FanPost

PostMortem on Canucks-over-Hawks prediction: the "rosterjugglingitis" factor

In yesterday's FANPOST, I went out on a limb to predict the Canucks would beat the Hawks either in OT or in a shoot-out based on a pattern I discerned in the Canucks' wins and losses this season. When the Hawks took a 3-1 lead, I thought my prediction was about to get blown out of the water! But the Canucks' third-period comeback resulted in my prediction being just a bit off. But still, what went wrong?

Yesterday morning, as I was finishing up my pattern analysis for the post, I noticed in another Nucks Misconduct post that David Booth was drawing into the lineup for the Canucks-Hawks matchup. And this caused me to pause, because this move is significant in a second pattern I have noticed emerging with the Canucks, specifically, a pattern indicating that roster juggling is detrimental to their play.

The Canucks have the most stable roster in the NHL with only 6 game-to-game player changes to date, and with so few changes, it makes it easier to spot effects those changes might be having on team performance. Note what happens when I add the Canucks' first 5 player changes onto their win-loss record I presented in yesterday's post (indicated by "||"):

L|L(so)||W(so)||W|L||L(so)|W|W(so)|W(ot)|W|W||W||L|L(so)

So, the first six games--in which the Canucks earned only a single regulation-time win--is characterized by player changes almost every game. Then comes five games with no changes, and the Canucks gradually get their game in order, culminating in the big wins against Minnesota and Calgary. The pattern to this point suggests the Canucks suffer from "rosterjugglingitis", that is, a malady affecting their play whenever a player change occurs.

The fact they won the next game, even though it involved the Ebbett-for-Malhotra swap, appears at first glance to challenge this pattern. But remember, that was an uninspired 2-1 home win in which the Canucks barely snuck by a Wild team they should have been able to mop the floor with. Then, the next game saw the long-awaited return of Ryan Kesler, a great addition to the roster, but a "player change" nonetheless, and the Canucks gave up three unanswered goals to allow Dallas to leave town with a 4-3 regulation-time win.

As has been their pattern all year, the Canucks started the recovery process from this devastating loss by gaining a single point in a shoot-out loss to the Blues. But instead of the recovery process continuing with an shoot-out or OT win against the Hawks (as I predicted in yesterday's post), their recovery got stalled as they suffered a third straight loss for the first time this year. And wouldn't you know it. . .this stall in their recovery came in a game featuring the return of David Booth: another "player change"!

Bottom line: I still stand by the "win-loss" pattern I outlined in yesterday's post. I just need to be giving more weight to other potentially "counter-acting" patterns when making predictions.

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