Calder Cup Conference Finals Possession Preview

Josh W
May 23 2014 08:32AM

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In our last two AHL Calder Cup Possession Analysis we have looked at the first two rounds of the playoffs and tried to make a prediction on who is likely to win. A constant theme that has appeared, which is common knowledge amongst the hockey analytics people - in the playoffs your possession doesn't matter and your PDO is made up!  Being "lucky" is what you need in these short samples.

For Conference Finals analysis, move on past the jump!

Much like our last posts we had been analyzing each round of the AHL Calder Cup by comparing the two team's approximate possession data. In this post we continue to do the same as the AHL slowly reaches the end with the start of the Conference Finals, The idea behind possession is that the team who has the puck more is more likely to score and less likely to be scored against and over the long run end up winning more games.

But, in shorter samples, such as tournaments like the Calder Cup, it is the team who gets the bounces that usually ends up winning. That being said, my research has suggested that betting on teams with higher possession numbers is still much better than a coin flip or random guess.  

So let's take a look at the AHL Conference Finals.

Western Conference: Toronto v. Texas

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Texas v. Grand Rapids

This series went a total of 6 games and I had expected Texas to dominate. The series went longer than it should have. Texas controlled 58.9% of possession with 103.2% of PDO due to 11.1% Sh% and a .921 Sv%.  Texas now has 56.8% of possession on the year.

Toronto v. Chicago

I thought this series was going to be much closer than it was with Chicago winning, but it did not turn out to be this way. Toronto ended up winning in 4 games with 1 shutout. 

Much like against Milwaukee the Marlies were outplayed only controlling 47.5% of possession and yet were able to win due to a 15.7% Sh% and a .941 Sv% (good for a 109.9% PDO). They are now sitting at 48.3% possession on the year

Conference Final

Throughout the year Texas has had a huge advantage over every team including the Marlies but there's something about the system in Toronto (which they’ve adopted from their big club) that allows them to have higher a higher PDO than normal. I fully expect Texas to dominate this series but the only chance Toronto have to win is to continue to to maintain their high PDO they've carried through the first two rounds.

Eastern Conference: St. John's v. W-B/Scranton

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St. John's v. Norfolk

With a +4.5% gap in possession I predicted St. John’s would win and they did in 6 games. They controlled 54.7% of possession bringing them up to 51.7% on the year. St. John’s continued to keep their high sv% but their sh% regressed to the norm. They had a 102.6% PDO due to an 8.9% Sh% and a .936 Sv%

Providence v. W-B/Scranton

This series paired another close pair of teams in possession and I had leaned towards Providence but in the end it was W-B/S who won the series. They dominated possession with 54.9% but the series was dragged out due to their low PDO of 99.5% thanks to a Sv% of .888 and a Sh% of 10.7%.  This puts them at 49.8% on the year in possession.

Conference Final

While over the year St. John’s has been much higher in possession they seem to have been on a decline from a huge initial spike. The guys at Arctic Ice Hockey have pointed towards a long string of call ups and injuries as a factor.  Towards the end of the season W-B/Scranton has been out playing the Ice Caps so this series could be much closer than their possession standings have suggested. I lean towards St. John’s winning this though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the series go 7 games.

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I am a Van Fan in Bytown. Living in Ottawa for work, I research Sports Analytics and Machine Learning at the University of Ottawa. I play hockey as well as a timbit but I compete in rowing with hopes of 2016 Olympic Gold. Follow me on twitter at @joshweissbock and feel free to send any questions or comments my way.
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