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Jan 312012

Just wanted to let you know that I have finally updated to include 2011-12 data though I have not yet included multi-year data that includes 2011-12.

I have also included in this updated zone start adjusted data which adjusts for zone starts by not considering the 10 seconds following an offensive/defensive zone faceoff.  I have included both 5v5 and 5v5 zone start adjusted data and the 5v5 close, 5v5 tied, 5v5 up 1, 5v5 up 2+, 5v5 down 1 and 5v5 down 2 data are zone start adjusted.  It doesn’t make any sense to zone start adjust PP and PK so the 5v4 and 4v5 data is not zone start adjusted.

As always, if you have any issues or questions with anything at let me know.

As an interesting aside on zone starts, I have noticed that zone starts affect shots/fenwick/corsi somewhat significantly but do not affect goal data much.  I thought this was strange at first but then the explanation became clear when I looked at shooting percentages.

Situation SH%
All 5v5 7.91%
ZS Adjusted 5v5 8.89%
10 seconds after Ozone faceoff 3.04%

Shots within 10 seconds of a faceoff don’t go in nearly as frequently as shots at any other time.  The reason for this is probably that the majority of these shots likely come from the point after an offensive faceoff win.  Also, the goalie is perfectly set and ready for the shot and the defending team has their players in optimal defending positions and are usually fully rested.

So, what does this mean?  It means you can actually probably pretty much ignore zone starts if you are looking at goal data.  Zone starts have very little influence on the rate at which goals are scored.


Jan 282012

I have been having a discussion as to whether shot quality exists over at Pension Plan Puppets and more precisely whether certain players can drive a teams shooting percentage while they are on the ice.  As part of the discussion I brought up the on-ice shooting percentage differences between Scott Gomez and Michael Cammalleri and decided that it would be useful to present that comparison as a post here.

First off, let me define shot quality as how I see it.  Shot quality is an ability for players to systematically drive (or suppress) shooting percentages when they are on the ice.  To me it doesn’t matter whether they can drive shooting percentages because they can get more shots from better shooting locations, or are better shooters, or are better playmakers setting up  changes with the goalie out of position.  Those are interesting things to investigate, but investigating them isn’t necessary to show shot quality exists.  Shot quality, in my mind, is all about a players being able to drive (or suppress) shooting percentage when they are on the ice, regardless of how.

In the past I have used examples such as Henrik Sedin vs Travis Moen and some comments I got were “but those are extreme cases” which is an interesting comment because in essence they person making that argument is admitting that shot quality exists but only in extreme cases.  So, I decided that it might be useful to take a look at two players who generally speaking play similar roles.  Scott Gomez and Michael Cammalleri.  Both Gomez and Cammalleri are top six forwards generally thought of as more offensive players.  What is also interesting is they over the past 4 1/2 seasons they both have switched teams and they have both spent a couple years playing on the same team, sometimes on the same line.    Let’s take a look at their 5v5 on-ice shooting percentages over the past 4 1/2 seasons.

 Sh% Gomez Cammalleri Difference
2007-08 7.09 8.15 1.06
2008-09 6.15 9.25 3.10
2009-10 7.89 9.66 1.77
2010-11 4.50 7.07 2.57
2011-12 7.96 8.11 0.15

In each and every season Cammalleri has had a higher shooting percentage, sometimes much higher.  Only this season have they been close in their on-ice shooting percentages.  If that isn’t a systematic ability by Cammalleri and his linemates to get a higher shooting percentage than Gomez and his linemates, I don’t know what is.  They can do it every singles season.

Now, let’s take a look at their offensive fenwick rates.  Here are their fenwick for per 20 minutes of 5v5 ice time rates.

 FF20 Gomez Cammalleri Difference
2007-08 15.86 14.3 -1.56
2008-09 16.76 15.38 -1.38
2009-10 14.21 13.4 -0.81
2010-11 16.4 14 -2.4
2011-12 16.8 12.06 -4.74

Well now, that tells us a different story.  Gomez and his line mates take far more shots than Cammalleri and his line mates, and they do it every single season.  Gomez and his line mates seem to have a much better skill at taking shots, but Cammalleri and his line mates seem to have a much better skill at capitalizing on shots.  The question now is, which skill results in more goals.  Here are their 5v5 goals for per 20 minute stats.

