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Who Will Win the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals?

Who will be carrying the Stanley Cup after the 2015 Finals? Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
Who will be carrying the Stanley Cup after the 2015 Finals?
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Since our "Who Will Win the Big Game" book came out several years ago, our published "quant fact" predictions have picked the winner of major sporting events 62% of the time, regularly picking underdogs.  A portion of our research studies factors related to sports psychology, including: big game experience, leadership, and defense. Over the past several decades, the factors we quantified have been related to winning championships about 60%-70% of the time. 

Here, we look at the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, which feature the Chicago Black Hawks and Tampa Bay Lightning.  Last year, we correctly predicted that the Los Angeles Kings would win the 2014 Stanley Cup.

Big Game Experience: Experience, as measured by finals appearances over the past three years, is one of the biggest factors in predicting the winner of championships in all major sports -- and the NHL, in particular.  Since our database begins in 1979, the team with this edge has won a huge 89% of Stanley Cup Finals.  The Black Hawks won the 2014 Stanley Cup, while this is the first appearance for the Lightning since 2004.  Edge: Chicago.  

Leadership on offenseStrong leaders, and especially key offensive and defensive players can will their teams to championships.The team with the stronger leader on offense has won 63% of Stanley Cup Finals. Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson lead all regular season scorers on the ice for the finals. Edge: Tampa Bay.  

Defense: Defense matters, especially in the post-Gretzky years.  The team with the better defense, as measured by goals against has won 60% of Stanley Cups since 1979. Edge: Chicago.

Leadership between the goalposts: Over the past 35 years, the team with the better goalie has won 62% of Stanley Cups.  Although this is related to a team's overall defense, we use save percentage as a slightly more independent factor.  This is also a potential measure of getting "into the zone."  Blackhawk goalie Corey Crawford beats out Lightning goalie Ben Bishop .924 to .916 in this measure.  Edge: Chicago.  

In summary, the championship traits favor Chicago over Tampa Bay 3-1, with the two finalists splitting the largest factors.  

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Carlton Chin is a fund manager, MIT-trained quantitative analyst, and co-author of “Who Will Win the Big Game?" He has been quoted by the Wall St. Journal, New York Times, and ESPN -- and worked with the Sacramento Kings on the 2014 NBA Draft. Dr. Jay Granat is the co-author of the "Who Will Win" book and owner of StayInTheZone.com.    

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