Prospect Ramblings: NHL Playoffs by the numbers

Hayden Soboleski


image courtesy of



There’s so much going on in NHL, AHL, and CHL Playoffs, that its an overwhelming wave of hockey (this isn’t a complaint by any means, just an observation). But online, with my friends, or around the office, the number one topic of discussion is: “Wow these playoffs are ridiculous”


From upset sweeps in the first round, completely demolished brackets forcing the NHL to re-open their fantasy challenge, to incredibly, embarrassingly, pathetically bad refereeing resulting in at least 1 or 2 series being determined by whistles, it’s been a wild time. So why not dig into a few stats and see if there are any weird underlying anomalies worth talking about? 



2018-19: 1st Round: 5, 2nd Round: 1

2017-18: 1st Round: 1, 2nd Round: 1

2016-17: 1st Round: 3, 2nd Round: 2

2015-16: 1st Round: 3 , 2nd Round: 2

There were obviously way more 1st-round upsets than usual, but since then it’s been about as predictable as usual (if you live and die by the regular season rankings). So the hockey gods want to mess up your picks, but not completely mail it in.



2018-19 (so far):  1285 (18/GP)

2017-18:  1794 (21/GP)

2016-17: 1926 (22/GP)

2015-16:  1921 (22/GP)

Despite the critical penalty calls that have ruined (depending on the fanbase) this post-season, the total number seems to be on pace to decrease just like it did the year before. If I had more time I’d dive into how many minutes fights and line brawls contributed to past totals, to see if this is the source of the decrease, or if refs are in fact calling fewer in an attempt to not affect the outcome of the games (they still are). Does this decrease in PIM indicate a less physical game than in the past?



2018-19 (so far): 4708 (66/GP)

2017-18: 5334 (63/GP) (finalists combined: 1549)

2016-17: 5890 (67/GP) (finalists combined: 1428)

2015-16: 6042  (68/GP) (finalists combined: 1561)

Depending on the final rounds of course, it looks like we’re bucking a very slight downward trend of hitting that has been happening for 3 years. But overall, there doesn’t seem to be a change in hitting, despite the decrease in PIM rates. So either the refs miss ugliness and will let it slide when they see it, or the hit counters are bored. 



2018-19 (so far): 392 (5.5/GP) (22% on powerplay)

2017-18: 577 (6.8/GP)(21% on powerplay)

2016-17: 449 (5.1/GP) (20% on powerplay)

2015-16: 478 (5.4/GP) (24% on powerplay)

The % of goals scored on the man-advantage so far is about the same as it always is, and the total number of goals is on pace to be around normal as well (last year was well above average). Surprisingly not much to see here (I was expecting a year-to-year trend to form given the high level of skilled players entering the league every year).



2018-19 (so far): 32

2017-18: 50

2016-17: 49

2015-16: 43

I’ve been harping about this one for a couple weeks now. I tried to figure out why in a prior ramblings, but I’m still not sold on any one reason this would be the case. Any theories?



2018-19 (so far): 71

2017-18: 85

2016-17: 88

2015-16: 89

I included this just so you nerds can check my math from above. All work done using the official NHL stats page and some help from Wikipedia (who are still the best at being able to click one button to see identical pages from year-to-year)



Why has no one given this #11 a contract?? Unreal 10-goal performance. Undrafted UFA. May be difficult to get him to cross the pond, but I hear he has friends in the US:





Its rare to get a first NHL goal this late in the playoffs, but at the end of the 2nd round, Dean Kukan blew an absolute rocket by Rask to tie the game in the 3rd. If you’re going to ask for the puck, this is a good way to finish.



Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Conference finals! 

Hayden Soboleski





Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Colby Barlow 8.0 9.5
Ville Heinola 6.5 8.5
Dylan Coghlan 4.5 7.5
Oskar Magnusson 6.5 4.0
Patrick Guay 7.0 5.0
Brandon Lisowsky 6.5 5.5
Nick Malik 4.5 1.0
Kyle Jackson 6.0 5.0
Viktor Persson 6.0 2.0
Jeremy Langlois 6 5.5