VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 5: Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks is hit by Dave Bolland #36 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 5, 2010 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
If you surf around looking for odds, you'll find some crazy things - like Vancouver at 4-3 to win the Western Conference, while Chicago's 12-1. I'm sorry to say, those lines are just made up. One of our frequent readers noted the implied team strength of recent betting lines at Pinnacle yesterday:
|Team||Avg Team Strength|
So, other than the ridiculous futures market, people seem to think that Chicago's not that much worse than Vancouver. Are they justified in thinking so?
If we look at shot differential - aka Fenwick - it certainly seems that way:
|Team||Fenwick %, Score Tied|
Any surprises there? New Jersey? Montreal? I digress. Chicago and Vancouver were equally good at controlling the play this season when the game was on the line. In fact, it's surprising that the implied team strength is any different between the two teams. Is it a special teams issue?
|TEAM||% Opps||% TOI||PPO||TOIPP||TOI/Opp||PKO||TOIPK||TOI/Opp|
Doesn't seem like it. Vancouver spent proportionally more time on special teams (both PP and PK) than Chicago did, but the only real difference is the efficiency of Vancouver's PK. Looking at the shot totals at 5-on-4 and 4-on-5, we see a slight advantage for the Canucks:
The main difference here is goaltending, which we can see pretty clearly from "PDO" numbers:
|TEAM||% of Shots||PDO|
At even-strength, Vancouver was a 1019 PDO team this season, while Chicago was 1001, so the 42-point gap on special teams is almost certainly much greater than the true-talent gap. We don't expect to see something like this continue.
So when we get down to it, Vancouver has two advantages in this series:
1. Luongo vs Crawford in goal
2. Home-Ice Advantage
And yet Vancouver is coming up somewhere around a 75% favorite in the futures markets to beat Chicago in the opening round. 55% I could see, but 75% is just a massive overestimate of Vancouver's talent, and - likely moreso - a massive underestimate of Chicago's talent.