NHL Playoffs (2023): GPT-4 Predictions

The 2023 NHL Playoffs starts today and I’ll be making predictions and have GPT-4 make its own set of predictions for fun – as a comparison.

There’s a lot of luck involved in determining the outcome of playoff hockey series… obviously picking the Boston Bruins to win the 2023 Stanley Cup is the logical thing to do.

That’s what GPT-4 picked – and that’s what I’m picking if trying to increase odds of being as accurate as possible… no good reasons to pick against them.

If going with just my gut-shot pick (throwing some logic out the window), I’ll take the Dallas Stars vs. the New York Rangers in the final.

Related: GPT-4 Predicts 2023 NBA Playoffs

According to betting markets, odds of winning the 2023 Stanley Cup (from best to worst) are:

  • Boston Bruins (+333)
  • Colorado Avalanche (+650)
  • Edmonton Oilers (+800)
  • New Jersey Devils (+900)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs (+1000)
  • Vegas Golden Knights (+1000)
  • New York Rangers (+1000)
  • Carolina Hurricanes (+1100)
  • Dallas Stars (+1300)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (+1600)
  • Minnesota Wild (+2000)
  • Florida Panthers (+2200)
  • LA Kings (+2500)
  • Winnipeg Jets (+3000)
  • Seattle Kraken (+3500)
  • New York Islanders (+4500)

Statistical models from FiveThirtyEight assign the following odds for winning the 2023 Cup: Bruins (39%); Avalanche (16%); Oilers (10%); Hurricanes (6%); Rangers (6%); Golden Knights (5%); Maple Leafs (5%) – and the rest of the field (13%). (R)

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is betting advice… predictions were made for fun.

Data for GPT-4 to pick NHL playoffs

The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, suggests that 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes.

In the context of predicting NHL playoff winners and filling out a successful bracket, the top factors to consider are:

  • Team’s Regular Season Performance: Look at each team’s win-loss record, points, and standings in their respective divisions. Teams that performed well during the regular season are more likely to have a higher chance of success in the playoffs.
  • Head-to-Head Matchups: Examine the results of the games between the teams during the regular season. If a team has consistently beaten another team in their head-to-head matchups, they may have a higher probability of winning in the playoffs.
  • Goaltending: A strong goaltender can make a significant impact during the playoffs. Examine the save percentage (SV%) and goals against average (GAA) for each team’s goaltenders, focusing on the starting goalie. Better goaltending stats often translate to better chances of winning.
  • Special Teams: Analyze each team’s power play (PP) and penalty kill (PK) percentages. Teams with strong special teams have an advantage in the playoffs, as scoring opportunities are more limited, and special teams’ performance can make the difference in tight games.
  • Injuries: Consider the injury status of key players on each team. Injuries to essential players can weaken a team’s performance and impact their chances of success in the playoffs.
  • Team Momentum: Teams that are playing well entering the playoffs may have an edge. Check each team’s record in their last 10 games before the playoffs. A strong finish can translate to postseason success.
  • Playoff Experience: Experienced teams and players tend to perform better in the high-pressure environment of the playoffs. Examine the playoff experience of each team’s core players, as well as their coach’s playoff record.

After gathering this data, I had GPT-4 analyze them and weigh them based on hypothesized importance.

For each team I gave GPT-4: regular season performance (record, win/loss, points, standings, momentum, etc.); head-to-head records (for each round); goaltending (SV% & GA/G); special teams (PP% & PK%); PIM (season); injuries; experience (players & coaches); roster (stats for each player).

GPT-4: 2023 NHL Playoff Predictions

Below are GPT-4’s NHL playoff predictions based on the data it requested & analyzed.

