Computer Picks: 29/01/2010—Debugging Mode

Updated: January 29, 2010 at 9:50 am by Jeff Tay

There were plenty of reasons to be dissatisfied with yesterday’s edition of Computer Picks, and as I returned home from a night out on the town to eventually see the final scores from Thursday’s games, I immediately knew that I was going to hear about this one—and deservedly so (thanks for not ripping me to shreds though). I would absolutely agree that there is something wrong with the picture when a couple of teams that are projected to win between 64%-79% of the time all lose their games, and for the most part, all play pretty poorly, and this issue will certainly be addressed.

Since seeing the results from Thursday, I have been trying to figure out where it all went wrong, and I have managed to at least pinpoint one unique issue that contributed to some of the wacky predictions. In 3 of the predictions that were made on Thursday, the prior head-to-head matchups in the same buildings between the two teams that were involved were actually quite lopsided; LA had lost 4-1 earlier in the season at Columbus, Ottawa had lost 8-2 in their last visit to Pittsburgh, and Edmonton had lost 7-2 to St Louis at home. These previous lopsided scores were definitely a contributing factor to the system spitting out similar projected scores for Thursday’s games, and these predictions were, of course, wildly inaccurate, as all 3 teams that were blown out in the previous matchups all performed way better in their rematches.

I am undecided on how exactly to resolve this issue right now, but some form of reducing the weight of head-to-head scores would seem like a logical approach. As for this Friday, while I try to solve this ‘bug’, I will instead present a Safe Mode (familiar to PC users?) version of Computer Picks:

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I should also note that I’m not particularly crazy about any of the games on the board tonight, which is another reason why I decided to go with a different format. It seems like a tough board.

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Game #1: New Jersey Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Diagnosis: New Jersey looks a little bit tired after spending 8 of their last 10 games on the road with very little rest. Toronto could catch them napping, especially while trying to snap a 4-game skid. The New Jersey win and the Under 5.5 will depend a lot on how much Martin Brodeur has left in the tank.

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Game #2: Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals

Diagnosis: Whether they are winning games or losing games, the Panthers are holding their opponents off the score sheet, with a 1.28 GAA in their last 7 games. The Capitals will always get their share of goals, but all it takes is one outstanding goaltending performance to turn a -250 favourite into a big-time bankroll buster, and the Panthers are capable of pulling that off. Also, the Caps are due for a letdown, aren’t they?

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Game #3: Boston Bruins vs. Buffalo Sabres

Diagnosis: Boston has completely fallen off the map, but maybe 4 days off to prepare for a division rival might be what they need to right the ship. Buffalo has rarely blown out any opponents at home lately, anyway, and if they let a desperate Bruins club hang around, Boston might improve to 3-0 on the season against the Sabres. Tired legs in Buffalo might also play a factor.

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Game #4: Anaheim Ducks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Diagnosis: Anaheim road wins are rare, and often involve catching teams in bad spots. The Ducks have averaged just 1.4 goals per game in their last 5 road games, and will now be entering Antero Niittymaki’s domain, where he has allowed just 3 goals in his last 93 shots faced (.968 save percentage). The Lightning have won 7 of their last 9 home games, and have even beaten Pittsburgh and Washington in this stretch. Editor’s Choice: Tampa Bay -125.

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Game #5: Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings

Diagnosis: Neither team is on a winning run right now, as Nashville has forgotten how to score and Detroit has forgotten how to defend. Detroit’s veteran core probably makes them better equipped to bounce back first though, especially in front of a home crowd. Possibly another low-scoring game here; similar to their 2 earlier meetings in Nashville.

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Game #6: Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars

Diagnosis: The Stars have been winning at home, but not in very convincing fashion. Their last 4 home wins have all been by 1 goal (2 of them in shootouts). Colorado is also playing a similar game on the road, winning 1-goal games in 5 of their last 7 on the road (the last 2 in shootouts). This game could be destined for yet another shootout. 4-3 scores are not uncommon to Dallas, nor are they to Colorado on the road.

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Normal Mode will be back on Saturday.