Posts Tagged ‘Lies damned lies and statistics’

Apr 16th, 2014
4:00PM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2014 NHL Division Semi-Finals

New Formats! Come and Getcher New Formats!

Welcome to the seventh annual SNN Predicts series of articles (eighth overall, if you count the 2004 version done on the forums, lost to the mists of time but notable for the fact that I went 0-4 in series involving the Flames), in which we act like we know what we’re talking about and make our (mostly) blindingly obvious predictions, with a shocking amount of success, considering some mainstream reporters usually wind up under .500 by the time the Stanley Cup is finally awarded somewhere around Canada Day. This is also at least my fifth year in a row copying and pasting the same intro, because I’m cool like that.

This year we’ve got a slightly confusing playoff format change, which as produced an unfortunate set of matchups out west. Unfortunate in the sense that two Cup contenders will be gone before half of Canada’s changed out their winter tires; we could have some rollicking fun watching those series in the meantime. Meanwhile, out east we have one elite team, one team riding its reputation, and a collection of question marks filling out the ranks. All of which should make for one confusing set of predictions. New this year: thanks to Extra Skater I can do some back-of-the-envelope fancystats on the season series, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. Whether I mean that ironically or not depends on your perspective, I suppose. Given that I didn’t have much time to watch the NHL this year, it’s pretty much all I have to go on, so expect a lot of dry numbers and not much awareness of anything else; it served me shockingly well last year.

In keeping with the “new format” idea, we have a new tiebreaker. Specifically, I jacked it from the brackets: first tiebreaker is correct champion, second is correct runner-up, third is closest to the correct number of goals, over or under (no Price is Right rules).

With that, let’s get to it.


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Jul 11th, 2013
7:39PM UTC

Goalies of the Neo-Smythe

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Doob

Today on Twitter, I wound up chatting with the Puck Podcast’s Doug Stolhand about the Oilers’ off-season, which produced the following exchange:

So I’ve done precisely that. I went through the presumed starters and backups of each of the seven teams in the NHL’s westernmost division – which I’m calling the “Neo-Smythe,” because it sounds like something out of a cyberpunk dystopian future, and that feels somehow appropriate given the news of late – and looked at their numbers for the last three seasons. I grabbed both their total stats and their even-strength save percentage, to give me a good idea of what we’re looking at. After the jump, we start with the Oilers, then follow with the rest of the division.


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Jun 28th, 2013
8:24AM UTC

SNN Predicts: We Have A New Record-Holder!

Doogie, for his fourth silver medal in five years! Also, some other stuff.

Doogie Gerard Matt Result
4-3 4-2 4-2 4-2
1-0 1-0 0-1 W-L
1 0 4 GO
0 1 0 PS
12-3 12-3 11-4 W-L
28 26 30 GO
2 5 2 PS

Gerard and I both set a new record for most correct series (12), but Gerard wins on the basis of games-off (26, also a record) and perfect series (5, not a record). I will console myself with my perfect 7-0 run through the Western Conference and the knowledge that, had I been around to participate, I would’ve won the lab prediction pool and the cash money it promised. Matt, though, should hold his head high, because any other year, 11-4 would’ve won or tied for the lead. It’s actually kind of surprising, really, how well everyone did; usually, there’s one person who winds up 8-7 or something like that. Were these playoffs more predictable than normal? Is parity dead? Or did we just get lucky this year? I’m kind of thinking the latter, to be honest. Remember, the Leafs were 90 seconds from eliminating the Bruins. The Red Wings had a 3-1 lead on the Blackhawks in the conference semis and squandered it. The previous round, the Wings themselves went down 3-2 to the Ducks before coming back to win in Game 7. Hell, the Bruins were about a minute away from forcing Game 7 against Chicago, and then who knows what happens? Some years, everything goes your way. Others, you can get six series perfectly and still lose because three of your four Game 7 picks in round one crap out. Thanks a lot, 2011 Sabres/Canadiens/Penguins.

So congrats to Gerard for his first victory, multiple records, bragging rights, etc. I will spoil the moment utterly like a sore loser by pointing out that, while I am now the only participant never to win, I’ve tied the winner on correct series three of the five years, and somehow lost my own tiebreakers every time. Clearly, I need to come up with some new tiebreakers, because what I’m doing now obviously isn’t working.

