Posts Tagged ‘Lies damned lies and statistics’

Apr 15th, 2015
1:00PM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2015 NHL Division Semi-Finals

Welcome to the eighth annual SNN Predicts series of articles (ninth 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 sixth year in a row copying and pasting the same intro, because I’m cool like that.

So. Three of the last four Stanley Cups – including the league’s #1 possession team – are sitting at home, the Jets look like a decent dark horse out of the Neo-Smythe, and the East is tempting me to pull out a d8 and Matt it up. Oh, and I’m doing this for dollars this year, with five of them sitting in an office pool. That should be interesting.

As always, the best predictor is still last-20 GP shot-adjusted Corsi (“possession”), which has about a 75% conversion rate, but I’ve gone against it in three of eight series: two for injury reasons (one getting better, one getting worse), and one for MVP reasons. Fingers crossed there. Also, I’m super nervous about my Cup Finals picks with a bunch of the safe ones gone, and I’m still not completely convinced of my Western champion, but fuck it, you gotta put something down, right? First instinct or bust.


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Apr 11th, 2015
8:46AM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2015 WHL Central Division Final

Note: This was written earlier in the week, so of course it goes up after precisely the thing I didn’t expect – Calgary to get solid goaltending – actually came to pass in Game 1. Hooray for stolen games!

3 3 8 7 4 2 6 4
4 2 7 2 5 4 2 3

(1) Calgary Hitmen vs. (2) Medicine Hat Tigers

So, Medicine Hat, huh? Hoo boy.

2007 CF 2010 CSF
4-1 4-2

I’m still not sure how to feel about the Kootenay series, really. On the one hand, getting dragged to seven by a low seed in round one is seldom a good sign, regardless of past history1. On the other, I would argue that they were two awful goal calls away from wrapping in five – Levi Cable’s kicked-in goal shouldn’t have counted and intent to blow is the most idiotic rule in hockey – and after an understandable Game 6 letdown, they put up a Game 7 performance for the ages. For the last ten minutes of the second period, the Ice stayed even with the Hitmen; the other fifty minutes, the shots were 29-7, and that might honestly be flattering to the Cranbrook group. As a whole, though, the series felt a lot closer than it ought to have, which has me nervous about a series against the only team with a higher possession estimate than the Hitmen this year.

At the team level, we have the #1 shot-generating offence vs. the #1 shot-preventing defence. Calgary had the third-highest shooting percentage in the WHL – they were #2 last year, and there’s likely more repeatability in junior than at the pro level – whereas Medicine Hat was in the middle of the pack. Both teams had mediocre goaltending, with save percentages a hair below .900. To this point, it looks not too bad for the Hitmen. Then you get to the head-to-head: Medicine Hat took the season series 3-2-1 and had a +3 goal differential, but had the shots advantage in all six games and ran the possession show in four of them. I’m not sure what injuries the Tigers are sitting on right now, but given that they won their series in five, the minor bangs and bruises probably aren’t as bad, and Calgary’s goaltending situation remains a mystery. Mack Shields is in for now thanks to Brendan Burke’s injury, but with both men sporting .879 save percentages, the worst among surviving keepers, it seems likely that as soon as Burke is good to go, the goalie carousel will be back in operation. On the plus side, Connor Rankin and Son of Tambo can apparently outscore all manner of brutal goaltending: both set the Hitmen franchise record with seven goals in the Kootenay series, and Tambellini’s 15 points is the top mark in the Dub by three points.

The homer in me is saying Hitmen in seven, likely setting up yet another date with the Fucking Brandon Wheat Kings, but a more likely scenario is Tigers in six. Either way, Go Hitmen.

1 In 2010, the Hitmen fell down 3-1 to Moose Jaw before recovering to win in seven, and subsequently march all the way to the Memorial Cup semifinal. Fucking Brandon.

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Jun 4th, 2014
5:00PM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2014 Stanley Cup Finals

For all the marbles!

