Computer Picks: 01/03/2010—Restarting

Updated: March 1, 2010 at 1:53 pm by Jeff Tay

A two-week span can represent an exorbitant amount of time in an NHL season (6-8 games), and for a lot of players, that amount of time away from competition represents ample occasion to build up a heavy layer of rust. For the most part, we can also forget about much of the positive or negative momentum that individual teams were riding going into the break, because a lot of that may too have been erased by the halt in the season. So, what then is to be expected over the course of the next few days, as the NHL resumes its regular schedule?

If history is any indication, then plenty of goals might be the trend to look for. Almost four years ago to the day, NHL players returned to work from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, and out of the 13 NHL games that were played in the first two days back from that break, 9 of them actually featured 6 goals or more. Furthermore, after a full week of resumed play had occurred in 2006, a solid 58.3% of all of the NHL games that took place after the Olympic break had featured at least 6 goals (28 out of 48 games), with many of those games even featuring 8 goals or more. Perhaps, the Olympic break is simply one of the most effective ways to get teams to forget about (or how to play) solid defensive hockey (much like the summer break is).

Speaking of forgetting, many of our memories of this Computer Picks section (including my own) may also now seem distant and hazy. Thankfully, I was reminded over the break of what this section was truly about. Quite simply, as a ‘crystal ball’ meant to see into the future of the NHL schedule, this system was hit-and-miss, hot-and-cold, and therefore, both loved and hated. However, the true value of this system may have really been in its service as yet another method of breaking down games—a method that was both objective and mathematical. It is my personal opinion that additional resources are almost always a good thing to have (the more the better), and that unique perspectives, such as, for instance, those that are offered here, can also become very useful decision-making tools.

Thus, if any of that is of interest to you, then I believe that you have come to exactly the right place (this section).

As for the system itself, it has also undergone a little bit of reconstruction in order to better fit its purpose as a “decision-making tool”. The new ‘Pace Diagrams’ to the right of the projected scores now offer visual representations of individual teams’ offensive and defensive forms. For instance, in this Monday’s lone NHL game, Detroit is predicted to most likely score either 3 goals total or just 1 goal total (represented by the red boxes labeled 29% and 28% respectively). Meanwhile, Colorado is projected to either score 2 goals or 5 goals, and to hold Detroit to just 1 goal 44% of the time. There are probably many different ways to interpret all of this information in conjunction with the predicted final score on the left, and so, I won’t define how this information should all be used, but I will briefly mention what I might be looking for when going through all of this:

In this case, the system says “BET Colorado” (in green) at -130 (1.77), and that Detroit’s most likely projected paces are 3-3, 3-1, and 1-3 (a tie, a win, and a loss). Meanwhile, Colorado’s projected paces are 2-1, 2-2, and 5-1 (a win, a tie, and a win). From what I see from these numbers, it’s a decent advantage to Colorado, and a lean towards the Under 5.5.

Of course, all of these predictions have been based on the play of these two teams going into the break, and how they will play coming out of the break could probably be completely different. My play of the day for this Monday is actually to sit out, and see to what extent the break has affected these two teams. Tuesday might actually be a better day to jump back in.