1. 4.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Playoff (Series) Winning Percentages And What They Mean

One of the most difficult things to do is predict Wins in the Playoffs. Or so it seems. What kind of effort it takes on average to win series is not as simple as saying “…It takes 16 to lift The Cup….” Just look at the first round of this season’s Playoffs with three, four-game series when the average is one, and three, seven-game series in the second round when the average is just a bit under one (1). Bedlam, I say! Mayhem, even!

So just how have the Playoffs looked since the Lockout? (We can do the math for all series up through and including the second round of this post-season because we know there are three match-ups left which all go to a Game 7.)

The average winning percentage for teams who conquer a series is 71.25% (228 Wins out of 320 games played). Translated into the ‘W,’ this means on average the team winning a Playoff series is the victor a bit less than three-out-of-every-four games. It is noteworthy to point out that, based on that same average winning percentage, it also takes 5.61 games to take a series.

Prior to this post-season, however, the average winning percentage was 72.29%, it took 83 total games for series winners to decide matchups each season, and the average number of games to win a series was 5.53.

What has caused change to the overall averages?

Despite having two more rounds to go before we declare a Stanley Cup winner, we have already tied or surpassed the number of losses teams have suffered prior to winning their series. In layman’s terms, there are more Playoff games being played. The average number of first round games played is 45. This season saw just 44, due in large measure to the three series that only stretched to four games each. Second round series averaged 20.67 games leading up to this year, but we will have seen 27 games by the end of the night on May 15th. In 2009, and due in large measure to a total of five, 7-Game series played so far, the average winning percentage has only been 67.6%, with a required minimum of 5.91 games to clinch a series.

What does this tell us?

Overall it is a key indicator of the parity so sought after and now more prevalent in the League than in any year since the Lockout. That means the experiment has been successful. But it also means:

1. More games for fans to watch
2. More excitement and its spinoff, trash talk, so more media is in play/use
3. More television/cable/satellite viewers than in previous seasons
4. More new fans brought to The Great Game!
5. More revenue from advertising and Hockey product sales
6. And as a bottom line, a much healthier NHL.

I am right here, rooting for that young fan having the 1980 moment I had – the point where he or she discovers the game of Hockey, and hopefully in a developing market area. This, after all, is how we evolve into a sport that surpasses American football, basketball and MLB.

We want more! Play on, NHL, play on!

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