Cardiff Will Win The League (According To The Stats)

In his first article for The Cat’s Whiskers, Panthers fan Rob Pacey uses analysis predict that Cardiff Devils will win their first Elite League title

As we get in to this stage of the season, there’s a lot of talk as to who, realistically, will win the 2015/16 Elite League Title. Whilst Cardiff have led the way for many weeks, Braehead’s late charge and so-called “easy run in” certainly gives them a shot. Sheffield are on the outside looking in, but no one can ever rule them out. Nottingham and Belfast seem to be on the periphery.

Is there a way to take a sensible and statistical guess as to who will cross the line first? I decided to take it upon myself to take a guess, based on stats, on who will win.

A little about me – I’m a business analyst. My job is to analyse data and make decisions/predictions based on past events. There’s an ever expanding branch of hockey analytics and this is a basic form of that. This is something that I enjoy, but I appreciate not everyone will.

The method is relatively simple. Based on the games this season, I’ve seen how many points per game each team has gained against every other team. Then, based on the fixtures remaining, we can guess how many points each team will get. Add this all together and we can get estimate the final league standings.

Here’s an example…
– Belfast have played Braehead twice at home.
– One regulation time win has gone each way.
– Therefore, Belfast have got 2pts in 2 games – averaging one point per game.
– In the one remaining game in Belfast, we assume Belfast will take 1 point.

This also takes into account home and away form – say Belfast had won all of the home games vs. The Clan, but lost all the away games, if they had 1 remaining home game against the Clan, we’d assume Belfast would get the 2pts. If it were a game in Braehead, we’d assume Belfast would get 0pts.

Doing this for every team against every other, the league table looks as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 21.57.32*correct up to 04/02/2016

Despite Braehead’s “easy run in”, their form against the teams they have remaining means they won’t topple Cardiff who will win their first Elite League Title. Coventry will pip Fife to 7th. As stated, this relies entirely on previous form. As more games are played, we get a clearer picture of who will win the league (obviously), but this attempts to quantify how big the ask is to topple the Devils.

One final point I wanted to raise was a debate I had with another Panther fan before Christmas. There’s a school of thought that maintains the old rule that “win all of your home games and half of your away games, and you’ll win the league” is still valid. That’s a target of 78pts from 52 games. The estimations show Cardiff won’t even need this.

How good is this prediction? We shall have to see…

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