Skip to main content Blog: Ducks no sure thing for playoffs and alternative points systems

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The Hockey News

Monday’s news that Teemu Selanne – he of 48 goals and 94 points last season – was returning to the lineup automatically vaults an already impressive Ducks squad into contention to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

Or does it?

In order to be crowned king, you first need to make it to the dance. And according to a computer simulation program used at the University of Alberta School of Business, Anaheim holds only a 56 percent chance of getting into the playoffs.

The program, using current winning percentages (as of Jan. 30), simulates the league’s remaining games by virtually flipping a percentage-weighted coin 500 times for each contest.

“Right now many teams have about a 50-50 chance to win each game because there’s so much parity in the league,” said professor Armann Ingolfsson, who is using the program to teach management science, in a press release. “However, if, for example, Detroit is playing the Oilers or the Kings, then the odds the computer uses are not 50-50, but more like 70-30. The advantage of using the computer is that an entire season can be calculated very quickly.”

Here, according to the program’s calculations, are each team’s chances of making the playoffs.

Western Conference

Detroit 100%

San Jose 99%

Minnesota 90%

Calgary 76%

Dallas 74%

Phoenix 66%

Colorado 65%

Anaheim 56%

Vancouver 56%

St Louis 44%

Nashville 33%

Columbus 32%

Chicago 13%

Edmonton 1%

Los Angeles 0%

Eastern Conference

Ottawa 100%

Philadelphia 99%

Pittsburgh 97%

Montreal 95%

New Jersey 94%

Boston 85%

Carolina 54%

NY Islanders 49%

Washington 35%

NY Rangers 34%

Buffalo 22%

Florida 17%

Atlanta 13%

Tampa Bay 9%

Toronto 2%

As much as I love computers – I make my living off them, after all – I’d be more than happy to take an even-money bet on the Ducks making the Final 16.

Don’t be surprised if the NHL investigates this technology as an alternative to actually playing the games in order to cut down on travel costs.


After last week’s blog on my disdain for the “loser point,” a number of you asked how the standings would look under some different scenarios (other than the two-point win, no-point loss system I prefer).

So, here you go. A huge thanks to statistician Nic Chabot from Fantasy Sports Services for providing the sorts.

Although many of you prefer a system with ties or where the shootout is meaningless, I didn’t include those scenarios as, like it or not, the post-OT skills competition is here to stay.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


For those of you in need of a “why the puck isn’t it Friday yet?” laugh, here’s a hockey-related golden oldie a friend sent on by yesterday…

Edward Fraser is the editor of His blog appears Thursdays.

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