  1. Hoop
  2. Hoop
  3. Hoop
  4. Matt
  5. Gerard

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Mar 21st, 2013
10:14AM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2013 WHL Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals

ColesNotes Edition

1998 CSF 2002 CQF 2008 CSF
4-3 4-3 4-2

Look, I’m sick enough that my attendance at the first two games (tonight and tomorrow night) are going to be game-time decisions. I’m going to link to statistical breakdowns here and here, and add a couple of notes:

  • The 1-3 record is a bit deceptive. One of those losses came with 0.8 on the clock. Ouch. Another came in a game where Eetu Laurikainen was a brick wall after Driedger sieved it up in the first. It could easily be 2-2 or 3-1.
  • From the stats, it looks like Calgary has the advantage in offence, overall depth, and even-strength play; Swift has the advantage in goaltending and special teams. Goes without saying that solving Laurikainen on the man advantage would be a huge boon.
  • The Hitmen outshot the Broncos in three of four games. Without knowing anything about score effects, it’s hard to say what the deal is there, but it’s what we’ve got, and it’s at least somewhat encouraging.
  • Of the four Eastern series, this is easily the one with the best upset potential. Laurikainen has shown he can steal a game in Calgary already this month, and while the playoffs tend to lean less on special teams overall, it’s often true that early in the playoffs the refs like to flex their muscles before putting the whistles away about halfway through the first round. That’s potential trouble. And Swift does seem to match up better against Calgary than any of the other low seeds do against their opponents (though Edmonton-Kootenay might be interesting; Kootenay’s been a top-tier team since Christmas, and whether that’s their true talent or not, there’s no way to know whether that’ll end right away or not).
  • Injuries will also be a factor. The Hitmen, at least, have been plagued by injuries or absences from key players all year, which probably contributed to some of the inconsistency I’ve seen from them throughout. Hopefully, everyone’s as close to 100% as they can be at this point, with a large number of vets sitting out at least one, if not both, of last week’s back-to-back games against Kootenay to close out the season. And hopefully the week-and-change off doesn’t leave too much rust on guys like Roach and Rissling, who are going to be leaned on a lot throughout these playoffs.
  • I’m nervous about this series, but ultimately optimistic. There’s just enough arrows pointing in Calgary’s direction that I think this will be a tough but winnable series. Hitmen in seven.

Go Hitmen! *blows nose* (Oh geez, not again.)

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Sep 5th, 2012
1:51PM UTC

Everybody Lies

Or: The first and last time I ever agree with someone from Brandon about junior hockey

Hugh Laurie can see into your soul, and he knows you’re full of it.

Labour negotiations are easily the worst part of being a fan of any sport. There’s the bickering back and forth, often between two similarly unsympathetic groups of rich guys, there’s the threat of a lost season, or at least lost games, and there’s the encroachment of business and law principles on what is, at the end of the day, a game, entertainment. But worst of all, there’s the blatant lies.

The theme of this post was inspired by the NHL’s “leak” that they lost $240M total in the last two years. Dirk Hoag and Ryan Lambert have already gone to town on the numbers here, but it continues to strike me the sheer bloody audacity of making such a claim at the last minute. Like they didn’t think the media and fans would check up on their numbers and find that they didn’t pass the smell test? Like they really thought that we’d believe that the current proposals are anything other than a blatant cash grab by the League’s richest teams that doesn’t address a system that forces poor teams to pay players more than they can afford in the name of parity, while refusing to address the gaping revenue disparity? Come on, Snider/Jacobs/Dolan, don’t insult our intelligence like that. At least invent a believable lie.

And on that note, we have the comically inept CHLPA, which should be the one real sympathetic side in all of this. Some of the things they’re reportedly fighting for – larger stipends, better education funding, likeness rights royalties – and the potential knock-on effect of more transparency in player payment are commendable and long overdue in the lucrative business of elite junior hockey. And yet they’ve somehow found a way to make a hash of things at pretty much every turn. First, there were the reports that they were seeking part of Hockey Canada’s slice of the ever-growing World Junior pie. At first blush, you understand where they’re coming from – CHLers make up virtually all of Team Canada, and have notable representation on several other international squads. The problem is, that money goes back into the development of thousands upon thousands of amateur players: today’s CHLers almost certainly benefitted directly from the money raised by Canada’s U20 gold-medal dynasty in the middle of last decade. Then, there was the hiring of retired NHL enforcer and QMJHL alumnus Georges Laraque as executive director, despite and apparent lack of training in business, law, economics; indeed, there’s no evidence of any negotiation experience that did not involve his carpal and metacarpal bones, unless you count his (likely PR-driven) appointment as Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada. I’m open to the notion that he’ll do a good job, but right now, there’s no reason to think the CHLPA got anything close to the best available candidate.

But the thing I wanted to dive into a little more were the ticket revenue numbers the PA released on their Twitter feed the other day, for all 60 CHL teams, as part of their argument that CHL players are woefully underpaid. Let’s leave aside the fact that these numbers don’t add up to anything close to supporting Laraque’s public statements, as noted by Yahoo!’s Cam Charron. Three sets of WHL numbers caught my eye:


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