The Getting Hot Narrative

‘Getting hot at the right time’ is a phrase you will hear hockey analysts say a lot over this final week of the regular season. The narrative is that a team that gets hot going into the playoffs, will stay hot in the playoffs. But is that true?  It’s a claim I’ve always challenged since the Stanley Cup Playoffs are such a crap shoot where lower seeds beating higher seeds is common. I looked at the data.

Hottest Teams

To determine the ‘hottest’ team in the league, I looked at the team’s percentage of points obtained over the last 10 games of the season. I.E. if a team had 5 wins, 2 overtime losses and 3 regulation losses, they would have 12 points of 20 possible points, which is 60%.

Looking at the last 10 seasons. Only two of the 22 hottest teams won the Stanley Cup with no other teams even making it to the Stanley Cup Final.

Coldest Teams

As Sharks, Leafs, and possibly Golden Knights fans are starting to freak out at their lackluster effort heading into the playoffs, I wanted to look at the bottom of the list as well. Could it be that the coldest teams heading it to the playoffs should expect an early exit?

If you look at the coldest 12 teams coming into the playoffs over the last 10 seasons, you can see that three teams actually made it to the Stanley Cup Final. The Chicago Blackhawks of 2014-15 would go on to win the Stanley Cup, in spite of being one of the coldest teams going into the playoffs.

Interesting to see that if you just look at the data, the coldest team either goes out in the first round (75%) or proceeds to the Stanely Cup Final (25%). Probably not the most logical conclusion but if I am a fan of a cold team, I am going to hang my hat on that stat.

Playoff outcomes the last 10 seasons

Here is a look at all the outcomes by season and team over the last 10 seasons.

John Barr
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