Wednesday night’s overtime loss should be considered a small setback in the Wild’s postseason journey, according to "The Department of Hockey Analytics."
The think tank’s advanced statistical analysis revealed the Wild will not only rally to win its first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, the franchise will also win its first Stanley Cup.
Each year Sports Illustrated teams up with a professor of economics, a former lawyer/player agent, and a lawyer/high-stakes poker player – together known as The Department of Hockey Analytics – to calculate playoff predictions.
This year’s results determine the Wild will be Stanley Cup champions after defeating Washington in the finals.
The analytics produced this outcome by vetting dozens of regular-season variables and examining every playoff series since 2008. They also take these stats into account:
1. Total Points on the season
2. Points over the last 25 games
3. Penalty Kill Percentage
4. High Danger Scoring Chance Differential (HDSCD, from naturalstattrick.com)
5. ESVA Corsi (from puckon.net)
6. DOHA Luck Score (a measure we developed that takes a team’s win percentage in one goal games and shootouts, and subtracts the average of its win percentages in games decided by two goals and three or more goals; a higher DOHA Luck Score suggests unsustainably lucky results)
All of the predictions below are based on our model, not gut feelings or new information that we can’t quantify.
Now that you know the methodology, here are Sports Illustrated/The Department of Hockey Analytics' predictions:
First-round Wild (106 points) vs. Blues (99 points)
Prediction: Wild (71.7%)
There are a whole bunch of interesting storylines that will get bandied about in this series. … But there’s another storyline that won’t get mentioned in many circles and that’s the fact that toward the end of last season the Wild hired A.C. Thomas and Alexandra Mandrycky, who co-founded the now defunct war-on-ice. Many (including us) would count these two as among the smartest people in hockey, and while we have no inside knowledge of what actually goes on in the Minnesota front office, it appears they are making an impact.
You may wonder why a team that has embraced analytics sits 20th in the league in shot attempt percentage (a mere 49.4%), but when you look at ESVA Corsi, the Wild improve significantly to 51.6% (ninth) vs. the Blues’ 50.6% (14th). More interesting, the team that hired the people who began tracking high danger scoring chances led the league in HDSCD with a monstrous +188. The Blues managed to tread water in this regard (+1). … Minnesota’s terrific season also was accomplished with a .475 record in one-goal games. When games are decided by three or more goals they boast a league-best record of .818. St. Louis does enjoy a +1.9% advantage on the penalty kill and earned 10 more points in their final 25 games, which suggests the midseason transition to Yeo helped. But by nearly every measure the Wild are fast, skilled, dangerous, deep, and likely to win this series.
And the Stanley Cup goes to…
If you didn’t get the strong hint before, we think the Wild have put together a tremendous season and are the standout team in the Western Conference. The only things that make us nervous about the 29.6% chance our model gives them of making it to the Final and the 19.2% chance it says they will be the star attractions of a victory parade in June are: (i) they stumbled down the stretch; (ii) they’re facing a very good coach in the first round (coincidentally one they fired last year) whose team rebounded immediately after he assumed the job; and (iii) those are unusually high odds in a league with so much parity. Nevertheless, we checked the numbers multiple times, so we’re sticking with that prediction. … Minnesota wins.
Read the full details on why the Wild will win its first Stanley Cup here.