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The Great Carlyle-ac: Predicting The Leafs' Record Until 2014

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For a fun exercise, here's a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs' projected results using the log5 method first devised by Bill James.

Ok so towards the end of the year a couple years ago I took the time to explore the Leafs expected win percentages as the season wound down. The method I made use of has been floating around for a while and makes use of expected pythagorean win percentage models. These are based on goals for and goals against for the two teams involved in the calculation. Known as the log5 method, it was originally devised by Bill James for baseball and made use of runs scored for and against in a similar fashion. In place of the traditional pythagorean model I've made use of Alan Ryder's pythagenpuck formula.

Part of the problem with using this type of metric early on in the season is we have limited information to go on and what we do have at this stage is extremely volatile. Thus in an effort to improve the reliability a bit, rather than use prior goals for and against, I've made use of prior Fenwick For and Fenwick Against in Home and Away situations. To obtain a goal estimate I've then regressed Fenwick SH% and Fenwick SV% towards league average. Due to the volatility of special teams I've left them out of the equation entirely, so it could easily be argued that they will skew these results a fair bit... but take that under consideration and remember that I'm not posting these numbers so you can gamble on them.

*The author bears no responsibility should you decide to go and bet your life away based on the following*

So bearing the above in mind, I've listed the Leafs schedule from now until Jan 1st - when HBO 24/7 should be finishing up as the Buds head to Ann Arbor to take on the Red Wings. Based on these results - you might want to worry a tad about what you're going to see on your TV screens over the next month or so... all of this could get pretty ugly in Leaf land.

Note that any game with a Log5 P(Win) result that was between .475 and .525 was slotted in as an OT/SOL. Obviously it remains possible that the Leafs will win a few of those close games due to their goaltending and decent shooters, but for the sake of this exercise we'll leave them in that category.

GP Date H/A Opponent Leafs P(Win) Opp P(Win) Log5 P(Win) W-L-OTL
26 Fri, Nov 29, 2013 @ Buffalo Sabres 0.447 0.290 0.664 1-0-0
27 Sat, Nov 30, 2013 @ Montreal Canadiens 0.447 0.491 0.456 1-1-0
28 Tue, Dec 3, 2013 San Jose Sharks 0.473 0.591 0.384 1-2-0
29 Thu, Dec 5, 2013 Dallas Stars 0.473 0.550 0.424 1-3-0
30 Sat, Dec 7, 2013 @ Ottawa Senators 0.447 0.461 0.486 1-3-1
31 Sun, Dec 8, 2013 Boston Bruins 0.473 0.581 0.393 1-4-1
32 Wed, Dec 11, 2013 Los Angeles Kings 0.473 0.529 0.445 1-5-1
33 Thu, Dec 12, 2013 @ St. Louis Blues 0.447 0.720 0.239 1-6-1
34 Sat, Dec 14, 2013 Chicago Blackhawks 0.473 0.611 0.364 1-7-1
35 Mon, Dec 16, 2013 @ Pittsburgh Penguins 0.447 0.524 0.423 1-8-1
36 Tue, Dec 17, 2013 Florida Panthers 0.473 0.378 0.597 2-8-1
37 Thu, Dec 19, 2013 Phoenix Coyotes 0.473 0.522 0.452 2-9-1
38 Sat, Dec 21, 2013 Detroit Red Wings 0.473 0.480 0.494 2-9-2
39 Mon, Dec 23, 2013 @ New York Rangers 0.447 0.461 0.486 2-9-3
40 Fri, Dec 27, 2013 Buffalo Sabres 0.473 0.225 0.756 3-9-3
41 Sun, Dec 29, 2013 Carolina Hurricanes 0.473 0.383 0.592 4-9-3


A couple of points worth noting. First, two of those four wins are slated to be over Buffalo - and we know the Sabres play the Leafs tough (they've already beaten us once this season). Secondly, the other two expected wins come on a Tuesday night against Florida (we know how those workout right?), and a Sunday night against Carolina (Sunday night games? really?).

So while I expect they won't lose all of the games predicted as losses - they may not come out on top in all of those games predicted as wins either. Either way - a predicted record of 4-9-3 through the team's next 16 games would have them entering the new year with a combined 18-18-5 record, and a grand total of 41 points through 41 games in the schedule - on track for a whizbang 82 point season!

What Will Happen

I'm pretty sure 82 points won't get them into the playoffs but this is also their worst stretch of games this season in terms of their opposition. Based on their recent play it is also entirely possible that their record in this stretch comes out WORSE than 4-9-3. It will be very interesting to see how the leadership of the team handles this type of adversity because I really don't think they have a handle on what's going on right now.

David Alter had an interesting note about the last time the Leafs blew a 4-1 lead in Pittsburgh:

The game in Pittsburgh has to mean something for the Leafs. The last time they carried a 4-1 lead in Pittsburgh was Jan. 31, 2012, when they ultimately fell 5-4 in a shootout. The following month would end in disaster for Toronto with a 4-9-1 record that ultimately led to then-coach Ron Wilson's dismissal.

Make Your Predictions

In order to compare the system's results, put down your predicted results in the comments. We'll tally them and see how everyone matches up.