Tag Archives: Sports

Hockey Simulator Provides another Fun Way to Look at Leagues

19 Jan

Working on the KHL and in the middle of the playoff race, I was interested in trying to predict the potential final tournament before the season is over.  Though most teams only have eight to ten games left, the long break because of Sochi means we will not know the results of a lot of leagues until March and beyond.

I considered trying to run the mathematical simulation on my own, but in my research I found a website that will do it for you…and for FREE.  You simply send them in some easy “code” the rules of your league and the game results and they will simulate the remainder of your season a million times. 

So, for the rest of the season I will be showing updates of the simulated KHL season and playoffs here.

Here is the link to the site for the KHL simulations.  If you play any sport in a league, this can work for you.  Or, use your favorite sports league and give it a try.  If you are a fan of major North American sports, there is a good chance it is already done.  First KHL simulation discussion is up over at EuroHockey.com.


New happenings

2 Jul

I have a few new sports related things I am doing.  Not sure if I mentioned it before, but I am now a contributing writer for the Washington Capitals and for European hockey over at The Hockey Writers.  If you go to my ‘Articles‘ link you can see everything I have written so far.  Out of the six articles, I have already been featured twice!  I am on the front page right now with my Washington Capitals Draft Grades column.  If you like it, leave a comment and/or please spread the word.

Also, I started an English language blog providing news, analysis and roster information for the KHL club in Zagreb, Croatia.  Take a look at my Bears Blog.  The team mascot is a bear.  The KHL is based out of Russian, but there are teams everywhere.  However, the club only posts news in Croatian and it is a bit hard to find.  So, there it is…a new undertaking with a focus on one club.  I have three people ready to contribute, which is nice!  If you are interested in hockey or any of the guys on the team (a lot of North American NHL players), let me know if you are interested in putting in a column.

More fun stuff to come soon!

KHL’s Interesting Take on Expansion Draft

12 Jun

A quick note about an inquiry I made today with the KHL staff concerning the June 17th expansion draft for Vladivostok.  All of the players available for Vladivostok to choose from was supposed to be determined by each team today (see my article over at EuroHockey.com).  However, a KHL spokesman said the names of those available players in the expansion draft would not be made public.

It made me wonder (and follow-up with the league) whether Vladivostok will know who is available prior to the 17th or if the players even know they might be moving a 3.5 hour drive from the North Korean border.

This could be a really great thing for fans, wondering if their favorite players would be moving or Far East Russian hockey fans wondering what talent might be available for them.  Yet, this has to be crazy nerve wracking for players…even if they know they might be Asia bound.  At least North American players will be closer to their continent :)…

***UPDATE – The KHL spokesperson responded and said Vladivostok and the player’s (or their agents) are aware informed of the transfer list.  Now that we know the players know, I wonder how the players feel about the move:  new opportunity or exile across Russia?


Washington Capitals Mock Draft

10 Jun

In my second article for The Hockey Writers, I examine current roster needs and predict a draft pick for the Washington Capitals (article here).  It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, because really you need to know who would be available–the first 22 selections in this case.  You also need to look at team needs while also predicting what the Caps management might do.  Will new Coach Adam Oates have more power or will they continue down the path of selecting offensive-minded European players as they have done with first-round picks in recent history.

There are also a million rankings out there, but none combine North American and European skaters into one category.  It makes it very hard to compare and contrast talent across multiple leagues.  Nevertheless, it was a fun exercise and I hope everyone enjoys the piece.


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.

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 12.00.36 AM

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!

#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


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.


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.