Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wild Playoff Chances


Few things are as academic as projecting playoff chances at mid-season.

But I've sworn off/lambasted pre-season predictions, power rankings and advanced statistics this season....time for me to curry some favor with at least one faction of math nerds.

The Wild is sitting with 48 points in 40 games. Those 48 points are comprised of 21 wins and 6 OT losses.

They are on target for 98 points on the season. Normally, that would be enough to get you into the playoffs. In fact, I got back to the 1997-98 season on (before I got bored and stopped checking) and 98 points would have gotten you into the playoffs in the Western Conference every season.

The next step is to try to quantify how poorly the Wild would have to play in the second half of the season in order to fail to make the playoffs.

The 8th place team in the West the past ten seasons finished with 97, 95, 91, 91, 96, 95, (lockout), 91, 92, 94 and 90 points, respectively. That's an average of 93.2 points. So, let's say 94 (one additional point, to be safe) points is the minimum to feel really safe. (Colorado is currently in 8th place in the west, on pace for 90 points.)

If they go .500 in their remaining 42 games, that's 21 wins and 21 losses (let's assume no loser points - lowest common denominator, right?) Adding 21 wins to their current 21 wins equals 42 wins and adding the 6 OT losses equals 90 points. Uh-oh.

If they go .550 for the rest of the season, that puts them on pace for 94 points (21 wins so far, adding in 23 more, adding in the 6 OTL to date).

That would do it.

So, the difference between .500 and .550 is 2 wins, and it's also the difference between getting into the playoffs and not.

Now, is .550 realistic for this Wild team?

If their recent injury "luck" holds, probably not.

But, if they stay healthy? Absolutely.

Finally, there was that line going around in early December about no team that was #1 overall in early December had failed to make the playoffs that season.

I expect the Wild to make the playoffs this season, and will be disappointed if they don't.

Is 46 more points (in their 42 games) reasonable? Again, I think it is. That means, essentially, that they can go 5-4-1 in each ten game set for the rest of the season and get to 94 points.

Furthermore, I'd say the odds are very strong (say 75%*) that they will.

So there you have it: I'm saying the Wild is 75% likely to make the playoffs as of today.

You gotta problem with that? Let's hear it.

*Stated probability not based on any mathematical formula at all.

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