Projecting Stanley Cup play-in round

By Steve Makinen  (Point Spread Weekly editor) 

May 30, 2020 07:37 PM
Will underdogs have their day in the NHL play-in?
© Imagn

With the NHL taking a significant step toward returning to the ice to finish its 2019-20 season, let’s take a closer look at the playoff proceedings that were proposed. Playoff hockey is one of the most exciting things we see every year. Being able to take advantage of the odds for each series when they come out will be paramount for bettors.

The league and players have agreed to expand this year’s playoff field to 24 teams, with the top four seeds in each conference receiving byes in the first round and the 16 other teams battling in play-in series. The eight winners would join the eight bye teams to form a traditional 16-team playoff field. This format differs from what we are used to, but it was agreed to because it rewards the regular seasons of the top teams, gives teams that were on the fringe of the playoffs a shot at still having successful campaigns and brings back the season with heightened stakes right out of the gate.

It is still to be determined whether teams will be reseeded after the play-in round or if they will match up in a typical bracket format. Thus, the only matchups we can accurately project right now are those in the first round. These would be best-of-five series, after which all the remaining series would return to their traditional best-of-seven formats. Also, all games would be in hub cities to be determined, although Las Vegas seems to be at the top of the list for potential sites.

Here is a look at each series slated for the play-in round, along with the projections for series wins and exact numbers of games won, formulated from my Power Ratings. I’ve also provided the regular-season results in head-to-head games.

Proposed matchups in play-in round

Eastern Conference 

(Byes: No. 1 Boston, No. 2 Tampa Bay, No. 3 Washington, No. 4 Philadelphia)

No. 5 Pittsburgh vs. No. 12 Montreal

Overall Series Win Percentage: Pittsburgh 70.8%, Montreal 29.2%

Exact series odds

Pittsburgh in three: 23.3%

Pittsburgh in four: 26.9%

Pittsburgh in five: 20.7%

Montreal in three: 5.7%

Montreal in four: 10.5%

Montreal in five: 13.0%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps):

Pittsburgh won series 2-1; road teams were 2-1

2/14/20: PITTSBURGH 4, Montreal 1

1/4/20: Pittsburgh 3, MONTREAL 2

12/10/19: Montreal 4, PITTSBURGH 1

No. 6 Carolina vs. No. 11 New York Rangers

Overall Series Win Percentage: Carolina 54.5%, N.Y. Rangers 45.5%

Exact series odds

Carolina in three: 14.4%

Carolina in four: 20.5%

Carolina in five: 19.6%

N.Y. Rangers in three: 10.8%

N.Y. Rangers in four: 17.0%

N.Y. Rangers in five: 17.8%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps):

N.Y. Rangers won series 4-0; home/road tied 2-2

2/21/20: N.Y. Rangers 5, CAROLINA 2

12/27/19: N.Y. RANGERS 5, Carolina 3

11/27/19: N.Y. RANGERS 3, Carolina 2

11/7/19: N.Y. Rangers 4, Carolina 2

No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida

Overall Series Win Percentage: N.Y. Islanders 46.4%, Florida 53.6%

Exact series odds

N.Y. Islanders in three: 11.1%

N.Y. Islanders in four: 17.3%

N.Y. Islanders in five: 18.0%

Florida in three: 14.0%

Florida in four: 20.2%

Florida in five: 19.4%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps):

N.Y. Islanders won series 3-0; home teams were 2-1

12/12/19: N.Y. Islanders 3, FLORIDA 1

11/9/19: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, Florida 1

10/12/19: N.Y. ISLANDERS 3, Florida 2

No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus

Overall Series Win Percentage: Toronto 63.7%, Columbus 36.3%

Exact series odds

Toronto in three: 18.9%

Toronto in four: 24.2%

Toronto in five: 20.6%

Columbus in three: 7.7%

Columbus in four: 13.3%

Columbus in five: 15.3%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps): 

Series was tied 1-1; road teams were 2-0

10/21/19: Columbus 4, TORONTO 3

10/4/19: Toronto 4, COLUMBUS 1

Western Conference 

(Byes: No. 1 St. Louis, No. 2 Colorado, No. 3 Vegas, No. 4 Dallas)

No. 5 Edmonton vs. No. 12 Chicago

Overall Series Win Percentage: Edmonton 58.4%, Chicago 41.6%

Exact series odds

Edmonton in three: 16.2%

Edmonton in four: 22.1%

Edmonton in five: 20.1%

Chicago in three: 9.4%

Chicago in four: 15.4%

Chicago in five: 16.8%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps): 

Chicago won series 2-1; home teams were 3-0

3/5/20: CHICAGO 4, Edmonton 3

2/11/20: EDMONTON 5, Chicago 3

10/14/19: CHICAGO 3, Edmonton 1

No. 6 Nashville vs. No. 11 Arizona

Overall Series Win Percentage: Arizona 51.5%, Nashville 48.5%

Exact series odds

Nashville in three: 11.9%

Nashville in four: 18.2%

Nashville in five: 18.4%

Arizona in three: 13.1%

Arizona in four: 19.3%

Arizona in five: 19.0%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps): 

Series was tied 1-1, home teams were 2-0

12/23/19: NASHVILLE 3, Arizona 2

10/17/19: ARIZONA 5, Nashville 2

No. 7 Vancouver vs. No. 10 Minnesota

Overall Series Win Percentage: Vancouver 46.6%, Minnesota 53.4%

Exact series odds

Vancouver in three: 11.2%

Vancouver in four: 17.4%

Vancouver in five: 18.0%

Minnesota in three: 13.9%

Minnesota in four: 20.1%

Minnesota in five: 19.4%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps):

Vancouver won series 2-1; home teams were 2-1

2/19/20: VANCOUVER 4, Minnesota 3

2/6/20: MINNESOTA 4, Vancouver 2

1/12/20: Vancouver 4, MINNESOTA 1

No. 8 Calgary vs. No. 9 Winnipeg

Overall Series Win Percentage: Calgary 55.2%, Winnipeg 44.8%

Exact series odds

Calgary in three: 14.7%

Calgary in four: 20.8%

Calgary in five: 19.7%

Winnipeg in three: 10.5%

Winnipeg in four: 16.7%

Winnipeg in five: 17.6%

Regular-season head-to-head results (HOME TEAM in caps): 

Winnipeg won series 1-0; home teams were 1-0

10/26/19: WINNIPEG 2, Calgary 1

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