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Computer simulation picks Wings to repeat

Friday, 05.29.2009 / 11:52 AM ET / News
By Rocky Bonanno  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Computer simulation picks Wings to repeat
Hockeytown becomes Titletown for the fifth time in 12 seasons and Marian Hossa finally gets his Stanley Cup ring. In fact, he scores the Cup-winning goal and earns the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP!

According to WhatIf Sports, the  Red Wings will outlast the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games to repeat as Cup champs. That is what was determined in 10,000 Stanley Cup finals computer simulations conducted by WhatIf Sports, a fantasy sports Web site designed to simulate game results using real historical statistics.

After the simulations were run using 2008-09 statistics and the current rosters and line combinations, Detroit came out on top 53.2 percent of the time, the most common occurrence being a seven-game series.

The WhatIf computer ran the simulations with the assumption that injured Red Wings stars Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk will return to the lineup for Game 1 on Saturday. However, if either player were to miss multiple games, it could be enough to push the probability in Pittsburgh's favor since Detroit was given only a small margin of victory in winning the series.

Hossa earned the Conn Smythe for scoring 11 goals and nine assists with a plus-14 rating in 23 postseason games. As of Thursday, he has 6 goals and 6 assists with a plus-5 through 16 contests. Last season, Hossa was Pittsburgh's leading scorer with 7 points in the six-game Final against Detroit.

WhatIf predicts Detroit teammates Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall will each score seven points against Pittsburgh, and goaltender Chris Osgood will post a .878 save percentage.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will score 10 points apiece for the Penguins in the seven-game Final, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury records a .894 save percentage.

At the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, WhatIf Sports predicted the Boston Bruins to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final. Detroit was given a 1.3 percent chance of winning the Cup, and Pittsburgh only 0.7 percent.

In last season's Stanley Cup Final simulation, WhatIf Sports accurately predicted the Red Wings would win the Cup against the Penguins, but in five games, one less than Detroit actually needed.

The game-by-game summarizations below are based on the most common result of the 10,000 simulations.


Game 1
Pittsburgh 4 at Detroit 6
-- In the highest-scoring game of the series, the Penguins take an early 2-0 lead but the Red Wings storm back on the strength of Hossa's two-goal, two-assist performance which includes the game-winning goal. Both his scores came in the third period and padded Detroit's lead to 5-2. Datsyuk added three assists, and the Red Wings finished with a 42-29 advantage in shots.

Game 2
Pittsburgh 1 at Detroit 5
-- Continuing its offensive barrage from Game 1, the Red Wings take a 5-0 lead after two periods en route for the dominating win despite being outshot 34-33. Filppula scored a game-high 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists), and Kronwall (2 assists) and Hudler (goal, assist) chipped in 2 points each. Brian Rafalski, Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom added goals for the Red Wings, while Malkin provided Pittsburgh's only scoring.

Game 3
Detroit 2 at Pittsburgh 4
-- The Penguins race out to a 4-0 lead, breaking through for two each in the second and third periods, en route to the win. Sergei Gonchar, Ruslan Fedotenko, Rob Scuderi and Crosby provide the goals, and Malkin earns three assists. Fleury needed to make only 15 saves for the win.

Game 4
Detroit 3 at Pittsburgh 2
-- For the third time in four games, the Penguins score first, but Detroit comes out on top to take a 3-1 series lead. Hudler, who is credited with the game-winner in the third period, scores for the fourth straight game. Defensemen Kronwall (goal, assist) and Brad Stuart (three assists) provide scoring as well, and Osgood makes 20 saves. The Red Wings outshot the Penguins 40-24.

Detroit Red Wings Western Conference Champs GearGame 5
Pittsburgh 5 at Detroit 3
-- Facing elimination, captain Crosby comes up with a huge first-period hat trick and the Penguins take a 5-0 lead in the first 15:55. Crosby also recorded an assist and linemates Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin add three and two assists, respectively. Gonchar began the onslaught by scoring 13 seconds from the opening faceoff, and Fleury made 28 saves. Hossa, who has been held off the scoresheet since Game 1, scored his third goal of the series and Hudler keeps his goal-streak alive by scoring with 3:38 left in the third period.

Game 6
Detroit 2 at Pittsburgh 3
-- Back on home ice, the Penguins push the series to the limit with three second-period goals to take a 3-0 lead and hang on for the win. Kunitz, Fedotenko and Maxime Talbot provided the scoring and Fleury stopped 26 shots. Malkin and Rafalski each recorded two assists, and Hudler fails to score a point for the first time in the series.

Game 7
Pittsburgh 3 at Detroit 4
-- Hossa is the hero, as his goal with 5:34 remaining in the third period gives the Red Wings a 4-2 lead and proves to be the series-clincher. Malkin scores 42 seconds later, but the Penguins couldn't put another by Osgood. After a scoreless first period, Kunitz puts Pittsburgh ahead at 10:47 of the second, but Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg answer for a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes. Malkin ties the score with a power-play goal at 4:56 of the third with Franzen in the penalty box for cross checking. Filppula restores Detroit's lead at 11:52. Despite the loss Fleury was outstanding in facing 41 shots while Pittsburgh could muster only 16 at Osgood.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 54 18 20 25 38
H. Zetterberg 55 10 28 5 38
T. Tatar 54 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 55 14 16 -1 30
P. Datsyuk 40 9 21 14 30
J. Abdelkader 55 14 15 -2 29
M. Green 47 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 41 5 11 6 16
D. DeKeyser 51 7 8 12 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 5 .933 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89