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NHL odds question?

  1. May 30, 2013 #1
    Yeah I know weird place for a hockey question but this year in the Eastern and Western Conference finals the teams are comprised of the last four winners of the Stanley Cup. Any idea what the odds on that happening would be?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 30, 2013 #2
    Consider this.

    Let A be your event, and let P(A) be the probability of your event. Then, ##0 \leq \operatorname{P}(A) \leq 1##. :tongue:

    If you would like a serious answer, you may want to give us how teams are chosen for the event, and how many teams were applicable.
  4. May 30, 2013 #3
    Nice. Thats awesome. Eight teams out of fifteen in each conference Eastand West) with the most points over the season are selected for the playoffs. First to Eighth seed. Starts with quarter finals, Then semi finals, the conference finals. All series' are a best of seven. Make sense?
  5. May 30, 2013 #4


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    All irrelevant. Are some teams better than others?
  6. May 30, 2013 #5


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    Clearly, like all competitive sports, some teams are better than others. This isn't a matter of probability...it's a matter of skill.
  7. May 30, 2013 #6


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    How can you find the odds of this event happening if you don't have the individual odds of reaching the conference final for each team.

    Clearly , Pittsburgh had better odds to reach the conference final than at least 20 NHL teams.So we already know that the chance of this event happening is bigger than if you picked four random teams.
    Last edited: May 30, 2013
  8. May 31, 2013 #7
    May sound silly but odds is based on probability right?
  9. May 31, 2013 #8
    I think the question is if the teams had equal skill or else you obviously could not answer it.

    Although a way to make the problem even more interesing would be to give a probability of "starting skill" for a team, then give a probability for "improvement" after the first season. Then ask, what is the probability of each of the four team in the semi finals being in it the year before.
  10. May 31, 2013 #9


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    The simplest way to answer this would probably be to look at how many the times final four were the previous four Stanley cup winners. Since the NHL has run the playoffs since 1926, one would start with by seeing how many times it has happened since 1930, divided by the total number of Stanley cup playoffs since 1930. According to the 2013 Wikipedia article, "For the first time since 1945, the final four teams left in the playoffs were the previous four Stanley Cup champions: Pittsburgh (2009), Chicago (2010), Boston (2011), and Los Angeles (2012)", so the probability will be very low.

    It's a small sample size, of course, so it can only be a rough estimate of the probability. It's also going to be a terrible estimate because the number of teams has changed since 1930, and rules have changed, etc., so there's all sorts of problems with the calculation, but it's simple at least.

    Less simple would be to come up with an actual statistical model of how likely each time is to beat any other given team in the NHL, use that to calculate the probability that they make it into the playoffs, the probability that they make it into the final four, the probability that they were the champs X years ago, etc, in a terrible Bayes' Law calculation.

    Or maybe you can just pester Nate Silver until he does all that for you.
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