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Showing posts from November, 2006

Endorsements

Got any good books to recommend?

Greatest Hits from Working the Net:

Harlow Salon - one of the very best hair salons in Nashville TN.

Is There Hope for the Flyers?

Now that the Philadelphia Flyers have moved beyond the Bobby Clarke/Ken Hitchcock era, I thought I'd take a detailed look at their performance to see what stylistic changes in their play have accompanied their improved record as of late (they were 1-6-1 before Regime Change, and are 6-8-2 afterwards).

The most basic indicator of performance is the Goals For/Against ratio, which is our strongest guide to determining win/loss results for a team. The improvement there has been dramatic:

Goals For/GameGoals Against/GameGoal RatioBefore1.8754.1250.455First 8 After2.254.000.563Last 82.751.751.571

It would appear that they floundered early on, continued their poor play in the wake of the shakeup, but then have actually turned things around in the last 8 games. Granted, 8 game snapshots aren't much of a statistical sample, but if they made enough sense for Flyers management to flush a front office down the drain, it's good enough for blogwork.

The wierd part here is that the Goal Rati…

It's The All-Request Hour...

Rich over at American Hockey Fan asked today for an in-depth comparison between past and present Bruins centermen Joe Thornton and Marc Savard, so here we go. This is pretty much an ad-hoc analysis (rushed to the finish so I can get to a meeting), but if you feel something is missing, feel free to chime in...

OFFENSE:
As of today (11/27/2006), Thornton and Savard each have 27 points, the difference being Big Joe's 7 goals to Savard's 6, and Savard having played 3 less games (which gets Savard into 7th spot over at Hockey Recap for points per minute). Time on the ice per game is nearly identical, (19:16 vs. 19:17), so it's not like one guy is getting more opportunity than the other, and each has 2 power play goals, so it would appear at least that neither is getting a big advantage in that area. One interesting difference is that Savard tends to take more shots than Thornton (68-50), albeit with a lower shooting percentage (8.8 vs. 14.0) This is true even if you look at caree…

Close, but no cigar...

The axe fell on Trent Yawney today in Chicago, with Denis Savard taking over for now. At the start of the season, I picked Yawney to be the first head coach voted off the NHL island, but Ken Hitchcock and Gerard Gallant beat him to the unemployment office.

Which Teams Are Giving Up Those Juicy Rebounds?

Following up on our previous look at offensive rebound opportunities, it's now time to see which teams are locking down the front of the net, and which ones are rolling out the red carpet for opposing forwards to try, try again if their first shot doesn't succeed. We're looking at team performance here, as it seems to me that preventing rebounds is a joint effort. Goaltenders try to contain or at least manage them, and defensemen need to sweep them out of harm's way as quickly as possible, while tying up their opponent so they can't get a stick on the loose puck.

The table below shows Rebounds Allowed Per Game for the 2005-6 NHL Regular Season, as well as the numbers so far this season (through the 296 games as of November 19). The league averages were 1.8 rebounds per team per game last year, and 1.3 so far this year. Again, a rebound is here defined as a shot occurring within 5 seconds of another shot by the same team, from within 60 feet, without another inte…

Fighting the Good Fight In Front of the Net

Before heading out for the Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to leave a tasty treat for all of you to snack on - a look at rebound opportunities. Especially in a close game, working hard for those extra shots can make the difference between winning and losing, and the battle around the crease can be one of the most exciting aspects of the game.

My criteria here involves looking at shots that occur within 5 seconds of another shot, and are taken from 60 feet or less, without an intervening faceoff or other event. In his seminal Shot Quality paper, Alan Ryder uses the filter of 2 seconds, and a max shot distance of 25 feet. The difference here is that I'm not concerned with the goalie's ability to stop this rebound shot, I'm interested more in how often these events are occuring. For the purposes of Shot Quality (and a goalie's ability to make a save), a slapper from 50 feet should be the same whether it came off a faceoff win or whether an initial shot came in, and the rebo…

Updating Top Shot-Producing Faceoff Men

Yesterday we looked at shot generation immediately after the faceoff on a team-by-team basis, so now it's time to look at some of the outstanding players. Since we looked at last season with a minimum of 100 offensive-zone faceoffs, we'll use 25 draws as our minimum for this year so far (yes, it's a small sample size, but most of our top ten had 45-60). Recall that the league average this season is for a shot within 5 seconds of an offensive-zone faceoff 7.21% of the time.

