Saturday, March 7, 2009

Look up NHL standings for any day, 2003-2008

ESPN has this feature for baseball standings, but apparently not for the NHL. Here's what I put together:

Standings for 12/21/2003

So you can see that the Leafs were inexplicably tied for first place in the East on Dec 21, 2003.

I've broken out Wins and Losses by Regulation, OT and SO.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The dangers of Overtime Losses

While the shootout and the overtime loss have probably made the NHL more exciting for fans, the way they're presented in the standings has made it very difficult to determine how good a team is. Right now, game outcomes are grouped into Wins, Losses and Overtime Losses so that we can see how many points a team has, but nobody tracks whether a team won its game in regulation or in overtime or the shootout. Some teams, like last year's Edmonton Oilers, can get incredibly lucky in the extra frames, leading to a record that's way out of line with their actual performance. This is a very key piece of information - there's no correlation between OT/SO performance and overall performance, a fact that's acknowledged by playing overtime indefinitely in the playoffs to decide a winner.

Lots of people understand that overtime wins can lead us to erroneous conclusions about a team, including the people who put the Toronto Maple Leafs 24th in this week's ESPN Power Rankings:

"Break up the Leafs! They're at a misleading, OTL-skewed .500."

Except, in this case, it's not true. Toronto's 2-6 this year after regulation, which makes them 12-14-8 in regulation - tied eight times after 8. Their regulation GF/GA: 107-116, giving an expected winning percentage of 0.460, which translates to 31.26 points in the standings, or 0.75 points less than that 12-14-8 record would suggest.

The Leafs may be a lot of things, but skewed-record-holders, they ain't.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Leafs in the Playoffs? Nah...

"Can Leafs overcome the odds? Just when it seemed that any chance of reaching the post-season was lost, hope has been rekindled..."

Toronto Star, March 3rd, 2008 [link here]

Hope certainly springs eternal in Leafs land - I know you've got to believe. But when you talk about overcoming the odds, wouldn't it be good to know what the odds are?

I ran the rest of the schedule using a pretty simplistic model: I assumed that every team was as good as their pythagorean record suggested at this point. That's not strictly true, since injuries and trades will change a team's inherent ability...but I'm really interested in the quick-and-dirty answer here. I also assumed that the outcomes of shootouts and OT were completely random...because they certainly appear to be.

At any rate, here are the Leafs chances based on 10000 random trials:

In playoffs: 3.6% [Out of playoffs = 96.4%]

8th place = 2.6%
7th place = 0.9%
6th or better = 0.12%

Their average record going forward is 6-9-1, so it's not surprising they have really low odds to hit the 10-5-1 record posted by the average playoff-bound Leafs squad in my simulation.

My advice: don't try to budget your beer money to last into the playoffs...

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