Friday, November 23, 2007

Goalpost Luck

I really like goalposts/crossbars as a statistic. They seem to happen randomly, I mean Detroit is bound to hit more posts than their opponents, because most of the scoring chances are happening at that end of the rink, but on the whole these seem to fall out of the sky. Teams have stretches of both terrible and terrific post luck, for no rhyme or reason.

Last year's poster children for this phenomenon were the Avalanche, who in spite of being a poor team in the first half of the season, had hit one more post than they had save them. Then they went on a ridiculous tear that saw them get saved by the iron regularly, a whopping 19 more times than they clanged the bell themselves. That valiant dash for the last playoff berth simply wouldn't have happened if not for the significant interference of the goalpost gods.

This year the NHL seems to have tightened up their requirements for "goalpost", they are down about 25%. I'm guessing that they have redefined them to exclude the ones that just glance off of the outside of the iron, probably because they are seriously looking at increasing net size. I never saw the Oilers season opener, but Dennis, mudcrutch and others mentioned that San Jose hit the posts three times, the NHL only qualified one of those as an official goalpost. Does anyone remember those San Jose misses? Of course it could have just been a mistake by the scorer, but the fact that it is a league-wide trend makes me wonder.

In any case, below is a list that shows how the goalpost justice has been meted out this season so far. The unfortunates are listed at the top, and the teams in the middle that are within a one or two of null ... they have little to complain about. We should all be thankful that the Flames have been hurt by the iron seven more times than it has helped them. Because if the opposite were true, then Calgary would be well up the standings, we would be reading articles about Mike Keenan's genius every day, and Flames fans would be insufferable. Be thankful for small blessings, Oiler fans.


Blogger MetroGnome said...

and Flames fans would be insufferable

Im disappointed. I aim to be insufferable whatever the circumstances.

Anyways, seriously, thanks for putting this together. I've been pretty critical of the Flames so far, but it's been marked by a nagging hunch that the bounces haven't gone our way so far...

11/24/2007 10:52 am  
Blogger Devin said...

I watch a lot of NYR (hard to hate them if you spend enough time in NYC- they're a fun team to cheer for out there) and this metric goes some way towards explaining their utter lack of goalscoring this year. They are still on top of the Atlantic and to my eye they haven't even gotten the bounces going yet. (yes, I believe Lundqvist is THIS good)

What does this say about EDM though? Ouch- imagine this was reversed the team would be GF 39 / GA 83!! I know they're bad, I just never saw it as being that dramatic (in other words I can still watch the games most nights).

11/24/2007 2:03 pm  
Blogger The Rage said...

How bad do we suck this year? We're at the bottom of the league despite goalpost luck and perhaps shootout luck as well.

11/24/2007 2:39 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

If the NHL is omitting the ammount of goal post does that mean they are against increasing the size of the nets?

11/24/2007 4:58 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Vic, I think it goes further than that for the Oilers and it will be supported by us having the most GPost luck but I counted six combined posts in our opening wins over the Sharks and then Flyers.

BTW, let's see here. Habs are living on their PP and also have a tonne of post luck. So it should be any week now that they totally fall apart. They just also lost the backend of a Home and home with the Sabres.

This pleases me:)

11/24/2007 7:40 pm  
Blogger HBomb said...

Wouldn't the Oilers being towards the bottom of this list be somewhat expected?

We're being grossly outchanced, so we should be sa solid minus. Detroit plays a great puck-possession game, so they should be well into the black. Number of posts hit should be, theoretically, proportional to scoring chances generated.

Some people have sort of alluded to this, but it's the team's that are a solid minus on this list but are performing much better in the actual standings, those are the ones that we should be paying attention to.

But not just in terms of luck with goalposts. They're being outchanced yet are still winning games. There's something going on more than just post luck, such as a hot goalie or a bunch of guys on unsustainable hot streaks in terms of shooting percentage.

Is my line of thinking on the right track with this? Maybe looking at the ratio of posts hit to posts saved and comparing it relative to the ratio of chances for/chances against is the way to look at which teams are lucky (and to what extent)?

11/25/2007 9:05 pm  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Vic, I think it goes further than that for the Oilers and it will be supported by us having the most GPost luck but I counted six combined posts in our opening wins over the Sharks and then Flyers.

Dennis right on that. I counted six in the first two games, and seven in the first three.

11/26/2007 7:48 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


During the lockout I remember hearing one of the Buffalo guys talking about changes to the game. At one point he was talking about the width and height of goalie pads, and how much of the net that they cover. And he referenced the percentage of shots on net that fell in that zone. It wasn't rough guessing, not "most", it was "91.7%", though I forget the exact number. It was a compelling argument, because you could reasonably estimate the increase in goals by changing those dimensions.

A great question for the interviewer to have asked would have been 'how the hell do you know all this?'. And if not for the lockout, I'm sure that the Sabres thinkers would have had the good sense to keep this quiet. For one thing, they are obligated to pass over all team recorded statistics to the NHLPA, but the NHLPA had no right to access their records AFAIK. And also, there is little sense in losing your competitive advantage by revealing any useful metrics that you've developed.

The thrust of this, of course, was that a net shaped such that players were rewarded for shots off of the ice ... that would drive teams to try and make an extra pass, or beat an extra man, in order to get a cleaner shot from in close. i.e. it would increase the return on high quality chances and not significantly effect the return on 10 cent scoring chances. Creating a more entertaining style of game.

I'm sold on the curvy nets that the Sabres were promoting btw.

So, if there is a proposal on the table to change the net dimensions, one way or another, then the most compelling argument can only be made with relevant data.