Shot Generation After FO By PlayerPlayerFaceoffsShotsShot Gen %Andy Hilbert, NYI27622.22%Alexander Svitov, CBJ45920.00%Stu Barnes, DAL45817.78%Dean McAmmond, OTT621016.13%Ian Laperriere, COL45715.56%Jeff O'Neill, TOR52815.38%Mike Zigomanis, PHX47714.89%John Madden, N.J.681014.71%Kris Draper, DET49714.29%Matthew Stajan, TOR57814.04%Yanic Perrault, PHX36513.89%

This table "goes to 11", because everyone knows that Yanic Perrault has a great reputation as a faceoff man, so I wanted to include him…

Phoenix Coyotes in Second Place! (in something, at least...)

One of the pieces I did early last month looked at how often teams and players generated shots off of faceoffs in the opponent's zone. Since we've pretty much hit the quarter-pole of the 2006-07 NHL Regular Season, I thought I'd update those numbers to reflect how things are going so far. Overall, across 296 games played through Sunday night, there have been 10,822 non-neutral zone faceoffs, of which 780 saw the offensive team generate a shot within 5 seconds of the draw (7.2%). So how do the teams rank? Let's take a look...

Shot Generation After FO By TeamTeam2005-62006-7DifferenceOttawa Senators11.85%10.14%-1.71%Phoenix Coyotes6.89%10.09%3.20%Detroit Red Wings9.31%10.08%0.77%St. Louis Blues11.23%9.97%-1.26%Dallas Stars8.79%9.61%0.82%Edmonton Oilers12.45%9.12%-3.33%Toronto Maple Leafs9.96%8.89%-1.07%Colorado Avalanche9.93%8.88%-1.05%Los Angeles Kings9.49%8.75%-0.74%New Jersey Devils7.18%8.20%1.02%Montreal Canadiens12.59%7.94%-4.65%New York Islanders10.35%7.42%-2.93…

We'll get back to the stats shortly...

A few days ago, Eric McErlain over at Off Wing Opinion wondered if hockey on TV in the US would ever improve . Well, you have to give VS. solid marks for effort, with the debut of the RailCam in tonight's Avs/Stars tilt. They'll have some work to do integrating it seamlessly into the telecast, but it really does help bring the speed and flow of the game to life for viewers.

For example: starting at 17:48 of the 3rd, they switch to the RailCam as Mike Modano picks up the puck near his own blue line and leads a charge up ice. As he enters the offensive zone, we are basically looking over his shoulder at a Colorado defenseman in good position, so Modano leaves it for Trevor Daley who carries it into the corner with a defender trailing. He then feeds it back to Modano who is now behind the net, and as Modano tries to center it, Tyler Arnason picks it up for the Avs and heads back the other way. The RailCam simply follows the action and takes us along like a wingman for Arnaso…

Crank up the video machine

Inspired by a post over at Off Wing Opinion, I've added some videos from Blinx.tv on the sidebar. If they wreak havoc with your browser and detract from your browsing here, please leave a comment and I'll consider removing it. I just thought it was a nice widget to add to the page...

Break Up The Bruins, and Lay Off The Sens...

As we close the first quarter of the 2006-7 NHL Regular Season, there are some teams out there feeling great about their starts (Buffalo, Anaheim) and others that are feeling the heat over disappointing results (Philadelphia, Columbus, Ottawa). But today's question is, how much of this reaction is overdone? Which teams are likely to come back towards the middle, as the ups and downs of the long NHL winter take their toll?

The tool I'm using here is "PythagenPuck", as outlined by Alan Ryder of Hockey Analytics. The basic idea is that a team's winning percentage bears a close relationship to their Goals For and Goals Against (shocking, ain't it?). The formula is pretty strong, in that if I take the Goals For and Against for each team in the league over the last three years, it kicks out an expected winning percentage that is usually within 2 or 3%, excluding the points from Shootout Wins (i.e., it would predict a .568 win percentage for San Jose last year, again…

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics...

There's been a lot of discussion lately regarding a study that was cited in Canada's National Post that argued that, among other things, Major Penalties help NHL teams win hockey games. There was an obvious "yeah, right" reaction from much of the blogosphere, and Sisu Hockey has done a nice evisceration of this shoddy piece, but I thought I'd put my thoughts in as well. What we really have here is another sad example of the media picking up a study and running with it before giving any kind of thorough vetting. So let's take a look inside...

Abstract: In the past few years, the National Hockey League (NHL) has struggled financially. Teams within the NHL and the league itself have been struggling to make money, and last year the NHL season did not take place because of a labor dispute and resulting lockout between the players and owners. Therefore, this makes the NHL a very appropriate target for study. As previous research on various professional sports and th…

Marching Into The Box

Today I thought I'd highlight some of the top penalty specialists of the 2005-6 NHL season. No, not penalty killing specialists, but instead those guys who took the most penalties of various kinds. The Syracuse Bulldogs had the infamous Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken, a master at using the blade of his stick on anything but the puck, but who deserves that tag in the NHL? Here's a quick look at some of the leading practitioners of hockey's Dark Arts:

Chairmen of the Boards:
Vitaly Vishnevski (then with Anaheim, now with Atlanta) and Brooks Orpik of Pittsburgh led all players with 4 Boarding penalties, each with 3 minors and a major.

