Math makes people nervous at this time of year. And yet, even knowing that, here I am telling you the probabilities for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
First Moneypuck’s great wheel of misfortune (scroll down on that page for the web version):
Let’s look at the only blue wedge that matters. Toronto has a 42% chance to beat the Boston Bruins into dust and make the second round. Are they the favourites? No, of course not. The other third place teams are at 42% for the Flyers, 55% for San Jose and 38% for the Wild. You need to play Randy Carlyle’s Ducks in the first round to be the favourite as a third place team.
Although by the time you dwindle into the Stanley Cup Finals, the Sharks probability of winning it all are not much better than the Leafs. This great wheel will change as it’s determined who plays whom in the next round, so I don’t take the later rounds all that seriously.
In the meantime a big blue slice of pie should calm your nerves.
Now let’s look at Micah McCurdy’s great rainbow death crab™.
Chances for 2017-2018 with the bracket finally set. Road teams are next to division names, divisional winners on the four corners. pic.twitter.com/FtGQU0JbTP— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) April 9, 2018
This shows the Leafs with a 55% chance to win the first round match with the Bruins, scourge of all the known world. That’s a hell of a contradiction to the first model, which seemed plausible if you take the standings seriously. You know, the Bruins had a lot of points from OT losses. Maybe my “of course not” was too hasty. The Leafs chances then dwindle down to a 10% chance in the final round.
It is interesting to see such a spread in these predictions. Overall, this model is coming up with more dramatic differences.
My official model, aka my gut feelings, lines up a little with different parts of both of these. But the thing about hockey is that even in a gross mismatch like Tampa vs New Jersey or Nashville vs Colorado, a hot goalie run or a cold one can turn the tide in the opposite direction. Just not very often.
Relax with this crab cake recipe. I’m sure they’re delicious.
There’s nothing more tense than playoff time, not when the season has gone the way the Leafs have gone. And for some people, they just don’t want to know what the damn math says.
If that’s you, make some crab cakes and pie and forget you ever read this. I’m not sure how many players want to know the odds, but they have a unique experience of hockey that isn’t really at all like ours. They fail constantly. Every second for them on the ice is about a long shot coming in. [Insert joke about McElhinney’s low danger save percentage here.]
So let’s talk about long shots and failure. Let’s talk about Auston Matthews. In the season just finished, he shot the puck 313 times. He scored 34 goals. That’s failure. Game after game, period after period. That’s repeating the same steps and willing them to succeed this time. Even though you can’t will the puck in the net. Auston Matthews failed to score 279 times. Did he ever once look like he’d stopped believing in his ability to score on every shift?
On Thursday we march on Boston.