Jan 312006
 

Six games on the NHL schedule tonight including several that have a significant impact on the playoff drive in the eastern conference as 6th place Tampa plays 8th place Toronto, and 9th place Montreal and 10th place Atlanta are all in action and only 6 points separate those 4 teams. Should be an interesting night. We will also get to see Doug Weight make his Carolina debut. I’m curious as to how they will set up their lines now that they have Staal, Weight and Brind’amour all at center as well as Matt Cullen. My guess is Staal moves to the wing on a line with Doug Weight.

Since Friday my new prediciton algorithm has the following success rates:

Strong: 3 of 4 – 75.0%
Good: 1 of 1 – 100.0%
Some: 9 of 17 – 52.9%

On Saturaday I started betting $5 on every game based on the predicted outcomes. I started with $100 and as of this morning my $99.41. Hopefully I’ll get over the $100 mark tonight.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Islanders Washington NY Islanders Good
Atlanta Buffalo Buffalo Some
Montreal Carolina Carolina Some
Tampa Bay Toronto Tampa Bay Some
Colorado Minnesota Colorado Good
Phoenix Vancouver Vancouver Some

I have obligated myself to bet as the games are predicted but if you are going to bet against a favourite a good choices might be Toronto who are expected to have McCabe back in the lineup and the risk/reward seems pretty good (current line +165). Washington (+155) over NY Islanders (-175) looks like an underdog worth looking at. As a favourite, Buffalo is giving pretty good odds (-115) over Atlanta and seems to provide an excellent risk/reward. For some reason Bowmans hasn’t posted a betting line for Vancouver/Phoenix yet but I’ll check back later.

Betting lines from Bowmans.

Jan 302006
 

St. Louis has played 49 games this year and has won just 11 of them and they have just traded their two best players, Mike Sillinger and Doug Weight. Keith Tkachuk is sure to be traded as soon as he is healthy and guys like Dean McAmmond, Scott Young, Eric Weinrich and Dallas Drake are all surely on the trade block too. So my question is, how many of the Blues final 33 games will they win? Enter you choice in the poll in the right side menu.

Jan 302006
 

We had a good day yesterday going 3 for 3 in our predictions. With 7 games on the schedule lets see if we can get 5 or more correct.

Since we started using the new prediction algorithm on Friday here is our success rate.

Strong: 3 of 3 – 100.0%
Good: 0 of 0 – 0.0%
Some: 6 of 12 – 50.0%

Since Saturday I started testing the prediction algorithm as a betting tool by betting $5 on every game on the predicted winner. After starting with $100 my current total is $96.96.

Here are the predictions for todays games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Rangers Philadelphia Philadelphia Some
Florida Toronto Toronto Some
Ottawa Boston Ottawa Strong
St. Louis Calgary Calgary Some
Minnesota Detroit Detroit Some
Dallas San Jose Dallas Good
Anaheim Los Angeles Los Angeles Some

Philadelphia (+125), Toronto (+105)m and Los Angeles (+120) are all predicted winners that have better than 1:1 odds and would make smart betting picks. Anaheim defeating Los Angeles is a potential upset as the Kings haven’t played great recently losing 3 in a row including a 6-2 defeat to Anaheim on Saturday. But that loss should ensure they player a better game today. And Toronto takes their 8 game losing streak to Florida. The Leafs have played good enough to win both of their last 2 games but haven’t quite been able to get it done. I think tonight is the game that they break the streak. The Rangers-Philadelphia game should be a close game that could go either way so definitely take Philly with the better odds.

Ottawa currently has odds to win of -450 which means on a $5 which means you would win just $1.11 on a win. This is the kind of bet I would probably consider avoiding since the risk/reward is quite slim. Boston is playing much better recently and why I wouldn’t consider them a likely cnadidate to win, I think the chance is there and just worth the $1.11 reward. But I am going to bet on all games so that includes this one too. But because the return is below a minimum allowed by Bowmans I am not allowed to bet $5 on Ottawa. I need to bet $5.20 so that is what I am going to do.