Round 1 (Opener)

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers: Bruins 4-2

  • The Bruins have a strong offensive core with David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron, and solid defensive depth.
  • The Panthers have a balanced offensive attack with players like Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, and Carter Verhaeghe, and decent defensive players as well.
  • Considering the Bruins’ stronger offense and better overall stats, I predict that the Bruins will win the series in 6 games.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Leafs 4-3

  • This is a highly competitive matchup between the two teams, with both having strong rosters and significant playoff experience.
  • The Leafs have a slight edge in overall performance this season, as they finished with a better record (111 pts) than the Lightning (98 pts).
  • Toronto’s offense has been impressive, led by Marner, Nylander, Matthews, and Tavares, and their goaltending, with Ilya Samsonov, has been solid.
  • Despite the injuries to key players like Muzzin and Robertson, the Leafs have found ways to adapt and win games.
  • The Leafs’ special teams are slightly better than Tampa Bay’s, with a 26% power play success rate and 81.9% penalty kill rate.
  • On the other hand, the Lightning have significant playoff experience, having won two Stanley Cups under Coach Jon Cooper.
  • Their top players, such as Kucherov, Point, and Stamkos, have shown their ability to perform under pressure.
  • Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has also been a key player for the team, and their power play has been effective with a 25.4% success rate.
  • However, the Leafs’ stronger regular-season performance, slightly better special teams, and the momentum they have gained with a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games give them an edge in this series.
  • It will likely be a closely contested battle, but the prediction is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will ultimately win in 7 games.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders: Hurricanes 4-2

  • The Carolina Hurricanes win in Round 1 of the playoffs against the New York Islanders.
  • They win because of their higher-scoring offense, better special teams, and stronger goaltending, as evidenced by Frederik Andersen’s save percentage (0.903) and goals against average (2.48).
  • The Hurricanes also have a better overall record and more points than the Islanders.

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers: Rangers 4-2

  • Based on the provided stats and information, I predict that the New York Rangers will win the series in 6 games.
  • The Rangers have an edge in goaltending with Igor Shesterkin, a higher power play percentage, and a slightly better overall record.
  • The Rangers also have more playoff experience and a higher-scoring top line, which could be crucial in a playoff series.
  • Although the Devils have a solid roster, the combination of experience, better special teams, and strong goaltending for the Rangers will likely give them the advantage in this playoff matchup.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken: Avalanche 4-2

  • The Colorado Avalanche will likely win the series against the Seattle Kraken in Round 1 of the playoffs, but it will be a challenging series.
  • Despite injuries to key players like Landeskog, Makar, and Manson, the Avalanche have a stronger overall record, better special teams, and more playoff experience.
  • Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are star players who can make a significant impact on the outcome of the series.
  • On the other hand, the Kraken have a less impressive record and special teams, and their goaltending with Grubauer has been less reliable than Georgiev for the Avalanche.
  • Although the Kraken have some solid players like McCann, Dunn, and Eberle, it is unlikely they can outperform the Avalanche in a playoff series.

Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild: Stars 4-2

  • Based on the analysis of both teams’ stats, the Dallas Stars seem to have the upper hand in this matchup.
  • The Stars have a better overall record, a stronger goal differential, a higher-scoring offense, and a more effective power play.
  • They also have no significant injuries, and their players have significant playoff experience.
  • Furthermore, their coach, Pete DeBoer, has made it to the Stanley Cup finals twice, demonstrating his ability to guide a team through the playoffs.
  • The Minnesota Wild, on the other hand, have a less impressive record and goal differential, a less potent offense, and a less effective power play.
  • They are also dealing with key injuries, with players such as Eriksson Ek out indefinitely and Shaw out for the season.
  • While the Wild’s goaltending, led by Filip Gustavsson, has been excellent, it may not be enough to overcome the Stars’ strong offensive presence.
  • Taking all of these factors into account, it seems that the Dallas Stars are the more likely team to win this Round 1 matchup.
  • Predicting the exact number of games is always difficult and speculative, but considering the Stars’ advantages, they could potentially win the series in six games.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Knights 4-2

  • I predict that the Vegas Golden Knights will win the series against the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
  • Vegas has a better record, stronger goaltending, and more balanced scoring.
  • The Jets have a solid team, but their overall performance this season has not been as strong as the Golden Knights.

