The Brandon Sutter Litmus Test

Today on twitter @DTMAboutHeart made a comment that Brandon Sutter is a below replacement level defensive player. Every year since 2009 Brandon Sutter’s defense has rated below replacement level — DTM About Heart (@DTMAboutHeart) July 15, 2016 Based on this comment I would like to propose this as a litmus test for whether you are doing hockey analytics correctly or not. Before I get to that, let me put out a pretty simple claim. If you are a below replacement level defensive player it ought to manifest itself in a high goals against average, probably among the highest on your team. I don’t

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Who is Adam Larsson?

Let’s for a moment set aside the fact that the Oilers traded away maybe one of the top 5 offensive players in the league in Taylor Hall and lets take a look at what they acquired in Adam Larsson. Adam Larsson was drafted 4th overall in the 2011 NHL draft so he was a highly regarded defenseman entering the league. He immediately started his NHL career and played the majority of the 2011-12 and 2012-13 (lockout shortened) seasons with the Devils with decent but mixed results. He was probably rushed to the NHL too soon. In 2013-14 he split time

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Corsi vs Goals when predicting conference finalists

Every year I’ll see a tweet like the following and while they frustrates me it also shows me peoples biases. NHL teams that made conference finals ranked No. 2, 6, 7, 8 in score-adjusted Corsi% during regular season. pic.twitter.com/AhJTRQYMHg — Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) May 13, 2016 It shows peoples biases because clearly Neil is attempting to defend Corsi, something he has invested himself in over the years, by showing the value of Corsi in predicting conference finalists. It is frustrating because it isn’t really telling us the whole story. Sure, seeing #2, #6, #7, and #8 teams make the semi-finals seems

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Review of Beleskey and Williams impact on save percentages

Last off season two of the better wingers on the unrestricted free agent market were Matt Beleskey and Justin Williams. In the analytics community Williams is generally lauded as a possession king and and undervalued player while Beleskey was pointed out as the unrestricted free agent most likely to be over paid (turned out he ended up with a lower than expected deal but still some figured he was still over paid). At the time I wrote a summary of these two free agent wingers and said while Williams had dominant possession statistics he has generally had a negative impact on his

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Who Deserves the Norris Trophy?

The NHL award that seems to be generating the most interest and discussion this season is the Norris Trophy given to the best defenseman. In some circles Drew Doughty seems to be the favourite because he is having a great season in a great career on a team having a great year. Others are picking Erik Karlsson because of his dominant offensive season for a defenseman, one that few defensemen can match in the history of the game. Brent Burns is having almost as good of an offensive season but for a playoff team so his name gets thrown into

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Anecdotes and validating statistical models

I often get criticized by others in the hockey analytics community, particularly on twitter, when I through out a piece of data that runs counter to conventional analytical thinking and raise a question as to whether it means something or not. Sometimes I do it because I believe in what I am saying but other times I do it because I think we should constantly be challenging and testing current conventional wisdom. That is how we learn new things. We make observations, we ask questions about their relevance, we investigate and we either toss out the new idea or we

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Is possession hockey providing diminishing returns?

Ian Cooper sent me a link to an article he recently wrote how hockey analytics has driven the importance of puck possession hockey which in turn can change the dynamics of hockey analytics. In his article he showed that in recent years there has been a smaller spread in team CF% talent which he believes is due to a higher percentage of teams focusing on puck possession hockey. That’s more consistent with a league in which teams are all deploying tactics in order to optimize their SAT% and pummeling a small number of holdouts who either don’t accept analytics orthodoxy or simply aren’t

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Correcting a post on shot quality and save percentage revisited, again

It is beginning to become a regular occurrence but someone over at Hockey Graphs has attempted to debunk a theory/stat/opinion of mine and once again failed in their procedure for doing so. This time Garret Hohl tried to debunk Sv% RelTM as a useful statistic by looking at the persistence and predictability of Sv% RelTM over time despite the fact that just a month ago I suggested that evaluation of the past and predicting the future are two different questions. The reason for this is due to the fact that lack of persistence might be due to players changing teams or changing roles. What

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Evaluating Player Evaluation Metrics and Expected Goal Models

  Think about the perfect scenario where we have an infinite sample size. A scenario where every player plays an infinite amount of ice time with and against every other player. In fact, every 6-player combination of 3F-2D-1G plays against every other 6-player combination an infinite amount of ice time. Players start an infinite number of times in the offensive zone, defensive zone and neutral zone and they play an infinite amount of time in all score scenarios. Under this scenario there is no need to make considerations for sample size, quality of teammates, quality of competition, zone starts, score

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Is Erik Karlsson a good Defender? Does it matter?

I read an article today discussing whether “role player” still have a role in the NHL today. A significant part of the discussion revolved around Erik Karlsson, whether he is a good defensive player, and essentially whether it mattered. Former offensive NHL defenseman Brian Leetch discussed Karlsson’s play and that overall he contributes everything a team could ask of him. “It’s a game of mistakes. Something’s going to go wrong out there and that goes for every player,” he continued. “But the amount of things [Karlsson] does right and the amount of things he does to impact his team in

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