 GF20 Gomez Cammalleri Difference
2007-08 0.792 0.801 0.009
2008-09 0.757 1.020 0.263
2009-10 0.837 0.927 0.090
2010-11 0.534 0.713 0.179
2011-12 0.854 0.756 -0.098

Now that is interesting.  Cammalleri and his line mates have out produced Gomez and his line mates every year until this season.  Based on this one example, being able to drive shooting percentage resulted in more goals being scored than being able to drive shots.  If you were down by a goal in the third period, who would you rather have on the ice, Gomez and his line mates or Cammalleri and his line mates?

And the above is a perfect example of why I don’t like pure corsi/fenwick based evaluation of players.  If you just look at corsi/fenwick, Gomez looks like a very good player (see here and here), and Cammalleri does not.  But, if you look at goals, over the past 2 seasons 54.1% of all goals scored while Cammalleri was on the ice were for the Canadiens while just 47.2% of all goals scored while Gomez was on the ice were for the Canadiens.  Who is the better player, and who would I rather have on my team?  Cammalleri by a country mile.

Let’s take it one step further and how they played when they were on the ice together and when they were apart over the past 2 seasons.

Together Cammalleri Gomez
GF% 54.8% 53.9% 45.4%
Corsi% 52.3% 47.9% 51.6%

Wow, that is dramatic.  When they play together can an drive shots (corsi) and goals.  When Cammalleri is not playing without Gomez he can drive goals, but not shots (corsi) and when Gomez is playing without Cammalleri he can drive shots (corsi) but not goals.  Again, who would you rather have on your team?  For me, I’ll take the guy who can drive goals thank you very much.

And that my friends, is a perfect example of when a corsi based analysis will fail.


Jan 262012

With the re-signing of John-Michael Liles the Leafs now have an abundance of defensemen signed under control for a number of years, many with big dollar contracts too.  We all have our varying opinions on the relative values of each of these defensemen but I thought it would be an appropriate time to take a closer look at them statistically.


2011-12 HARO+ 2010-11 HARO+ 2010-12 HARO+ 2011-12 FenHARO+ 2010-11 FenHARO+ 2010-12 FenHARO+
JOHN-MICHAEL LILES 1.23 1.03 1.11 0.96 0.99 1.00
CODY FRANSON 1.20 1.06 1.10 1.05 1.05 1.03
LUKE SCHENN 1.10 1.08 1.08 0.85 1.02 0.99
DION PHANEUF 1.01 1.08 1.05 1.00 0.99 1.03
CARL GUNNARSSON 1.05 1.00 1.02 1.04 0.92 0.94
MIKE KOMISAREK 1.10 0.96 1.00 1.02 0.90 0.86
KEITH AULIE 0.90 1.02 0.99 0.78 0.86 0.89

The above list are my own offensive ratings (goal based and fenwick based) for 5v5 zone start adjusted (10 seconds) situations sorted by their year and a half (2010-12) HARO+ ratings.

The list generally fits with what we might expect though the one surprise is probably Luke Schenn being rated so highly offensively.  I had a debate with a few people last week where I suggested that Schenn is as good offensively as Phaneuf and got ridiculed for making that statement but the numbers do in fact support that.  The above are based on ‘on-ice’ numbers but individual stats make Schenn look good too.  This season Phaneuf has 2 even strength goals and 13 even strength points while Schenn has 1 even strength goal and 11 even strength points but Phaneuf has played more than 30% more even strength minutes than Schenn.  Last season Phaneuf had 5 goals and 17 points at even strength versus Schenn’s 5 goals and 21 points in 20% more minutes.  Combined Schenn has 6 goals and 32 points in 2237 ES minutes while Phaneuf has 7 goals and 30 points in 2207 ES minutes.  That’s awfully close offensive production if you ask me.  The difference in their overall totals is solely due to Phaneuf’s PP minutes and Schenn’s lack of them.

