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How the West Was (in Round) One

Now that the *yawn* thrilling Stars/Canucks series has concluded, it's time to see how well the Shot Quality-driven predictions made here a couple weeks ago held up.

Detroit/Calgary: The expectation was that the Red Wings would outshoot the Flames significantly, but superior goaltending by Miikka Kiprusoff would keep the series close and I had Detroit winning in seven (having it end in the 2nd overtime of Game Six is pretty close, ain't it?). That turned out fairly close to the actual result, although Detroit shut down Calgary's offense (both in terms of shot totals and goals yielded) even more than anticipated.

Anaheim/Minnesota: OK, here's the one for the dumpster - I picked the Wild in five games, based on the red-hot goaltending of Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom pretty much kept up his end of the bargain, keeping the Ducks down to the tune of 2.20 goals per game, but it was the Wild offense that failed to show up. Overall shot totals were expected to be dead-even for both teams, and that indeed turned out to be the case (32.31/32.39 Expected against 29.00/28.80 Actual). What made the difference was outstanding Ducks goaltending (both Bryzgalov and Giguere at well over .920).

Vancouver/Dallas: Goaltending dominated this series, even more so than expected, as Roberto Luongo clamped down on the Stars in the two primary scoring ranges, 10-19 and 20-29 feet. For the Stars, Marty Turco acquited himself admirably, posting three shutouts and topping Luongo's save percentage across the series, .952 against .950. This one was nice as I actually picked the Canucks in seven games, although it seemed like seven weeks.

Nashville/San Jose: While I was pulling for the Preds, the numbers just didn't look good going in, and my pick of the Sharks in 6 looked generous when San Jose actually closed things out in Game Five. Once again, the shot total expectations seemed to be pretty accurate (28.73/26.60 for San Jose, 33.94/32.60 for Nashville), and it looked like Evgeni Nabokov basically shut the Preds down from long range, not allowing any scores from 40+ feet, where Nashville would have expected about 0.6 goals per game. While Tomas Vokoun put in a yeoman's effort in his net (equalling Nabokov's .902 save percentage), the overall goal-scoring margin came in very close to the predicted value (3.74-3.01=0.73 Expected, against 3.20-2.60=0.60 Actual), resulting in a clear-cut advantage for the Sharks.

Once again, the proper team was chosen in three out of four series, so while I may make some minor adjustments to the method, I'll generate something similar for Round Two and start posting those predictions soon.

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