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Hi all,

I mentioned in State of the Habs there has been quite a few discussions lately on stats both basic and advanced (effectiveness of hits, posession metrics, secondary assists etc). Most times it generates some pretty good discussion, so I thought it might be worthy of it's own thread.

I personally have gained a recent interest in advanced stats and have become a regular visitor of Eyes on the Prize who usually summarizes some of the more common ones such as Fenwick and Relative Corsi as they compare to the rest of the league.

I'll throw up an interesting article on the effect of hits/physicality on the outcome of games below this post to get the ball rolling.



Hitting, Shot Differentials and Variance

Kent Wilson
March 07 2013 01:10PM

jk13_0119_habs_leafs_9403.jpg

A couple of things running through my head between Flames games today. The first topic has to do with hitting and winning versus shooting and winning. The second topic is on how advanced analysis in hockey is gaining prominence (but is still obviously misunderstood).

Outshoot rather than outhit

The NW division has become oddly enamored with tough guys and pugilists recently. The Flames traded for Brian McGrattan, the Cancuks claimed Tom Sestito and the Oilers acquired Mike Brown. This grinder parade was foreshadowed by Don Cherry a couple of weeks ago when he publicly praised the Leafs for deploying Colton Orr against the Rangers (the Leafs lost the game in question and were outshot handily by the way). Nevertheless, Toronto has gone a nice percentages based run in the last few weeks and now other decision makers (particularly of other mediocre teams) seem convinced that adding grit might be a quick fix solution for what ails them.

This has sparked a debate about the value of hits. Particularly versus the value of possession, since most of the guys in question get outshot at the best of times, even if they are limited to 4th line minutes.

Of course, there is a way to investigate such claims. Tyler Dellow looked at team hit rates and win rates in games from last season. The conclusion:

The data is, of course, hilarious. As a whole, teams did far better when they got outhit than they when they outhit the other side. I suspect that there are two main reasons for this: first, there probably is a great deal of truth to the argument that teams without the puck hit more, which doesn’t facilitate scoring. Second, there’s probably an element of teams that are behind deciding to focus on laying the body to try and turn the momentum – “Send out the energy line!” I suspect that what shows up here contains some score effects although, we know that trailing teams tend to possess the puck more, which would seem to give them less opportunity to hit.

Another stats-inclined Oiler fan, Michael Parkatti took a look at the correlation between hitting and things like shots for, shots against and points here. Again, nothing there:

not one r-square correlation was above 0.04, while most were below 0.01… meaning that less than 1% of the variability in shots or points could be explained by the variability in hits. The relationship is statistically random — some high hit teams are good, some are bad, and vice versa. There must be something else to explain why good teams are good?

Michael went the next step and did a regression analysis on shot differential and points. His findings in this case were the opposite - I can say with 99.9999999999985% confidence that there is a statistically significant positive relationship between shot differential and standings points.

Furthermore, the analysis allowed Michael to develop a regression equation for the relationship between points and shots, allowing us to forecast standings points for each team based on shots. The equation Standings Points = 91.68 + Shot Differential * 0.0275 where "shot differential" is a team's total to date shots for-shots against. For the Flames, that comes out to 91.68 + (-7.8 * 0.0275) = 91.5 or about 92 points over a full season. Right in the 7-10 area they have settled in the last few years. By the way, for this truncated year that comes out to about 53 points - two points out of the assumed cut off of 55.

The point here isn't to discount hitting or physicality altogether. Hockey is a tough game and contact can have it's uses in certain circumstances, including separating a man from the puck, intimidating the opponent, etc. Of course, hitting can also have little-to-no-effect in most neutral situations and can actually be detrimental if a guy takes himself out of the play in order to hammer someone (a consistent Dion Phanuef failing during his time here).

The problem NHL decision makers seems to be the weighting of hitting and toughness beyond their utility. To be blunt, if you're trading puck possession/outshooting for hitting/toughness, you're almost certainly making your team worse, not better.

NHL Teams Interested in Stats! (but are still suspicious of them for the wrong reasons)

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Yesterday, Elliotte Frieman published an interesting post on the recent Sloan conference (where NHLN contributor Eric T. presented his findings on zone entries). Friedman notes a handful of clubs attended the conference this year whereas it was just the Vancouver Cancuks four years ago (no, the Flames were not amongst them).

There's a few bits on how teams are still secretive and proprietary with their own stats/models but still aren't really sure if they have found anything paradigm shifting or truly useful. What stuck out to me, though, were some of the perceived strikes against statistical analysis presented in the piece.

First

One of the biggest issues with analytics is that its most hardcore followers tend to discount things like "heart" or "clutch performance" because they are not quantifiable.

Well, no, that's not quite accurate. The issue with "heart" isn't that it's not quantifiable, strictly. We all know that humans vary in their degree of motivation, volition, passion, work ethic. Typically the reason I discount tales of "heart" and similarly fuzzy concepts is because they are too often marshaled in NHL analysis incorrectly: as the easy, go-to narrative when an outcome is extraordinary or unexpected.