Getting back to the rest of the team, it is no surprise to see Liles and Franson at the top of the list.  They are known to be more offensive specialists and the stats bear that out.  The reverse is true for Komisarek and Aulie who are viewed as more defensive defensemen and that is the role they are assigned.  They simply do not produce much offense.  We only have half a season of Jake Gardiner, but so far so good.  While his fenwick offensive numbers aren’t crazy good, his HARO+ rating is very very good.  I think Gardiner is someone we can be cautiously optimistic will develop into a very good (maybe Liles-like) offensive defenseman.

For interest sake, here are the players raw offensive numbers for the last 2 seasons combined sorted by GF20.

2010-12 GF20 2010-12 FF20
LUKE SCHENN 0.88 12.62
CODY FRANSON 0.88 13.22
DION PHANEUF 0.85 13.01
KEITH AULIE 0.81 11.41

Gardiner’s GF20 is 0.96 and FF20 is 12.62 so far this season.


This is the defensive equivalent of the above offensive rating chart.

2011-12 HARD+ 2010-11 HARD+ 2010-12 HARD+ 2011-12 FenHARD+ 2010-11 FenHARD+ 2010-12 FenHARD+
CODY FRANSON 0.77 1.39 1.15 1.02 0.98 1.00
KEITH AULIE 0.71 1.22 1.05 0.89 0.87 0.85
DION PHANEUF 0.87 1.07 1.00 1.04 0.94 0.97
CARL GUNNARSSON 1.04 0.86 0.95 1.00 0.94 0.99
LUKE SCHENN 0.83 0.88 0.88 0.89 0.93 0.90
JOHN-MICHAEL LILES 0.85 0.86 0.87 1.00 1.00 0.99
MIKE KOMISAREK 0.78 0.74 0.76 0.90 0.93 0.95

There are definitely some surprises in the above list and there are probably some small sample size issues going on.  Franson looked awesome defensively last season but terrible this season when considering their goal based HARO+ numbers.  The same is true for Aulie, and to some extent Phaneuf while the reverse is true for Gunnarsson.  For each of them their Fenwick numbers are a little more consistent.

All-in all though, Franson looks like he could be a more than respectable defenseman defensively.  His fenwick ratings are pretty solid and his 2-year goal ratings are very good.  On the other side of the spectrum, Komisarek looks awful, regardless of whether you consider goal ratings or fenwick ratings.  This is not good for a guy who doesn’t produce offense either.  Luke Schenn’s defensive numbers are a little better than Komisarek’s but still not great, but at least he is producing offensively.

Again, for interest sake, here are each defenseman’s 2-year raw defensive numbers.

2010-12 GA20 2010-12 FA20
CODY FRANSON 0.67 13.06
KEITH AULIE 0.73 15.36
DION PHANEUF 0.78 13.48
LUKE SCHENN 0.88 14.51

Gardiner’s GA20 is 0.80 and FA20 is 13.83 so far this season.

Contract Status and Moving Forward

Phaneuf and Komisrek are signed for 2 more seasons at $6.5M and $4.5M cap hits respectively.  Liles and Schenn are signed for 4 more seasons each at $3.875M and $3.6M cap hits respectively.  Carl Gunnarsson is signed for another season at $1.325M when he becomes an RFA and will be due a substantial raise.  Cody Franson is set to become an RFA this summer and will deserve a sizeable raise from his current $800K salary.  Jake Gardiner has 2 years left on his entry level deal with a $1.1M cap hit and Keith Aulie is an RFA this summer.  The Leafs also have Korbinian Holzer, Jesse Blacker and others in the farm system ready to make a push for a roster spot on the Leafs in the next year or two.

The Leafs salary cap hit for their defensemen next season will be $21M plus whatever Cody Franson gets on a new contract which quite likely will be around the $1.5-2.5M range.  That would bring their expenditures on defensemen to $23M which actually isn’t all that ridiculous if the salary cap is $65+M.  That said, if they are looking to free up salary to spend on forwards and/or are looking to open up a roster spot for their young defensemen there are a few options.

