Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2006

Pretty Grand Larceny

Since we just looked at last year's Giveaway leaders, let's now turn our focus to those thieving Takeaway specialists. As reported previously, it appears that Takeaways are indeed correlated with team performance, so we have a relatively straightforward, clear-cut indicator as to how these players are helping their teams. Results are from the 2005-6 NHL season. Top 10 in Total Takeaways (The Swiper Award) Rob BLAKE , COL 89 John MADDEN , N.J 84 Shelon SOURAY , MTL 83 Andrei MARKOV , MTL 81 Antii LAAKSONEN , COL 80 Mike MODANO , DAL 79 Marian HOSSA , ATL 75 Ian LAPERRIERE , COL 74 Daniel ALFREDSSON , OTT 74 Jason BLAKE , NYI 73 Stu BARNES , DAL 73 Saku KOIVU , MTL 73 Top 5 in 3rd Period & OT Takeaways (The John Havlicek Trophy) Andrei MARKOV , MTL 31 Rob BLAKE , COL 31 Tony AMONTE , CGY 30 Brendan MORRISON , VAN 27 Craig RIVET , MTL 26 Henrik ZETTERBERG , DET 26 Karlis SKRASTINS , COL 26 Shawn HORCOFF , EDM 26

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now...

Time for some silly stats today - let's look at the leaders from the NHL 2005-6 Regular Season in terms of Giveaways. Who coughed up the puck more often than a cat with bronchitis? Let's have the envelopes, please... Top 10 in Total Giveaways (The Roberto Duran Trophy) Ilya KOVALCHUK , ATL 127 Ales HEMSKY , EDM 123 Chris PRONGER , EDM 110 Jaromir JAGR , NYR 109 Sergei ZUBOV , DAL 103 Joe THORNTON , S.J 102 Brian RAFALSKI , N.J 97 Marc SAVARD , ATL 94 Mike MODANO , DAL 93 Jason SPEZZA , OTT 93 Top 5 in 3rd Period & OT Giveaways (The Bill Buckner Award) Ales HEMSKY , EDM 42 Ilya KOVALCHUK , ATL 39 Bryan McCabe , TOR 36 Patrick Marleau , S.J 36 Marc SAVARD , ATL 35 Chris PRONGER , EDM 35 As a further refinement, I could add in Time On Ice to try and get a handle on who's logging more giveaways per minute of ice time. And in light of the finding last week that Giveaways actual seem to be correlated with positive results, the impression I get is more tha

What Makes NHL Teams Win?

As promised, here's a look at a few more extended statistics, and their relationship to the ultimate result - points in the standings for NHL teams*. Today's sheet combines the Hits information discussed yesterday with Giveaway and Takeaway data, along with a combination of the two that I am hereforth proclaiming to be Puck Possession Plus/Minus (don't worry, I don't think the term, or the stat, will last). I thought it might be interesting to subtract the number of Giveaways from a team's Takeaways total, to come up with a rough guide to their ability to seize control of the game. It turns out I was wrong, but I'll include it this one time, anyway. So what do these numbers (again from the 2005-2006 Regular Season) tell us? Well, the most interesting result is that Giveaways seem to be positively (albeit very weakly) correlated to regular season points. That is, the more Giveaways a team had, the likelier they were to be high in the standings. Typically one

Goodbye to Broad Street

In the wake of Bobby Clarke's resignation in Philadelphia, I thought it would be interesting to dig up the total hits dished out by NHL teams last season, and throw that up against their regular season standings to see if there's any correlation between physicality and victory. By the looks of things, time has passed Mr. Clarke by, and hits don't bear any direct result on wins and losses. The picture below (click to enlarge) outlines the total hits dished out by each team during the 2005-6 Regular Season, compared against their Regular Season point totals. As you can see, the distribution is pretty widespread, with physical leaders like Ottawa(!) and Dallas enjoying triple-digit totals in the standings, while being closely followed by Carolina and Buffalo, who were near the back of the pack in terms of hits. At the bottom end of the standings, you have a similar mix of hockey teams with various amounts of hits. The correlation values are close enough to 0 to be basicall

Help Wanted in Philly

Congratulations, Trent Yawney - before the start of the season you were my pick as the first coach to get the Ziggy, as Dick Vitale would say, but instead that honor falls to Ken Hitchcock , who was fired by the Flyers as Bobby Clarke resigned from his GM post. I guess there will be a clearance sale on physical, slow-footed defensemen coming soon...

