I’ve gone back over every NHL playoff series since the NHL lockout and calculated the odds of teams winning the series in certain situations; i.e. if they won game three or if they have a 3-2 series lead. First, the odds based on winning a particular game:
- Game One: 71.7%
- Game Two: 75.0%
- Game Three: 60.0%
- Game Four (All): 71.7%
- Game Four (Non-Elimination): 67.3%
- Game Five (All): 72.5%
- Game Five (Non-Elimination): 56.3%
- Game Six (All): 71.9%
- Game Six (Non-Elimination): 30.8%
Some interesting items on that chart. There’s a lot of similarity in the winning percentages of all the games except for game three; at a guess I’d suggest we’re seeing the home-ice effect at work there, where the lower seed wins their first game at home despite being overmatched. I’m kicking myself now for not also recording home/road situations here; I may go back over that later.
Perhaps the most interesting item here from my view is that in seven-game series, the team that loses Game Six wins the series 69.2% of the time. I’m at a loss as to the reason for that, but I think that casts some serious doubt on the “momentum” factor being of any value whatsoever.
The second part of this post is odds based on a series lead:
- Lead 1-0: 71.7%
- Lead 2-0: 86.5%
- Lead 3-0: 100%
- Lead 2-1: 65.0%
- Lead 3-1: 92.3%
- Lead 3-2: 87.9%
Turns out the worst lead in playoff hockey is a 2-1 series lead, but I suspect that this chart breaks down the way most would expect; personally, I didn’t see any real surprises there.