The first option is to trade (if possible) Mike Komisarek.  He provides no real value to this team but then he will probably provide no value to any team so trading him might be difficult.  He also has a limited no trade clause limiting the number of potential trade partners as well.  He would be a perfect candidate to have his contract buried in the AHL (in actual dollars he’ll earn $3.5M in each of the next 2 seasons and coincidentally Jeff Finger’s buried $3.5M contract expires this summer) but he has a no movement clause which means he cannot be demoted.  The only option to get his contract off the books is via trade.

Another option is to trade Luke Schenn.  He provides some value to the Leafs with his offensive ability but that is not an area where the Leafs are lacking (most of their defensemen have offensive capabilities).  His poor defensive numbers make him expendable in my opinion and being young and on a reasonably priced long term contract he should have a lot of value on the trade market.  He could feasibly be used in a package to land the Leafs the big two-way forward they desperately need.

The other options are trading either Franson or Gunnarsson.  Neither would save the team as much cap space as either Komisarek or Schenn but both would have good value on the trade market.  That said, I would not be a proponent of this as I think they both provide good value to the Leafs, and are likely to provide good value for many years.  Gunnarsson has developed into a solid all-purpose defenseman and I think Franson has that ability too.


Importance of Quality of Competition/Teammates

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Jan 252012

Whenever I get into a statistical debate over which player might be better than another the inevitable argument that comes up is “yeah, but player A plays against tougher competition and gets tougher assignments” which is a valid argument to make.  But how valid?  The other day I looked at a simple, straight forward method for accounting for zone start differences (which can be significant) and today I thought I’d take a look at quality of teammates and quality of competition.

Whenever I browse through my site or in my own database I have always been curious about the general lack of variation in the quality of competition and to a lesser extent quality of teammate stats (especially over multiple seasons of data) and I thought it would be worth while taking a look at it more closely.

My stats site has a number of metrics that we can look at but let me define a few.

  • GF20 – Goals For per 20 minutes of ice time.
  • GA20 – Goals Against per 20 minutes of ice time.
  • TMGF20 – Weighted average (by ice time played with) of teammates GF20
  • TMGA20 – Weighted average (by ice time played with) of teammates GA20
  • OppGF20 – Weighted average (by ice time played against) of opponents GF20
  • OppGA20 – Weighted average (by ice time played against) of opponents GA20

I also have the same stats for fenwick as well identified with an F instead of a G in the above abbreviations.

So, let’s take a look at a players offensive capabilities.  Things that would affect a players GF20 are the players own offensive talents, the offensive talents of his teammates and the defensive talents of his opponents.  We know that not all players have the same talent level, but what about the talent levels of his teammates and his opposition?  What is the variation among them?

The above table shows the mean goal production (GF20) in blue along with lines representing + and – one standard deviation.  Also included is TMGF20 in green and OPPGA20 in red and their + and – standard deviation lines.  I have included data for one, two, three and 4 seasons of data and skaters with a minimum of 400 minutes of 5v5 ice time average per season.

As you can see, there is very very little variation in quality of opposition, almost to the point we can almost  ignore it.  The variation in quality of teammate is significant and cannot be ignored and while it seems to get reduced over time, it’s impact cannot be ignored even when using 4 years of data.

Here is the same chart except using fenwick stats instead of goal stats.


We see pretty much the same thing when we look at fenwick data as we do goal data.  There is very little variation in quality of opposition, but significant variation in quality of teammate.  What about on the defensive side of things?


Once again, the quality of opposition has very little variation across a group of players almost to the point that it can be ignored.

All of this tells us that when comparing/evaluating players, the quality of competition a  player faces varies very little from player to player and we should be really careful when we use arguments such as “Player A faces tougher quality of competition” because in the grand scheme of things, the quality of competition probably only has a very minor influence on Player A’s on-ice stats.  And if you think about it, this probably makes sense.  If you have a great offensive player, the theory is your opponents will want to match up their great defensive players against him.  But, at the same time you are trying to match up your great offensive player against their weakest defensive players.  When at home, you get the line matching advantage, while on the road your opponent does.  When all is said and done everything more or less evens out.