This tendency comes from years and years of sports reporters and decision makers mistaking natural variance in the game as true performance signals and, absent any other explanation, assigning blame or credit to some plausible personal psychological attributes of the team/players. I say this because ever since I began to track and understand percentages and regression to the mean in the NHL I've noticed that approximately 9/10 stories about a club's lack of heart or incredible passion leading to losses or wins can be explained by low or high percentages. Whenever the percentages regress to the mean, wiping out the extraordinary results, so do the pop-psych articles in the MSM.

As an NHL coach or GM, I would certainly be cognizant of a given players commitment level to the team and to winning. However, I'd make sure to temper those considerations with the knowledge that I may mistake my liking a guy for his having a "good character" (subjectivity trap) and that our perception of a player's performance and even underlying personality traits can be greatly influenced by results; results that are non-trivially dependent on things beyond that guy's control.

As for clutch performance, it's discounted because it is quantifiable and most have found that it doesn't truly exist as a skill; ie something that can be reliably replicated or predicted. The perception of clutch is more or less the combination of some players simply being better than others + the natural ebb and flow of luck.

The issue in analytics isn't merely assigning grades or blame after the fact - that's the easy part. It's finding metrics and models that help you predict outcomes with a certain degree of accuracy. As Gabriel Desjardins so eloquently put it "when people say that a team lacks the 'intangibles' to win, they are *making sh*t up* after the fact to match the results." The human tendency to see patterns in noise, to offer post-hoc rationlizations that neatly and easily explain events and to mistake hindsight for foresight means even honest attempts at analysis are beset by difficulties and pitfalls. That's why doing this sort of work is an odd mixture of humility before the facts and endless skepticism.

XKCD.jpg

Second

Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, the hero of Moneyball, blamed his team's playoff failures on "luck." That's a cop-out.

People who object to the term "luck" as used here don't seem to understand what it means. The word comes with an unfortunate connotation of "not deserving" or "completely random". Outcomes in professional sports are weighted probabilities, not destinies, so it's entirely possible for the better team to lose on any given night or even over a brief sample of games, like a best of seven series, for no other reason beyond variance. There are also other influences beyond the control of the players, coaches and GM's of course: the officiating, injuries to key players, etc. Sports are interesting not only because of the action, competition and violence, but because they are a boiling cauldron of uncertainty. Sometimes the underdog wins. And sometimes it's not because of any particular failing of the favorite.

I understand the reluctance amongst coaches and players to deploy "luck" as an explanation for wins or losses since it is completely unsastisfying to our sensibilities (and might be used as an excuse when things legitimately go wrong). However, the insistence that variance doesn't really exist in the NHL and every outcome can be 100% explained by controllable factors causes people to fabricate stories and too often leads decision makers down the wrong path.

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Great post, Bean. I've quoted the bits that I think are particularly apt.

The point here isn't to discount hitting or physicality altogether. Hockey is a tough game and contact can have its uses in certain circumstances, including separating a man from the puck, intimidating the opponent, etc. Of course, hitting can also have little-to-no-effect in most neutral situations and can actually be detrimental if a guy takes himself out of the play in order to hammer someone (a consistent Dion Phanuef failing during his time here).

The problem NHL decision makers seems to be the weighting of hitting and toughness beyond their utility. To be blunt, if you're trading puck possession/outshooting for hitting/toughness, you're almost certainly making your team worse, not better.

This tendency comes from years and years of sports reporters and decision makers mistaking natural variance in the game as true performance signals and, absent any other explanation, assigning blame or credit to some plausible personal psychological attributes of the team/players. I say this because ever since I began to track and understand percentages and regression to the mean in the NHL I've noticed that approximately 9/10 stories about a club's lack of heart or incredible passion leading to losses or wins can be explained by low or high percentages. Whenever the percentages regress to the mean, wiping out the extraordinary results, so do the pop-psych articles in the MSM.

As an NHL coach or GM, I would certainly be cognizant of a given players commitment level to the team and to winning. However, I'd make sure to temper those considerations with the knowledge that I may mistake my liking a guy for his having a "good character" (subjectivity trap) and that our perception of a player's performance and even underlying personality traits can be greatly influenced by results; results that are non-trivially dependent on things beyond that guy's control.

As for clutch performance, it's discounted because it is quantifiable and most have found that it doesn't truly exist as a skill; ie something that can be reliably replicated or predicted. The perception of clutch is more or less the combination of some players simply being better than others + the natural ebb and flow of luck.

The issue in analytics isn't merely assigning grades or blame after the fact - that's the easy part. It's finding metrics and models that help you predict outcomes with a certain degree of accuracy. As Gabriel Desjardins so eloquently put it "when people say that a team lacks the 'intangibles' to win, they are *making sh*t up* after the fact to match the results." The human tendency to see patterns in noise, to offer post-hoc rationlizations that neatly and easily explain events and to mistake hindsight for foresight means even honest attempts at analysis are beset by difficulties and pitfalls. That's why doing this sort of work is an odd mixture of humility before the facts and endless skepticism.

