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.

Comments (8)

  1. I took the Sharks at -130 to win the series before the game yesterday. Even down 2-1, the betting public wouldn’t make them an underdog.

  2. RE: The team losing game six usually winning game seven.

    I’m guessing here but I’d bet that the team losing game six is usually the home team (and therefore also usually the better team) for game seven. 30.8% is still pretty surprisingly low though.

  3. My college roommate and I once almost came to blows over whether Game 3 or 4 was better to win, but we were too lazy to ever check. Thanks!

  4. Well, let’s not forget, that team is already down 3-2. Maybe it’s akin to the Game Three effect: coming out at home, beating a team that has the advantage on them, and then being unable to carry it through to Game 7.

  5. Or it’s the team up 3-2 getting a wakeup call and taking the mulligan on their failure to evict the other guys.

  6. I’ve been thinking that Doogie/Scott are on to something here too; I’m also thinking that there really haven’t been that many seven game series since the lockout and we should probably wonder about sample size here.

  7. Good point Jonathan. Given the math you’ve got up there I assume we’re talking about 13 series total which really isn’t much at all. That’s probably the biggest factor.

  8. Hard to believe any of this as you state: “…the team that loses Game Six wins the series 69.2% of the time.” You seemed to have missed the fact that all teams that lose game six are out!
    Is this really data from every series since the lockout?

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