Jan 292006
 

I realized this morning that I had a small mistake in my prediction algorithm which caused the confidence levels to be reported incorrectly but the predicted winners were correct. Of the games the past 2 days they all should have been listed as ‘some’ confidence except for the Rangers-Pittsburgh and Carolina-Atlanta games which were both strong confidence predictions.

It was a bit of a rough day yesterday with several upsets occuring. Particular surprises were Tampa destroying Philadelphia, Nashville falling to Columbus and Anaheim looking mighty in an easy win over the Kings. The result is after 2 days of using the new algorithm, here are the success rates.

Strong: 2 of 2 – 100.0%
Good: 0 of 0 – 0.0%
Some: 4 of 10 – 40.0%

And yesterday I started making bets at Bowmans (purely for entertainment purposes and to test the prediction algorithm). I’ve started with $100 and will be betting $5 per game according to the predictions. After yesterday’s 10 games in which we went 4 for 10 my total stands at $84.38.

Now on to today’s games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Washington Tampa Bay Washington Some
Chicago Calgary Calgary Strong
Phoenix Edmonton Edmonton Some

The Calgary and Edmonton picks make a lot of sense but the Washington bet is quite interesting. The betting odds are Tampa -155 and Washington +135 so you are getting decent odds but the way Tampa has been playing recently (3 shutouts in 4 games) it seems like a pretty risky pick. But they are playing on back to back days on the road and that is a tough situation to play in so who knows, Washington might pull out a win.


Jan 282006
 

So far so good with the new prediction algorithm. It went 2 for 2 last night. There are 10 games tonight, I am hoping it will get at least 7 correct. I have also decided, completely for your amusement of course, to place bets on all these predictions to see if it can be used to actually make a profit. I have signed up with Bowmans Sportbook, deposited $100 and will bet $5 on every game as predicted by my prediction algorithm. I’ll keep you updated on how things go.

Since you have predictions for all games now I am just going to try to point out some potential upsets and/or where the betting lines do not agree with the predictions (read: potential favourable bet conditions).

Dallas/Detoit – Dallas is listed as the ‘good’ favourite but I think this one could go either way. The betting line actually favours Detroit (-115) over Dallas (-105).

Phoenix/San Jose – The algorithm lists Phoenix as a bit of a favourite to win but this is one that I think could go San Jose’s way. The Bowman betting line currently has San Jose -135 and Phoenix +115 so betters are siding with San Jose too.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Tampa Bay Philadelphia Good
Dallas Detroit Dallas Good
Los Angeles Anaheim Los Angeles Strong
Boston NY Islanders Boston Good
Toronto Montreal Toronto Good
NY Rangers Pittsburgh NY Rangers Strong
Carolina Atlanta Carolina Strong
Columbus Nashville Nashville Good
Phoenix San Jose Phoenix Some
Colorado Vancouver Colorado Good
Jan 272006
 

It is a very quiet day on the hockey schedule today so I figured it would be a perfect time to unveil version 2 of my prediction and power ranking algorithms which I have spent the last day or two tweaking.

The new algorithms are much more robust and have allowed me to improve my success rates by a couple percent as well as allow me to make predictions on all games. That means no more pick-em games. Here are my (would be) success rates under the old and new systems.

Old:
Strong: 94 of 129 – 72.9%
Good: 144 of 222 – 64.9%
Some: 93 of 177 – 52.5%
163 games unpredicted

New:
Strong: 87 of 109 – 79.8%
Good: 129 of 201 – 64.2%
Some: 208 of 372 – 55.9%

Overall I am fairly pleased with the improvements and I am especially pleased that I can now make predictions on all games and get reasonable success rates which are in fact better than the old ‘some’ confidence success rates.