Stopping Those Shots Off the Draw

As a followup to a piece I wrote early last week regarding faceoff men who generate shots in the offensive zone, it occured to me that the flip side of that coin is just as interesting. On the opposite side of the dot, who are the faceoff men who best prevent shots in their own end? Even in losing a faceoff, there's a big difference between a clean draw back to the point and a puck that's tied up in the middle of a scrum. So who do you want out there protecting a late lead with a faceoff coming up in your own zone? The screen is for a minimum of 100 defensive-zone faceoffs during the 2005-6 NHL Regular Season, where the opposing team took a shot within 5 seconds of the draw. Top Lock-Down Specialists (fewest shots) Mark SMITH, SJS 3.47% Patrik STEFAN, ATL 3.56% Matt STAJAN, TOR 4.27% Niko KAPANEN, DAL 4.33% Alyn MCCAULEY, SJS 4.60% Rico FATA, PIT 5.36% Shane ENDICOTT, PIT 5.41% Vernon FIDDLER, NSH 5.67% Jamal MAYERS, STL 5.73% Bobby HOLIK, ATL 5.77% Kris DRAPER, DET 5.9

Wrist Shot Wonders

Now it's time to look at the top wrist shots from the NHL 2005-6 Regular Season, broken down by range. I've screened for the top 100 players in terms of wrist shots taken, ranked them by overall shooting percentage, and noted particular ranges with extreme high or low values. The graphic below details the first 30 players on that list. And the top sniper from last year turns out to be... (another drum roll, please) Alex Tanguay , who has taken his game north from Colorado to Calgary, where hopes are high that he will lift a stagnant offense at least up to the level of mediocrity. Tanguay potted 22.2% of his wrist shots last year, nearly double the league-wide average of 11.3%. What's noteworthy with this chart is how many players have particular sweet spots. For instance, Tanguay and Daniel Briere were both very effective from 21-30 feet, but from the 11-20 foot range they actually scored at a below-average pace (18%). Marek Svatos of Colorado, on the other hand, was dea

A look inside the NHL's Assists leaders

A post on Kukla's Korner pointed me towards this article at the Denver Post, which discusses how Minnesota Wild Director of Hockey Operations Chris Snow is forging ahead in the quest to take the use of NHL statistical analysis to another level. In particular, he notes wanting to track assists, monitoring how many of a players assists are "first assists" vs. "second assists", the presumption (which I find quite reasonable) being that first assists are a better measure of offensive contribution. Well Chris, if that's what you need, drop me a line (or, for that matter, any other NHL front-office execs who might be interested). In the meantime, I'll provide a Top 10 listing that might help sort this question out. Again, I'm looking at 2005-2006 regular season data, empty net goals excluded. Click to enlarge So what does this tell us? Well, one obvious point is the prevalence of defensemen getting a large share of 2nd assists, which isn&#

Top NHL Slapshot Artists

So who's got the best slap shot in the game of hockey? Well, according to shooting percentage on slap shots only, the answer would appear to be (drum roll, please...) Jonathan Cheechoo of the San Jose Sharks. Last season, Cheechoo scored on 21% of his slapshots, well above the league average of 7.51% for all slapshots, as found in yesterday's article covering Scoring Percentage by Range and Shot Type . Particularly notable with Cheechoo is his 27% scoring rate from the 31-40 foot range, which means he didn't just load up with cheap goals in close to obtain his lofty results (although he did certainly load up within the 10-foot mark). The interesting thing to note here is the validation that the top goal scorers don't just get their numbers due to taking lots of shots, but that they do appear to score more often when they do shoot. Guys like Jaromir Jagr, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin (who ranked 3rd, 5th, and 6th last year in total ice time for forwards) also

Shooting Percentage presented in a brand new way

The latest entry in this series of 21st Century Hockey Analysis covers shooting percentage broken down by range and shot type. For instance, during the 2005-2006 regular season (again excluding empty net goals), over 73,000 shots were fired at an overall scoring rate of 9.88%. Wrist shots from 21 to 30 feet went in slightly less than 10% of the time, but closing that distance to the 11-20 foot range almost doubled the shooter's chances of scoring. Interestingly, slapshots from 10 feet or less don't score significantly more often than the 11-20 foot range, whereas snap shots do indeed jump from 20% to 25%. Perhaps the lesson there is that a quick shot when in close is preferable to winding up for a big blast. Coming later this week, we'll break down the best and worst shooters in the league against these criteria, and after that, we'll see which goalies have particular strengths and weaknesses as well. Stay tuned!

