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'Ice Insanity' Part 4: Crowning our pretend champion

Josh Lavallee / National Hockey League / Getty

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Two weeks ago, we introduced a one-and-done midseason tournament concept for the NHL called "Ice Insanity," seeding teams 1-32 based on league standings but setting parameters for advancement based on tenets of hockey handicapping to ready ourselves for the real thing - the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here's how we got here:

  1. First round: Recent form (even-strength expected goals share (xG%) since the All-Star break)
  2. Sweet 16: Ability to drive play (full season even-strength xG%)
  3. Elite Eight: A hot goaltender (GSAx per 60 minutes since the All-Star break)

The Hurricanes had a pair of easy matchups in the first two rounds, especially given how good their advanced metrics are. The Canes suddenly have reliable goaltending, which pushed them past the Bruins.

The Flames got fictionally hot at the right time to knock off the Kings in the first round, and then were set up with a great matchup in the second round against the Senators. Calgary barely snuck past the Canucks, thanks to Vancouver's former goalie Jacob Markstrom.

The Panthers beat the Ducks easily, then topped the Lightning in a down year for Tampa, before Sergei Bobrovsky held off the scorching Predators and Juuse Saros.

The Wild's hot play took down the Flyers. Minnesota then beat the Rangers, who were lucky to get past the first round based on their even-strength metrics. The Oilers' shaky goaltending cost them in the Elite Eight, even against mediocre Marc-Andre Fleury.

Final Four

To win our made-up tournament's title belt (we can't compete with the Cup), teams must convert minimal chances the late stages of the playoffs provide. While fluky goals can happen at any moment, they can't be relied upon. But there are two areas where a team's talent level can be the difference-maker: High-danger chances at even strength (ES HDC) and power plays (PPG).

Hurricanes 156 967
Flames 122 902
Panthers 132 965
Wild 133 869

To make "Ice Insanity" even nuttier, we're creating a metric based on how efficiently a team converts high-danger chances at even strength and on the power play. Dividing the goals into the opportunities, we get what we're calling their "SNIPES (Score Now, It's Playoff Extreme Stress) Percentage."

(8) Hurricanes 16.1
(21) Flames 13.5
(3) Panthers 13.6
(18) Wild 15.3

Hockey's version of a "Cinderella" run often ends before the Stanley Cup Final and that's the case for the Flames in our fake tournament.

When the going gets tough, with fewer penalties called and high-danger chances scarce during the run of play, Minnesota - somewhat surprisingly - is more likely than Florida to take advantage of minimal chances available. So it's a Minnesota-Carolina final.

"Ice Insanity" Championship

(8) Hurricanes 58.6 55.9 1.77 16.1
(18) Wild 55.0 51.0 0.03 15.3

To crown our champion, we put all our stat categories together, and with a sweep of the four categories, the Hurricanes are your first "Ice Insanity" winners. Their prize: Potential inclusion into your futures portfolio at +650 to win the Stanley Cup. (And a title belt.)

The cheat sheet

The betting world's dirty little secret is that while there are no bad bets at the right price, the process of discovering a good price is hidden.

Each week, we balance market information from regular-season point totals and in-season advanced metrics - with an even-strength focus - to determine the win probability for each team and the moneyline needed to bet on either side. The idea is to remove the cognitive bias of win-loss records, which can be skewed by outliers like special-team results, poor goaltending performances, and other unreliable events.

You can use whatever parameters you like to decide how much of an edge you need to trigger a bet, but here are mine:

  • True line favorite of -111 or longer: 1%
  • True line between -110 and +110: 2.5%
  • True line underdog of +111 or longer: 4%

I also have a 5% win probability consideration for a team playing the second game of a back-to-back with travel and a 3% consideration for the second leg of a home back-to-back. For injured players, the player's impact on their team's win probability is estimated.

When the betting markets open up the night before, you can compare those prices with our "price to bet" column to see if you're getting any value with either side's moneyline. There's a possibility that a moneyline moves into a bet-friendly range at some point between the market opening and puck drop.

Mar. 29 NJD@BUF 53.9/46.1 NJD -112/BUF +137
Mar. 30 DET@FLA 29.0/71.0 DET +300/FLA -233
VGK@MIN 46.1/53.9 VGK +137/MIN -112
ANA@EDM 14.5/85.5 ANA +856/EDM -547
NSH@COL 35.7/64.3 NSH +215/COL -172
NYR@ARI 59.8/40.2 NYR -143/ARI +176
CAR@MTL 75.0/25.0 CAR -285/MTL +377
OTT@WPG 42.5/57.5 OTT +159/WPG -130
CHI@PHI 36.8/63.2 CHI +205/PHI -164
PIT@CBJ 63.1/36.9 PIT -164/CBJ +204
NYI@TB 42.9/57.1 NYI +157/TB -128
BOS@WSH 58.4/41.6 BOS -135/WSH +166
TOR@BUF 58.5/41.5 TOR -135/BUF +167
SJS@STL 33.7/66.3 SJS +236/STL -188
DAL@SEA 58.5/41.5 DAL -135/SEA +167
LAK@CGY 52.6/47.4 LAK -106/CGY +130
Mar. 31 ANA@VAN 21.9/78.1 ANA +457/VAN -336

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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