Adjusting for Zone Starts

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Jan 232012

One of the biggest omissions in my player rankings is making adjustments for zone start differences.  We know that Manny Malhotra has a significant bias towards starting his shifts in the defensive zone and that his teammates Daniel and Henrik Sedin have a significant bias towards starting their shifts in the offensive zone.  The result is Malhotra will unfairly be penalized for giving up more shots and goals against simply because he starts more often in the defensive zone and the Sedins have a huge advantage in generating shots and goals because of how often they start their shifts in the offensive zone.  The question is, how much of an effect does it have and how do we adjust for it?

Over the past couple of weeks I have been pondering these questions and I thought of two potential solutions to the problem.  The first solution is to find some sort of adjustment factor based on zone start statistics.  I briefly pondered a few ideas but wondered if a uniform adjustment factor can be fairly applied to all players who have varying skills and talents.  I decided that I would take a look at my second idea first.

My second adjustment idea is really a simple idea and really isn’t an adjustment at all.  The idea is to just ignore any play that occurs during some stretch of time after an offensive/defensive zone face off.  After some length of time, any advantage (or disadvantage) one might get from starting in the offensive (or defensive) zone would be nullified.  Worst case scenario is we have to eliminate ~45 seconds after every offensive or defensive zone face off which would essentially nullify the whole shift.

So, with that in mind I took a look at 3 year (2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11) 5v5 statistics and did a comparison of four different lengths of time to ignore after an offensive/defensive zone faceoff – 0, 10, 20 and 30 seconds.  To evaluate what is going on I looked at each players fenwick for and against per 20 minutes and calculated the correlation between each time after faceoff adjustment.  Here is what I found:

FenF/20 FenA/20
5v5 vs F10 0.8639 0.8451
F10 vs F20 0.9882 0.9866
F20 vs F30 0.9870 0.9883
5v5 vs F20 0.8718 0.8368

5v5 is no zone start adjustment, F10 is ignoring 10 seconds after an offensive/defensive zone faceoff, f20 is ignoring 20 seconds after and f30 is ignoring 30 seconds after.  The numbers are r^2 for fenwick for per 20 minutes and fenwick against per 20 minutes.

As you can see, there is a somewhat sizeable difference between 5v5 and the F10 adjustment but there is very little difference between the F10 and F20 or F20 and F30 and there isn’t really any difference between 5v5 vs F10 and 5v5 vs F20.  All of this tells me that any advantage (or disadvantage) a player gains because of their zone stars occurs during the first 10 seconds after an offensive or defensive face off.  After that, only the players talent matters and there is no benefit to removing more data from our analysis.

Wanting to confirm this works for a single season of data I decide to take a look at Manny Malhotra and Henrik Sedin’s stats from last season.

Malhotra FenA/20 Sedin FenF/20
5v5 14.16 15.39
F10 12.49 13.31
F20 12.44 13.66
F30 12.24 13.71

This confirms what we witnessed with the correlations using 3 years of data.  By ignoring the first 10 seconds after an offensive/defensive zone faceoff we can eliminate any benefit/penalty a player may get because of his zone starts.  When I finally get around to updating my stats site I intend to include F10 data as well and I think this is a simple enough solution to abandon any attempts at any other zone start adjustment technique.


Jan 182012

Brian Burke joined the Leafs in November of 2008.  When he joined the Leafs he insisted he has no interest in a 5 year rebuild and expected he could make the team competitive much sooner.  Let’s evaluate how Burke has done in his tenure as GM of the Maple Leafs.

2007-08 2011-12
GAA 3.08 (27th) 3.03 (27th)
SV% 89.3 (29th) 90.1 (24th)
GFA 2.74 (11th) 2.98 (6th)
PP 17.8% (15th) 20.6% (4th)
PK 78.0% (30th) 74.4% (30th)
Points 83 (12th in east) 89 (projected, 9th)

Their overall offense is slightly better but their defense is the same sad defense we had prior to Burke.  They are in the playoff hunt this season, but they are a dismal 13-15-3 in their last 32 games and showing little signs that if they can somehow squeak into the playoffs they can threaten to win a round.  They have just 7 wins against teams currently in the playoffs and the only playoff team they have defeated since December 5th is the Detroit Red Wings.

