If you’ve been following me for a while, then you’re probably aware of a stat I created called POP which aims to predict the playoffs and more accurately forecast who the best teams in the league are.
There’s been some work done recently, as well as suggestions from smarter people, that’s made me consider making changes to the stat.
In its current iteration, POP is (Fenwick Close + ((0.6 x Goals Close)/PDO Close)) x (PP% + PK%). The first part of the equation is very similar to what Tom Tango is working on right now with weighted shot differential, so it was interesting to see someone else working on something similar.
Continue reading a better playoff output projection
It’s true. Possession isn’t everything. The problem with that argument is no one seriously looking at it disagrees. It’s a strawman argument.
But while no one is arguing that puck possession is everything, it does seem to be the only thing that people really focus on when analyzing hockey (with some exceptions obviously).
That’s not a wrong thing to do, possession is a tremendous indicator of future success, but it’s missing part of the pie. The part where shooting and goaltending talent exist. The part of the game that isn’t played 5 on 5. These things matter. It’s not at the level that possession matters in the long run, but it’s a vital part of a team’s success. Factoring those two pieces creates a better measure of future success and arguably a team’s true talent.
That’s what I aimed to do this summer, put the pieces together in a way that makes sense given what we know about the game right now. (I swear it was to further the discussion and not for gambling).
Continue reading why possession isn’t everything
The Stanley Cup Final is set and it’s a match made in TV heaven. The two biggest markets in the USA square off in what will likely be a ratings bonanza.
New York. Los Angeles. Somewhere Gary Bettman is smiling while a paid butler makes it rain. This matchup is probably all he ever wanted.
This is a matchup that many analytics types had predicted from the get go (one even made over $3,000 from a $75 bet on twitter dot com).
The Kings led the league in puck possession, and got even better after acquiring Marian Gaborik. They were the fourth best POP team in the West and seventh in the entire NHL. But in their last 25 games they were second to only Boston in the entire league.
The Rangers were a Stanley Cup dark horse going in, quietly being the sixth best possession team in the league. They were right behind the Kings as the eighth best POP team, but also the fourth best in their last 25 games of the season (behind Boston, Los Angeles, and San Jose).
Coming in to this playoffs, POP was at 56-19 in accurately predicting series outcomes. This year it’s stumbled to an 8-6 record through three rounds after going 1-1 in Round 3 (POP over the last 25 games is 10-4 and was 2-0 in Round 3).
Five of those six losses came in a seventh game against a road team. A bounce the other way and that record would be a bit more respectable.
Continue reading 2013-2014 stanley cup final preview
In case you haven’t read it yet, this is the system I’m rolling with this year that combines possession, talent, and special teams.
It’s going really well so far…
POP is currently 7-5 after going 2-2 in round two (goddamn east). Which is not very good. Before this year it went 56-19 since 2008-2009, so this year has been very crazy compared to other years in terms of upsets and a lot of series could’ve went the other way.
Take for example the six (!) series that went to seven games.
The home team is 1-5 in those games. They all had a 3-2 (or better) series lead. POP had them all to win except Anaheim in Round 2, so a 2-4 record in series that went to seven. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. In only one of those instances where the series went to seven, did the team that played better in that series win (Minnesota over Colorado) although you can say the San Jose-LA series was a toss-up.
Basically, a lot of bad luck going the home (and arguably better) team’s way, and in turn, my way as well.
Continue reading 2013-2014 nhl playoffs preview: round three
And I can end the post right there and be right. Because the best player in the world shouldn’t need defending. But for some reason it’s become in vogue to rag on Crosby this season, especially after a “disappointing” Olympics where he only had three points in six games.
Fast forward to the playoffs and Pittsburgh barely got by Columbus in a series where Crosby didn’t have a goal. In fact, he’s goalless in his last 11 playoff games dating back to last year. Crosby was even booed in Pittsburgh! They’d be in Kansas if it weren’t for him!
Continue reading what’s wrong with sidney crosby?
Wow. That’s all I can say. Round 1 had some of the best hockey I’ve seen in a few years.
If you missed it, this is how I said I would be predicting the playoffs this year. To summarize I combined fenwick close (possession), goals close adjusted for PDO (talent), powerplay and penalty kill (special teams) to get a number that was accurate 75% (56-19) of the time over the last six years.
