Nate did a great series preview earlier this week (https://runningwiththeherd.com/2015/04/20/western-conference-quarterfinals-preview-rampage-vs-barons/) which you should go read right now. I went through the head to heads, looked at full season stats and at the last 20 games of the to give some more context to the series.
Head to Head Matchups
Like Nate mentioned, the Rampage won 9 of the 12 match-ups versus the Barons. I went through all twelve and pulled out the overall statistics for the season series.
The Rampage were dominant scoring 58.1% of the 5 on 5 goals during the 12 match-ups. If the Rampage can keep the game at Even Strength, they will make quick work of the Barons. Unfortunately, OKC was the 3rd least penalized team this season, so it is pretty much guaranteed they will have more Power Plays during the series, making special teams important. During the regular season, the Rampage’s 8th-ranked Power Play had very little success versus OKC’s 5th-ranked Penalty Kill, going only 5 for 39 with a man advantage and allowed one Shorthanded Goal. However, there are encouraging things to be found on the flip side, as the Rampage’s middling Penalty Kill held the Baron’s 10th-ranked Power Play to an 8 for 55 mark, while scoring 2 shorties. These are very poor marks for both Power Play units, which plays into the Rampage’s hands.
The Rampage average 31.7 shots for per game and held the Barons to 29.5 in their 12 match-ups. This differential was greater when the game was close as the Rampage averaged a 21.8 to 18.6 shots advantage through 2 periods, which comes out to an Estimated Fenwick Close of 53.9% (very nice!).
The estimated Fenwick Close is 2.6% higher than the regulation Shots For % because of two games in which the Rampage had a lead and went into a complete defensive shell. These games were November 29th and December 27th. November 29th was my least favorite game this season as the Rampage led 3-1 going into the 3rd, then got out shot 18-4, eventually losing in OT. December 27th was a similar story – Rampage led 2-1 and got out shot 16-3 (I was home in New Jersey for Christmas so I don’t have as strong of an opinion about this game). I feel like I mention this defensive shell every article and this chart shows why. When the Rampage had a lead going into the 3rd period vs OKC, they had a .900 save %. When you have inconsistent goaltending, and allow a goal every 10 shots, playing a defensive shell is never going to work. If the Rampage do this for a playoff game and lose, I’m going to have a mental breakdown on Twitter – so if that happens, you might want to avoid me on there for a few hours.
The last thing I looked at was the goalies. Since there were a lot of OT games (6 of the 12 went into Overtime), I separated shots during regulation from OT shots as the OT SV% is lower and because Playoff OT will be 5 on 5. I bet that Ellis and Brossoit are happy about 5 on 5 overtime, because 3 on 3 is where goaltending goes to die. Projected Starter Brossoit had a .911 Save Percentage versus the Rampage, which is lower than his season average of .918. Brossoit had a great rookie season, as the league average is .913. I honestly don’t put that much stock into goalie splits versus a specific team, so I’m not going to go on another #TeamDoogie tangent. However, this is a good way to show what Jim Byers said on Running With The Herd on Tuesday. Jim said that the Rampage can get away with okay goaltending but the Barons cannot. The Barons got a below average .907 SV% and went 3-9 versus the Rampage.
I pulled out the non-playoff teams from the season stats to show where everyone matches up compared to playoff teams. I will tweet out the stats for all playoff teams if you are interested in another team. The percentages get a bit wacky (and make goalies look worse than they are) if you leave in empty netters and shootout goals, so for the percentages and PDO I pulled them out.
Rampage (Every Rank is out of 16):
- Est Fenwick Close: 5th (53.28% – Playoff Average is 51.31%)
- Goals For: 2nd (3.18)
- Goals Against: 16th (2.91)
- Shots For: 2nd (33.1)
- Shots Against: 8th (29.3)
- Shooting %: 7th (9.3%)
- Save %: 15th (.906)
- PDO: 998
Barons (Ranked out of 16):
- Est Fenwick Close: 13th (49.94% – Playoff Average is 51.31%)
- Goals For: 5th (2.95)
- Goals Against: 12th (2.75)
- Shots For: 8th (31.2)
- Shots Against: 15th (31.7)
- Shooting %: 9th (9.1%)
- Save %: 10th (.916)
- PDO: 1007
About a month and a half ago I started playing around trying to see what statistics are the best predictors of the AHL Playoffs. The AHL website has statistics available for the past 5 seasons, so I used all of those statistics and the winners of every series for the past 5 seasons.
