Prospect Ramblings: NHL Playoffs by the numbers

Hayden Soboleski


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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