Before I get on to the changes in the power ranking system, here are the predictions for tonights games using the new prediction algorithm.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Columbus Minnesota Columbus Some
Florida New Jersey Florida Good

I have completely revamped the power ranking system too and because the predictions are based on the same theory used in this power ranking system, I am confident that it is a good indicator how good a team is. Here are the new power rankings as of this morning using this new algorithm.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.719 0.521 0.771
2 2 Calgary 0.590 0.532 0.640
3 4 Colorado 0.569 0.537 0.632
4 3 Carolina 0.670 0.478 0.627
5 5 Dallas 0.590 0.520 0.614
6 6 Vancouver 0.569 0.526 0.606
7 7 Detroit 0.667 0.476 0.597
8 9 Buffalo 0.633 0.481 0.580
9 12 Edmonton 0.520 0.533 0.569
10 8 Los Angeles 0.528 0.523 0.564
11 10 Toronto 0.500 0.528 0.556
12 11 San Jose 0.521 0.517 0.545
13 16 Minnesota 0.500 0.526 0.540
14 13 Nashville 0.588 0.479 0.533
15 14 Phoenix 0.490 0.527 0.528
16 15 Philadelphia 0.620 0.458 0.527
17 17 Montreal 0.469 0.522 0.514
18 18 Anaheim 0.480 0.516 0.494
19 19 Tampa Bay 0.530 0.472 0.490
20 20 Boston 0.460 0.510 0.478
21 21 NY Rangers 0.520 0.455 0.443
22 22 NY Islanders 0.418 0.500 0.437
23 23 Atlanta 0.480 0.467 0.435
24 24 New Jersey 0.451 0.465 0.406
25 25 Florida 0.392 0.479 0.373
26 28 Chicago 0.340 0.500 0.338
27 26 Columbus 0.340 0.495 0.336
28 27 Washington 0.316 0.484 0.310
29 29 St. Louis 0.276 0.487 0.264
30 30 Pittsburgh 0.255 0.483 0.251

AdjWinP is a teams winning percentage when shootouts are considered ties and there are no points awarded for overtime losses
SchedStr is an indication of a teams relative difficult of schedule
Power Rank is the teams expected winning percentage if team played all .500 teams
————–
(Note: Last week rank is the rank as of Wed. morning)

The big changes I have made are mentioned in the notes immediately above. Because shootouts are kind of a gimmick and that shootouts aren’t necessarily reflective of how good a team is from top to bottom I have considered shootouts to be a tie game. Also, because overtime losses are reflective of a teams ability to win games (or lose games) I have not considered any points for overtime losses (this is the same as the old algorithm). But the most significant difference is how I account for strength of schedule. I have made significant changes in this regard and because of this significant, and somewhat surprising, results have popped up.

Generally western conference teams have improved their rankings (western conference teams had very good records against eastern conference teams in interconference games) as well as any teams playing in particularly difficult divisions. Teams playing in weak divisions saw their rankings drop. Some of the surprising results are:

Philadelphia being ranked 16th in the NHL and being only slightly above .500 if they had a perfectly average strength of schedule. Montreal is ranked 17th so I guess Montreal beating the Flyers the other day might not have been that much of an upset.

Nashville has also dropped dramatically, partly due to their weak schedule but partly because of the number of shootouts and overtime losses they have played in (same for Philly for that matter).

The NY Rangers are another team that has benefitted dramatically from an easy schedule and ovetime loss points and shootouts as they are ranked 21st in the NHL under my power ranking system. Division rivals Islanders and New Jersey also drop significantly in the rankings.

Calgary, Vancouver, Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota make up the toughest division in the NHL and as a result all saw their rankings improve dramatically and all are ranked in the top 13 in the NHL.

Some of these results may be quite surprising but I do have confidence in them. I do because my prediction algorithm seems relatively good at predicting games. An example is Montreal defeating Philadelphis mentioned above. Other examples are Minnesota defeating Nashville last night. Just looking at the standings you wouldn’t think Montreal or Minnesota would have a chance but if you look at the power ranks above you’ll see they aren’t that far apart. Upsets will always happen (like Chicago defeating Calgary last night) but some upset aren’t as big of upsets as one might initially think.

You can find other statistics based power ranking systems here and here.

Jan 262006
 

We are coming up to the trading season so it is time to start looking at some players who might be changing teams and where they might be going.