In the NHL Fenwick Close over the last 25 games (approximate length of playoffs) is around 70% accurate, so I felt like that would be a good number to strive for (Team record was correct for 62.7%). I spent way way too much time on this. I tried around 150 different statistics. The best individual statistic is slightly modifying Est Fenwick (adding OT shots, since they are also at Even Strength) and adding PP% and PK%. That was correct 68%.
However, I found a simpler and more accurate 7. I jokingly call them The Magic 7 categories – Goals For, Goals Against, PP%, PK%, Est Fenwick For, Est Fenwick Against and Est Fenwick Differential (Fenwick For minus Fenwick Against). The team that wins 4 or more of those categories has won 73.3% of series over the last five years.
Here is how the Rampage match up versus OKC.
Here are the rest of the series. (The Wolfies are the Hartford Wolfpack – as a Rangers fan they are my #2 AHL team and get a nickname).
Fun fact about the Rockford-Texas series. Rockford had the most shots this season. Texas allowed the most. That is not a good match-up for Texas at all – there is a chance that Rockford averages 40 shots a game. They need Ryannas and their special teams to step up if they want to play past this round. (My pick was/is Rockford in 4).
While the Magic 7 were correct 73.3%, they don’t take into account how teams are playing going into the playoffs. I actually saved every team’s statistics at the 56 game mark so that I could calculate their stats for the final 20 games of the season.
Rampage (Every Rank is out of 16):
- Est Fenwick Close: 3rd (54.89% – Playoff Average is 51.25%)
- Goals For: 3rd (3.35)
- Goals Against: 7th (2.45)
- Shots For: 2nd (34.4)
- Shots Against: 5th (28.4)
- Shooting %: 8th (9.4%)
- Save %: 8th (.918)
- PDO: 1012
The Rampage had a blistering end to the season, and you can see why. They dominated possession to a nearly 55% mark and got above league average goaltending for the first time all season. These numbers remind me a lot of an NHL team. There is one NHL team that typically has a Fenwick of around 55% and a goaltender who is slightly above league average, that team is the Los Angeles Kings of the past few seasons.
Barons (Ranked out of 16):
- Est Fenwick Close: 16th (46.24% – Playoff Average is 51.25%)
- Goals For: 16th (2.60)
- Goals Against: 14th (2.85)
- Shots For: 13th (28.8)
- Shots Against: 13th (32.2)
- Shooting %: 11th (8.9%)
- Save %: 11th (.916)
- PDO: 1004
This really puts the Baron’s collapse into perspective. They are no longer in the top 10 in any category. They score the fewest goals, while allowing the 3rd most. They have the 4th fewest shots while allowing the 4th most. Brossoit started 19 of these 20 games, and like Nate mentioned, he still had an above average Save%. However, the Barons went from being out shot by half a shot per game to nearly 3.5 shots a game. You won’t win many games being out-possessed like that. To give you a comparison, two NHL teams had Fenwick Closes similar to 46.24% – the Arizona Coyotes at 46.11% and the Columbus Blue Jackets at 46.12%. Anytime your closest comparisons are teams that are picking 3rd and 8th in the draft, that is just not good.
Looking at the last 20, I’m pretty happy about the Rampage drawing OKC, as the Rampage are an elite team and the Barons are clearly playing the worst of any playoff teams. For the Barons to have any chance, they need Brossoit to steal games and their Special Teams to be dominant. I don’t see both of those things happening, so I agree with with Nate – split in OKC, win the series in 4.
Photo Credit: Candace Riley @SoonerPenguin