So if the proposal is to keep the bottom of the nets the same size, and bow them out, the NHL would probably not register post hits below 12", or whatever height. Or they may not be counting crossbars if they propose to keep the height the same (though I think they are). Or if they are only planning on incresing the overall width by 3", and the height by 3", then you'd want to count all crossbars, even if they just glanced off, but on posts if the puck is redirected north of the goal line. Makes sense, no?

In any case, if you spot a few goalposts that don't get registered on the play-by-play sheets, chances are that there is an obvious pattern as to why.

I think it is an obvious decision to make, in some way the nets need to be bigger. It would mean about 1200 extra goals going by this years criteria for a 'goalpost'.

As an aside: I don't know what Luongo is bitching about, in terms of EVsave% (which I like) he's one of the guys affected the least. I'd bet that he would be relatively better with bigger nets, though that's just a guess. Last I checked he'd have the second best EVsave% in the league right now if goalposts were goals, granted a mile behind Tim Thomas, who so far has been nearly twice as likely to stop an EV shot that Kipper and Hasek in their best years. No criticism of Thomas, but I doubt that lasts for long.

11/27/2007 11:59 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Yeah, of course. I mention that in the second sentence. At evens DET is outshooting opponents at a something like 15/9 clip at evens, just by memory. Plus they have a strong PP and draw more PPs than than PKS. Babcock teams do throw a lot of rubber at the net, but with the talent on that squad you'd still expect a decent shooting% ... So ya, without doing the math, maybe 5 extra posts hit would be fairer, or 6 ... in any case they will end up well in the black at this by the end of the year, barring a string of mad luck or significant injuries.

For most teams though, you're a contender if you're outchancing the bad guys at a 5-4 ratio, if you have any sort of finish at all. So for almost everyone else it would be fairer to be between +2 and -2 at this point, or so I think.

11/27/2007 12:09 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


It's been a while I know, but do you remember those goalposts in the San Jose game? As I say in the original post, for some reason only one was recorded in that game.

Again, it may just be operator error. And it may just be coincidence that goalpost rates are down a bunch this season. But it's enough of a swing that it's worth looking to see if there is a reason behind it.

11/27/2007 12:13 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

Vic: Sunday's (Nov 25) Anaheim vs Los Angeles game. The 3rd Ducks goal saw two consecutive posts by Huskins and Bertuzzi before Kunitz scored. Neither are listed as posts on the play by play sheet. Then again, would those matter, since a goal was scored on the same shift and within seconds of hitting the post?

I guess I just thought that one would try to include all posts in data they wished to use as evidence to the benefit of increasing net size. Even if just to overstate the opinion.

I'm not sold on video game-ISH hockey nets. I'd like to see a complete overhaul of goalie equiptment before such a desperate move. They can make flak jackets a quarter the thickness of goalie pads that can stop bullets. Why can't they streamline goalie pads?

3 quick questions:
1)How come the play by play sheets refresh and return me to the top every twenty seconds? That's more than fucking annoying.
2)Have you ever seperated the recorded blocked shot inot EV and SH?
3)From your and Riv's posts, I'm wondering, do you consider only distance from the goal in quantifying scoring chances? Does defence and goaltender position and stuff like rebounds not factor in?

11/27/2007 1:11 pm  
Blogger Oilman said...

Just a guess...but if a goalie manages to get a piece of the puck before it hits the post, i'd assume that would be counted as a save and not a post hit as both occured on the same shot...the goalie is credited with the save for deflecting the shot wide of the net....I remember in the san jose game at least one of the posts (the first one) was a clean hit, but Roloson may have got a piece of the other two. An interesting one to look at would be the 0-0 tie with Vancouver where there were at least 4 posts combined but I'm pretty sure that the garon got pieces of the puck before they hit.

11/28/2007 10:58 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

On the post-then-goal in the ANA game, that would make more basic sense than the ideas that I threw out.

I remember in the playoff series vs DET that they scored directly off a post to the goaltender's left that came back through the legs of Roloson, then DET scored off of that iirc. I think that two of Franzen, Cleary, Zetterberg were involved.

It was at the end of the rink that they play in the 1st and 3rd periods, but I can't remember which game. Does that ring a bell? I can go back and check the play-by-play for goalposts if anyone else has a more lucid memory of this. Just to see if they were doing the same back then.


on the refresh thing, that is a pain in the ass, and I have no idea how to disable that.

Have you ever seperated the recorded blocked shot inot EV and SH?

I break out every stat that I talk about by game situation. Otherwise it's a nonsense IMO.

From your and Riv's posts, I'm wondering, do you consider only distance from the goal in quantifying scoring chances? Does defence and goaltender position and stuff like rebounds not factor in?

I won't speak for Riv or Dennis, but scoring chances are purely a subjective thing for me. Just broken down into whether that was a chance that you would expect to see buried at least 1 time in 4 (25 cent chance), or 1 in 10 (dime chance).

Though obviously most goals are scored from in close, or off of shots that come from high down the middle.

11/28/2007 6:10 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


I didn't see much of that game, the OT and shootout were terrific though. I assume you've checked the play by play sheet, that just shows two posts:

Tarnstrom and Morrison, both in the first three minutes of the first. What other ones do you remember?

11/28/2007 6:17 pm  
Blogger Oilman said...

Vic....yeah, I saw the play by play sheet...I'm bot sold on their accuracy. It shows 2 posts in that game but I seem to remember a lot more.....and the season opener play by play shows one post but the game recap mentions Bernier and Thornton hitting posts and says that Thorntons was the third post of the night....that's why I'm wondering if the goalie deflecting the shot first has any bearing in the official scoring?

11/30/2007 6:43 pm  

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