That Belongs in the Summer, Not Winter, Olympics:
Diving is always a hot-button issue in heated rivalries, and last year's Diving Champion was Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk with 4 Diving penalties. Coming up behind him with 3 each were Washington's Dainius Zubrus, Buffalo's Maxim Afinogenov, and Minnesota's Marian Gaborik. I…

And Now For Something Completely Different...

While running some analysis on penalty information from last season, it struck me that after the addition of the Rocket Richard Trophy to the NHL's awards list, there was a terrible omission made that the hockey leadership needs to correct before it's too late. They need to stand up and recognize those pivotal players who perform a unique, critical role in the course of a game.

Yes, I'm talking about the guy who goes and sits in the penalty box for someone else (usually the goalie), the Server of the "Penalty Served By" in the boxscores. Sure, it can be somewhat akin to those painful schoolyard memories of youth, as the team has to select an on-ice player to sit in the box for a short time and "feel shame" for someone else's transgression. But someone's gotta take a breather for the team, and last year, nobody did that more often than Jonathan Sim, who sat through 14 extra penalties for the Flyers and Panthers.

Other standout sit-down artists? Jas…

Is It Better To Give Than To Receive?

Previously we've looked at the team-by-team level of Hitting in the NHL, and shown that a high level of hits doesn't necessarily correspond with team success. I thought I'd take this a step further, and look at not just who's doing the hitting, but who's getting hit. The first table below shows accumulated data from the 2005-6 Regular Season, broken down by Hits For, Hits Against, the Ratio between those two values, as well as the difference (call it a Hits Plus/Minus). Not surprisingly, some of the teams that did the most hitting got hit the most as well, meaning that teams like Toronto, Ottawa and Dallas provoked other teams to hit back, responding to their aggressive play. Similarly, low-hitting teams like Minnesota, Florida, and Columbus were among the teams that got hit the least - their games were closer to the Ice Capades than SlapShot.

On the extremes, however, you have teams that either got hit or out-hit their opposition by a wide margin. The Boston Bruins…

Team By Team Opportunistic Turnovers

Late last week I reported on individual leaders from last season in terms of offensive chances generated from Takeaways and Hits, so now it's time to present the numbers on a team-by-team basis. What's interesting here is that some teams generated offense out of their hits and takeaways much more effectively than others. On average, 19.2% of Takeaways and 7.5% of Hits resulted in an offensive chance within 10 seconds (defined as a Shot, Goal, Blocked Shot, or Missed Shot). So let's take a look...

If you compare these results with the table here, which shows total Hits and Takeaways from the 2005-6 NHL season, you'll see some teams failed to generate much offense out of their physical game. The Boston Bruins, for example, had the 3rd-most hits in the league, but were near the bottom in offense generated, producing shots less than 5% of the time after making a hit. The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, produced shots almost twice as often, jumping from 16th in the H…

Ranking the Game Changers

It happens about four or five times a game, and whenever it does, it brings the fans out of their seats - a big hit or takeaway that directly results in a scoring opportunity. The question is, who produces those signature moments? As a followup to the question of how Hits might impact Shot Quality and offensive production, I thought it would be interesting to find out how often Hits and Takeaways result in Shots, Missed Shots, Blocked Shots, or Goals within 10 seconds of the turnover. Data again comes from the 2005-6 NHL Regular Season Play-By-Play files.

I'm including Missed Shots and Blocked Shots here, as they are really the result of either a poor effort by the shooter or an outstanding effort by the opposing team, but either way these are unrelated to the value of the turnover generated by the player making the Hit or Takeaway.

Edit: Many thanks to Anonymous, for pointing out how to tighten up the table presentation.
Top 10 in Offensive Chances Generated From HitsTrent HUNTE…

Crank up your calculators

There's a nice update to the Shot Quality analysis by Ken Krzywicki over at Hockey Analytics that's been posted recently, and update based on the 2005-6 NHL Regular Season data that I've been digging into here. Besides the previous work which looked at shot distance, shot type, rebound situation, and team strength, he's also added Shot After Turnover (based on Takeaways & Giveaways) as a factor in the analysis. It's well worth looking into, and since I was just going to start a similar line of analysis over here, I forwarded some questions over to Ken, which I'll include here:

1) Shouldn't empty-net goals be excluded from the model? The whole notion of shot quality presumes a goaltender on the other end attempting to make a save. For 2005-6 (based on PBP files) I show 7,428 goals, with 178 empty netters. That's around 2.5% enough, to tweak the margins a bit.

2) Should penalty shots be split out as a descriminating factor? Certainly the scenari…