Mar 232006
 

There are several very importang games on the schedule tonight. In the Eastern conference there are 3 games with 5 of the 6 teams participating in a tight battle for the last few playoff spots while the 2 of the 4 western conference games have some importance relating to who will get the last couple playoff spots.

Atlanta-New Jersey – New Jersey currently sits in 7th spot 2 points ahead of 8th place Atlanta and 3 points ahead of 9th place Montreal. A win and the Devils put some separation between themselves and the chase pack once again, a loss and the chase pack could be right on their doorsteps. I like Atlanta in this game though as they are playing pretty good hockey (8-4 in March) while the Devils are not (lost 4 of last 5).

Montreal-Toronto – The 10th place Leafs sit just 3 points behind 9th place Montreal and 4 points out of a playoff spot as they begin a back to back pair of games against the Canadiens. These 2 games are huge games for both teams and if one team could win them both it would be huge. The edge has to go with Toronto as they might be playing their best hockey of the year (5-2-1 in last 8) while Montreal has struggled somewhat (lost 4 of last 5). I like Toronto to win one, maybe both of these games.

Tampa-Washington – The 6th place Lightning sit just 4 points ahead of 9th place Montreal so their playoff spot is anything but secure. They get off easy tonight playing the lowly Capitals but with all the inconsistancies they have to deal with in goal a win is anything but assured. I still like Tampa to win but an upset would not surprise me at all.

Detroit-San Jose – San Jose is 6-0-2 in their last 8 games which has put them in the thick of the playoff race but tonight they play a very tough Red Wings team. Not only is this important for them to win with respect to the playoff race but it might be an indication of whether the Sharks can compete with the elite in the west. It’s going to be tought but I think they have the ability to pull off an upset win.

St. Louis-Calgary – Not a hugely important game though Calgary still has some work to do to lock down the division title.

Phoenix-Chicago – Yawn….

Vancouver-Edmonton – This is the middle game of 3 straight games these two teams are playing against each other. Vancouver pulled out a win in the first game and Edmonton will desperately look to pull out a win this game. I think they will get that win.

I bet on 4 games today at Bowmans:

Atlanta -140
Washington +265 (the odds are just too good to pass up)
Toronto +125
San Jose +175

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Atlanta -131 New Jersey 124 Atlanta Some
Montreal -119 Toronto 116 Montreal Some
Tampa Bay -265 Washington 162 Tampa Bay Strong
Detroit -132 San Jose 124 Detroit Some
St. Louis 132 Calgary -149 Calgary Good
Phoenix -175 Chicago 142 Phoenix Good
Vancouver -123 Edmonton 118 Vancouver Some
Mar 222006
 

There hasn’t been a lot of change in the NHL power rankings from last week as Montreal was the only team to move up or down 3 spots as they dropped from 14th to 17th. Only 2 teams moved 2 spots as well with Florida moving from 25th to 23rd and the NY Islanders doing the reverse dropping to 25th from 23rd. No one else moved more than a single position.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.713 0.485 0.678
2 3 Detroit 0.691 0.487 0.641
3 2 Buffalo 0.657 0.485 0.629
4 5 Dallas 0.588 0.518 0.614
5 4 Calgary 0.581 0.515 0.598
6 6 Colorado 0.565 0.519 0.595
7 8 San Jose 0.552 0.522 0.590
8 7 Carolina 0.632 0.473 0.577
9 10 Nashville 0.594 0.493 0.568
10 9 Anaheim 0.545 0.513 0.556
11 11 Vancouver 0.529 0.511 0.540
12 12 Edmonton 0.500 0.524 0.538
13 13 Los Angeles 0.500 0.519 0.525
14 15 Toronto 0.485 0.508 0.512
15 16 Minnesota 0.471 0.525 0.510
16 17 Philadelphia 0.558 0.467 0.502
17 14 Montreal 0.478 0.503 0.499
18 19 NY Rangers 0.551 0.467 0.495
19 18 Phoenix 0.449 0.528 0.491
20 20 Tampa Bay 0.514 0.478 0.483
21 21 Atlanta 0.486 0.483 0.472
22 22 Boston 0.429 0.511 0.462
23 25 Florida 0.441 0.487 0.436
24 24 New Jersey 0.471 0.472 0.436
25 23 NY Islanders 0.434 0.485 0.426
26 26 Columbus 0.341 0.508 0.348
27 28 Chicago 0.328 0.513 0.342
28 29 Washington 0.321 0.497 0.327
29 27 St. Louis 0.321 0.507 0.326
30 30 Pittsburgh 0.275 0.497 0.284

