Kukla's Korner

Cambellnomics brings the “new math” to NHL scoring

Ken Campbell at the Hockey News updates his “Cambellnomics rankings” today, which are intended to isolate goals and assists which prove critical to the outcome of a given game.  It puts a new spin on the typical leader board, and propels the likes of Tuomo Ruutu and Nikolai Zherdev into the ranks of the NHL elite, and discards Evgeni Malkin, the league’s scoring leader, all the way down to 16th:

We’re not interested in who scores the sixth goal in a 6-2 game, but we do want to give credit to players who score the goal that put the team up 3-2, or the player who scored the first goal of the game.

While taking a deeper look inside the numbers beyond simple goals and assists is always a good thing, I have some objections to Campbell’s methods…

 

The most obvious has to do with this particular aspect:

A new wrinkle on Campbellnomics this season is the comeback goal. A comeback goal can only be scored when a team is trailing by two or more goals and that goal has a direct effect on his team getting back into the game. The goal must be one of goals scored in succession that result in the game later being tied.

So if, for example, the Rangers are down 3-1, and Chris Drury scores to bring New York back to within a goal, and the team scores the next goal to tie it at 3, Drury gets credit for a Comeback goal, but if the opponent scores next, or the game ends at 3-2, he doesn’t get credit?  That’s simply absurd.  The circumstances surrounding Drury’s goal, and the nature of that achievement, are the same regardless.  What happens afterward is an entirely separate issue.

The same logic applies to awarding points for Game Winning goals.  When Jarome Iginla scored early in the 3rd a couple weeks ago to push Calgary’s lead over Nashville to 7-3, how is that a “clutch” goal?  The fact that the Predators made the final score 7-6 doesn’t change what Iginla did at the time, which would normally fall under the category of Campbell’s example of someone who “scores the sixth goal in a 6-2 game.”

Perhaps a better means of looking at this issue of “important” goals and assists is to look at performance strictly when teams are tied, and the outcome of a game truly hangs in the balance.  It appears that just such a tool for analyzing this might be available (dig through the comments over at mc79hockey), and I’ll take a look at this issue in the coming days.

For now, though, Campbellnomics strikes me as deeply flawed, intertwining individual goals and assists with the events that follow.  The result is a muddle that confuses more than it enlightens.

 

 

Filed in: NHL Statistical Analysis, | On the Forecheck | Permalink
 

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