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.

Highly specific history says Penguins are A-OK


If you’re a Pittsburgh Penguins partisan, chances are you’re quite bummed out right now. The hated Philadelphia Flyers came back from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 1 by a 4-3 score in overtime, with villains such as Jaromir Jagr and Danny Briere heavily involved. If you need a really specific stat to hang your hat on, how about this one from Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN Stats & Info:

According to Elias, the Flyers are just the third NHL team to come back from a three-goal deficit in a road Game 1 since 1985. The other two teams lost their series.

So, cheer up Penguins fans. This isn’t Keith Primeau scoring in five bajillionth overtime revisited. If (very specific) history repeats itself, Pittsburgh will shake this off and advance to the second round.

Hey, it’s better than nothing, right? Right?

Florida Panthers reaped referees’ rewards the most this season

Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers

Along with celebrating goals, making fun of opposing and “bandwagon” fans and eating greasy, overpriced food, there’s one activity that tends to bond fans of all 30 NHL teams: mercilessly booing officials. Chances are, every fan base has cursed a ref for (what’s usually) a human mistake while fastening a tin foil hat of suspicion.

It brings up an interesting question, though: which fans are most justified in their (assumed) metaphorical fashion statements? Following in last year’s footsteps, I decided to use NHL.com’s team stats to find out which squads have benefited and lost the most from the referees’ whistle.

(Key: “PP Opp” = power-play opportunities, “TS” = times shorthanded and net chances represents the difference between the two.)

Team PP Opp TS Net chances
FLA 286 239 47
SJS 270 225 45
CHI 277 233 44
CBJ 317 274 43
CAR 294 252 42
TOR 267 242 25
DET 298 274 24
NYR 280 260 20
PIT 289 270 19
PHI 335 319 16
NJD 267 259 8
NYI 243 236 7
NSH 250 244 6
PHX 251 249 2
VAN 288 286 2
BUF 258 257 1
LAK 289 293 -4
CGY 260 268 -8
BOS 250 260 -10
ANA 271 283 -12
STL 270 282 -12
MTL 301 315 -14
TBL 269 284 -15
WSH 245 266 -21
MIN 258 285 -27
EDM 262 296 -34
OTT 270 310 -40
WPG 251 292 -41
COL 223 277 -54
DAL 244 303 -59

Some observations

As you can see, the Florida Panthers didn’t just have charity points on their side this season – they also drew 47 more power plays than penalties received. Meanwhile, Dallas Stars fans will nod their heads sadly when they notice that their team went on the PK 59 more times than they had man advantages. That’s essentially an extra penalty to kill in two out of every three games.

You only need to reach down to the fourth-ranked Columbus Blue Jackets to see the first team that couldn’t take advantage of such a disparity. One cannot help but wonder if the Blue Jackets could make a huge turnaround next season if they receive the same advantages (317 power play opportunities!), which is obviously no guarantee. Yet with a potentially luckier James Wisniewski and a full season of Jack Johnson in tow, you never know if they did generate a lot of 5-on-4’s in 2012-13. The Carolina Hurricanes also failed to take advantage of penalty perks by missing the postseason. (Toronto rounds out that group, but they didn’t have quite as much of a dramatic advantage.)

Meanwhile, the five teams that received the worst “treatment” missed the playoffs, while sixth-worst Washington (-21) barely squeaked in as the seventh seed.

Coming soon: A look at which teams benefited or suffered the most from officiating since the lockout.