By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Stanley Cup Final is inching closer, ever so slowly. As such, experts around North America are making their predictions on whether the Bruins or Blues will prevail.
But everyone can now stop, because we know the Bruins are going to win. It’s science.
OK, maybe it’s not that cut-and-dried, but the folks at Boston-based DataRobot ran 100,000 simulations of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and have determined that the Bruins beat the Blues in 62 percent of simulations.
“And just in case you’re thinking that DataRobot is headquartered in Boston so of course we picked the Bruins, all city bias has been removed from the models!” Andrew Engel, general manager for sports and games at DataRobot, explained. “We are not homers — we are data scientists.”
The methodology behind the simulator involved data on playoff games from 1980 through 2018, using shot percentage, save percentage, penalty kill and power play effectiveness and other recordable data. It also included the use of ELO ratings. In visual form it looks like this:
We non-data scientists are just going to have to take their word for it on that one, though.
While the 62 percent success rate for the Bruins in the simulations against the Blues should provide confidence in Boston, it must be noted that science and sports don’t often mesh perfectly. The Bruins are currently a great example of that, as DataRobot’s simulator only gave the Bruins a 6 percent chance of winning the Stanley Cup when the playoffs began. The Tampa Bay Lightning had an overwhelming 54 percent chance of winning the Cup.
But Tampa Bay got swept out of the first round. Division winners Calgary, Nashville, and Washington also lost in that opening round, so the Bruins’ chances rose dramatically. (Tampa Bay won that opening series against the Blue Jackets 86 percent of the time, showing just how massive of an upset that was for Columbus.)
The model has suggested the Bruins would win each of their three series thus far, though, showing that the data can sometimes properly forecast the future.
In any sport, upsets can happen. In hockey, upsets may be slightly more likely to happen. But still, any team would probably prefer to be considered the favorite. And as the Stanley Cup Final draws nearer, the Bruins are at the very least in that favorable position. It’s now up to them to prove the data correct.