Anything Can Happen During The NHL Playoffs

By Carlton Chin
Martin St. Louis
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s NHL playoffs have seen many surprises and interesting storylines. We have seen major upsets as well as inspired play from underdogs. In football, there is the saying, “On any given Sunday”. This is definitely true in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and 2014 is no exception.

So far this year, we saw the teams with the best record in both the Eastern and Western Conferences lose in the second round of the playoffs. In fact, entering the Stanley Cup semifinals, the Montreal Canadiens, with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, is the top remaining seed in the playoffs.

All of the other teams finished the regular season with the fifth or sixth-best record in their conference. Eight teams from each conference make the playoffs. This is the stuff that sports are made of, and why every game must be played out.

The New York Rangers, in particular, have been playing inspired hockey. The passing of Martin St. Louis‘ mother right near Mother’s Day has been linked to the Rangers’ playoff run. At the time of her passing, the Rangers were down three games to one against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers swept the rest of that series and currently lead the Canadiens three games to two in the semifinals.

In the Western Conference finals, we have the Chicago Blackhawks battling the Los Angeles Kings for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks had the fifth-best record in the West while the Kings were sixth-best, so the playoffs have certainly not been going according to form.

Surprises are no surprise to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I took a look at the previous 10 playoff seasons for the NHL. Note that there were no playoffs in 2005 due to the NHL strike. Below are some interesting tidbits by the numbers:

— A No.1 seed has won three Stanley Cups over the past 10 playoff seasons.
— A No. 2 seed has won four Stanley Cups over the past 10 playoff seasons.

This means that a No. 3 or worse seed has won the Stanley Cup in three of the past 10 playoff seasons. This year’s champion will have a record that is at most fourth-best in its conference. The better seed has won seven of the past 10 Stanley Cup Finals. The average seed in the Stanley Cup Finals is 3.7. Relatively low seeds have advanced to the finals. For example, in 2012, the No. 8 seed in the west faced the No. 6 seed in the east.

Carlton Chin is a portfolio manager, quant researcher, and sports analysis contributor at Rant Sports. Please follow him on Twitter @QuantFacts, “Like” him on Facebook, or add him to your Google network.

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