Goalies

Martin Biron, Buffalo Sabres
Dwayne Roloson, Minnesota Wild
Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks
Andrew Raycroft, Boston Bruins
Olaf Kolzig, Washington Capitals

There are a number of teams looking to improve theirgoaltending situation with Vancouver, Edmonton and Colorado would top the list but the question remains whether any of the above goalies are significant improvements over what they currently have. Biron is the most likely to be traded and has played very well at times this year but his goals againt average (2.98) and save percentage (.901) are nothing spectacular. Roloson has shown that he is a very good goalie but has never been a true #1 guy as his career high is just 50 games played in any single season. Chicago would love to get rid of Khabibulin but his horrible play and huge contract make that all but impossible. Andrew Raycroft is struggling significantly in his second season and while some teams might take a chance that he will return to form it is unlikely that a contending team will be the one taking that chance. That leaves us with Kolzig who is certainly the best and most reliable goalie of the bunch. The problem with Kolzig is the Capitals want to keep him and he wants to stay with the Capitals so unless they can’t work out a contract extension he won’t be traded.

There is one other goalie that might be traded. That is Ed Belfour of the Leafs. My gut tells me that he won’t be traded but if Toronto continues to struggle and one of those western conference teams decide that his experience is just what they need then maybe he gets traded. But his contract includes a $4.5 million team option for next season with a $1.5 million buyout that would count against next years salary cap if exercised. That $1.5 million buyout might be enough to scare away many teams from taking a chance on him.

Defensemen

Defensemen are difficult to predict who is available and where they might go because almost everyone wants a good defenseman and few teams are willing to give them up. But here are a few to think about.

Brian Leetch, Boston Bruins
Adrian Aucoin, Chicago Blackhawks
Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins
Dick Tarnstrom, Pittsburgh Penguins
Bryan Berard, Columbus Blue Jackets
Adam Foote, Columbus Blue Jackets
Brendan Witt, Washington Capitals

I am sure that there are many more guys available too but the above list might be some of the more available and better players. Leetch is rumoured to be going to the Rangers and that seems to make a whole lot of sense. The Blackhawks have some good young defensemen coming along and with Aucoin’s somewhat subpar play they are probably more than willing to get rid of his contract if given a reasonable offer. Gonchar is one of the biggest free agent flops and Pittsburgh would love to dump his contract but there may not be anyone willing to pick up that contract. They might have more success dealing Tarnstrom to someone who think they can rejuvinate his PP quarterbacking abilities. My gut tells me that the Blue Jackets will keep both Foote and Berard but if offered the right package might be enticed to trade them. And Brendan Witt asked to be traded before the season began and is a prime candidate to be traded. Some were concerned that he wouldn’t be suitable for the new NHL but he seems to have done OK so far and would be a good depth defenseman for someone to add.

Update: Tarnstrom has been traded to Edmonton. Jaroslav Spacek formerly of Chicago, who I almost included on this list, has also been traded to Edmonton.

Wingers

There are several big name wingers that are on the definitely available list. Here are some worth looking at.

Sergei Samsonov, Boston Bruins
Glen Murray, Boston Bruins
Mark Recchi, Pittsburgh Penguins
John Leclair, Pittsburgh Penguins
Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues
Martin Lapointe, Chicago Blackhawks
Mathieu Barnaby, Chicago Blackhawks

With Palffy and Lemieux both retiring and the team is total disarray any and all veterens with contracts on the Penguins are availalbe. Recchi and Leclair are no exception. Recchi has been the better of the two this year but neither have had banner years. That said, a team looking to add some scoring from the wing will definitely have interest in these two guys and they probably wouldn’t cost a bundle either. Of the two Boston wingers I think the Bruins are most likely to keep Murray but they need to find him a playmaking center to play with as he hasn’t produced since Thornton was traded (although he hasn’t always been healthy either). Samsonov could be used as the trade bair to get that centerman. Keith Tkachuk is probably the prime winger on the market, if he could only get healthy. He has only played 10 games this year but has 8 goals and 15 points. Any team in need of a pure goal scorer will wan to look at Tkachuk. The two Chicago wingers are more of the role player types and should generate a fair amount of interest from teams looking to add depth to their roster without paying a huge price.

Centers

Here are some of the centers that could be traded.

