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Fan Poll Results Are In!

Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning

Last week, The Scrum Sports conducted a poll in four different Lightning fan Facebook groups. We posed the question of where the Bolts would finish in the standings at the end of the season. Top three in the division? First wildcard? Second wildcard? Or, sadly, miss the playoffs entirely? Our fans did not disappoint! We had 505 votes in just a few days! Let’s check out the results and see how they align with current statistical odds.

Timeline of the Poll

This poll began prior to the trade deadline- before The Bolts brought over Anthony Duclair and Matt Dumba. The poll originally posted on Tuesday, March 5th. Two days later, the Lightning suffered a horrible loss at home to the Calgary Flames. That crushing defeat likely influenced some of the voters. It was during this game that news started to come in about the acquisition of Anthony Duclair. On Friday, as the deadline hour approached, Lightning faithful learned that Matt Dumba would also be coming over. Saturday, the Facebook groups were reminded to cast their votes now that the trade deadline had passed. Saturday night, the Bolts thrashed the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0. Duclair contributed with a goal and an assist. Poll results were tabulated Sunday morning.

Scrum Facebook Poll Results

What did our fans say? Out of the 505 total votes, only 21 said the Bolts would finish top three in the division, which comes out to four percent. Ninety-one voters (18 percent) predicted that the Lightning would miss the playoffs entirely.  The overwhelming majority believed that the Bolts would finish in a wildcard position. A whopping 77.8 percent of polltakers felt that the Lightning would finish in a wildcard spot. A total of 158 people (31.3 percent) predicted wildcard one position, while 235 people (46.5 percent) predicted wildcard two.

When this poll initially came out, the Bolts were holding down the second wildcard spot. Today, they find themselves in the first wildcard spot.

How do The Scrum Poll Results Compare?

There are several websites that run simulations to calculate each team’s playoff odds. The various sites all have the Lightning odds of making the playoffs between 75 to 89.9 percent. Moneypuck has the Bolts at 89.9 percent to make the playoffs with a 65 percent chance of finishing in the first wildcard spot and a 15.5 percent chance of finishing in the second.

ESPN uses Stathletes for its playoff predictions. As of yesterday, they had the Lightning finishing up at 93 points with an 87.8 percent chance of making the playoffs. Hockey Reference also has the Bolts finishing up with 93.5 points, but they give only a 74.8 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Overall, it appears that our Scrum poll results fall right in line with all the top NHL prediction models!

Seasons Change

Playoff odds change by the day and there are often surprises. Take the Detroit Red Wings as an example. Going into the last day in February, the Wings were a glorious 7-2 for the month and on a dominant six-game winning streak. They had 72 points and looked poised for the first wildcard spot and their first playoff berth since 2016. Now, two weeks later, they still sit at 72 points but have now lost six straight and are watching their playoff odds dwindle by the day. Moneypuck has them at just a 33.2 percent playoff chance- 8.9 percent for the first wildcard and 23.9 for the second. However, they do have a relatively easy schedule ahead- especially compared to the Lightning who face two of the league’s division leaders in the next two games.

The Lightning, though, have actually stayed on a relatively consistent pace throughout the season. Beginning of the year models had them on track for fourth in their division with 96 points and a 62 percent chance of making the playoffs. The Bolts have certainly had their ups and downs this season. But with just 17 games remaining, they find themselves pretty much right where people predicted from the start of the season: fourth place in the division, on pace for a point total in the mid-90s, and more likely than not to make the playoffs as a wildcard team.

Wrapping Up the Poll

In just over a month, we will have our answer. We will know whether the 81.8 percent of our polltakers were right about the Bolts making the playoffs and which ones were most accurate. We will know whether it was the four percent who said they would finish top three in the division, the 31.3 percent who predicted the first wildcard position, or the 46.5 percent who believed they would be the second wildcard.

At the beginning of the poll, the Lightning had not yet acquired Duclair and Dumba. Both had a good first game on Saturday and seemed to bring a positive impact to the team. Will their presence convince any of the 18 percent who felt the Bolts would miss the playoffs? How will the next few games- including a home game against the powerful New York Rangers, followed by a road trip against the league leading Florida Panthers and then out west for four games- impact the season? What about Tanner Jeannot? Will he be back in the lineup tomorrow night?

So many questions. But despite the Jekyll and Hyde season it seems to have been, the Lightning are pretty much exactly where the majority predicted they would be at this point. So, as long as they continue to stay true to our predictions, we should at least be able to get a round of playoff hockey in Tampa Bay this year!

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