The first two days of NHL action gave crazy playoff game to the hockey fans, but for sports punters and fantasy fans, an headache! Of the 10 games played so far, 6 have resulted in a victory for the underdogs (according to their end-of-season ranking). For teams in the qualifying round, let's look at each situation to see if there would be any key factors in each of these matches. For this analysis, we will explore the classic statistics and some advanced statistics (Although the advanced stats help us more in terms of predictive data, they can tell us what happened in a specific match without being representative of a full playoffs round)
Montreal Canadiens win over Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in overtime
Pens dominated in shots (41 vs. 35), but were beaten in bodycheck (30 vs. 53) and blocked shots (17 vs. 27). The power play could have made a difference, but the Pens took advantage of it only once in 7 attempts while Habs did not score on 2 chances. So, without mentionning a specific players who had a significant impact on the result and keeping an overall view of the team's performance, the Canadiens certainly took advantage of their robust play and blocked shots to win this battle.
If we look quickly at some advanced statistics from this game, the Canadiens presented a PDO of 103.7 and the Penguins maintained one of 96.3. No doubt the luck factor played an important role in the conclusion of this game because both teams are at the extremes of this indicator (above 102 and just above 96). If we look at the Fenwick stat, the advantage is on the other side. The Habs showed a FF% of 40.62 and 59.48% for the Pens. Montreal's very high PDO certainly compensated for their FF. Finally, the % of high danger shot saves. This is very important because it is the data that further defines the quality of goalkeepers. So for this match, Price maintained an HDSV% 92.31 and Murray an HDSV% 90.91. And yes, Price definitely made a difference in this game!
Chicago Blackhawks win over Edmonton Oilers 6-4
The Hawks dominated in shots (42 vs. 29), but were dominated in bodycheck (33 vs. 47). The power play of both teams were good with a conversion rate of 50% for the Hawks (3/6) and 75% for the Oilers (3/4). In this match, the only classic statistic that sounds meaningful to the final result is the shots for and shots against. Especially considering that this advantage occurred mainly in the first period when Chicago dominated 16 shots against 8 shots. A slow and expensive start for the Oilers.
The advanced statistics of this match are not representative of the result of the game...except for the FF%. In fact, both teams have a close to par PDO with 100.5 for Chicago and 99.5 for Edmonton. Nothing to influence the game! At the HDSV%, the two goalkeepers do not perform well. We're talking about 66.67% for the Hawks and 72.73% for the Oilers. Either way, they will have to do better if they want to aspire to great honors! The advanced statistic that is most representative for this game is the FF%. In that game, the Oilers had a 40% FF% well below the mediocrity mark while the Hawks had a 60% one that represents a result of an elite team. A nice indicator showing that Chicago dominated this game in terms of puck possession and therefore chances to score!
Columbus Blue Jackets beat Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0
First of all, the Jackets won 2-0, but the second goal was made in an empty net! This explains why classic statistics are not as eloquent as other analyses. In terms of shots on goal, Columbus dominated Toronto 35 - 28 and bodycheck 37 - 26. Both teams did not take advantage of their power play (0/2 for Columbus and 0/1 for Toronto). So in this very tight game, it is very likely that the Blue Jackets shot and bodycheck advantage will have been beneficial for them.
Advanced statistics can give us a little more information about what was the key in this game. Let's start with the excellent performance of the goalkeepers who both have a 100% HDSV%. The only goal allowed by the Toronto goalie was on an MDSA%, a medium danger shot again. The PDO and FF% may give us an explanation. The Jackets had a PDO of 105.7 and an FF% of 55.56%, which represents stats of elite teams and great advantage to win a game. On the other hand, the Leafs had a PDO of 94.3 and an FF% of 44.44%. These numbers indicate that they were not favored by a luck factor and were dominated in terms of puck possession and scoring chances. That may have made the difference!
Arizona Coyotes win over Nashville Predators 4-3
When reading the classic statistics, the Predators should have won this game! They dominated on shot on goal (43 -37) and took advantage of their power play with a 20% success rate (2/5) versus 16.6% (1/6) for the Coyotes. The other stats are similar for both teams in terms of bodycheck (22 - 15) and blocked shots (20 - 17). We will have to look elsewhere to try to understand what happened in this game!
Starting the analysis of the game advanced statistics, we find that the FF% was also to the advantage of the Preds (53.75% - 46.25%). This data indicates that they dominated in terms of puck possession and therefore, normally, in terms of scoring chances! The PDO and HDSV% can explain what happened. First, the Coyotes maintained a PDO of 103.8 which is very high and positive for them! In comparison, the Preds have a PDO of 96.2 which is quite the opposite. So the luck factor was more in Arizona! The other explanation is the HDSV% of both teams. Nashville has the 3rd worst HDSV% among active teams with 62.5% while Arizona did better with 75%. The goaltenders playoff performances have a great importance in playoffs and that's what we saw in this game!
Minnesota Wild win over Vancouver Canucks 3-0
Again, let's analyze the classic statistics considering that the third goal was on an empty net. The final score is difficult to explain if we look at these stats, except that Minnesota has taken advantage of its power play to make a difference. They did score their 2 goals in power play (2/4) unlike Vancouver who failed to take advantage of their only one man advantage (0/1). In terms of shots on goal and blocked shot, the two teams are almost tied (31 vs 28 and 15 vs 14, all to the advantage of the Wild). The only thing that could have had a positive impact for the Canucks was that they dominated in bodycheck (40-28). So the Canucks' penalties most likely cost them the win!
If we look at the FF%, the two teams are almost tied with 51.25% for the Wild and 48.75% for the Canucks. This is not surprising since the game was won in power play and the advanced statistics use only the 5 on 5 situation. It's the same situation with the two teams HDSV% (similar one). The only advanced statistics that could explain the result of this game is the luck factor of each team, the PDO. The Wild maintained a PDO of 109.7 (the 2nd best among active teams) and the Canucks a PDO of 90.3 (the second worst among active teams). The good news for Vancouver fans is that it can be hardly worse, but the bad news for Minnesota fans is that it will be hard for them to maintain that pace!
So on this 3rd day of NHL activity, I wish you... Great hockey time!
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