May 092012
 

With just one series remaining to be won in the second round there have been 11 playoff series won so far in these playoffs so I decided to take a look at which teams won those playoff series and the results seem to be quite telling.

The team that had the better regular season goals against average has won 7 of the 11 playoff series and lost 4 of them.

The team that had the better regular season save percentage has won 6 series and lost 3 while two series featured teams with nearly identical save percentages (PHI-PIT, LA-VAN).

Most remarkably, the team that had scored the most regular season goals has just one series win in the playoffs.  That one win was New Jersey over Florida.

Here is a table summarizing the results.

Series Most Goals Won Best GAA Won Best Sv% Won
NYR-OTT No Yes Yes
PHI-PIT No No Tied in Sv%
BOS-WSH No No No
NJ-FLA Yes Yes No
VAN-LA No Yes Tied in Sv%
PHX-CHI No Yes Yes
NSH-DET No No Yes
SJ-STL No Yes Yes
PHX-NSH No Yes Yes
LA-STL No No No
NJ-PHI No Yes Yes
NYR-WSH NYR NYR NYR
Record 1-10 7-4 6-3

If the Rangers defeat the Capitals they will become just the second team who scored more regular season goals to win a playoff round but they only scored 4 more goals than the Capitals and they held significant leads in GAA and save percentage.

Other observations:

  • 5 of the top 6 teams in regular season save percentage made it to the second round.  Only Vancouver did not, but they lost to a team in the top six.
  • None of the bottom 7 teams in save percentage made it to the second round and only one of the bottom nine did – Philadelphia who defeated a team with an equally bad save percentage in Pittsburgh.
  • Four of the top 5 teams in goals against average made it to the second round (Vancouver did not) and two are already in the conference finals and the Rangers could make it three.
  • None of the bottom 9 teams in GAA made the second round and if the Capitals go on to lose to the Rangers, none of the bottom 21 teams will make it to the conference finals
  • Of the top 10 teams in regular season goals scored, only Philadelphia and Nashville made it to the second round, and both defeated top 10 goal scoring teams in the first round to do so.
  • None of the top 10 regular season offensive teams have made it to the conference finals.

It is really quite remarkable that only 2 of the top 10 offensive teams made it to the second round and none to the conference finals while six of the top 10 defensive teams made it to the second round and possibly (if Rangers win) 4 of the top 9 defensive teams will make it to the conference finals.  Defense is clearly winning these playoffs.  After a few seasons of offense dominating post lockout the league has once again transitioned back to a defense-first league.

The western conference finals sees the Kings face the Coyotes.  The Coyotes had a marginally higher regular season save percentage (92.5% to 92.4%), while the Kings had a better goals against average (2.03 to 2.32) so defensively the edge probably goes to the Kings.  The Coyotes scored more goals than the Kings (210 to 188) which so far these playoffs is a negative so I guess that suggest the Kings are the favourites in the second round.

If the eastern conference finals is between the Rangers and Devils, the Rangers scored more regular season goals (222 to 216), had the higher regular season save percentage (92.0% to 90.7%) and had the better goals against average (2.18 to 2.45).  Rangers would have to be the favourites.

If Washington comes back to defeat the Rangers, the Capitals marginally out scored the Devils (218 to 216), had a marginally higher save percentage (90.9% to 90.7%) but had a worse goals against average (2.45 for NJ to 2.72 for Washington).  The Devils should probably be considered the favourites over Washington.