With all but one of the second round matchups fixed, here’s who fans of the teams playing Game 7s tonight should be cheering for, based on our playoff predictor model:
|Fans of||Should Cheer For||Odds to win 2nd round|
The conclusions here are pretty obvious: the model views Boston and the Rangers as the stronger team neutral ice team in each matchup. That being said, the model likes the Caps as very slight favourites tonight, putting them at 51.5% favourites to advance. Boston remains heavy favourites against the Leafs by the model, with a 69.3% chance of moving on, but as always this prediction comes with the caution that the Leafs have been giving the finger to the math all year.
Looking at the series that have already finished, the model was correct on 4/6 so far, missing only the Sens and Sharks series. Should the Bruins and Rangers close out their series tonight, the model would have been correct on the 5 “most confident” predictions it made. While this comes with a small sample size warning, it remains a decent sign nonetheless.
|Top Seed||Bottom Seed||Top Seed Initial Odds||Winner|
|Vancouver||San Jose||55.46%||San Jose|
|St. Louis||Los Angeles||41.46%||Los Angeles|
Ottawa pulled off the biggest upset of the playoffs to date, defeating Montreal in 5 games, which the model put at roughly a 14.18% chance of occurring. Similarly, the model viewed a San Jose sweep as only a 7.09% possibility, although the Canucks odds likely would have been lower if the model had known of Vancouver’s goaltending woes in advance.
Lastly, here are the odds for the 3 second round series that have been set already:
|Top Seed||Bottom Seed||Top Seed Odds|
|Los Angeles||San Jose||61.90%|
The Kings are actually in better shape than in round 1, drawing a relatively weaker opponent in San Jose. However, as I mentioned in my original predictions, the Sharks aren’t the same team that played the rest of the year, and their first round victory sweep over the Canucks may indicate that their chances are better than the model is giving them.
The Sens and Pens could also be hard teams to read, with both teams missing key players for significant portions of the season. Nevertheless, the Pens are still favourites, although by a slimmer margin than in the first round.
Finally, the Blackhawks are unsurprisingly favoured in their series against the Wings, and are predicted to be 2:1 favourites to advance past the second round. Chicago remains the overall favourites, with the model viewing their path being slightly easier with the Canucks out of the way. I’ll repost full odds for each of the remaining teams tomorrow, after all the first round games have concluded.