Coyotes get ugly in Nashville

Tonight, rather than crunching numbers, I took in the Coyotes/Predators game in Nashville. The Preds apparently thought their exhibition season lasted a week longer than everyone else's, as they started off 0-3 with horrible goaltending, defense, and special teams, while the Coyotes have looked awful in recent losses to Detroit and Columbus. Assorted notes below were compiled during the game on my Crackberry... Start 1st: Decent crowd for the opening faceoff, with the upper and lower bowls nearly filled, but the club level maybe 1/3rd-filled at best. 13:11 1st: Incredible patience shown by Jason Arnott on a goal by Paul Kariya. Scott Walker hit him with a pass as he came down the slot, but Curtis Joseph had the angle covered and Arnott hits Kariya waiting for an easy back-door tap-in. That's the kind of goal that can get an offense clicking, with smart play getting everyone involved. 7:07 1st: Phoenix looks terrible as Martin Erat gets the puck down in the corner and h

A slapper, a snapper, or is it all in the wrist?

Here's your Thursday afternoon dose of interesting NHL information. The table below shows all 2005-2006 regular season goals (non-empty net), broken down by shot type and distance. No wonder wrap-arounds always make the highlights, they account for less than 1% of all goals! The highest frequency here is for wristers from 11-20 feet, of which 1,278 were scored accounting for 17.63% of the total. The second table is a subset of the first, screening only for Power Play goals. The interesting fact here is that the portion of medium- to long-range goals goes up on the power play, as teams work the puck around for a clear shot from the point (also supported by the higher incidence of slapshot goals, at 32% vs. 24.5% overall). For the overall totals, about 12.6% of goals came from 40-60 feet, whereas on the power play, 17.5% of goals came from that range. Look for most posts over the weekend, as we break down team-by-team performance in this area, including save percentage by

An early trip to the front office

Classic good news/bad news out Detroit this morning, where Greg Johnson has retired from the NHL . Bad news, in that the Red Wings were hoping he would add depth as a 3rd or 4th line center, and that his career is ending while he still had a few years of productive play yet. Good news, in that his heart ailment was diagnosed in training camp, before he had a collapse like Jiri Fischer did last season. Also good news in that the Wings are putting him to work in their player development department, rather than just cutting him loose. Good luck, Greg.

Where are all the goals coming from?

Every parent thinks they are prepared for this question, but when your child brings it up for the first time, it never fails to catch you off your guard. Do I go for the old "stork" tale? Do I pull out diagrams, or use dolls? The mind shudders when you hear the words... "Daddy, where do goals come from? " Rest assured, dear readers, you now have your answer. To be precise, 58.4% came from within 20 feet last season, and only 6.76% came from beyond 50 feet. Drilled down on a team-by-team basis, we see standouts like the Atlanta Thrashers, who scored a league-low 48.4% of their goals from inside 20 feet, whereas the Phoenix Coyotes worked in close for a league-leading 69% of their tallies. If you look at the Buffalo Sabres, they scored less often than most within 20 feet (48.6%), but they scored a league-high 69 goals in the 21-30 foot range. Another interesting case is the Edmonton Oilers, who sniped almost 12% of their goals from beyond 50. Take a look at the at