Up until recently I have been a supporter of Brian Burke but to be perfectly honest he is growing weary on me.  Yes, the team is younger, but no, it is not very much better.  Yes, there is greater prospect depth, but I am doubtful any of them have the potential to become game changers in the NHL (i.e. dominant core players).  He seems to think he has one of the best coaches in the NHL and gave him a contract extension but he also has talked recently about how he thinks his team is a playoff team and is only a player or two away from seriously challenging to be a top team that can make a lengthy playoff run.  He loves to talk about how the Phaneuf trade changed the franchise around, but since the Phaneuf trade the Leafs are just 72-62-19 or the equivalent of an 87 point team.  In the 6 seasons post lockout 87 points would get you 11th, 12th, 11th, 11th, 10th, and 10th.  I don’t know about you, but I am not satisfied with a 10th-12th place team, or even a 9th place team.

Other Leaf fans like to talk about how young this team and the rebuilding process isn’t complete (despite Burke insisting he had no interest in a 5 year rebuild) but lets look at their ages and experience.  I have included the top 18 skaters in total ice time this season and top 2 goalies.

Player Age GP
Dion Phaneuf 26 515
Carl Gunnarsson 25 155
Phil Kessel 24 419
Joffrey Lupul 28 494
Jake Gardiner 21 38
John-Michael Liles 31 557
Luke Schenn 22 275
Nikolai Kulemin 25 278
Mikhail Grabovski 27 284
Tyler Bozak 25 155
Tim Connolly 30 660
Clarke MacArthur 26 328
David Steckel 29 351
Cody Franson 24 171
Matt Frattin 24 38
Joey Crabb 28 111
Mike Komisarek 29 492
Matthew Lombardi 29 473
James Reimer 23 55
Jonas Gustavsson 27 88

Only Gardiner, Schenn and Reimer are under age 24.  The majority of the team is aged 24-26 with a few players in their late 20’s and Liles topping out at 31.  There are 12 players with 250+ games experience and 7 with 400+ games experience and only 4 players (both goalies, Frattin and Gardiner) have fewer than 100 games experience.  This isn’t a team filled with rookies with little or no experience, it is a young team but with a fair bit of NHL experience with the majority of players in their prime years or just entering their prime years.  Am I really expected to buy into the fact that this mediocre team of 24-29 year olds will suddenly become a great team of 26-31 year olds 2 years from now?  I am not so certain.

Furthering that challenge is that Grabovski, Liles and Gustavsson are UFA’s after this season and after next season Connolly, Lupul, Lombardi, MacArthur, Armstrong, Bozak, and Steckel are UFA’s.  That is 7 of your top 13 skaters in terms of ice time becoming UFA’s over the next 2 summers plus a handful of others.  This doesn’t appear to be a core of players that can win now and a good chunk of the core could walk away as free agents should they choose to.

All this begs the question, where do the Leafs go from here?  Do they stick with this core, re-signing the UFA’s and hope for the best, or do they admit that this completely revamped (from 3 years ago) team is only marginally better, still can’t keep the puck out of their own net, and may in fact need another significant overhaul?  And if it is the latter, should we leave that up to Burke?  To be fair, it is probably too early to pull the plug on this current Leaf team but from my perspective if Burke insists the problem is not the coach and the mediocrity continues, I am not sure how much longer we Leaf fans should wait.


History of Poor Defensive Teams making Playoffs

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Jan 152012

Not sure what led me to look into this but I took a look at poor defensive teams making the playoffs in the eastern conference.  Over the past 3 seasons there have been just 6 teams to make the playoffs in the eastern conference with goals against averages greater than 2.80.  They are:

  • Tampa Bay Lightning (2010-11):  2.80
  • Ottawa Senators (2009-10): 2.80
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-10):  2.82
  • Montreal Canadiens (2008-09): 2.88
  • Washington Capitals (2008-09):  2.89
  • Ottawa Senators (2007-08): 2.92

Over the past 4 seasons there have been a total of 26 teams with gaa’s above 2.80 and just 6 of those made the playoffs (37.5%).  There have been 18 teams with gaa’s above 2.90 and only one team (the 2007-08 Senators) made the playoffs (5.6%).