In Round 1 this year, it went 5-3. Which is okay, but definitely not great. It’s below the 75% average, so I’m a little disappointed. Especially considering it was 5-1 going into the last two game sevens where both teams were on home ice, had leads in the games, and 3-2 leads in the series. But thats sports. Anything can happen. Luck is a big part of the game and it’s something I mentioned in the last post.
That’s not to say the teams that won were lucky to win, it means that a bounce or two the other way and maybe San Jose wins in game 4…or 5… or 6… or 7 (jesus..) or Colorado puts it away in overtime. In any sense, stats are always a probability, not a destiny. Seeing a team go against the odds like LA (although it’s because of luck that they were down 3-0 in the first place) and win is what makes sports great. No one would watch if everything that happened was predictable.
With all that being said, here’s what I think will happen in round two, a round that’ll probably be much more cut and dry than round one.
Continue reading 2013-2014 nhl playoffs preview: round two
I wrote something yesterday about how I would be predicting the playoffs this year, based on a combination of stats. That stat is better used over larger sample sizes especially with how volatile special teams can be. But just for fun, this is for the “what have you done for me lately crowd.”
Basically I took 25 game averages throughout the year of each team’s POP and compared it to the teams opponent. It’ll be interesting to see if this works better than looking at a team’s overall number, and it also shows how close the teams have been throughout the year. Also, due to the small sample size, some teams will be over 100%, which is pretty neat I guess. Also, for the record, anything below 70 is really bad. No team has ever made the playoffs with a POP below 70, and some of the teams below played like that for significant stretches of time.
Continue reading 2013-2014 nhl playoffs preview: round one
Using Stats to Predict the Playoffs
No single stat will ever tell you the entire story in hockey. And that’s especially true when you want to use them to to look at what the future holds. On any given night, any team can win. Luck plays a big factor in that.
Over a large enough sample size, some of that randomness will be tuned out.
But then we get to the playoffs and it’s decided in a gruelling seven game series, where luck again plays a huge role because of the small number of games. It’s why the playoffs are so exciting, they’re unpredictable.
And yet, everyone tries to predict them.
Some just say “well this team stacks nicely up against this team” with their chests puffed out, knowing full well they’ve probably seen both teams play two or three times a year when they came through Toronto to play.
Most people use what they remember from watching those past games and using any number of stats to fill in the blanks. Mostly because using just one stat won’t tell you the whole story.
If you did, these are the stories they would tell.
Continue reading predicting the nhl playoffs
Part One if you missed it.
Where I last left off, Tyler Bozak was on pace for 75 points this season. But huge on-ice shooting percentage coupled with a low amount of games will mean some crazy short term numbers. Regression is likely. And soon.
What the last post essentially did was show that Tyler Bozak has been on a hot streak all year. Every player goes through them, but most have cold streaks too. Bozak hasn’t had any. That’s luck in and of itself.
What I didn’t mention in depth in the last post, but most of you will remember, is that Bozak was injured for about a third of the year. He was gone from games 12-23 and 29-40.
The Leafs record with Bozak is 24-15-5. A 99 point pace.
Without him it’s 12-9-3. A 92 point-pace, with only six of those wins coming in regulation.
The 92 point pace is still likely a playoff spot, but 99 is more than likely home-ice advantage in the first round. Do the Leafs win more with Bozak in the lineup, or is this just a coincidence. It’s very likely the latter. You probably remember the gigantic swing of 28 games in the middle of the season where the Leafs were completely inept. Bozak was gone for all but five games in the middle of that (where the Leafs went 0-3-2).
Continue reading kessel and bozak part 2
Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak have had a monster-year for the Leafs.
Kessel’s stat line reads 34-39-73 in 68 games played. It’s a pace of 41-47-88, career highs across the board for Kessel. It’s a similar story for Bozak who’s played less games due to injury with 44 games, but still has a line of 15-25-40. It’s insane production for Bozak whose career high before this was 47 points in 2011-2012. Bozak needed 73 games to get there that year. If he were to continue this pace, he would only need 52 games to get there. And over a whole season, this kind of pace would be worth 28 goals and 47 assists to give Bozak 75 points.
And that’s sort of the key right there: “if he were to continue at this pace.” Because at this pace, Bozak’s numbers look great. He looks like the first line centre that the Leafs have needed since Sundin left. The problem is Bozak has never really scored at this pace before. Until this year, Bozak topped out at around a 50 point centre, which isn’t bad (unless you consider the fact he played between two point-per-game wingers over the past three years) but isn’t anything to write home about.
Continue reading kessel and bozak part 1