Doug Weight, St. Louis Blues
Tyler Arnason, Chicago Blackhawks
Jason Allison, Toronto Maple Leafs
Olli Jokinen, Florida Panthers
Marc Savard, Atlanta Thrashers

Doug Weight is probably the best of all the available players and will be attracting a lot of interest from several teams. Rumours are that Ottawa has significant interest in bring Weight in to anchor their second line. The Calgary Flames will also look at Weight to act as the play making center that Jarome Iginla needs to thrive. Earlier in the seasont he Oilers were thought to be a highly probable destination but with the play of Stoll and Horcoff their need for a center is not as great as once thought and they have that big hole in goal that they need to fill first. The Boston Bruins have played better lately and are getting close to geting back in the playoff picture. With Thornton gone, they deseperately need a center. Weight would be ideal and the Blues might have an interest in taking Raycroft off their hands too. It might be a good match.

Tyler Arnason is the other sure bet to be traded. He seems to be the guy that the Blackhawk management has soured on. He’s a pretty good player and whoever gets him will benefit nicely. Rumour has it the Leafs are interested but then you can never really trust all the Leaf rumours you hear. Speaking of the Leafs, they already have an abundance of centermen and Jason Allison has been rumoured to be on the trading block all year. I’d peg the chances of him getting traded as good. Boston might be interested in bringing him back but would the Leafs want to trade him to a division rival they would be fighting for a playoff spot with? Calgary might be a possible destination as Allison’s playmaking skills might fit in nicely with Iginla and the Flame are defensive minded enough that Allison’s defensive deficiencies would probably not be as significant an issue.

Ollie Jokinen will only be traded if the Panthers are unable to sign him. I suspect they will which means he will stay put. Marc Savard is an unrestricted free agent at seasons end and will be traded if Atlanta falls out of the playoff race. Earlier in the year the Flames were thought to be interested (he’d be ideal as Iginla’s centerman) but my guessis that Atlanta stays in the playoff race and keeps him.

I am sure there are a ton of other players on the trade block but the above are some of the more likely ones. Feel free to discuss others in the comments.

Jan 262006
 

It’s another busy day on the NHL schedule with 13 games being played including some surprising games that are too close to call as well as some interesting matchups.

Boston/Washington – Boston has gone 4-0-1 in it’s last five games and as a result is starting to play iteself back into playoff contention. They continue that playoff push tonight against a team which is sure to be a bit angry after getting embarassed 8-1 at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. Boston is the favourite and I expect them to win.

Atlanta/Carolina – This is a pick-em game solely because Carolina is playing on the road in back to back nights. But this game is also far more important for Atlanta than Carolina and as a result Atlanta will probably come out hard so it could in fact be anybody’s game. But Carolina has been awesome recently winning 11 of their last 12 games and I think they will take this one too.

Toronto/Buffalo – I am a bit surprised that this is listed as a pick-em game because Buffalo has been the much better team this year. With that said I am confident that Toronto is going to play better tonight than they have in most of their past 6 games. Problem is, Buffalo is one of those teams that the Leafs never seem to be able to play well against and with Lindros, Tucker and McCabe still out of the lineup it is going to be tough for Toronto to win this game.

Ottawa/Montreal – Ray Emery has started 12 games for the Senators this season with 4 of those 12 starts coming against the Montreal Canadiens. He won’t start tonight though. It appears that the Senators coaching staff has lost some confidence in Emery after back to back bad outings against Atlanta and Montreal on January 2nd and 7th as Dominik Hasek will get his 8th straight start. Montreal is coming off a surprise win in Philadelphia last night but with just 15 shots on goal it wasn’t like it was a well earned win. Ottawa should win this game easily.

Detroit/Vancouver – After back to back losses against the lowly Blues and Blue Jackets the Canucks hope a change in colour can change their fortunes as they look to get back on track against the Red Wings. Currently the Canucks still sit comfortable in a playoff spot but a few more losses and things won’t look so comfortable. I am afraid tonight could be another loss for the Canucks.

