NHL Playoff Favourites vs. Underdogs, A Ten Year Scan
April 17, 2011, by Homme de Sept-Îles
Favourites vs. Underdogs
Percentage of NHL Playoff Series Won by Favourites
Pre and post-lockout 10-year scan
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.