Later today the Los Angeles Kings will be facing off against the New York Rangers. The Los Angeles Kings have been the heavy favourite both throughout the mainstream media and the fancystats blogger community, with talk of the Kings winning in 4 or 5 with ease.
Is this valid?
Let’s look together do some very surface level analysis.
The graph above shows both team’s 5v5 Fenwick-Close since the trade deadline. The underlying numbers do show LA being the better possession team at 54.53%, giving them the upper hand over New York’s 52.26%.
It is not a huge discrepancy though. It is not all said and done with those numbers.
Fenwick is a great future predictor of success, but it is imperfect. In a 7 game series there is a huge chance for bounces to have a major impact. Historically the better team is not always the winner.
5v5 Fenwick doesn’t take into account goaltending, amongst some other factors.
Figure 1. Quick’s and Lundqvist’s 2013-14 regular and post-season results
On average, Lundqvist this season has let in a full goal less against per 100 shots. In a league where the true talent distribution is approximately ranged from 0.900 to 0.925, that could be a huge difference in the grand scheme, with The King having a good chance to steal games from the Kings.
Let’s look further with how the two teams compare in some regular statistics.
Figure 2. Both team’s shot statistics since the trade-deadline
All of a sudden the gap doesn’t seem that large.
For fun, what would happen if both team’s had equal control on both of these statistics. What would it look like?
Figure 2. Shot statistics averaged out between the two (NYR point of view)
Interesting. Maybe, just maybe, New York has a shot in this AND the team’s are not as separate as some may think.
Now, of course a lot of this is very surface level. It is not true that both team’s will have equal pull between the shot metrics. It is also well known that goaltenders are completely voodoo and anything can happen in a short span… but maybe some are overly discounting the New York Rangers?
All in all, LAK are the favourites after a dominate season in possession and then adding a legitimate finisher in Marian Gaborik. However, this could end up a very close and good series.