It’s time to talk probabilities. They upset some people, and others just like to ignore the more complex math that goes into them and do their own spitball version. I say do what makes you happy, so here’s some of the model predictions of the Leafs playoff chances and their enemy’s as well.
First: various models use various methods, but they are all based on the idea that the team’s actual play, not their win/loss record in whichever segment of the season you like best, is what most accurately predicts future outcomes.
Now, here’s the trouble with that: the fewer games left, the less accurate any hockey predictor method is. These models do better at the season level than in single games. So if there’s one game left, and it’s a real must-win, you can lose or win it all on a funky bounce. In 16 games left luck — bad or good — is less likely to be the decider.
Florida fizzled against Calgary yesterday, so this will change, and it will be interesting to see how much, so I’ll see if I can remember to update with that, but as of March 1, before all games played, this was the picture:
Okay, I won’t lie, being higher than the Islanders is fun. Florida has hit the skids in the last 10 days, but they have a break in their schedule now to regroup, while the Leafs go do the California road trip with three games in four days, and then three days off after.
Part of the reason Florida’s number is now so low is that there are four Metropolitan teams in the wild card race, and Florida seems boxed out there, so yes, the Rangers really do have a similar chance to make the playoffs as the Panthers. Or they did before they played their Sunday game.
Let’s look at the West too, for fun.
The Western Conference has seven teams in range of four playoff spots by my reckoning, and yet the odds are showing you, not just the points status, but the team strength too. Vancouver suffered only a little for losing to the Leafs, but there isn’t much competition in the Pacific. The fight is in the Central. Winnipeg has nothing but a goalie, so they’re out of it, and Arizona has an interesting points total, but are on the wrong side of the games in hand.
Now, for who the Leafs will likely play:
Tampa’s is more fun because they have a greater chance of finishing first in the Atlantic than the Leafs do of not making third:
Florida is the only other team in the NHL who has a chart like the Leafs. Dallas is coming close because they can’t fall to a wild card, and Colorado is unlikely to overtake St. Louis, so all they could do is swap spots and still play each other.
That’s a nice number for the Leafs! Moneypuck also has the odds of making the second round, the third, etc. You can look at that if you like, but I say, one thing at a time. Moneypuck also has the Leafs ahead of the Islanders on probabilities which is doubly amusing.
And those are the odds. There’s a lot of room for a strange outcome in the West, but the East seems a little less volatile. In a couple of weeks it might all look locked up, but for me the biggest gamblers in the NHL this year were the Carolina Hurricanes who chose to ride it out with their AHL goalies for however long they need them while trading for a defenceman on IR in Sami Vatanen. The rest of us are at the penny slots compared to them.
We already have the Monday odds from Moneypuck: