Archive | May, 2013

Semifinal #IIHF Worlds predictions. How does Sweden’s win over Canada shake things up? #Bracketology #MoneyPuck

16 May

From my Bracketology blog post (here), I went three for four on the day.  I picked the first three matches, but missed the Sweden win over Canada.  The Sedin-Sedin-Danielsson line killed it (minus that bad shootout attempt by H. Sedin–yikes).  Patting myself on the back, I missed the prediction on the last game of the day, going all the way to a shootout, in a sudden death shoutout situation.  Moreover, besides the 50/50 split on the US-Russia match, this was the closest statistical matchup–see the previous odds and probabilities here (without any historical adjustments, injuries, etc.)  Now, I couldn’t guess the Canada-Sweden match any better than I could predict that 8-3 blowout of USA over Russia, but at least I wasn’t way off.

Here is my changed bracket, with Sweden in, but I will still take Finland in that game.  If there is a game this year I would pay to be at, it would be Sweden vs. Finland from Stockholm.  It should be a battle of goaltenders, but hopefully a low scoring affair doesn’t mean a lack of offensive action.

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My gold medal match prediction stays the same, but will Sweden beat Switzerland?  I am going to guess Switzerland grabs the bronze medal now.  Sweden fought hard to come back against Canada, but have one main line and strong goalkeeping.  I am not sure if that will work against the Swiss–it didn’t work the first time they played.

So, here are the odds for the semifinal round and some comments.  Keep in mind, these are neutral odds based only on math formulations, not calculating in profits as a casino or bookie would.

Likelihood Moneyline      (US) Decimial Odds (EU)
Finland 61.02% -156 1.64
Sweden 38.98% +150 2.50
Swiss 88.45% -733 1.14
US 11.55% +14 8.33

The early odds from bet365.com has Finland as the underdog.  This must have to do with Sweden having home-ice advantage.  I would bet on Finland for sure in this match.  It is not a big return (listed at +135), but it is the much better bet.  Sweden is most likely to lose based on the Log5 method and the moneyline reads -167 for them.  The bookies basically have swapped my neutral odds above.

As I assumed, after the US blowout of Russia, the oddsmakers at bet365.com are dismissing Switzerland’s undefeated run.  I too dismiss Switzerland over the US even with the odds in their favor from my guess, but my guess is against the grain of the analysis.  Maybe not as much as the +14 moneyline on the US (the game should be closer than US-Russia), but Switzerland should not be dismissed.  Switzerland’s and Finland’s chances of winning have decreased even though they moved on, but the Swiss should be really favored to win.

The returns are bad on this game.  +105 on the Swiss and -133 for the US isn’t worth wasting your money on.  Gambling tip from a non-gambler: bet Finland…I am 75% right so far and the stats give Finland a 3 in 5 chance to win.  Good luck to all the teams!

Breakdown of @USAHockey demolition over #Russia.

16 May

Toot toot tooting my horn this afternoon.  After running some odds and probability calculation yesterday, the US and Russia teams were 50/50 to win today’s game before the start (see all the odds here).  I correctly predicted in my IIHF Worlds Bracketolgy blog post (here) the USA would win if Gibson got the nod over Bishop in goal.  But, I don’t think anyone predicted an 8-3 drubbing.  I did think bringing Ovechkin on the roster this late was a mistake for the Russian side.  Was it?

Well, Ovechkin scored a goal and also had an assist.  So, two points in the first game was great on paper.  However, that goal was pretty meaningless.  The Russian’s were down 4-1 when he nailed the rear bar behind Gibson and a two goal difference was a close as they would get.  The Americans chased Bryzgalov from the net at the end of the second period.  Kovalchuk, who led the tournament in scoring, finished with zero points.  Medvedev and Radulov were in the tournament’s top ten leaders in scoring prior to this game; both finished with zero points.  Radulov finished -3, partly due to giving up a turnover on the powerplay which led to the US scoring shorthanded for goal number five in the early matchup.  If you look at things this way, Ovechkin was sort of the sole bright spot on a team where their star player’s didn’t show up.  I disagree with this take on things.

First off, credit to the Americans.  Bryzgalov’s GAA was low prior to the game, but he was seeing a low number of shots a game (credit to Russia’s defense).  On the other hand, his save percentage was pretty mediocre.  In the first match the US side sent only 22 shots his way, scoring on three of them.  In this match, similar results.  The big difference was 21 shots in the first TWO periods, scoring on four of those opportunities.

The next problem was making room for Ovechkin.  This caused some line shuffling to get him in the game.  Loktionov was scratched and Tereshenko (-3) was promoted in his place to the top line with Radulov and Kovalchuk.  Anisimov was bumped to the third line to make room for Ovechkin and Kunetsov (-1) got on the third line in Tereshenko’s place.  On the fourth line, Russia had three new faces from the first time they played the US.  The US roster?  Nearly identical to the first time they played.  This without a doubt caused chemistry issues from a game Russia controlled first time around to a game where they were dominated.

Ice times were a major issue for Russia’s leaders because of Ovechkin.  Only Radulov saw an increase in ice time for the game, while Kovalchuk and Medvedev saw a decrease in playing time.  All three of these player’s saw an increase in their third period playing time today in an attempt to make a comeback when the game was still manageable.  In other words, outside of the third period, Radulov saw the same ice time, while Kovalchuk and Medvedev were on the ice two to three less shifts for each of the first two periods.

The results of line member swapping and adding Ovechkin: a combined -12 for these four players and an embarrassing 8-3 loss at the hands of the Americans.

#IIHFWorlds Probability of wins for quarterfinals #MoneyPuck

16 May

I thought I’d put a little math twist on tomorrow’s match-ups and calculate the probability of each team winning.  From here, hopefully I can create some odds.  I will compare them with what you could bet against online after the analysis.

First things first, using the “Log5” method for calculating a team winning or losing (credit to Bill James in Baseball Abstract), this is what you do:

Win probability = (A – A * B) / (A + B – 2 * A * B) — where A represent Team A’s winning percentage and B represents Team B’s winning percentage.

For tomorrow, without running a regression and seeing if prior games, past year’s seeding, strength of schedule, luck, injuries, etc., make a difference, this is what we have:

Finland 77.88%
Russia 50.00%
US 50.00%
Slovakia 22.12%
Swiss 94.78%
Canada 70.59%
Sweden 29.41%
Czech 5.22%

Basically you have the percent chance each team will win their game tomorrow.  The next step is to convert these percentages into odds and then I will convert these into a moneyline.

Finland -355
Russia +/-100
US +/-100
Slovakia +355
Swiss -1900
Canada -245
Sweden +245
Czech +1900

For the explanation of the plus/minus on the moneyline, you can follow the link here:

Moneyline odds are usually considered “American” style odds, so here are the “European” style decimal odds:

Finland 1.28
Russia 2.00
US 2.00
Slovakia 4.55
Swiss 1.05
Canada 1.41
Sweden 3.45
Czech 20.00

Now, these wouldn’t guarantee a profit, because I would need to estimate the betting spread for each team and pass that over my profit margin, which is 8% customarily if I was a bookie.  What makes this fun is one can see how betting agencies set their odds differently from these “even odds” in order to make a profit.

I took a quick look at the lines over at bet365.com, where the internet says they have the lowest profit margins, meaning they should be the closest to my calculations.  It appears they take performance from past World Championships into play.  I’m not sure how much sense this makes when we see a Switzerland like this year  Maybe with professional club teams, but not here.  That is why a regression analysis would be important to see which things play the biggest role in winning or losing in the playoff round of a World Championship or other country-based format.

Nevertheless, the US is the biggest underdog (based on past matches against Russia).  Nevermind that they had the same record in the tournament and played a close match.  US is +300/4.00 and Russia is -400/1.25.  Seems a little ridiculous to me….but maybe this is where they clean up!

Switzerland is also an underdog against Czech Republic, when the Swiss have clearly been the better team.  They are currently listed at +180/2.80.  My -1900/+1900 clearly needed to be adjusted, but to make the Swiss the underdog seems a little crazy too.

I am dead on with my Canada and Finland odds, so it appears they have raised the probability of Sweden and Slovakia winning in order to meet their profit margin/lower potential payouts.  This was also likely adjusted because of what I believe is their faulty outlook on past games.

Ok–let’s see how this ends up!  Games start in nine hours!

#IIHFWorlds bracket and predictions – BRACKETOLOGY!

14 May

A little bracketology action for the IIHF World Championships.  Below is the quarterfinal round bracket with the teams and their 2012 IIHF seeding in parentheses.  The seeding for this tournament is to the left of the team in the bracket, with H or S indicating whether they were in the Helsinki or Stockholm Group for the preliminary rounds.

IIHF World Championship Bracket

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In my written summaries section for the quarterfinals, each team’s preliminary round record will be shown in the following format:  wins-overtime wins-overtime loss-losses and point differential.

Russia (5-0-0-2 +15) vs. USA (5-0-0-2 +8)

Previous match:  Russia 5 – USA 3

Russia got the best of the US team in the preliminary round.  The US kept it tied through two periods, but Russia scored two goals in two minutes in the third period to get the win – including one from the tournament’s leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk.  What seems like great news for the Russian side, and bad news for the Americans, was the announcement of Alex Ovechkin grabbing the last spot on the Russian roster.  With all of that firepower, how could the Russians lose in the rematch?

John Gibson in the net for the U.S. let in one goal in two games in net.  Will he get the start over Ben Bishop who let in four goals against the Slovak team today?  I would certainly hope so.

Moreover, while Kovalchuk and Ovechkin are prolific scorers, they have not won much in high pressure situations.  Why else is Ovechkin here (hint: the Capitals got stomped again in Game 7)?  Bryzgalov also looks susceptible to be scored on with a 93.4% save percentage.  The 1.33 goals against average points to good defense, which will go away the more Ovechkin is on the ice.

I will take the USA side on the rematch, especially if Gibson gets the nod.  If not, I give the edge to Russia.  For the bracket…I’ll commit to the good ol’ US of A.

Switzerland (6-1-0-0 +19) vs. Czech Republic (3-1-0-3 +7)

Previous match:  Switzerland 5 – Czech Republic 2

Two sides of the coin for these teams: the upstart Swiss side goes undefeated in the tournament and the Czech side wins only four games to steal the final playoff spot.  A loss against Norway and the Czech side is watching from the sidelines instead of playing the Swiss team.

While I hesitate to pick Switzerland as they are a bit of a Cinderella (ranked #9 by IIHF in 2012 – lowest ranked team in the playoffs), they have the momentum.  The four teams the Czech Republic beat in the preliminary round are the four teams not in the quarterfinals; their three losses came against the higher seeded teams.  The Czech’s should come in on a tear after a definitive 7 – 0 win over Norway, but Switzerland is playing confident.  Pick:  Swiss in a close one to continue the undefeated streak into the semis.

Finland (4-2-0-1 +9 ) vs. Slovakia (3-0-1-3 +1)

Previous match:  Finland 2 – Slovakia 0

Slovakia has been a bit of a mystery this tournament.  It appeared they would miss the playoff round, but upset the US team on the final day of play.  However, they also lost to France and the now-relegated-Austrian team.

The Finnish side got stronger during the tournament, with the exception of the overtime squeaker on the last day over Latvia, who had nothing left but pride to play for.  They sort of snuck into the top seed for the Helsinki group after the US fell flat against Slovakia on their last day.  Finland, for what it’s worth, will have home-ice advantage in the first round.  With more than just the home crowd on their side (this means you Kontiola, Aaltonen and Raanta) they clearly have the better team.  Slovakia will be riding high after sneaking into the playoffs, but adrenaline will not be enough.  Maybe not another shutout, but likely a clear victory for the Helsinki fans.

Canada (5-1-1-0 +15) vs. Sweden (5-0-0-2 +6)

Previous match:  Canada 3 – Sweden 0

Canada can score in bunches, and when the win, they win big.  They also have the tournament’s best goalkeeper in Mike Smith, though Dubnyk is getting most of the minutes.  Sweden likes to keep things close, which led to five wins for them with Enroth leading the way.  Sweden will need at least three goals, probably four to have a chance against Canada.  They were only able to get to four twice: a meaningless final matchup against Denmark and against fellow Scandinavian side Norway.  Along with Stamkos and Giroux, the Swedish team will have more they can handle.  If Sweden can score quick, they have a chance, but Canada is too strong.

Semifinal Round

Finland vs. Canada

This could be a great game between two evenly matched teams.  I am guessing it will be a low scoring, defensive affair.  For my entertainment, hopefully a shootout as well.  Finland is the better team and will move on to the goal medal round.

Switzerland vs. USA

The Swiss have played exceptional, but even Cinderella’s carriage turns back into a pumpkin.  The USA has a strong side and the clock will strike midnight on this fairy tale.  It has been a great tourney for the Swiss, but the best they will do is bringing home a bronze.  A huge step this year for Switzerland and well-deserved.

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Gold Medal Match

Finland vs. USA

In a quarterfinal rematch from 2012, these two teams make big steps toward the gold medal.  Last year, Finland wins this in Helsinki.  This year, they will have to celebrate in Stockholm.  The Finnish team ends a consistent run by the US who receives a well-deserved silver medal.

Bronze Medal Match

Switzerland vs. Canada

Switzerland goes from sixth in their group in 2012 to the top seed and into the bronze medal round.  Canada goes from a quarterfinal defeat against last year’s silver medalist to play the previously undefeated Swiss.  This could be a fun game to watch with lots of open play and scoring.  Give the Swiss credit for their run this year, but they will finish fourth.  Canada takes the bronze, again not making the gold medal around after losing to a gold medal team.  Again, big steps for both teams from last year and good steps for 2014 Sochi.

Final picks:

Finland:  Gold

USA*:  Silver

Canada:  Bronze

*If Russia wins the quarterfinal match against the USA, put them in the silver medal slot.

All quarterfinal matches begin on 16 May.  Next post will look at the odds of each of the teams winning the tourney.