Tag: nerdy stuff

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Three

Shooting percentages show that Kings’ luck turned around in playoffs

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Many statheads were probably already aware of this before, but the Los Angeles Kings were particularly unlucky during the regular season, especially when it comes to their league-worst 6.4 shooting percentage at even strength. Jeff Z Klein puts those stats in a digestible format for the New York Times, showing that Los Angeles went from the NHL’s most snake-bitten shooting team to its third “luckiest” once the postseason rolled around.

It strengthens the on-paper-based arguments that the Kings were a much better team than their eighth seed suggested.

What does 1.9 percentage points below the N.H.L. median mean over the course of an 82-game season? Quite a bit, as it happens – 38 goals.

The Kings were taking 30.7 shots per game while skating five-on-five in the regular season. Scoring on 6.4 percent of them translated to an average of 2.0 even-strength goals per 60 minutes. Had they been striking at the median rate, they would have scored not quite 2.5 goals per 60 minutes, or 38 additional goals over the course of the season.

That’s a lot of goals, and probably a fair number of extra victories and regulation ties – worth somewhere in the vicinity of 10 to 19 points. That would have made the Kings not a mediocre 95-point eighth seed, but one of the top three teams in the Western Conference, somewhere next to the 111-point Canucks or the 109-point Blues.

Yup, 38 goals would be a pretty big difference – that’s just a little shy of one goal every other game.

During the playoffs, Klein points out that the Kings’ even strength shooting percentage jumped to 9.3, which was the third-best rate in the postseason. That might not sound like much, but when you consider the fact that one could differentiate a great goalie from a mediocre one by a percent point or two, those numbers really add up.

If nothing else, this study indicates that the Kings might just have the kind of team that could contend for quite some time. Sure, their postseason shooting percentage will “regress to the mean” at some point, yet they survived the worst mark and throttled people with one of the best success rates. If the truth is somewhere in between, Los Angeles could very well become a fixture in the West.

Hot weather presents challenge for Caps’ ice crew

Boston Bruins v Washington Capitals - Game Three

Few arena crews faced a challenge like the Staples Center gang did last night, as they were forced to prepare playoff-caliber ice for the Los Angeles Kings shortly after an overtime NBA game for the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet even with a more manageable gap between Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals contests, Stephen Whyno reports that the heat in DC had the Verizon Center crew on their toes.

“The guys who drive the Zamboni and maintain the ice, they’re looking for it whether it’s January and it’s 30 degrees out or it’s april and it’s 90 degrees out,” arena senior vice president and general manager Dave Touhey said in a phone interview. “But when it’s April and it’s 90 degrees out, that’s an abnormality. When it’s 90 degrees out, you pay more attention to it.”

That means several layers of protection, including turning the temperature down from the usual mid-to-upper-50s down to the lower 50s. While that seems like a small change, it can make a big difference.

“We normally have processes that we go through to maintain the NHL standards. Now we’re taking readings every hour to make sure where we are as opposed to just monitoring it,” Touhey said. “We’re just monitoring it more closely to make sure that we’re down where we want to be.”

The Capitals and Boston Bruins combined for a measly four goals through the first two games of the series – which included an overtime and double overtime contest – so it’s not like the teams could blame choppy ice for shoddy offense. Still, as much as an ice crew can do, don’t be surprised if we’re in for another low-scoring affair.

(Did I just jinx the two goalies?)

Zdeno Chara wins Round 1 against Alex Ovechkin

Zdeno Chara, Alex Ovechkin

It’s not fair to break down the Washington Capitals-Boston Bruins series to Alex Ovechkin vs. Zdeno Chara … but it sure is kinda fun, isn’t it? By just about any measure, Chara subdued Ovechkin in Game 1 – which was important because Boston barely won by a score of 1-0 in overtime.

Let’s take a look at Ovechkin and Chara’s numbers:

Ovi: one shot on goal, zero missed shots, seven hits and one giveaway in 17:34 of ice time.
Chara: two shots on goal, one missed shot, one penalty, four hits and 21:46 of ice time.

Ovechkin’s seven hits show that he was involved in the game – at least from a physical perspective – but I italicized his missed shots because it reveals that he wasn’t even really able to release his shot very often. Even if his accuracy was off, having a few missed shots on goal would give a little bit more reason for optimism; instead, he was limited enough that he only fired one shot – a pretty decent one – that Tim Thomas was able to handle.

A steady flow of Bruins power plays from the end of the first period and beginning of the second might explain both players’ limited ice time, but that’s a promising sign for Chara. Keeping Big Z’s ice time reasonable is a really nice break for Boston, especially if the Caps can make this a long series.

Dale Hunter’s task is to get Ovechkin on the ice more often. It’ll be easier to get him away from Chara once the series shifts to Washington, but either way, 17:34 of ice time just isn’t enough for Ovechkin – especially since he finished the season on a somewhat stealthy hot streak.