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Nutonian Takes its Shot at NHL Playoff Predictions

Posted by Jon Millis

16.04.2015 05:14 PM

The National Hockey League: where grown men skate after a small cylinder, whack it with sticks and beat each other to a pulp. God Bless America (and Canada). Hockey is popular for good reason. It’s fast, action-packed and highly-skilled. It also produces a decent amount of freely available data for fans – and now software – to crunch and predict the winners of this year’s holy grail, the 2015 Stanley Cup. Here’s how our virtual data scientist, Eureqa, believes this year’s playoffs will shake out:

 

NHL_Bracket_15We pulled team statistics (about 200 variables) from puckalytics.com and hockey-reference.com for the past five seasons to examine how regular season performance governs playoff performance. For the sake of this exercise, we excluded much potentially valuable data, such as teams stats dating back more than five years and advanced metrics that are not available to the world. Our resulting analytical model had 77% accuracy for playoff picks and placed particularly high predictive power on a few variables:

  • Team normalized Corsi (total shots taken) for 5-on-5 play
  • Late season record
  • Penalty kill %
  • Regular season head-to-head record
  • Regular season rating (“Simple Rating System”; takes into account average goal differential and strength of schedule)

The puck drops at 7pm EST tonight. We’ll see if, once again, regular season play is a strong predictor for achievement in the playoffs, or if this year was meant to be wild.

Topics: Big data, Eureqa, Machine Intelligence, NHL Playoffs

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