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 difficulty of schedule
Power Rank is the teams expected winning percentage if team played all .500 teams

Mar 222006
 

I made some minor changes into the output of my game prediction algorithm which hopefully will clear up some of the confusion surrounding the HTOdds column I had. I now have 2 columns listed, Fair HTOdds and Fair RTOdds and these represent what I would consider to be fair odds if you were to bet on one of these teams. For example, the Fair HTOdds for Buffalo is -188 so if I were looking to bet on Buffalo to win I would ideally be looking for odds better than -188. The odds for Buffalo at Bowmans is currently -135 so I would consider this a good risk/reward bet. Conversely, the fair odds for Carolina is +146 while the odds for Carolina at Bowmans is +115. This would not be a good risk/reward bet in my mind because +115 is not better odds than +146. Does this make it any clearer?

One betting strategy, which I think I might try, is to only bet the predicted winner if its odds are close to or better than the calculated fair odds. Otherwise, don’t bet the game at all. Tonight I am betting Buffalo (-135), NY Rangers (-150) and Anaheim (-125). I know Anaheim doesn’t strictly fit that since -125 is worse odds than fair odds of -113 but the odds are fairly close to fair and Anaheim is playing very good right now while Colorado has been pretty inconsistant. That said, Colorado will probably win and I’ll be mad at myself for making the bet.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo -188 Carolina 146 Buffalo Strong
NY Rangers -171 Philadelphia 141 NY Rangers Strong
Florida -164 Washington 139 Florida Good
Dallas -209 Minnesota 152 Dallas Strong
Anaheim -113 Colorado 111 Anaheim Some
Mar 212006
 

With so many teams in the playoff race every night seems to have a bunch of games having very significant playoff implications. Tonight is no different. The biggest might be the NY Islanders vs Montreal but Boston-Atlanta and Toronto-Carolina also have a significance in the eastern conference playoff race, especially if the Islanders beat Montreal. In the west Vancouver and Edmonton play the first game of 3 straight games against each other. Vancouver has an interesting schedule as almost all of their remaining games are against teams they are competing for for the final few playoff spots. Their remaining schedule is: Edmont0n-Edmonton-Edmonton-Los Angeles-Minnesota-Minnesota-Anaheim-Los Angeles-Calgary-Anaheim-San Jose-San Jose-Calgary. To say that their playoff fortunes ( and many others too) are still in their own hands is a very true statement.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence HTOdds
Boston Atlanta Boston Some -118
NY Islanders Montreal NY Islanders Good -142
Philadelphia New Jersey Philadelphia Some -136
Columbus Phoenix Phoenix Some 111
Toronto Carolina Carolina Some -103
Ottawa Pittsburgh Ottawa Strong -290
Detroit Nashville Detroit Strong -195
St. Louis San Jose San Jose Strong 152
Minnesota Calgary Calgary Some 100
Edmonton Vancouver Edmonton Some -122
Mar 202006
 

Although the past couple of days have been a bit mediocre for game predictions, the past week has been quite good overall as I went 33 for 48 or 68%. Here are the updated success rates adjusted from last week to retroactively fix the bug I found which incorrectly assigned confidence levels to some games. These numbers are indicative of what you might expect in the future though I would really like to see the Strong substantially higher and the good a bit higher.

Strong: 33 of 51 – 64.7%
Good: 48 of 77 – 62.3%
Some: 77 of 131 – 58.8%
Overall: 158 of 259 – 61.0%

You may have noticed at the top of the page a special offer from Wager Web. They are offering a free $25 betting account to HockeyAnalysis.com visitors. Simply click the link, click the Join Now graphic at the top-left of the wagerweb.com page and use AF3165 or www.hockeyanalysis.com as the source. This should get you your $25 betting account. It is a great way to get used to making some bets without risking your own money.

