Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Permutations and Combinations
There are five games remaining in the NHL season that will decide the Isles' fate. These are the three remaining Islander games and Montreal's games with the Rangers and Toronto.
Each of these five games has four possible outcomes:
Home team win in regulation
Home team win in overtime/shootout
Road team win in overtime/shootout
Road team win in regulation
Thus, there are 1,024 possible combinations of results (4 x 4 x 4 x 4 x 4).
How many of those get the Islanders in the playoffs? 24.
In 16 of those scenarios, Montreal ends with 91 points (Toronto ends with 92 points in eight of these, losing the tie-break to the Isles, and with 91 in the other 8)
In the other 8 scenarios that get the Isles in, Montreal ends with 90 points (Toronto has 92 in four of these, losing the tie-break to the Isles and 91 in the other 4)
So it's 24 chances of 1024 -- or about 1 in 43. Not good, but not impossible either.
In 1990, with 5 games remaining the affected the Isles in that season, there were 243 combinations of results (only three possibilities for points then), only 2 of which would get the Isles into the playoffs. That 241-2 shot actually came in... when Uwe Krupp's OT goal knocked the Isles into the playoffs and sent Jaromir Jagr to the Penguins in the entry draft (leaving the Isles with Scott Scissons).
Since nothing will change on Wednesday, the Isles will get to Thursday still alive...and with a better shot mathematically than they had in 1990.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of FSN statistician Eric Hornick. Eric, who has worked the Stanley Cup Finals four times, celebrated his 25th anniversary as the statistician on Islander home telecasts on January 21, 2007. Often referred to on-air as an actuary, he is one of 2,920 Fellows of the Casualty Actuarial Society and is the President-Elect of the Casualty Actuaries of Greater NY.You can find him in the "Best Seat in the House", about six feet to Howie and Billy's left, at most Islander home games.For more on the actuarial profession, visit www.beanactuary.org