Doogie Gerard Matt Result
4-2 4-3 4-2 4-3
4-2 4-1 4-1 4-2
0-2 0-2 2-0 W-L
7 7 2 GO
0 0 0 PS
10-4 5-9 10-4 W-L
23 40 24 GO
3 0 1 PS


I suppose this is what I get for abandoning my April pick for the Cup for a spurious reason, but given that the series went to G7 OT, I feel pretty okay about getting it wrong, especially since I still have that tiebreaker in my back pocket. The Habs…sigh. Let us not speak of that prediction again.

Last series of the year. I think we all know how these picks are going to go, but let’s go through the motions, anyway.


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May 17th, 2014
10:00AM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2014 NHL Conference Finals

This is the most placeholdery post I've ever chucked into the queue.

Doogie Gerard Matt Result
4-1 4-2 4-2 4-3
4-1 4-0 4-1 4-2
4-3 4-2 4-2 4-3
4-2 4-2 4-1 4-3
3-1 2-2 3-1 W-L
6 9 7 GO
0 0 0 PS
10-2 5-7 8-4 W-L
16 33 22 GO
3 0 1 PS

I feel kind of robbed, you know, and I don’t just mean the miniscule turnaround time, either. Seriously, why’d Chicago have to go and win Game 6? They robbed us of four Game 7s. How rad would that have been?

Anyway, at the start of the playoffs, I think most analytics types had LA, Chicago, Boston, and the Rangers as their final four, and three out of four ain’t bad. Certainly, Boston’s ouster by Montreal was an upset, though not a totally unpredictable one. Regardless, given how we got here, I think this is pretty much Chicago’s Cup to lose at this point. The Kings and Rangers have both played 14 games already, and historically no team has ever played two seven-gamers and gone on to win the conference finals. It’s certainly possible this time around, as both teams are well-matched against their opponents, but if things hold true to historical form, we’re looking at Chicago-Montreal in the Finals, and that’ll be a fast series in more than one sense.

But hey, that’s why they play the games, right? So, let’s get to it and make some hasty calls.


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May 1st, 2014
4:00PM UTC

SNN Predicts: 2014 NHL Division Finals

I'm sorry, I don't have anything pithy to add this time around. Tight turnaround.

Doogie Gerard Matt Result
4-3 4-0 4-1 4-2
4-3 4-2 4-2 4-3
4-2 4-1 4-1 4-3
4-3 4-1 4-2 4-2
4-1 4-3 4-0 4-1
4-3 4-2 4-2 4-0
4-2 4-0 4-3 4-2
4-1 4-3 4-2 4-3
7-1 3-5 5-3 W-L
10 24 15 GO
3 0 1 PS

So, that happened. (And yes, I know, those are no longer our tiebreakers. But the spreadsheet and table templates were already there and I’m lazy. For Entertainment Purposes Only™.)

The first round sure was weird, huh? I mean, it started out West with St. Louis vomiting up their division championship, and San Jose failing to take advantage of a faltering Anaheim down the stretch, losing to a bunch of shit teams in March and April to accept second. With those placements, instead of four dead easy picks and two second-rounders for the ages, we had four coin-flips that ended with two contenders dropping and two pretenders moving on. I’m still in such disbelief about the San Jose-LA outcome that I started writing up a preview of Anaheim-San Jose until I realized halfway through that they had actually lost. Then out East, we had the 3-1 lead become the most dangerous in hockey, the 2014 Canadiens unpredictably and inexplicably looking like the 1977 Canadiens against Tampa Bay, Steve Mason looking like a competent goaltender, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

What’s that leave us with? Zero compelling match-ups in the Campbell (see you in the conference finals again, San Jose LA and Chicago), and two compelling rivalries that both seem to have seemingly predictable results, though we shall certainly see.

Note also that my write-ups aren’t nearly as in depth this time around, in part due to time constraints, and in part because a lot of the core information hasn’t changed since round one, with the exceptions duly noted. Note also that in accordance with tradition, Matt’s picks will be late.


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