In the spirit of the season, I’d like to toss my playoff predictions for round 1 into the endless stream of predictions you’ve been wading through.
We know that Corsi has some ability to help us predict who will win. For each series, I’ll take a look at each team’s Corsi differential per 60 by month.
We also know that goals for percentage is a good indicator of how a team will perform. For each series, I’ll compare teams based on their expected goals for percentage, which should give us a sense of what we should expect from each team.
I’ll pick a series winner based on these factors.
Dallas Stars vs Minnesota Wild
The Stars have outpaced the Wild in Corsi differential per 60 each month, suggesting the Stars are the better puck possession group. But both teams tumbled in March. Dallas has the advantage here.
In terms of expected goals for percentage (based on the data at Corsica), the Wild and Stars have been rather close throughout the year, with each team outpacing the other at times throughout the season.
Final Verdict – The Stars seem like the obvious choice but it wouldn’t be strange to see the Wild push them in this series. I’ll take the Stars (6 games).
Chicago Blackhawks vs St. Louis Blues
These two teams have been close in Corsi differential throughout the season. Chicago led for a long stretch but St. Louis has been stronger since February. Advantage Blues here.
Much like possession rates, the Blues have outpaced the Blackhawks since February in expected goals for percentage. Lots to like here.
Final Verdict: The Blues seem poised to knock the Blackhawks out early. I’ll take them in 6 games.
Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators
The Ducks have boasted an excellent Corsi differential rate throughout the year. The Predators have been solid as well but trended down through the middle of the season before a late-season bounce-back. Possession-wise, these teams are close.
The Ducks started slow, recovered quickly, then faded over the course of the season. Their expected goals for percentage has some major swings to it. The Preds have been a little steadier, recovering from a mid-season dip to outpace Anaheim from March onward.
Final Verdict: Series should be tight. I’ve flopped back and forth on this…I’ll take Nashville in seven games as the Preds are trending in the right direction and the Ducks have been a little erratic over the course of the season.
Los Angeles Kings vs San Jose Sharks
These two teams didn’t deserve to meet each other in Round 1. Both are excellent possession teams. The Kings have been stronger this season but the Sharks have been wonderful puck possession-wise as well. Tough to choose here.
Again, tight battle here. The Kings are Sharks have been dominant in terms of expected goals for percentage. However, the Sharks have led or been tied with the Kings in this category since January.
Final Verdict: The Kings are a dominant puck possession team but San Jose boasts an incredible attack. I’ll take the Sharks in a hotly-contested 6 games.
Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders
Yuck. The Panthers rode excellent PDO to cover up for team deficiencies throughout the season. The Islanders sputtered to the finish and have endured some injuries in key spots as well. Neither team boasts a Corsi differential to brag about.
The Panthers have the edge here but, again, both teams struggled to consistently win the expected goals for battle. These two teams couldn’t have been happier for this first round matchup.
Final verdict: The Panthers have enjoyed a PDO rush that never fully cooled during the regular season. The Isles haven’t looked impressive for months. Look for the Panthers to win this series. Panthers in 5.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Detroit Red Wings
These two teams couldn’t be tighter. The Lightning and Red Wings maintained consistent and comparable Corsi differentials throughout the year. Flip a coin.
For the majority of the season, the Bolts led the Wings by a slight margin. With injuries to Stralman and Stamkos, it’s reasonable to question if the mid-season goals for expectation remains relevant.
Final Verdict: Perhaps the tightest matchup of all, the winner here is a tough, tough call. The Red Wings aren’t dealing with the kind of injuries that will likely cripple Tampa Bay. I’ll take Detroit in a seesaw seven game series.
Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers
Though it comes as a surprise, Washington and Philadelphia posted comparable Corsi differentials throughout the season. The Flyers actually came out very slightly ahead in November and February (on average). No clear advantage here.
Over the final stretch of the season, the Capitals took over the lead in this category. The Flyers were close in December and January but have fallen off since then. Give this category to the Capitals.
Final Verdict: Most expect the Caps to waltz through this series. They should win but the Flyers may pose a much stronger challenge than spectators imagine. Take the Capitals in 6 but know that this isn’t a slam dunk choice.
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
The clearest split in any series, the Penguins are a better hockey team than the New York Rangers. Their puck possession work is clearly stronger and has been so since November. Advantage goes to the Pens here.
Much like possession rates, the Penguins own the superior expected goals for percentage and have all season long. Expect the Pens to dominate the goals for battle in this series.
Final Verdict: The Penguins came on strong, particularly after the coaching change. This team is elite. Pittsburgh drives possession and dominates goals for percentage expectations. They’ll handle the Rangers in 5 games.
In the West, I expect Dallas, St. Louis, Nashville, and San Jose to move on to round 2. In the East, I’ll go with Florida, Detroit, Washington, and Pittsburgh.