Skip to main content

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.

Devils vs. Senators, Second Round Preview

We have a classic clash of styles in the New Jersey/Ottawa Eastern Conference Semifinal, between the defense-first Devils and the dynamic Senators. In my humble opinion these matchups make for some of the more entertaining series, but let's see what the numbers tell us about how this will shake out.

For table explanation, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
How the Devils can score: There's not much outstanding when it comes to the New Jersey offense - they take an average amount of shots, with a pretty typical distribution in terms of short vs. long range, and the execution in terms of scoring percentages is right around average as well. The Ottawa defense isn't likely to shut them down, but the goaltending has been fairly strong as of late posing a challenge to a Devils offense that doesn't want to get stuck playing from behind.



How the Senators can score: The Senators will be expected to outshoot the Devils by 2-3 shots per game, which may not sound like much, but since that margin comes almost entirely from within 29 feet (sum those three left "Shots For" columns and compare against NJ), that translates to about half a goal per game. The shooting percentages aren't likely to be outstanding, but by creating an extra quality scoring chance per period, the Sens should be able to consistently achieve a decent level of offense.

Summary: While Martin Brodeur is certainly to be lauded for his career achievements, I'm not totally convinced that the Devils have a significant edge in the goaltending department, based on the way these two teams are going. Ray Emery is at the top of his game, and as we've often seen in recent playoffs, it's not unusual to see new stars develop between the pipes. This analysis ends up giving the Senators about a half-goal per game edge (2.24 - 1.77 = 0.47), which is actually the widest gap among these four Conference Semifinal series. I just see the Ottawa offense putting constant pressure on the Devils, and their goaltending playing well enough to give them 4-2, 3-1-type victories.


Outside the Numbers: While stellar goaltending is always desired, it's by no means a guarantee of playoff success. If you look at the top 8 goalies in terms of playoff save percentage, 4 of them lost in the first round (Marty Turco, Miikka Kiprusoff, Johan Hedberg and Niklas Backstrom).

Prediction: Ottawa in 6 games.

-----------
Table Key:
Shots For = average of shots per game by that team, from the range specified.
Shots Factor = a factor representing how many shots the opposing defense yields in that range (1.24 = 24% more than average, 0.89 = 11% less than average).
Exp. Shots = "Shots For" times "Shots Factor", how many shots are expected to occur within each range.
Sht % = The fraction of shots from within that range result in goals.
Sht % Factor = a measure reflecting how the opposing goaltender handles shots from a given range (0.74 = 26% fewer goals than average, 1.53 = 53% more than average)
Exp. Sht % = "Sht %" times "Sht % Factor", the expected shooting percentage for this matchup.
Exp. Goals = "Exp. Shots" times "Exp. Sht %", the number of goals per game expected from each range.
Values indicative of significantly higher goal-scoring are shaded green, values for lower goal-scoring shaded pink.
All figures represent exponential moving averages, giving greater weight to recent performance. Empty-net goals are excluded.

Popular posts from this blog

How I'm Trying To Make Money Sports Blogging

To kick off this series of articles general sports-blogging articles here at OTF Classic, I think it's best to start with a comment that Brad left here last week, after I shared my goals for 2012, which include specific revenue targets:
I considered diving into the world of internet marketing myself, but I felt that my friends would hate me for bugging them about stuff. I mean, it's pretty low-risk high-reward, so it's tempting. I wouldn't mind reading about tips on how to maximize impact of blogging in general to make it a legitimate income source. Trying to make money at sports blogging can be a very touchy subject - for the vast majority of us, this is an activity we pursue to both exercise our creativity and share our love of the game, whether it's hockey, football, badminton, whatever, with fellow fans. Mixing that personal conversation with a commercial message can turn people off, especially if it becomes too intrusive for the reader.

It's not unreasonabl…

Canadian Baloney, starring James Mirtle

A tireless refrain from the Canadian media is that Nashville is an absolute failure as a hockey market, and failing to move the team north of the border is an exercise in folly by the NHL.

Our latest exhibit comes from James Mirtle, usually one of the more thoughtful hockey bloggers extant:
But Nashville, quite simply, has proven it cannot sustain an NHL hockey team. Even with the lowest ticket prices in the entire league (I know: I've looked into flying there for a game or two) and a ridiculously forgiving arena lease, the team has had attendance issues despite having one of the best records in the league.

It's not a matter of Canadians not wanting teams in the southern U.S.; I've argued time and again in favour of teams like Dallas and Tampa Bay that have supported their teams and really brought something to the table in terms of bringing news fans and new energy to the game. That's a good thing.

The Predators, however, are not that, not in the beginning and certainly no…

Hooray for PythagenPuck

Back in November, around the quarter-mark of the NHL regular season, I wrote a piece looking at Expected Winning Percentages for each team, based on their Goals For/Goals Against ratio, using the PythagenPuck method as outlined in Alan Ryder's "Win Probabilities" article over at Hockey Analytics. Since we're approaching the end of the campaign, I thought it worth revisiting the two assertions I made back in November - that the Ottawa Senators were capable of getting back into the playoff race, and that the Boston Bruins were in danger of a freefall to the bottom of the standings.

Just to review, the basic idea behind win probability models like PythagenPuck is that over the course of a season, the Goals For and Goals Against numbers can be used to derive a team's winning percentage, within a a surprisingly narrow margin of error. For instance, if you only had GF/GA information, you could make a very good stab at projecting what the standings would look like. The w…