Edmonton Oilers vs. LA Kings: Oilers 4-2

  • Based on the team records, player statistics, and overall team performances, it appears that the Edmonton Oilers have a stronger chance of winning in Round 1 of the NHL playoffs against the LA Kings.
  • The Oilers have a better overall record, a higher goal differential, stronger goaltending, and better special teams compared to the Kings.
  • However, both teams have playoff experience and injuries that could impact their performance.

Round 2

Boston Bruins (#1) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (#2): Bruins 4-3

I predict that this series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins will go to 7 games, with the Boston Bruins ultimately emerging as the winner.

Several factors contribute to this prediction:

  • The two teams have had strong regular-season performances, with the Bruins finishing as the top seed and the Maple Leafs as the second seed.
  • Both teams have demonstrated their ability to compete at a high level, which suggests a closely contested series.
  • The Boston Bruins have a slightly more experienced roster, with key players who have already proven themselves in high-pressure playoff situations.
  • This experience can give them an edge in crucial moments, especially in a Game 7 scenario.
  • The Bruins have shown a strong defensive game throughout the season, and their goaltending has been more consistent compared to the Maple Leafs.

In a tight playoff series, a solid defensive foundation can be the deciding factor.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs have a talented roster with a high-scoring offense, the experience and defensive prowess of the Boston Bruins are likely to be the deciding factors in this closely contested series.

Hurricanes vs. Rangers: Hurricanes 4-2

  • The Hurricanes have a slightly better regular-season record and a stronger defensive core, led by players like Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce.
  • Their offense is also well-rounded, with strong contributions from Sebastian Aho and Martin Nečas.
  • However, the Rangers have high-scoring players like Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, and a reliable goaltender in Igor Shesterkin.
  • Despite this, the Hurricanes’ more balanced roster and effective special teams (especially their penalty kill) give them the edge in the series.
  • The Hurricanes’ injuries (Svechnikov and Pacioretty) will make the series more competitive, but their depth and coaching from Rod Brind’Amour will help them advance to the next round.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars: Stars 4-2

  • Given the information provided and considering both teams’ performance in the regular season, the series could be very competitive.
  • The Dallas Stars have a strong team with great goaltending, impressive special teams, and experienced players.
  • The Colorado Avalanche, on the other hand, have a higher point total in the regular season and a dynamic offense led by Nathan MacKinnon, but they face significant injuries that could impact their performance.
  • Considering these factors, I predict that the Dallas Stars will win the series in 6 games, due to the Colorado Avalanche’s injuries and the Stars’ overall solid performance.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers: Oilers 4-2

  • Based on the team records, stats, and considering injuries, it appears that the Edmonton Oilers have a strong advantage going into Round 2 of the NHL playoffs against the Vegas Golden Knights.
  • Edmonton has a powerful offensive duo in McDavid and Draisaitl, and a solid goaltender in Skinner.
  • Vegas has been hit with some key injuries, which may impact their performance in the series.
  • Although they have a strong team with good playoff experience, Edmonton’s offensive firepower and momentum seem to give them an edge.
  • Considering all these factors, I predict that the Edmonton Oilers will win the series in 6 games.

Round 3 (Conference finals)

Bruins vs. Hurricanes: Bruins 4-2

  • The Bruins have a better overall record and stronger stats across the board, including a higher goal differential, better goaltending, and more effective special teams.
  • The Hurricanes have key injuries, which may impact their performance, whereas the Bruins have a significant playoff experience and a better coaching record.
  • The combination of these factors gives the Bruins the edge in this matchup.

Dallas Stars vs. Edmonton Oilers: Oilers 4-3

  • Based on the available data, the Edmonton Oilers have a stronger offensive lineup, with McDavid and Draisaitl leading the league in points, while the Dallas Stars have a slightly better defensive record and goaltending.
  • Both teams have significant playoff experience, and their respective coaches have successful track records.
  • The Oilers have a slightly better overall record, and they are on a winning streak, which may boost their confidence.
  • In a tight series, I predict the Edmonton Oilers will win in 7 games (4-3) in the Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars.

Stanley Cup Final Pick (2023)

Boston Bruins (#1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (#2): Bruins 4-2

Edmonton Oilers have an impressive offensive lineup, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl leading the charge.

