Ranking the Entertainment Value of the Stanley Cup Finals, 1990-2013

Among my Hawk-fan friends, we all agreed: the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals were incredible. Nail-biting, series-rallying, unexpectedly heart-stopping - and, of course, a Hawks victory made it that much sweeter. A few days after the fact, I was enjoying a few cold beverages with the same group I watched the Finals with, and the subject came up of whether the 2010 or 2013 Cup win had been more thrilling. OT goal on the road versus Seventeen Seconds - the discussion went on and on.

The discussion then turned to the most exciting SCF ever, and we agreed that we'd just seen the Hawks involved in two of the best - but how did we know that? Did we only know that because we were Hawks fans? Or were these objectively entertaining, thrilling series? Fortunately, we're all stat geeks, so off to the lab we went.

We didn't agree on much, but in the interest of a simple means of measuring series excitement and entertainment, we agreed that a (relatively) higher-scoring game was often more entertaining and exciting than a low-scoring one; that a blowout, even if it was by our own team, was less exciting than a close game; and that while this was a system that diminished the value of goalie play (a tacit admission on our part), it would serve to rate games in volume.

The formula we developed was fairly simple: (goals per game average over the SCF/average margin of victory in those games), or (G/GA)/AMV. (To make it easy, we bastardized the English of that formula into GAAMV.) In this system, the higher the GAAMV score, the more entertaining the game (in general). So a 1-0 game scores a 1.0 GAAMV ("how entertaining was it?") score (one goal divided by a one-goal margin of victory). A 6-1 game scores a 1.4 (seven goals divided by a five-goal margin of victory). A 6-5 game scores an 11 (eleven goals divided by a one-goal margin of victory). Average the GAAMV over the series, and the series itself gets an overall score.

Is this perfect? No, not by any stretch. there's been plenty of 1-0 nailbiters that I enjoyed greatly, and watching the Hawks paste the Flyers 7-4 in the 2010 Finals was fun. (But I wouldn't want to watch an entire Finals of 1-0 nailbiters, nor an entire Finals of back-and-forth blowouts.) It also completely does not take into account when goals were scored, so a 3-2 game might have been horrendously dull until the score BECAME 3-2. Like, you know....a certain recent Game 6). But for the purposes of aggregating data at a distance, it's one possible metric. Flame on if you want, or defend your horrid and unwatchable BOS-VAN Finals - the worst ever by GAAMV - if you feel the need.

But guess what? The Hawks HAVE been involved in some of the most entertaining series ever. In fact, they've been involved in #1 in GAAMV (the 2010 Finals), #2 (the 1992 Finals - sorry for THAT memory) and #3 (the 2013 Finals). Here's the rankings of the top 10 Finals ever by GAAMV:

1. CHI-PHI 2010 5.2

2. CHI-PIT 1992 5.0

3. CHI-BOS 2013 4.0

4, MIN-PIT 1991 3.6

5. DET-WAS 1998 3.3

6T. ANA-OTT 2007 3.0

LA-MTL 1993 3.0

8. DAL-BUF 1999 2.8

9. NJ-DET 1995 2.6

Congratulations, fellow Hawk fans - it's not just you. When we make the Finals, we make fireworks.

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