What is interesting is that right now there are currently 4 teams in eastern conference playoff spots with goals against averages above 2.80.

  • Washington Capitals: 2.85
  • Philadelphia Flyers:  2.90
  • Toronto Maple Leafs:  3.03
  • Ottawa Senators:  3.07

There are actually only 6 teams in the eastern conference with GAA’s under 2.80 so at least 2 of them over 2.80 would have to be in the playoffs.  Those under 2.80 are the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Canadiens , Panthers and Devils.  If history is any indication that means Pittsburgh should be able to climb back into the playoff picture and who knows, maybe there is hope for the Canadiens (wouldn’t bet on it though).  But regardless, it appears there will be a few teams making the playoffs in the eastern conference with gaa’s above 2.80, and maybe even one or two above 3.00.  The only eastern teams to make the playoffs with a gaa above 3.00 post lockout are the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2006-07 (3.11 gaa) and 2005-06 (3.07), Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 (3.11) and Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06 (3.04) but offense was significantly higher in those seasons.  Particularly in 2005-06 when only 5 teams had sub 3.00 gaa’s in the east, all making the playoffs.

I should also point out that of the teams that made the playoffs with a GAA above 2.80 in the past 4 seasons, both Ottawa teams missed the playoffs the following season, Tampa is certain to do so this season and Montreal squeeked into the playoffs in 2009-10 with just 88 points, the lowest point total for a playoff team post lockout.  Bad defensive teams don’t generally see much success and should they achieve some it is seemingly not a positive predictor of future success.


Schenn vs Van Riemsdyk: Do you make the trade?

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Jan 142012

There has been a lot of talk over the last 24 hours about the possibility of the Maple Leafs trading Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk?  Personally, I’d seriously consider it and probably do it, but lets take a look at the numbers.

Luke Schenn

2011-12 1.19 0.85 0.94 0.83 45.7%
2010-11 1.05 0.89 1.02 0.94 51.1%
2009-10 1.19 0.85 1.05 0.96 51.7%
2008-09 0.97 0.82 1.06 0.89 53.2%

For those who don’t know what these numbers are they are my all-encompassing (mostly) hockey rating stats.  HARO stands for Hockey Analysis Rating Offense and is an offensive rating for the player based on goals scored.  HARD is the defensive rating based on goals.  The Fen ratings use fenwick stats (shots + missed shots) to calculate the ratings instead of goal stats.  For these ratings anything over 1 is quite good (above average) and anything less than 1 is not so good.  The above ratings are for 5v5 even strength situations.

The one thing these stats do not take into account is zone starts (I have a plan to fix this in future versions of my ratings but haven’t coded it yet) so I have included the Ozone% which indicated how frequently the player started in the offensive zone vs the defensive zone.  >50 means more starts in the offensive zone than the defensive zone and <50 means more starts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone.

So, for Luke Schenn we actually find his numbers quite consistent.  Strangely he has been a pretty solid offensive defenseman but a pretty weak defensive defenseman which is the opposite of what he was projected to be when drafted.  His FenHARD+ rating has dropped significantly this season from the previous 2 seasons but that can be fully explained by the fact that he has had significantly more defensive zone starts this year from previous years.  The same is true for his drop in HARO+.  When we factor in his zone starts he has been extremely consistent over the past 2 1/2 seasons (his rookie season was a little weaker).  That lack of progress is what concerns me most about Schenn.  If he can’t significantly improve his defensive ability his overall value going forward is limited to a #4-6 defenseman.

James van Riemsdyk

2011-12 1.13 0.84 1.07 0.99 54.0%
2010-11 1.29 1.02 1.08 0.93 49.6%
2009-10 1.05 0.97 1.13 0.99 52.9%

Van Riemsdyk’s fenwick ratings have been extremely consistent over the past 2 1/2 seasons with the fluctuations observed in them almost solely due to the fluctuations in his Ozone%, particularly for the fenwick ratings.  Overall he appears to be an above average offensive player and a somewhat weak defensive player, not all that different from Schenn.  Last season was clearly a good season for him with a bit of a drop off this season.

