Oilers for the win!

April 11, 2017

School of Business faculty member shares his stats-based predictions for the first round of NHL playoffs

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While statistics are incredibly useful tools in professional sports—and almost every other area of life—Allan Wesley, a faculty member in the Bachelor of Commerce program, says he understands that not everyone appreciates stats the way he does.

“I took my first two stats courses and hated them—I did even worse in the second stats than in the first. It wasn’t until I took my third stats class that it finally made sense,” he says. “I came into statistics with more baggage than any of my students could have, and I think I have a lot of empathy because of that.”

Stats is really interesting, Allan continues, as long as you don’t get too caught up in the details.

“It’s really just a way to explain how things work.”

Allan has made several presentations about how Corsi statistics are used to make predictions in the NHL. He says that data analysis, also known as analytics, is transforming the way hockey success is evaluated and predicted—and that linking numbers and sports is also a great way to engage people in a conversation about statistics.

“Talking about hockey analytics is really a way of attaching stats to something people love without it seeming so ‘statsy,’ says Allan. “I’ve always been a numbers person when it comes to sports. I remember collecting hockey cards when I was seven years old and always keeping track of the data—goalie averages, games played, goals, assists and team points.”
 


UPDATE—April 26, 2017: Here are Allan's stats-based picks for the second-round of the 2017 NHL playoffs.

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Round two stats-based predictions:

West:

  • Nashville over St. Louis
  • Edmonton over Anaheim—This one is a toss-up.

East:

  • New York Rangers over Ottawa
  • Washington over Pittsburgh

Round one stats-based predictions:

West:

  • Chicago over Nashville—“This one could be closer than many think,” says Allan. “If one was looking for a potential surprising upset, Nashville could be it.”
  • Minnesota over St. Louis
  • Anaheim over Calgary
  • Edmonton over San Jose—“This one is really a toss-up, so there is some emotion to this pick,” admits Allan.

East:

  • Montreal over New York Rangers
  • Boston over Ottawa
  • Washington over Toronto
  • Pittsburgh over Columbus—Allan says this one is a toss-up as well

 

Watch for Allan’s final-round picks in May.

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