. Despite what most people think, their offence is also above average.  For the Red Wings they continue to be well-balanced across the board.  Detroit is also better than the mean across all three categories.  Nashville gets the nod just by a few hundred thousand dollars in each category, including the best goalie in the league, and is predicted to take the series. However, any injury to a key Predator player will likely make a big difference in being able to win the last game.