They also have a strong power play (PP%) of 32.4%. The Boston Bruins, on the other hand, have a more balanced team, with an excellent defense and penalty kill (PK%) of 87.3%.

Their goaltending situation seems strong as well, with Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman having solid stats.

Considering the strong offense of the Oilers and the well-rounded Bruins, I predict that the Boston Bruins will win the Stanley Cup Finals in 6 games.

Drew’s NHL Playoff Predictions (2023)

I predicted last year’s Stanley Cup winner & runner up correctly – but the Colorado Avalanche were dominant and had one of the most stacked rosters I’d ever seen… no compelling reason to pick against them last year.

The Boston Bruins obliterated the competition this year and set a record for most wins ever in an NHL season (65-12-5) and I always think they’re a tough team.

They’re the odds-on chalk favorite to win it (and rightfully so) – they have the best goalie (statistically), a great backup goalie (Swayman), and the best penalty kill (%) in the league… and a balanced team.

Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron, Zacha, Krejci, Lindholm, McAvoy, DeBrusk, Coyle, Hall, and Frederic, et al. – the list goes on.  Am also a fan of what Jim Montgomery has done with the team (after his exit from Dallas).

If I’m using only logic – there’s zero argument against the Bruins… they’re the Stanley Cup winners of 2023. Who do they play in the final? Maybe the Dallas Stars or Colorado Avalanche… let’s go with the Stars since they’re healthier and have a bit better goaltending.

What about just a random gut-shot pick? If making a random gut-shot prediction without logic I’d probably pick the Rangers to reach the finals due to the Tarasenko & Kane acquisitions & a solid playoff goaltender in Shesterkin – and probably have them facing the Stars with the Stars eking it out in 7 games or something.

Round 1

  • Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken: Avalanche wins 4-1
  • Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild: Stars win 4-2
  • Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets: Knights win 4-2
  • Edmonton Oilers vs. LA Kings: Oilers win 4-2
  • Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers: Boston wins 4-1
  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Leafs win 4-2
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs. NY Islanders: Hurricanes win 4-2
  • NY Rangers vs. NJ Devils: Rangers win 4-3

Round 2

  • Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars: Stars win 4-3
  • Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers: Oilers win 4-3
  • Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: Bruins win 4-3
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs. NY Rangers: Rangers win 4-3

Round 3

  • Dallas Stars vs. Edmonton Oilers: Stars win 4-3
  • Boston Bruins vs. NY Rangers: Bruins win 4-3

Stanley Cup

  • Dallas Stars vs. Boston Bruins: Bruins win 4-2

Boston has the Stars beat in nearly every statistical metric… and as long as they stay healthy – it should stay that way… especially with home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Bruins average 3.66 goals per game, are the best team in the league on the penalty kill (PK%: 87.3%), have the #1 goalie (Ullmark) in save percentage (SV%: 93.8%) & goals against (GAA: 1.89) – and their backup goalie Swayman is in the Top 5.

Unless something goes colossally wrong or the Bruins end up seriously injured – there’s no logical reason to pick against them to win the 2023 Stanley Cup.

The Stars have a unique blend of talent and experience with: Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Miro Heiskanen, Ryan Suter, Esa Lindell, and Jake Oettinger – but are outmatched by the Bruins.

The Stars are slightly better than the Bruins on the power play at 25% (Stars) vs. 22.2% (Bruins) – but this probably won’t be enough to win the Stanley Cup. My pick is Bruins in 6.

NHL Team Data for Playoffs (2023)

Included below is some of the data that I fed GPT-4 for each NHL team.

I also fed GPT-4 the complete rosters for each team & statistical information for every player on the team.