Now on to tonights games. With the races so close in both the eastern and western conferences a significant number of the games have significant playoff implications. Tonight is no different. In the eastern conference the 8th place Canadiens look to extend their 1 point lead over Atlanta and 3 point lead over Toronto with a win over the Washington Capitals. Atlanta meanwhile will try to keep pace but are in tough against the high flying Buffalo Sabres who themselves are looking to rebound after a loss to Ottawa and get back into the hunt for first in the division and conference. And Tampa Bay who recently build a 5 point cushion between them and the Montreal Canadiens look to maintain that spread as they take on surging, but still out of the playoffs and little hope of getting back in, Florida Panthers.

In the west there are two important games to watch. The first is Anaheim at Dallas. Anaheim has battled back and is now in the 8th playoff position but a win will allow them to leapfrog Edmonton and possibly Los Angeles or tie Colorado as well. That will depend on the other important western conference game: Colorado at Los Angeles. Colorado mad a big gamble at the trade deadline trading #1 goalie David Aebischer for injured Montrel #1 goalie Jose Theodore. It was a gamble because it left them with two rookies playing goal until Theodore can return, likely in early April. It might be a costly gamble as the playoff chase pack is now hot on their heels and they can ill afford to lose many games or they will find themselves sitting on the outside looking in come playoff time. Tongight begins an important stretch for them as they play Los Angeles, Anaheim, St. Louis, Edmonton and Anaheim again in the next 5 games. That’s a lot of games against teams looking to grab their spot.

There was a request to add a RTOdds (road team odds) column. I plan on doing this and hopefully I’ll get to it in the next day or two.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence HTOdds
NY Rangers Boston NY Rangers Some -127
Washington Montreal Montreal Good 122
Atlanta Buffalo Buffalo Good 112
Florida Tampa Bay Florida Good -150
Nashville St. Louis Nashville Strong -205
Dallas Anaheim Dallas Strong -196
Los Angeles Colorado Los Angeles Good -155
Mar 192006
 

Apparently there was a problem and these didn’t get posted earlier. So here there are minus all the commentary that I wrote which got lost.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence HTOdds
Chicago Phoenix Phoenix Some 112
Tampa Bay NY Islanders Tampa Bay Some -139
Columbus Anaheim Anaheim Good 120
Minnesota Calgary Minnesota Good -143
New Jersey Ottawa New Jersey Some -112
Pittsburgh Toronto Toronto Good 129
San Jose Colorado Colorado Some 117
Vancouver Detroit Vancouver Good -148
Mar 182006
 

We’ve been having a pretty good week for game predictions and it continued last night as my predictions were a perfect 4 for 4. Let’s hope it continues tonight. Before we get to the predictions I have 2 announcements, one related to a small bug I found in my program which incorrectly assigned strong/good/some confidence ratings to some games and the second a new feature added to the prediction table to aid in betting.

1. I found a small bug in my program which incorrectly assigned confidence ratings to some games though the predicted winner was correct. Games in which one team played the previous night and the other did not were far too often asigned the ‘Some’ rating when a significant number of them should have been given good or long. I have fixed this and I also tweaked hor the ratings get assigned to all games by increasing the value required to make a strong confidence rating. With these fixes/changes we will have many more Strong and Good predictions. If I retroactively apply these changes to my past predictions since mid-January my success rates would be:

Strong: 33 of 50 – 66.0%
Good: 45 of 70 – 64.3%
Some: 72 of 121 – 59.5%
Overall: 150 of 241 – 62.2%

2. The other major change I made was to add some betting advice to the game predictions. You will find a new column HTOdds with a bunch of numbers listed below them. The HTOdds can be used as an indicator of what odds you should look for when betting on the home team. My reccomendation is that you only bet on the home team if the odds are better than the numbers listed below, otherwise bet on the road team for the best risk/reward ratio. If the betting odds are pretty close to the HTOdds you might want to consider passing on the game altogether as you aren’t getting a great advantage either way. As an example, let’s look at Ottawa. Ottawa has HTOdds listed as -127 and Bowmans has the odds for Ottawa listed at -210. According to my calculations these odds have Ottawa as far too significant a favourite so I would take Buffalo and their +175 odds. Another example: The Boston/Carolina game has HTOdds for Boston listed as +106 while Bowmans has them listed as +160. In this case, take Boston. My calculations show only a minor risk but the Bowmans odds give a pretty godo reward. If you are unsure what these numbers mean, a positive odds, +150 for example, means you will win $150 profit on a $100 bet while negative odds, -150 means you have to bet $150 to win $100 profit. In Buffalo’s case a $100 bet will net you a win of $175 (above and beyond your initial lay out of $100).

