Computer Picks: 12/02/2010—All Things Considered

Updated: February 12, 2010 at 7:03 am by Jeff Tay

There are probably about three major reasons why you won’t actually find any computer-generated picks in today’s edition of “Computer Picks”, and I apologize for this inconvenience, but these last few days have been extremely hectic for me (relatives visiting from overseas, new projects in the works, rethinking and restructuring of this current system, and much much more…). Furthermore, the chaotic nature of the past 24 hours for me has been a contributing factor to not having any picks available here, but it is actually not one of my aforementioned “three major reasons”.

My first major reason is actually because I may have realized one of the current system’s biggest flaws, in that it doesn’t take into consideration much of the context of the past games that it draws statistics from. For instance, since Vancouver will be playing in a back-to-back situation on the road this Friday, the system would have drawn stats from all of the individual back-to-back road situations that the Canucks have been in so far this season. However, what would have been missing was any measure of how these opponents were actually playing at the time that the Canucks happened to visit. As such, the Canucks last back-to-back road game would have only been counted as a 5-1 win over Calgary, without any consideration that Calgary was already starting to struggle at the time, and that this 5-1 win should not have counted the same as, for instance, if a similar 5-1 win had occurred at the beginning of the season when Calgary was playing much better. This is obviously a somewhat complex issue to resolve, but I also believe that it is a very important element that should not be overlooked. Beating a team when they are doing well and beating that same team when they are struggling are two very different events, and should be treated that way, and this issue will certainly be at the top of my ‘to-fix’ list for the upcoming Olympic break. Meanwhile though, I think that it would actually be better to resolve this issue before publishing any more picks.

As if this first reason wasn’t enough to dissuade me from publishing any picks today though, a second major reason also came up while I was trying to work out some of the other tweaks that I was planning on making during the break. To give a little behind-the-scenes insight, the current version of the Computer Picks system actually isn’t even close to being fully automated, and I actually do spend time, on a daily basis, copying and pasting relevant data from one table of stats into another place where the calculations are done. Hence, all those back-to-back situations that I mentioned above, for example, would have been manually found by me by looking through a table of data (instead of by an automated search method), and then copied and pasted via mouse-clicks and ctrl+c/ctrl+v on my keyboard, and this process would have been repeated for 8 different categories per team (16 categories per game x 7 games for Friday). However, I actually would have been perfectly fine with doing this again today had I not just figured out this evening (right before going out to dinner) how to completely automate this process via a web application. Now that I know that I no longer have to carry out this tedious process myself though, I find it really difficult to bring myself to do it manually for even one more day (human nature or just laziness?). As for the web application though, I don’t have that completely up and running yet either, and so, a day’s worth of Computer Picks today were also lost between me discovering how to automate a tedious step in the process and me not being able to get that automation up and running in time. Once I get that all sorted out though, I will probably have a lot more time to actually think about what I’m writing in these articles—so, potentially better write-ups with less glaring oversights, I hope.

Finally, major reason number 3 was simple: I went out and didn’t get home until late into the night—far too late to have any energy left to look at picks. It’s up to the Comments Section again tonight to deliver the goods. With the limited energy and focus that I do have left, I will only be able to type the following:

Andrew Raycroft is getting the start tonight, so I will be taking Columbus -105. There’s actually a lot to like about Columbus here (head-to-head, recent play, home/away records).  Seems sound to me (in my sleep-deprived state).