Swarming the NHL: AI Picks for the Stanley Cup Finals

Fair to say that in October, not a lot of hockey fans would have predicted that the expansion Vegas Golden Knights and the perennial playoff bridesmaid Washington Capitals would square off in the Stanley Cup finals. While the Vegas story remains one of the craziest Cinderella stories in modern sports history, the Capitals – infamous around the league for playing well in the regular season and losing in the playoffs – are only a slightly less shocking finals participant.

This weekend, Unanimous AI convened a swarm of NHL fans to predict the outcome of this improbable Stanley Cup matchup. This swarm of avid puck-watchers was asked to predict the winner of the series, and also to forecast the number of games the finals will go. Finally, the group was tasked with assigning an imaginary “bet” from $0 to $100 on the series outcome as a way for researchers to assess the swarm’s confidence in their prediction.

Before making their prediction, the swarm was also asked a series of sentiment-related questions to establish some context and help frame their predictions on series. The NHL Swarm was asked separate questions on  which of the two surprise Cup finalists was better coached, which had better specialty teams, which enjoyed better goaltending and finally which was likely to have the “intangibles”: experience, home ice, and momentum. In each instance, the swarm picked the upstart Golden Knights.

That certainly helps to understand the swarm’s Stanley Cup prediction above. As one swarm participant put it, re: the Golden Knights: “I kept waiting for them to lose all year, but they’re obviously for real.” With that being said, the replay above shows the swarm deciding to go with a low-confidence prediction on the finals. One thing to note, however, is that the vast majority of the magnets are pulling to the Vegas side of the hex. Thus, though the confidence expressed ended up on “low”, that so many participants showed belief in Vegas is notable in this forecast – and likely clarified by the swarm showing stronger confidence in that hypothetical wagering stage by placing  a virtual $75 bet on their pick.

We’ll be holding weekly NHL swarms and paying $25 to the highest performing member of the Swarm? Want to join the Swarm or see the picks? Click the button below…

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Want to learn more about our Swarm AI platform? Check out our TED talk… 

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