By Rob Ficiur
The Ottawa Senators qualified for the NHL playoffs on the last day of the regular season. Could 2015 be the first time in 88 years that Ottawa wins a Stanley Cup? Only Victoria (1925), Vancouver (1915) and Seattle (1917) have gone longer without a Stanley Cup than Ottawa.
The following statistics from the last 25 years will predict with mathematical certainty who win the championship in June. (The statistics used in this article are based on the playoffs from 1989-2014). To keep the statistics accurate as possible, numbers from the lockout shortened 1995 and 2014 seasons were not included in the total points, goals for and goals against ranking. (Many of these numbers are therefore based on 23 full seasons of statistics).
This is the seventh year I have used the statistical data to predict the Stanley Cup winner.(These mathematical calculations have never predicted the champ, but we will try it again.) (I was never good at predicting by logic or emotion when I tried it that way either).
1. a) Total Points: The team that finished first overall in league standings has won seven Stanley Cups in the last 23 years. First overall has won more Stanley Cups than any spot in overall standings (Mode). Mode: 1st overall is the New York Rangers (1 vote for them.)
b) Adding up the 23 years, the average (mean) overall ranking is 4.04; meaning the fourth place overall team has the best chance of winning the Cup. This year team that finished fourth overall is the New York Islanders, one vote for them.
c) The average number of points of the Stanley Cup champion is 105. The team with the most points to win it all was the 1989 Flames with 117 points. The lowest team to win was the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins with 87 points. This year no team finished with 105 points, but the closest is the Nashville Predators with 104; one vote for Chicago.
d) The mode (most common number) for Stanley Cup champs is 112 and 103 points. Three champs having earned that 112 and three have earned 103 and won the Stanley Cup. This year no team had 112 or 103 points. The closest ones were the New York Rangers 113; Nashville Predators 104 and Chicago Black Hawks 102. One vote for each of these teams. .
2. Goals Against. We have been brainwashed to believe that defence wins championships. That may not be so.
a) The average ranking of the Stanley Cup champs in goals against average is 7.0. The team with the seventh best goals against average this year is the Los Angeles Kings one vote for them too bad they missed the playoffs.
b) The 3rd best defensive teams have also won four Stanley Cups. This is the mode (most commonly occurring number). That means that the New York Rangers get one more vote.
3. Goals For. In 2012 and 2014 the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup with the 29th and 25th best offense in the NHL. Those two championship teams were the lowest offensive ranked teams to win the Cup in the last 25 years. In 2014 the Kings improved to 18th in NHL offense and missed the playoffs.
a) The average Stanley Cup champion ranked 6.1 in goals for during the regular season. So which team ranks sixth this year in goal scoring is the Washington Capitals; one vote for them.
b) The mode in team offense is 2nd overall. Six teams that finished second in overall goals claimed the championship. One vote for the Dallas Stars. There is a problem with this vote – as the Dallas Stars did not make the playoffs.
New York Rangers 3; Chicago 2; Nashville Predators 2 Washington Capitals 1 New York Islanders 1 (and the non-playoff team in Dallas and LA got 1).
Tie Breaker Round (using only the five playoff teams from the previous list).
4. How did the team do the previous playoffs?
Of the last 25 Stanley Cup winners – ten of them won zero playoff rounds the year before. Of these ten teams who went from winning zero playoff rounds to champs three missed the playoffs and seven lost in the first round of the previous season. Of our five finalists, Nashville, Washington and the New York Islanders all missed the playoffs last year. One point will be added to each of those four teams.
The New York Rangers and Nashville Predators both have three points – so they will meet in the Stanley Cup final
The Winner Will Be: In 2014 the Rangers lost in the final; while the Predators missed the playoffs. The last team to win the Stanley Cup after missing the playoffs the year before was the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. The last team to win the Stanley Cup after losing in the final the year before was the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins. Since it was more recent to go to the final and win the next year, history tells us that the New York Rangers (who get the vote here) will win the 2015 Stanley Cup.