Special Edition Power Rankings and Their First Round Predictions

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On Monday, the Official Puck Propaganda Power Rankings were updated for the final time using solely regular season data models. However, being a special post-regular season/pre-playoffs edition of the Power Rankings, we can now extrapolate the expected first round playoff series winners, assuming everything were to stay the same during the opening round. As such, for this week’s edition we decided to make a small adjustment to the formula when including injuries and only include said injuries when the player is fully expected to miss the majority of the first round.

Looking at the Power Rankings now you can see that the inclusion of a few players that may miss a game or two (such as Sidney Crosby, Dave Bolland, and Cory Schneider) results in them placing a little higher up than they would have during the regular season when these injuries would have been included. However, all indications are that many of these players will suit up early in the opening round, so they’re being counted on to be available and produce. Therefore, going forward on this information, here are your first round playoff series predictions based on where the teams lie in the Power Rankings.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins (#1) defeat New York Islanders (#16)
Ottawa Senators (#9) defeat Montreal Canadiens (#10)
Washington Capitals (#7) defeat New York Rangers (#13)
Boston Bruins (#5) defeat Toronto Maple Leafs (#11)

Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks (#2) defeat Minnesota Wild (#17)
Anaheim Ducks (#6) defeat Detroit Red Wings (#15)
Vancouver Canucks (#8) defeat San Jose Sharks (#12)
Los Angeles Kings (#3) defeat St. Louis Blues (#4)

The Power Rankings are projecting that the majority of the top seeds will prevail, with the lone exceptions being the Senators and Kings moving on to round two. Now for a few additional notes.

  • Each team’s ranking can also be used to determine the approximate number of games each series will go.

The Canadiens/Senators and Blues/Kings series’ are between two teams that are ridiculously close in the rankings, so you can expect those to go to 6 or 7 games. On the other hand, the Penguins/Islanders and Blackhawks/Wild series’ are between two very unevenly matched teams and as such those will likely end in 4 or 5 games at most. Finally, none of the others should result in sweeps, but neither should they be expected to go the distance, so peg them in the 5 to 6 games range.

  • The rankings may prove unwieldy if players expected to play do not and/or a team suffers new injuries.

Obviously this should go without saying, but here it is anyway. In some cases it probably won’t matter, for instance, if Crosby were to sit out the series against the Islanders you can still safely assume the Penguins will come out on top, however in series’ expected to be much closer, a major injury to one team could be all that’s needed for the other to pull ahead and win. Using the Kings/Blues series as an example, if Los Angeles were to lose Anze Kopitar for multiple games, it’s then far more likely that St. Louis would win the series.

  • One non-playoff team did finish higher in the final rankings than some playoff teams.

In case you missed it, it was the Columbus Blue Jackets and they deserved it. During the month of April they were quite easily one of the best teams in the NHL. Had they made the playoffs they probably would have still lost in the first round considering who they would have had to play, but if by some chance they would have ended up playing Detroit, Minnesota, or the Islanders at some point, these rankings would have chosen them to win the series.

Finally, as a final note, right now the Power Rankings would predict the Pittsburgh Penguins as Stanley Cup champions. However, once again, that’s assuming everything remains as it is at this point in time. Because that’s unlikely to be the case upon the conclusion of the first round, the rankings will continue to receive updates at the end of each round. Basically every two weeks or so and only for playoff teams from that point on.

That’s it for now. I’ll return later today with my own personal first round predictions, which do differ slightly from the Power Rankings projections, so stay tuned for those. Oh, and enjoy the playoffs! I can’t wait!