2014 Stanley Cup Final: Numbers Predict Who Will Win

Stanley Cup

Tim Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Stanley Cup Final starts this evening featuring an inspired New York Rangers team visiting the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

Together with Dr. Jay Granat, a psychotherapist, I quantified factors related to concepts of sports psychology. Our “quant facts” have successfully predicted the winner of this year’s Super Bowl and the NCAA tournament’s Final Four.  In total, our predictions have been 63.5 percent correct in major championships — while sometimes going against the grain and picking underdogs.

Our research has shown that big-game experience is related with winning the big game. Over the past 34 years, teams that appeared in the Stanley Cup Final over the previous three years have compiled an 85 percent winning percentage in the series. The Kings have the edge in this department, winning the Stanley Cup just two years ago. Edge: Kings.

Across all sports we have studied, the old adage that defense wins championships has proven to be true. Over the past 34 years, the team with the better defense as measured by goals against has captured 59 per cent of the championships. This factor goes to the Kings, with their lower GAA. Edge: Kings.   

Leadership on the ice and between the goalposts has also proven to be important to winning championships. Interestingly, although the Kings have the better defense, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a better save percentage (.920) than Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (.915) during the regular season. Historically, the team with the goalie showing the potential to get “in the zone” has won 61 percent of the finals. Edge: Rangers.

Similarly, the team with the better offensive leader, as measured by points scored during the regular season, has won the Stanley Cup 62 per cent of the time. The offensive leadership factor goes to the Kings and Anze Kopitar (70 points) over the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello (59 points). Edge: Kings.  

Overall, the sports psychology quant facts favor the Kings 3-1 over the Rangers. It will be interesting to see if Lundqvist and the Rangers’ inspired play can overcome the Kings’ big-game experience, defense and offensive leadership.

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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