The NHL is a league built on parity. Winning the Stanley Cup is as much about matchups (and luck) as it is the skill of any given team. This year, the matchups have a chance to vary wildly as the league is re-seeding teams at the conclusions of the play-in and first rounds.
Unlike the eight teams with set play-in round matchups, the Golden Knights seed throughout the tournament is dependant on their performance in three round-robin games. The round-robin not only determines who the Golden Knights will play in the 1st Round, but it also determines the opponent in the 2nd round as well.
With four games in the play-in round, there are 16 possible outcomes between the eight teams. Using William Hill odds, we ranked them from most likely to least likely to occur. Then, using those rankings, we are able to show the probabilities of which team the Golden Knights would be most likely to face depending on which seed they end up with in the round-robin. (An explanation of how I arrived at these numbers is at the end of the article.)
|#1 Seed||#2 Seed||#3 Seed||#4 Seed|
As you can see from the chart, there’s a significant advantage to finish atop the round-robin. Finishing first eliminates the possibility of a matchup with Edmonton, Nashville, or Vancouver, while coming in fourth takes away any chance to play Chicago, Arizona, or Minnesota.
Compare that to this chart, how Vegas has played against each of these eight teams.
Minnesota and Winnipeg are the teams that have given the Golden Knights the most trouble over the years, however the only playoff series between these teams ended in a Vegas victory in five games
And this is just the first round. With another re-seeding heading into the second round, the round-robin takes on even more importance.
We still have no idea when those three games are going to be played, but when they are, the Golden Knights better be ready to play them because the path to the Cup is much different if they succeed in the round-robin than if they falter.
Process of coming up with probabilities
First, I started by using the William Hill odds for each matchup.
I then used these odds to calculate the parlay odds for each potential outcome in the first round.
Edmonton, Nashville, Vancouver, Calgary, (+734)
Edmonton, Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg, (+890)
Edmonton, Arizona, Vancouver, Calgary, (+930)
Edmonton, Nashville, Minnesota, Calgary, (+1051)
Edmonton, Arizona, Vancouver, Winnipeg, (+1123)
Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver, Calgary, (+1132)
Edmonton, Nashville, Minnesota, Winnipeg, (+1266)
Edmonton, Arizona, Minnesota, Calgary, (+1322)
Chicago, Nashville, Vancouver, Winnipeg, (+1362)
Chicago, Arizona, Vancouver, Calgary, (+1422)
Edmonton, Arizona, Minnesota, Winnipeg, (+1587)
Chicago, Nashville, Minnesota, Calgary, (+1600)
Chicago, Arizona, Vancouver, Winnipeg, (+1706)
Chicago, Nashville, Minnesota, Winnipeg, (+1918)
Chicago, Arizona, Minnesota, Calgary, (+2000)
Chicago, Arizona, Minnesota, Winnipeg, (+2392)
I used the “implied probability” formula to turn the odds into percentages.
100 / (positive American odds + 100) * 100 = implied probability
EX: Edmonton, Nashville, Vancouver, Calgary (+734). Thus, the implied probability of this group of four advancing is 100/(734+100)*100 or 11.99%.
Then, after a small adjustment to return the probabilities to 100%, I assigned the percentages to each seed based on the probability of each group of four advancing to the first round.
We then combined the results for each individual team to arrive at the final probabilities.