Caution: I have not tested this betting strategy so bet at your own risk and use only as a guideline. Also, sine there isn’t a direct correlation between how I make calculate my picks and how I calculate my odds there will be the odd inconsistency between them where the prediction listed is for one team but the odds indicate the other team is the favourite. This should be pretty rare but take it as an indication that the game is about as close to a pick-em game as there could be.

Ok, so now on to the predictions.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence HTOdds
Boston Carolina Carolina Some 106
San Jose Dallas San Jose Some -112
Montreal Pittsburgh Montreal Strong -228
Ottawa Buffalo Ottawa Some -127
NY Rangers Toronto NY Rangers Some -115
Washington Florida Washington Good -129
Atlanta Philadelphia Atlanta Good -164
Nashville Calgary Calgary Some -110
Edmonton Detroit Detroit Some -102
Los Angeles St. Louis Los Angeles Good -187

Updated Predicted Standings

 NHL  Comments Off
Mar 172006
 

Here are the updated predictions of the final standings which are based on how each team has performed so far and their strength of schedule and the difficulty of their remaining schedule. Changes since last update on March 13 include:

-New Jersey moving back into 6th spot with a 3 point lead over 7th place Montreal
-Montreal holds just a 1 point lead over Tampa while Atlanta has closed the gap on Tampa
-Edmonton moves from 9th to 6th
-Los Angeles falls from 7th to 9th
-Vancouver and San Jose flip positions with San Jose now predicted to finish in 8th spot and Vancouver in 10th.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts Total Pts
1 Carolina 66 96 0.472 16 0.443 24 120
2 Ottawa 65 94 0.487 17 0.503 23 117
3 Buffalo 65 93 0.483 17 0.533 22 115
4 NY Rangers 66 84 0.466 16 0.489 19 103
5 Philadelphia 66 82 0.469 16 0.471 19 101
6 New Jersey 66 76 0.468 16 0.505 17 93
7 Montreal 65 71 0.511 17 0.481 19 90
8 Tampa Bay 66 72 0.480 16 0.468 17 89
9 Atlanta 66 70 0.480 16 0.477 17 87
10 NY Islanders 65 66 0.486 17 0.433 19 85
11 Toronto 65 66 0.511 17 0.489 18 84
12 Florida 65 61 0.491 17 0.450 17 78
13 Boston 67 63 0.510 15 0.517 13 76
14 Washington 65 51 0.493 17 0.493 13 64
15 Pittsburgh 66 44 0.495 16 0.473 11 55

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Detroit 65 95 0.485 17 0.466 25 120
2 Dallas 66 91 0.515 16 0.514 22 113
3 Nashville 66 86 0.492 16 0.474 21 107
4 Calgary 65 82 0.516 17 0.515 21 103
5 Colorado 67 80 0.520 15 0.505 18 98
6 Edmonton 67 78 0.521 15 0.534 17 95
7 Anaheim 64 74 0.518 18 0.537 20 94
8 San Jose 64 73 0.521 18 0.515 20 93
9 Los Angeles 68 77 0.518 14 0.557 14 91
10 Vancouver 67 76 0.516 15 0.558 15 91
11 Minnesota 67 69 0.522 15 0.549 14 83
12 Phoenix 67 64 0.534 15 0.501 15 79
13 Columbus 66 55 0.504 16 0.525 12 67
14 Chicago 65 51 0.511 17 0.502 13 64
15 St. Louis 64 51 0.505 18 0.526 13 64
Mar 172006
 

Just 4 games on the schedule tonight but all having playoff race importance. In the east you have the Islanders playing Florida and Philadelphia playing Tampa. Florida is out of playoff contention but the Islanders are chasing down seriously struggling Tampa for the final playoff spot. With the Islanders playing last night I like Florida’s chances to win and Philly-Tampa, who knows who will win. both have been struggling significantly recently. In the west Vancouver hopes to break out of a slump against Columbus while Anaheim takes on the lowly Blackhawks. I expect Anaheim will beat Chicago but Vancouver will have a bit tougher game against the Blue Jackets. But I think they will pull out a win as well.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Columbus Vancouver Vancouver Good
Tampa Bay Philadelphia Tampa Bay Some
Florida NY Islanders Florida Some
Chicago Anaheim Anaheim Good
Mar 162006
 

After a light NHL schedule last night we have a near full NHL schedule tonight with 10 games set to be played. Here are some thoughts on each game.