Team by Team numbers for offensive zone faceoffs

As a followup to yesterday's article on offensive-zone faceoffs, here's a look at the team-by-team numbers. Again, the criteria here is an offensive zone faceoff that results in a shot within 5 seconds of the puck drop. Montreal Canadiens - 12.59% Edmonton Oilers - 12.45% Ottawa Senators - 11.85% St. Louis Blues - 11.23% Carolina Hurricanes - 10.77% New York Islanders - 10.35% Columbus Blue Jackets - 10.28% Boston Bruins - 10.10% Minnesota Wild - 9.96% Toronto Maple Leafs - 9.96% Colorado Avalanche - 9.93% Florida Panthers - 9.88% Calgary Flames - 9.62% Los Angeles Kings - 9.49% Washington Capitals - 9.48% Detroit Red Wings - 9.31% LEAGUE AVERAGE - 9.09% Dallas Stars - 8.79% New York Rangers - 8.71% Vancouver Canucks - 8.57% Buffalo Sabres - 8.27% Philadelphia Flyers - 8.23% Nashville Predators - 7.52% Tampa Bay Lightning - 7.31% Pittsburgh Penguins - 7.22% New Jersey Devils - 7.18% San Jose Sharks - 7.02% Phoenix Coyotes - 6.89% Anaheim Ducks - 6.77% Atlanta Thrashers - 6.4

21st Century Hockey Analysis Begins

It's late in the game, you need a goal, and there's a key faceoff coming up in the offensive zone. You need to get a shot on net right away, but who are you going to send out to take the draw? Common wisdom would suggest running down the player statistics by Face Off Win Percentage, and sending your best player out there, assuming he's not winded from a recent shift. Chances are, however, that the common wisdom is wrong. I've recently gathered detailed game information from the entire 2005-2006 regular season, and analysed the results of over 45,000 non-neutral zone faceoffs that took place across more than 1,200 games. Based on when a faceoff in either end of the ice resulted in the offensive team getting a shot within 5 seconds of the drop of the puck, I've ranked the players as to how often offensive zone faceoffs result in immediate shots (given a minimum of 100 such draws). On average, a shot (defined as either a goal, save, blocked shot, or missed shot) took

"It's a great day for hockey"

The division winners have been forecast, the regular season awards have been foretold, so now the only remaining thread of credibility left to stretch beyond repair is to project your conference champions and the ultimate winner of the 2006-2007 Stanley Cup. And just for kicks, we'll toss in a few extra predictions on the side. Prince of Wales Trophy : Buffalo and Ottawa are tempting, but I'll stick with the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Carolina Hurricanes . Clarence Campbell Bowl : Coming out the Western Conference playoffs will be a feat itself, given the plethora of well-built teams. But assuming a healthy roster is available, I'm picking the Detroit Red Wings to make it through. And in a hard-fought rematch of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Wings top the Hurricanes and win their first Cup of the post-Yzerman era. In the meantime... First Coach To Be Fired: Trent Yawney of the Chicago Blackhawks . Just look at the picture on his bio. It

There's no crying in hockey!

General managers around the NHL are whining once again while one of their brethren outfoxes them. Everyone expected New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to conduct a fire sale in order to get under the $44 million salary cap , but today he got clearance from the league to assign Alexander Mogilny (and his $3.5 million salary) to Long Term Injury status. In a nutshell, that means that while Mogilny is unable to play, the Devils can spend an additional amount over the normal cap, up to Mogilny's salary. Other GM's are up in arms over this, because it never occured to them that a player over 35 could land on the LTI list. Many assumed that if you had a geezer on a big contract, that you were stuck with him, as the new CBA says that even retired players can count against the cap. The Devils aren't gaming the system here - Mogilny has a degenerative hip condition and legitimately can't play. In a related move, Lamoriello traded Vladimir Malakhov and a first-round pic

Terrible Ted Should Be Proud

Chris Chelios has always been a pest. For the first 20-odd years of his career that meant roughing up opposing forwards, yapping at referees, and driving fans nuts as he carved out a Hall of Fame career and won two Stanley Cups. These days, while still a valuable player on the ice, he's stirring things up in a big way with a new lawsuit filed against the NHL Players Association in a bid to have Executive Director Ted Saskin removed from his post. Boring stuff, right? Maybe so, but what Chelios (along with Dwayne Roloson and Trent Klatt) is pursuing is the end of the old days wherein the players unknowingly let themselves get fleeced by representatives who should have had the players' best interest at heart, but instead took advantage of them. Not that such a thing would ever happen these days , right? Like the NHLPA sitting on a $140 million warchest held over from the lockout, and resisting calls to distribute the funds back to current and retired players? Naaahhhh.