Tampa Bay Lightning's NHL Playoff Chances WIthout Ben Bishop From WhatIfSports.com image

Tampa Bay's chances without Ben Bishop

We simulate the 2014 NHL Playoffs without the Lightning's Ben Bishop

WhatIfSports.com
April 16, 2014

A quick Google search of the phrase "new NHL playoff format" returns a collection of articles which attempt to translate the remixed Stanley Cup Playoffs, but also include a common variation of the word "confusing." Yet, when it comes to simulating the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and misperception, the new bracket structure takes a backseat to the league's litany of vague injury reports.

In the case of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the veil of uncertainty could be found between the pipes as starting goalie Ben Bishop was day-to-day the day we ran our Stanley Cup simulation. Keeping in mind, Bishop is often heralded as one of the catalysts and reasons why the Lightning locked up a No. 2 seed and won as many games as they did (46). Bishop finished with a 37-14-7 record this season and a .924 save percentage. So, in a simulation world where the statistical make-up of a team dictates its odds of winning one or more playoff series, it's safe to assume an active Bishop in our original simulation gave a heavy nod to the Lightning in Round 1.

However, after the veil of mystery was lifted, Lightning fans learned back-up goalie Anders Lindback would be starting against the Montreal Canadiens in Round 1 and not Bishop with his "upper body injury" - define how you will - whose timetable remains uncertain as playoff puck drops tonight.

We re-simulated the playoffs with Anders' save percentage of .891 in goal to see how much he would impact the Lightning's playoff chances.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Bishop vs. Lindback
RoundWin % with BishopWin % with Lindback
First Round71.955.6
Conf. Semis13.46.3
Conf. Finals7.21.9
Finals2.80.2

In our initial simulation, the Lightning possessed a 71.9 percent chance to advance out of the first round with Bishop in goal. However, during the resim, with Anders in net, the team's chances fell to 55.6 percent. Tampa Bay only had a 13.4 percent chance to win in the conference semifinals, but with Anders starting, those odds dropped to 6.3 percent.

The new NHL Stanley Cup Playoff structure may confuse. The vagueness of an NHL injury report may leave you wanting more. However, this is clear, Tampa Bay better pray, without a Bishop, that the Anders Lindback, who saved 75 of 77 shots in April (with one shutout), debunks the larger statistical sample size, which generated the Lightning's new odds.

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Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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