Ottawa-Boston – Ottawa and Boston have played 6 games so far this year with Ottawa winning the first 3 games and Boston winning the last 3. But Boston has lost 6 in a row and 11 of 13 so Ottawa, who has been playing pretty good hockey lately, should win this one fairly easily. The only playoff impact is on Ottawa’s battle for first in the conference and division with Carolina and Buffalo.

Buffalo-Toronto – Toronto continues its playoff push against a team which it has always had trouble with. Toronto is 1-3 against Buffalo so far this year and with 4 games left against the Sabres they need to get several points in those games. Problem is, Buffalo might be playing their best hockey of the season having won 7 in a row (thourh mostly against weaker teams) and now being fairly healthy with Briere back in the lineup.

NY Rangers-Washington – Despite the Rangers being strong favourites, I would not be surprised if Washington came away with the win. The Rangers aren’t playing good hockey, have lost 7 in a row and Jagr is fighting some nagging injuries. But they did play a good game (44 shots) in a loss to Carolina on Tuesday so maybe that is a sign they are about to break their slump.

Atlanta-NY Islanders – This game has a hugh impact on the eastern conference playoff race as the Islanders and Thrashers are both within striking distance of the struggling Tampa team and catching either Montreal or New Jersey isn’t completely out of the question either. The problem for the Islanders is they keep losing quality players and I don’t know how long they can keep their good play going. After trading away Parrish, Sopel, Lukowich and Kvasha they have now lost Zhitnik to injury for the rest of the season. That is 3 of their top defensemen gone in the past week. That’s going to be tough to overcome. I like Atlanta in this game.

Montreal-Carolina – Montreal has a tough game against the Hurricanes and Huet will have to be at his best if they want to win. Carolina shifted Doug Weight back to center against the Rangers on Tuesday and it paid immediate dividends as Weight scored 2 goals and added an assist. If Weight starts to contribute the way he can the Hurricanes will be one scary team to play against. I like the Hurricanes to win this game.

New Jersey-Pittsburgh – The Devils have been inconsistant of late and have lost their last 2 games to the Penguins and Islanders by a combined score of 12-3. They get their chance to seek revenge on the Penguins tonight and being at home I think they will do just that. I like the Devils to win this game. Their schedule gets a bit tougher the next couple weeks so a loss could be a costly one and put their playoff position back in play for all the teams chasing the final few spots in the east.

Nashville-Phoenix – This game has very little playoff impact. Phoenix is out of the playoff race and Nashville has no hope of catching the Red Wings for top spot in the Central division. The only playoff significance is for the Predators who hope to hold on to the 4th seed in the west.

Edmonton-Calgary – Here is one of the top rivalries in the league and while Edmonton is in a serious battle for the final few playoff spots in the west, catching Calgary for top spot in the Northwest division isn’t out of the question either as the Oilers trial the Flames by just 5 points. That’s how close things are in the western Conference. I think Calgary is the better team, but the Oilers are playing at home. This game could go either way as is often the case with rivalry games.

Los Angeles-Dallas – This game doesn’t mean too much to Dallas as they are fairly solidly in first spot in the division and second seed in the conference. But it means a ton to the Kings who are in a battle for a playoff spot. They currently sit in 6th spot 3 points ahead of 9th place Anaheim but Anaheim has 3 games in hand and 10th place San Jose is just 6 points back with 4 games in hand. Dallas is clearly the better team but the fact that the Kings are fighting for their playoff lives means that they could pull an upset. I wouldn’t bet on it though. I like Dallas in this game.

San Jose-St. Louis – St. Louis has been playing much better recently but a significant reason for that has been the good play from goaltender Curtis Sanford. Problem is, Sanford injuried his MCL and is out for the rest of the season. San Jose should win this one easily and continue their playoff push.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Ottawa Ottawa Good
Buffalo Toronto Buffalo Good
NY Rangers Washington NY Rangers Strong
Atlanta NY Islanders Atlanta Some
Montreal Carolina Carolina Some
New Jersey Pittsburgh New Jersey Strong
Nashville Phoenix Nashville Some
Edmonton Calgary Calgary Some
Los Angeles Dallas Dallas Some
San Jose St. Louis San Jose Strong