Eastern conference

Atlantic division

Boston Bruins (#1)

  • Record: 65-12-5 (135 pts); GF: 305; GA: 177; Diff: 128; L10: 9-1-0; Strk: W8
  • Goaltending: Linus Ullmark (SV%: 0.938 & GA/G: 1.89) OR Jeremy Swayman (SV%: 0.92 & GA/G: 2.27)
  • Special teams: PP%: 22.2% & PK%: 87.3%
  • PIM: 861 (season)
  • Injuries: Krejci (out until end of April), Foligno (out indefinitely), Forbort (out for season), Ullmark (questionable for Game 1)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Jim Montgomery (7-6 with 1 playoff appearance)

Toronto Maple Leafs (#2)

  • Record: 50-21-11 (111 pts); GF: 279; GA: 222; Diff: 57; L10: 7-1-2; Strk: W4
  • Goaltending: Ilya Samsonov (SV%: 0.92 & GA/G: 2.33)
  • Special teams: PP%: 26% & PK%: 81.9%
  • PIM: 691 (season)
  • Injuries: Murray (out indefinitely), McMann (out indefinitely), Muzzin (out for season), Robertson (out for season)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Sheldon Keefe (116-50-19) (Playoffs: 8-11 with 3 playoff appearances)

Tampa Bay Lightning (#3)

  • Record: 46-30-6 (98 pts); GF: 283; GA: 254; Diff: 29; L10: 4-6-0; Strk: W1
  • Goaltending: Andrei Vasilevskiy (SV%: 0.915 & GA/G: 2.65)
  • Special teams: PP%: 25.4% & PK%: 79.7%
  • PIM: 995 (season)
  • Injuries: Jeannot (unavailable for start of playoffs)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Jon Cooper (434-220-61) (Playoffs: 84-55 in 8 appearances) (2x Stanley Cup champion)

Florida Panthers (#4)

  • Record: 42-32-8 (92 pts); GF: 290; GA: 273; Diff: 17; L10: 6-3-1; Strk: L2
  • Goaltending: Sergei Bobrovsky (SV%: 0.901 & GA/G: 3.07)
  • Special teams: PP%: 22.8% & PK%: 75.9%
  • PIM: 998 (season)
  • Injuries: Bennett (out indefinitely), Knight (out indefinitely), Hornqvist (out for season)
  • Playoff experience (players): Some experience
  • Coach: Paul Maurice (775-681-130) (Playoffs: 41-51 in 9 appearances)

Metro division

Carolina Hurricanes (#1)

  • Record: 52-21-9 (113 pts); GF: 266; GA: 213; Diff: 53; L10: 5-5-0; Strk: W2
  • Goaltending: Frederik Andersen (SV%: 0.903 & GA/G: 2.48)
  • Special teams: PP%: 19.8% & PK%: 84.4%
  • PIM: 614 (season)
  • Injuries: Svechnikov (out for season), Pacioretty (out for season), Gardiner (out indefinitely)
  • Playoff experience (players): Some experience
  • Coach: Rod Brind’Amour (174-86-28) (Playoffs: 24-24 with 4 appearances)

New Jersey Devils (#2)

  • Record: 52-22-8 (112 pts); GF: 291; GA: 226; Diff: 65; L10: 7-3-0; Strk: W2
  • Goaltending: Vitek Vanecek (SV%: 0.911 & GA/G: 2.45)
  • Special teams: PP%: 21.9% & PK%: 82.6%
  • PIM: 632 (season)
  • Injuries: Bernier (out indefinitely)
  • Playoff experience (players): Little experience
  • Coach: Lindy Ruff (834-652-149) (Playoffs: 66-54 in 11 appearances)

New York Rangers (#3)

  • Record: 47-22-13 (107 pts); GF: 277; GA: 219; Diff: 65; L10: 7-3-0; Strk: W2
  • Goaltending: Igor Shesterkin (SV%: 0.916 & GA/G: 2.48)
  • Special teams: PP%: 24.1% & PK%: 81.2%
  • PIM: 625 (season)
  • Injuries: None
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Gerard Gallant (369-262-70) (Playoffs: 28-25 in 5 appearances)

New York Islanders (#4)

  • Record: 42-31-9 (93 pts); GF: 243; GA: 222; Diff: 21; L10: 5-4-1; Strk: W1
  • Goaltending: Ilya Sorokin (SV%: 0.924 & GA/G: 2.34)
  • Special teams: PP%: 15.8% & PK%: 82.2%
  • PIM: 656 (season)
  • Injuries: Romanov (out indefinitely) & Wahlstrom (out for season)
  • Playoff experience (players): Some experience
  • Coach: Lane Lambert (42-31-9) (No playoff experience)