In some other discussions I have compared van Riemsdyk to Joffrey Lupul, just a little bigger.  So let’s take a look a Lupul’s numbers and see how they compare.

Joffrey Lupul

2011-12 1.59 0.68 1.07 0.82 50.0%
2010-11 1.09 0.78 0.93 0.79 47.4%
2009-10 1.32 0.96 0.95 0.96 50.8%
2008-09 1.15 0.83 1.01 0.87 44.4%

Lupul’s seems to be a perfect example of a high risk high reward player.  His offensive numbers are quite good, a little better than van Riemsdyk’s, but his defensive numbers are quite bad, especially over the past 2 seasons.  His offensive numbers have jumped quite a bit this season but his offensive ratings from 2008-09 to 2010-11 had him as an above average offensive player so maybe this season isn’t all that surprising given he is probably playing with better players and given more offensive roles.  Also, his ratings from 2008-09 to 2010-11 are quite comparable to van Riemsdyk’s over the past 2 1/2 years (though van Riemsdyk has benefited more from more offensive zone starts).  Compared to Lupul I think we can say van Riemsdyk is slightly below him offensively (particularly if Lupul’s performance this season is sustainable), and slightly above him defensively.

In the end whether you trade Schenn for van Riemsdyk comes down to each teams need and whether you project improvement in either of them going forward.  Right now Schenn is probably a #4-6 defenseman on most good teams and van Riemsdyk is a second line winger on a team with good depth up front.  The reason I make the trade is Schenn has been given big minutes and top 4 defenseman roles in the past but hasn’t shown he can be that.  Van Riemsdyk has never really been give top line duty or been given top PP unit duty so we don’t know whether if given that opportunity he could have a break out season, much like what Lupul is doing this season.  Plus, I think a line of Van Riemsdyk-Grabovski-Kulemin could be an interesting combination of size and skill and 2-way ability, even more so if Colborne replaces Grabovski down the road.

Update:  Apparently Van Riemsdyk is now out with a concussion so the idea if trading Schenn for van Rymsdyk right now is a moot point, but the analysis (concussion aside) is still valid.

Jan 122012

There is a post over at Backhand Shelf today that lists 10 backup goalies that have out performed their #1 counterparts.  It is an interesting read but it may be a perfect example of how simple statistics don’t tell the whole story.

The first pair of goalies on the list are the Bruins Tukka Rask vs Tim Thomas.

Backup: Tuukka Rask (10-4-1, 1.59 GAA, .945 SV%)
Starter: Tim Thomas (17-7-0, 1.99 GAA, .938 SV%)

Now both goalies have exceptionally good numbers but on the surface you would probably conclude that Rask has superior numbers to Thomas and on the surface you would be correct.  But dig a little deeper and things may look a little different.

A few days ago I was wading through some statistics and made an interesting observation about the Bruins handling of these two goalies.  Specifically, Tukka Rask gets far easier starts than Tim Thomas.

Rask Thomas
Opp. Record 265-257-72 511-418-123
Opp. Points % 1.013 1.088
Opp. Points/82gms 83.1 89.2
Opp GFA 2.55 2.77
Opp Sh% 8.66% 9.29%

Thomas’s opponents have a better record, have a better goal scoring rate and have a better shooting percentage than Rask’s and generally speaking it isn’t very close.  Boston has the highest goals per game average in the NHL.  The next 6 teams are Philadelphia, Vancouver, Detroit, Toronto, Chicago and Ottawa.  Of Rask’s 14 starts he has 2 starts (14.3%) against those six teams, one against Toronto and one against Detroit.  Thomas has 25 starts, and 9 starts (36%) against those six teams (3 vs Toronto, 2 vs Ottawa, 2 vs Philadelphia, 1 vs Chicago and 1 vs Vancouver).

When you take Rask and Thomas’s individual numbers on the surface it appears that Rask has out performed Thomas but when you dig deeper and look at the quality of opposition it is far less clear that Rask has outperformed Thomas and in fact it may be the other way around.

(On a side note, the combined record of all of Boston’s opponents is just 776-675-195, the equivalent of an 87 point team so it seems they have had a fairly easy schedule thus far. )