Hockey stats guru Alan Ryder pops a few bubbles in today’s Globe and Mail:
Myth: Re-engineering the game after the lost season of the lock-out opened up the NHL’s game and resulted in more scoring.
Reality: Scoring rose, but is now back to pre-lockout levels and the game never became more wide open.
What follows is a vivisection of scoring data from the last few seasons, and a look inside what caused scoring to rise immediately following the Great Lockout, and why it has descended back to previous levels recently. Despite goal-scoring coming back down, however, I’m not buying the argument that NHL hockey isn’t wide-open compared to what it was a few years ago. And I might just have the numbers to back that up…
The common wisdom says that younger players need to pay their dues before getting respect from the referees, but a look at updated Penalty Plus/Minus data shows a surprising number of rookies and 2nd-year players drawing calls at a tremendous rate. And look who’s working their way up the leaderboard… none other than everyone’s favorite fashion magazine intern, Sean Avery.
Also, I’ve added a Position column so enterprising readers can slice & dice along another line of analysis. So let’s take a look…
Isn’t it nice to get what you pay for? David Poile and Barry Trotz must certainly think so.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter inked healthy contract extensions over the summer, with their combined salaries jumping from just over $1.4 million to $8 million this year. So far, the investment appears to be paying off, as Weber leads the Predators in scoring with 3 goals and 4 assists through 6 games, with Suter not far behind with 1 goal and 3 helpers.
As both Suter and Weber begin their 4th NHL season, they’re leading the maturation of a defense corps that is becoming not just one of the top young groups in the league, but one of the best stable of defensemen, period. Let’s take a look at offensive production by defensemen, sorted by team for 2007-8:
One of the pivotal moments in any NHL game is when one team or the other gets a power play. Particularly in light of this year’s new rule that has most power plays commencing with a faceoff in the offensive zone, special teams should play an especially critical role this season.
Even though they record which player draws a given call within the Play By Play files (i.e. “PENL ATL #4 BOGOSIAN Holding(2 min), Def. Zone Drawn By: WSH #91 FEDOROV”), the NHL surprisingly doesn’t track this data; so I do, and make the results available to the public as an online spreadsheet, which anyone can download and use on their own.
One upon a time, Paul Bruno was an accountant in the Toronto area, but then…
...in 2005 circumstances would unfold that would change his life and career in a flash.
Mr. Bruno lost both his parents in less than two weeks.
“My mother on her deathbed told me that the most important thing is to enjoy what you do with your life every day,” Mr. Bruno said.
And acting on this last advice from his mother, the Richmond Hill man shed his suit and tie and dove into the world of sports head first.
Read on for the story behind the man who, among other things, developed the prototype for the NHL’s Real Time Scoring System (RTSS), which provides most of the information used by hockey stats geeks like myself.
Alan Ryder uses his trademark Player Contribution analysis to break down the Vancouver Canucks, in an effort to understand how they won the Northwest in 2007, fell short of the playoffs in 2008, and what to expect from them this year. I’ll give you a hint; the fate of their season rests on Captain Goalie’s shoulders.
Before reaching the obvious conclusion that Luongo had an off-season in 2008 I should point out that any PC score for a goaltender that is north of 200 points is exceptional. His score ranked him as ‘only’ the fifth most impactful goalie in the NHL in 2008. But … Roberto had an off-season and this cost the Canucks about eight points in the standings.
Read on for a statistically comprehensive, yet very readable, breakdown of the Canucks.
Offense in the NHL is generally a team affair, and a couple weeks ago I looked at some of the closest sniper/playmaker pairings in the NHL. Today, however, I thought I’d shine a light on those goal scorers who succeed more through their own merit, without the benefit of a particular setup man.
From the Calgary Flames blog Five Hole Fanatics:
Something I’ve noticed about the Calgary Flames the last few years is they don’t tend to block a lot of shots. I’ve heard it rumored they actually employ this as a strategy: the default setting in the defensive zone is “clear traffic so Kipper can see the shot.”
What follows is a detailed look at shot-blocking trends by team, in an attempt to determine which teams are actually blocking the greatest portion of attempted shots.
Since we’ve got a few days between the opening games in Europe and the main Opening Night here in North America, I guess we should thank the Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning for making a trade that can generate some conversation while we wait.
For a deep dive into Michel Oullet’s numbers, and a case for Vancouver possibly landing a gem, head on over to MC79Hockey:
I’ve been impressed with Mike Gillis so far. I know that there was a lot of criticism of his strategy this summer but he struck me as a guy doing the right thing: if the move didn’t make sense, he didn’t make it. It was like the polar opposite of Kevin Lowe’s 2007. If Ouellet ends up in the NHL, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he ended up putting up decent numbers. At the very least, it should make Kyle Wellwood feel the need to stay in shape.
As the Rangers, Lightning, Senators and Penguins return from their European adventure, there is sure to be some hand-wringing from their fans that unfair travel requirements are going to undermine the start to their season.
Outside of perhaps the Lightning, those claims are pure hogwash. The other three teams have it relatively easy when it comes to travel. For all the details behind the 2008-9 Regular Season schedule, including how many total miles each team will log and the relative strength of opposition each night, check out my NHL Super Schedule.