Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winning and Losing You Games

Simple stuff here. The data for all 5v5 and 4v4 icetime is used if both goalies were on the ice.

First liners are defined as the three players with the most even strength ice time on each team, and so on for the other three lines. You can click on the image to enlarge.

Now the total of all forwards has a bit more plusses than minuses. That's mostly because there are goals scored and shots fired just as a powerplay expires that often feature four forwards on the ice for the scoring team, and as often as not three defenders and two forwards for the other guys. And also it's pushed a bit from the fact that quite a few coaches like three forwards at 4v4, and it seems to be working for them.

Still, the general trend is pretty obvious here. The best forwards on each team, collectively, they are kicking ass. Not only do they own the puck more (Fenwick, Corsi and shots +/-) they are better at finishing. The goalies on the other squad, collectively, have seen a whopping .010 drop in EVsave% when facing these guys. I know that's only one extra goal in 100 shots, still, when you're getting that many shots on net it adds up too.

On top of that, the 'first liners' as defined here are overwhelmingly the same guys driving the PP results.

The lesser forwards (players who have played the 10th most even strength ice time or less on their squads) are getting their asses handed to them, those outscoring results that your high priced faves just earned, well these lesser lights and learning-on-the-job kids are giving most of it back. And reasonable people everywhere will agree that it would be a much wider spread in results from 1st line to depth guys if not for the fact that NHLers are generally playing against opponents of similar quality.

If the NHL were like any other business, then teams would be maximizing results by skimping on the top end a bit, and shoring up the bottom of the roster. The real results killers are the high end draft picks that don't help you win games but still bring in a million dollar salary. They'd have to go.

Garth Snow has one of the lowest payrolls in the league, but he has been to business school.

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And just for the sake of throwing everything out there; the defenders results are below. It's flat, and doesn't tell you much, because the best defenders play a lot against good forwards, so their results get pounded down to a level that's within spitting distance of the terrible defenders in this league.

10 Comments:

Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Just to add, and a bit off topic, the crib sheets that the broadcasters use is here:

http://broadcast.nhl.com/nhlgmntsv3.nsf/viewLookupPart6/458?OpenDocument&bilingual=false

You can register yourself and access them properly, if you're not afraid of lengthy registration forms and spam. Or just modify the link above to go directly.

The bold italicized number is the NHL game number. The bold only number is the media info page (2 thru 6).

It's mostly just shit-happens stuff on there, but at least you know where it came from when Quinn is blathering on about obscure streaks, or exclaims "that's the first goal Steady Steve has scored against the Blues in 26 games!!!!1!!11!.

Plus smart guys like Dennis and Lowetide love swimming in the minutiae, so maybe there's something to it. I paint with a big brush, myself. Always have and always will, whether it's hockey or anything else, but that certainly doesn't mean I'm right.

The reason I post that link though, if you scroll past all the personal information and the milestone and streak information, the table at the bottom of each player cleanly shows this season's shooting% and career shooting%, neatly at the end of the table.

If you take literally a minute or two to follow that little bit of info, just once a week is enough (hopefully Andy or LT will link these in the game day threads that they do) then you can't help but spot a trend with your head that contradicts everything you feel in your heart. Or at least that's the case with me.

The shooting% is drawn towards the career average by a force as boring and unstoppable as gravity.

I think this is because hockey fans are like dogs. Near misses are forgotten within seconds, and clean strikes are never forgotten.

Again. Shit happens methinks. No magic here.

12/13/2007 12:26 pm  
Blogger MattM said...

His current streak might be (and probably is) a mirage, but the guy is still a hell of a hockey player.

12/13/2007 6:09 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

The real results killers are the high end draft picks that don't help you win games but still bring in a million dollar salary. They'd have to go.

This became apparent to me in training camp when the Oilers were looking at Gagner, Cogliano, Schremp, Pouliot and Nilsson all kicking around and all making around $1MM.

Replace any one of them with a Thoresen type and your team just got measurably better and you saved $350-400K.

12/13/2007 8:45 pm  
Blogger Jeff J said...

The media guides - now that's an interesting find. Not only are broadcasters dull, they're apparently also lazy.

Greg Millen: "Did you know that Sami Kapanen's last assist was way back on March 20? That was a game against the Panthers, I do recall."

Oh, and great post.

"If the NHL were like any other business, then teams would be maximizing results by skimping on the top end a bit, and shoring up the bottom of the roster."

Would it really be possible to cost-effectively shore up the bottom lines? Most organizations have to develop some young players. How many of those minuses on the bottom lines are investments toward plusses in the future?

12/13/2007 8:57 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

MattM said...

His current streak might be (and probably is) a mirage, but the guy is still a hell of a hockey player.


Are you talking about Horcoff, Matt? If so then I agree.

Thing is, when a huge percentage of Horcoff's shots stop finding the back of the net, Stoll or Torres will probably go a stretch like Horcoff is on now.

12/14/2007 11:07 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Jeff J said...
Would it really be possible to cost-effectively shore up the bottom lines? Most organizations have to develop some young players. How many of those minuses on the bottom lines are investments toward plusses in the future?


There's the rub. If you're good enough at the top end you can afford to develop some kids at the expense of results.

Is the NHL the best place to develop players though?

As it looks now, you're paying fair price, or close to it, after their first contract, and in the interim you've paid in terms of salary and losses.

Obviously it's worth it with the really high end guys, it's the mid-level guys, the tweeners, that are out of whack with the economics of the thing. As Riv alludes to with the Oilers.

GM culture seems to dictate that you protect "your players" at any cost though, so I don't think we'll see a change in rosters for many teams.

12/14/2007 11:12 am  
Blogger MattM said...

Vic:
Yeah, that's who I meant. My communication steps sometimes skip from A to C or D without articulating B.

12/14/2007 2:35 pm  
Blogger PDO said...

Vic:

On Horcoff... his shooting % is certainly through the roof this year, and will drop...

But is he not just plain shooting the puck better this year? I mean, it's completely possible I'm just noticing because more are hitting the back of the net, but his shot certainly looks harder this year, and when you see him get as much on a shot that's been in his feet as he has multiple times this year....

Well, it makes a guy, especially who is a huge fan of Horcoff ;), want to believe he worked his ass off during the Summer and added a bit of accuracy and a bit of power.

12/15/2007 1:39 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

He is scoring more off of one-timers it seems, they don't look like glass breakers to me though. I was surprised how high his career shooting % is. Still, 22%, or whatever it is now, he'll need the hockey gods on his side to maintain that I'd think.

12/15/2007 5:31 pm  
Blogger PunjabiOil said...

thanks for the writeup...nice read.

12/16/2007 10:30 pm  

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