The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

NHL Playoff Favourites vs. Underdogs, A Ten Year Scan

April 17, 2011, by Homme De Sept-Iles

Favourites vs. Underdogs
Percentage of NHL Playoff Series Won by Favourites

Pre and post-lockout 10-year scan

Favourite Underdog
09-10 8 7
08-09 9 6
07-08 9 6
06-07 10 5
05-06 8 7
04-05 Lockout No Games
03-04 11 4
02-03 9 6
01-02 13 2
00-01 9 6
99-00 11 4
Pre-Lockout 53 22 0.707
Post-Lockout 44 31 0.587
Total 97 53 0.647

Canadiens Stun Bruins.

That was one headline following Montreal’s game one 10-11 NHL playoff defeat of Boston Bruins on Thursday, April 14th.  The Canadiens, seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference defeated the third-seeded Bruins, 2-0.  They followed with another road win, 3-1, on Saturday and lead in their best-of-seven series two games to none.

Should we be surprised?  I decided to find out and compiled a chart (summarized above and found its entirety and in PDF format, here)

This basic chart is a ten-year scan; a comparison of NHL playoff upsets pre and post-lockout; two five-season sets are compared (the five most recent pre-lockout seasons 99-00 to 03-04 and the five season post-lockout seasons 05-06 to 09-10).

Basic conclusion; Upsets (where a lower-seeded team eliminates a higher-seeded team) are not uncommon and are noticeably higher in the five most recent seasons as compared to the five final pre-lockout seasons.

In predicting outcomes, seeding is often given great weight.  Yet, in recent seasons, lower-seeded teams eliminate higher-seeded teams at a healthy rate of 41%.

Reliance on W-L records to form views is too narrow.  Elements such as on-ice matchups, turnover rates, quality scoring chances and time of possession all provide a clearer assessment of given teams.

Parity has evolved.  The complete chart is here.

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