Western conference

Central division

Colorado Avalanche (#1)

  • Record: 51-24-7 (109 pts); GF: 280; GA: 226; Diff: 54; L10: 8-1-1; Strk: W2
  • Goaltending: Alexandar Georgiev (SV%: 0.919 & GA/G: 2.53)
  • Special teams: PP%: 24.5% & PK%: 79%
  • PIM: 675 (season)
  • Injuries: Landeskog (out for season); Helm (out indefinitely); Makar (out indefinitely); Manson (out indefinitely)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Jared Bednar (240-168-46) (Playoffs: 40-23 in 5 appearances) (Stanley Cup winner)

Dallas Stars (#2)

  • Record: 47-21-14 (108 pts); GF: 285; GA: 218; Diff: 67; L10: 8-2-0; Strk: W6
  • Goaltending: Jake Oettinger (SV%: 0.919 & GA/G: 2.37)
  • Special teams: PP%: 25% & PK%: 83.5%
  • PIM: 637 (season)
  • Injuries: None.
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Pete DeBoer (513-379-123) (Playoffs: 56-47 in 7 appearances) (Made it to 2 Stanley Cups but lost)

Minnesota Wild (#3)

  • Record: 46-25-11 (103 pts); GF: 246; GA: 225; Diff: 21: L10: 5-3-2; Strk: L2
  • Goaltending: Filip Gustavsson (SV%: 0.931 & GA/G: 2.10)
  • Special teams: PP%: 21.4% & PK%: 82%
  • PIM: 925 (season)
  • Injuries: Eriksson Ek (out indefinitely); Shaw (out for season)
  • Playoff experience (players): Some experience
  • Coach: Dean Evason (96-42-12) (Playoffs: 6-11 in 3 appearances)

Seattle Kraken (#4)

  • Record: 46-28-8 (100 pts); GF: 289; GA: 256; Diff: 33: L10: 6-4-0; Strk: L2
  • Goaltending: Philipp Grubauer (SV%: 0.895 & GA/G: 2.85)
  • Special teams: PP%: 19.8% & PK%: 76.7%
  • PIM: 698 (season)
  • Injuries: Hayden (out for season); Donskoi (out indefinitely); Burakovsky (out indefinitely)
  • Playoff experience (playoffs): Some experience
  • Coach: Dave Hakstol (73-77-14) (Playoffs: 4-8 in 2 appearances)

Pacific division

Vegas Golden Knights (#1)

  • Record: 51-22-9 (111 pts); GF: 272; GA: 229; Diff: 43; L10: 6-1-3; Strk: W2
  • Goaltending: Laurent Brossoit (SV%: 0.927 & GA/G: 2.17) – only played 11 games OR Adin Hill (SV%: 0.915 & GA/G: 2.5) OR Logan Thompson (SV%: 0.915 & GA/G: 2.65)
  • Special teams: PP%: 20.3% & PK%: 77.6%
  • PIM: 589 (season)
  • Injuries: Patrick (out for season); Lehner (out for season); Stone (out indefinitely); Carrier (out indefinitely); Thompson (out until end of April); Hill (out until end of April)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Bruce Cassidy (343-177-62) (Playoffs: 38-41 in 8 appearances) (lost in 1 Stanley Cup final)

Edmonton Oilers (#2)

  • Record: 50-23-9 (109 pts); GF: 325; GA: 260; Diff: 65; L10: 9-0-1; Strk: W9
  • Goaltending: Stuart Skinner (SV%: 0.914 & GA/G: 2.75)
  • Special teams: PP%: 32.4% & PK%: 77%
  • PIM: 706 (season)
  • Injuries: Murray (out until end of April)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Jay Woodcroft (38-26-9)

LA Kings (#3)