Minnesota/Nashville – This is another surprising ‘pick-em’ game but after getting questioned as to why Carolina was only a Good favourite over Florida last night and seeing that game go to a shootout I am realizing that my prediction algorithm might actually know something. But Nashville is the better team and I expect them to win. That is unless they rest Vokoun after back to back wins in Detroit. In that case, all bets are off.

Colorado/Dallas – This is the final pick-em game of the night and features two pretty good teams facing each other. Dallas has better defense and goaltending and thus is the more consistant team but when Colorado’s offense is going they can be dominant too. I am going to pick the home team Avalanche to win this game.

San Jose/Anaheim – Both of these teams are trying desperately to get back into the playoff hunt. Anaheim hurt both teams chances last night by blowing a lead to one of the teams they hope to catch – the Oilers. Both teams sit 6 points back of of the Oilers but the Sharks have 4 games in hand so a win tonight will put them in a good spot. And I think the Sharks should do just that. Sharks win 5-2.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Washington Boston Good
NY Islanders Pittsburgh NY Islanders Good
Atlanta Carolina Pick N/A
Toronto Buffalo Pick N/A
Ottawa Montreal Ottawa Good
Tampa Bay New Jersey Tampa Bay Some
Detroit Vancouver Detroit Good
St. Louis Phoenix Phoenix Good
Minnesota Nashville Pick N/A
Chicago Calgary Calgary Good
Colorado Dallas Pick N/A
Los Angeles Edmonton Los Angeles Some
San Jose Anaheim San Jose Good
Jan 252006
 

There was stability at the top and the bottom of the list but elsewhere there was a fair amount of movement in the rankings from last week. Some of the movers included:

Calgary: +2 to 5th
Nashville: +3 to 6th
NY Rangers: +2 to 13th
Phoenix: +2 to 14th

Colorado: -3 to 9th
Toronto: -3 to 15th
Montreal: -4 to 18th
NY Islanders: -4 to 23rd

Rank Last Week Team Win-Loss Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 33-14 15.0
2 2 Carolina 33-15 14.4
3 3 Dallas 31-17 13.7
4 4 Detroit 32-17 12.8
5 7 Calgary 29-20 12.5
6 9 Nashville 31-18 12.5
7 5 Buffalo 30-18 12.4
8 8 Los Angeles 30-22 12.0
9 6 Colorado 28-22 11.9
10 10 Philadelphia 30-19 11.6
11 11 Vancouver 28-22 11.4
12 13 Edmonton 25-24 10.7
13 15 NY Rangers 28-22 10.6
14 16 Phoenix 25-25 10.4
15 12 Toronto 24-24 10.4
16 17 San Jose 23-23 10.2
17 18 Tampa Bay 25-24 9.9
18 14 Montreal 22-24 9.9
19 21 Minnesota 23-26 9.6
20 20 New Jersey 25-25 9.5
21 23 Anaheim 21-26 9.0
22 22 Atlanta 23-27 8.7
23 19 NY Islanders 20-28 8.6
24 24 Boston 20-29 8.0
25 26 Washington 17-30 7.2
26 25 Florida 19-31 6.9
27 27 Columbus 18-32 6.7
28 28 Chicago 16-33 5.9
29 29 Pittsburgh 11-38 4.0
30 30 St. Louis 11-36 3.7
Jan 252006
 

I am a little later than usual with these picks but better late than never. We have 5 games on schedule tonight but only one of significant importantance on playoff race. That game is the Anaheim/Edmonton game. Edmonton currently sits in 8th spot in the western conference with 56 points while Anaheim is in 10th with 52 points. Edmonton needs to win games like this if they are going to keep their hold on that final playoff spot as Anaheim and San Jose are really starting to threaten to take it from them. I am not sure Edmonton has the goaltending though so I’ll take Anaheim to win 4-3.

In the other pick-em game we have the battle of the rookies, Washington at Pittsburgh. Aside from the rookies though there isn’t much to get excited about. I’ll predict a Washington 4-2 win. I don’t see any upsets happening in any of the other games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Montreal Philadelphia Good
Florida Carolina Carolina Good
Pittsburgh Washington Pick N/A
Dallas St. Louis Dallas Strong
Anaheim Edmonton Pick N/A