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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I think Leafs fans hopes are based on the assumption that the team right now is playing better than they were in the past and that they can carry that from here to the end. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with this notion, mind you, but I would assume that's their current feeling what with Mats Sundin's current hot streak and (along with the eternal optimism of the fan) would explain why we're seeing articles like the one you referenced

For the sake of argument, what would the odds look like if you were to indulge the Leafs fans and give the team a minor boost in their Pythagorean standing?
Let's say the Leafs are inherently a .500 team. (I know, hard to believe.) Then their chances of making the playoffs go up to...7.5%

Double the probability, but still incredibly unlikely...
Sweet, thanks for the update. =)

In the original article, you mention that you use Pythagorean record as your heuristic for measuring each team's value. I'm exposed to the concept of Pythagorean records (or expected records based on points/runs scored) since they are is in very constant use in baseball, football and basketball. In baseball in particular, one need only click on the "Expanded" option in the ESPN Baseball standings page to see each team's ExW-L.

Is there a place (perhaps even on your own site that I missed) where I can see this data updated daily for the NHL? I know the formula is simple, so I could do it myself if I wanted to, but it would be nice not to have to copy and paste each team's differential in a spreadsheet every day. =P
Leafs probably not so much...
Caps and Ovechkin? - Maybe
For tonight its:

LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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