  • Record: 47-25-10 (104 pts); GF: 280; GA: 257; Diff: 23; L10: 5-5-0; Strk: W2
  • Goaltending: Phoenix Copley (SV%: 0.903 & GA/G: 2.64)
  • Special teams: PP%: 25.3% & PK%: 75.8%
  • PIM: 703 (season)
  • Injuries: Edler (out until end of April); Fiala (out indefinitely); Vilardi (out indefinitely)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Todd McLellan (528-372-114) (Playoffs: 40-42 in 8 appearances)

Winnipeg Jets (#4)

  • Record: 46-33-3 (95 pts); GF: 247; GA: 225; Diff: 22: L10: 6-4-0; Strk: L1
  • Goaltending: Connor Hellebuyck (SV%: 0.920 & GA/G: 2.49)
  • Special teams: PP%: 19.3% & PK%: 82.4%
  • PIM: 699 (season)
  • Injuries: Gagner (out for season); Perfetti (out until late April)
  • Playoff experience (players): Significant experience
  • Coach: Rick Bowness (212-351-28) (Playoffs: 26-23 in 3 appearances) (lost in Stanley Cup finals)

Unpredictable variables that can affect NHL playoff outcomes…

A variety of unpredictable variables can affect outcomes of the NHL playoffs, including (but not limited to):

  • Injuries: A key player getting injured or even a solid role player can alter the dynamic of a team and cause them to underperform. Even minor injuries to many players may impair performance just enough to affect the series outcome.
  • Goaltending: Goaltending is critical to success in the NHL playoffs and can make/break a series. A goalie who gets hot or catches fire at the right time can carry a subpar team deep in the playoffs.
  • Momentum: Momentum can influence outcomes in the NHL playoffs. Teams that gain strong momentum in a series or in the playoffs may have an advantage.
  • Matchups: Some teams matchup better against others – and this can be hard to predict (even after analyzing regular season head-to-head outcomes). Regular season head-to-head records can help with predictions, but things like: health, lineups (post-trade deadline), strategy, etc. may differ in the playoffs.
  • Coaching: Coaching can play a major role in the NHL playoffs – and a coach who makes the right adjustments and decisions can give his team an edge over another.
  • Officiating: Refs play a major role in every NHL game – and sometimes calls can be controversial or unpredictable. A bad call or missed call may swing the momentum of a particular game or series. Nobody can predict which team will have the calls go their way.

Skill vs. Luck in determining NHL outcomes

The NHL is generally considered to be a sport that falls somewhere in the middle of the skill-luck continuum (if you don’t know what this is… look it up).

The skill of individual players, such as skating, shooting, and passing, is crucial to the success of a team in the NHL. Additionally, tactical decisions made by coaches, such as line changes, defensive formations, and offensive strategies, can significantly impact a team’s chances of winning.

However, there are also random factors that can influence the outcome of a game or series, such as injuries, lucky bounces, or even the quality of the ice surface. These factors can level the playing field between teams that may be more evenly matched in terms of skill.

The NHL as a whole is far more unpredictable than sports such as: football (NFL), baseball (MLB), soccer (MLS), basketball (NBA) – simply because its outcomes are more determined by luck… so making predictions (particularly in the playoffs is difficult).

This is why some people love the NHL playoffs (more upsets & excitement due to luck) and why others despise the NHL playoffs for being too unpredictable.

On multiple occasions an 8th-seeded team has made the Stanley Cup Finals since the introduction of the conference-based playoff format in the 1993-94 season.

  • LA Kings (2011-2012): Won the Stanley Cup against the New Jersey Devils (4-2 in the series).
  • Edmonton Oilers (2005-2006): Reached the Stanley Cup Final but lost to the Carolina Hurricanes (4-3).

In the NBA, only one 8th-seeded team has ever reached the finals (1999 New York Knicks) but they lost in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs (4-1).

Who do you think will win the 2023 Stanley Cup?

Who is your pick to win the 2023 Stanley Cup? Who do you think has the best team?

Who do you want to win the 2023 Stanley Cup that you think has a reasonable chance?

Teams I’d like to see make a deep run include: LA Kings (might be difficult with Fiala out), NJ Devils (exciting team), Golden Knights (probably too many injuries), Stars (possible), and the Leafs (always struggle post-season).

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