• Hot Teams and the Cup

    by  • April 5, 2010 • Uncategorized • 6 Comments

    Long, long ago, in the spring of 2006, a time when the Oilers were playoff contenders, James Mirtle wrote a post about hot teams and their chances at the Cup. Mirtle was a big fan of the idea that being hot going into the playoffs mattered; I thought that “hot” teams were frequently “good” teams and that you had to be careful to avoid mixing the two. I wrote two posts on the subject and closed with this:

    Being hot is great but it’s not substitute for being good. If you’re looking at a hot team that doesn’t have the goal differential to back up their hotness, in all likelihood, they aren’t a legitimate Cup contender. For those interested, New Jersey is essentially the poster child for this this year-they have a goal differential of -2 and yet have been pretty hot since January 1. An astounding 14 points on shootout wins and overtime losses is what has them where they are. I haven’t followed them closely enough to say for sure but it’s possible that they’ve been propelled forward by the return of Elias-if they were in a huge hole with their goal differential and fixed that, my thoughts on their chances are much different.

    James thinks that they’re a better candidate than the Oilers for a post-season run; absent a big goal differential run that I’m unaware of, I can’t see it. One of his other picks, the Ducks…that’s a darkhorse that I can get behind.

    If James was a twist the knife guy, he’d point out that Carolina made his hot list. Thanfully he’s not. I always figured that the good media members had some sort of a listserv where they shared this stuff so that they didn’t make each other’s mistakes but it appears not. Would someone mind telling Pierre LeBrun?


    6 Responses to Hot Teams and the Cup

    1. April 5, 2010 at

      I took a look at Stanley Cup winners over the last 28 years. 90% of Cup winners finished in the top 6 of the regular season standings. That’s pretty compelling evidence that quality matters. Only 3 teams have won the Cup without ending the regular season top six, 2 of those 3 exceptions involved Pittsburgh (1992 and 2010). Here’s the link if you want to read more:

    2. April 6, 2010 at

      I pretty much disown anything I wrote more than three years ago…

      Thing is, people love to read this sort of thing. I don’t think I ever put too much stock in it other than to point out which teams had cratered horribly over the second half and were probably bad bets when the games meant a whole lot more.

    3. Hawerchuk
      April 6, 2010 at

      I have this coming out tomorrow – Stanley Cup winners actually had their 2nd half winning percentage crater (.632 to .603).

      Depending on how you split up the sample of teams, you could convince yourself that the 2nd half record is either 25% more important or 25% less important than first half record. But the most valuable record is the full season one.

    4. April 6, 2010 at

      You could also surmise that quality teams, once a playoff spot was in the bag, rested key players and didn’t have the same urgency to win in the 2d half of the season.
      The flip side of that would be teams who go flat-out in the 2d half to qualify, only to get swept in 4.

    5. April 6, 2010 at

      LOL – nice stuff. Way to dig thru the archives and point it out.

    6. Jack
      April 7, 2010 at

      Are you saying that then Sens can’t win?

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