XKCD.jpg

We need to cling to narratives, because accepting that team-building is just an exercise in weighted probability is likely unsatisfying, unless we can detach our enjoyment of the moment (and its attendant posthoc narratives) from our ability to assess the game and its players. I always go back to the way Yzerman was perceived before and after his first Cup win. Until that win, he was a talented player without heart who didn't have the intangibles to help his team get over the playoff hump. After the win, he was suddenly the quintessential player with heart.

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I'll quote myself from the Therrien thread. This is basically my analysis on why we're for real and the Leafs aren't :P

http://behindthenet.ca/fenwick_2012.php?sort=6&section=close

I've been mentioning this a lot, but our possession numbers really do indicate where we should be. We're 9th in the NHL in Fenwick Close, which should correlate pretty well with a 4-5 place finish in the East. Do i believe for a second that we're better than the Bruins and that we'll win the division? Of course not. But I think we're a playoff team and this team is for real. We're not just riding luck, our PDO is at 1030 so we're in for some regression, but the possession metrics to me show that regression means 4th place and not 10th place. As for the Leafs, I can see them dropping in the standings, perhaps even out of the playoffs. They're 4th last in Fenwick Close, and they're riding a 1030 PDO rating as well. For us, the possession advantage is going to keep us from falling like crazy when the PDO normalizes, although I think we'll get passed by Boston. For the Leafs, I think they're in for some regression (although perhaps not with how short the season is) and the experts on TSN will be calling it "shocking".

For those who don't know what these stats mean, PDO is the sum of a team's shooting percentage and save percentage. It usually regresses to 1.000 in the long run, although really good or really bad teams can regress to slightly above or below 1.000 long term. We have a 1.030 PDO, which is very high, and we can expect the bounces to even out in the long term and we'll have some regression as that number normalizes (we're currently shooting about 1% above the league average), and our team save percentage is still rather high (although with Carey in net I don't think it's reasonable to expect it to normalize to the NHL average).

Fenwick is basically a plus minus stat for shots that doesn't include blocked shots (because blocking shots is a skill, and a team that is blocking shots shouldn't have that counted against them). So every shot directed at the net (including misses, tips, etc) besides those recorded as a blocked shot makes up a team's Fenwick stat. Fenwick Close is the measure of this stat while the game is either tied or a 1 goal game, because when a team is up by 2 or more goals it drastically changes the landscape of the game (in a 4-1 game with 5 minutes left in the 3rd, you're going to give up shots because you're sitting back, but that doesn't mean you're a bad team).

Basically, we're possessing the puck at even strength at a rate that's 9th in the league. We're certainly riding some hot streaks in terms of shooting and save percentages, and we can expect both to fall as the sample size increases. However, possession is not as luck driven and is a better indicator of the true talent of a team (look at who's top in Fenwick close, LA, BOS, and CHI). We're in for some regression because we can't expect to shoot at 10.3% and have a .930 team save percentage for too long, but our possession numbers are above average and show that we're not just a crappy team riding a lucky hot streak. Toronto on the other hand, appears to be in for some regression. They have a high save percentage (.921) and that doesn't seem sustainable from Scrivens and Reimer. Add in their 10.3 team shooting percentage, and their horrible possession numbers, and you get a team that is riding a hot streak by the name of Nazem Kadri.

TL;DR: WE're for real, but we're riding a luck streak. We won't finish 1st in the east, but we're not a fake team and we're going to be in the playoffs barring a complete and total collapse. Toronto is getting lucky streaks from their goalies and forwards but suck at puck possession. I project us in the 4-6 range at the end of the year, and Toronto in 7-10 at the end of the year.


We need to cling to narratives, because accepting that team-building is just an exercise in weighted probability is likely unsatisfying, unless we can detach our enjoyment of the moment (and its attendant posthoc narratives) from our ability to assess the game and its players. I always go back to the way Yzerman was perceived before and after his first Cup win. Until that win, he was a talented player without heart who didn't have the intangibles to help his team get over the playoff hump. After the win, he was suddenly the quintessential player with heart.

Weep, I think a big part of it is that it's hard for Joe Sixpack to grasp that there isn't a magic formula to win the cup. There is no team ever that would win every single playoff series ever. Even the best teams will lose chintzy games, and even the worst teams will go on big runs. Remember us from 2010? Does anyone actually believe that the 2010 Habs were better than the 2010 Capitals or Penguins? We went on a crazy run of lucky wnis on the back of a few fantastic games from our goalie. It's not about heart or a lack of it from the Pens or Caps, it's just stats
I think it's more comforting for people to believe that a team won because they had XYZ intangibles rather than to believe that they just got lucky.The reality is that at the top levels of sports everyone is talented enough for anyone to beat anyone on every night, and going the distance in the playoffs is less about HEART GRIT AND INTANGIBLES and more about maximizing your probability of winning by assembling the best roster you can. It's about percentages and possession percentages, not silly narratives about how tough a team is, and how many useless goons they have to fight the other team's useless goons. The Bruins didn't win the cup because they have Heart, they won because they have a fantastic team with all sorts of depth at every position. But of course, it's easier to say that they have heart and that's why Boston beat Vancouver for the cup than to acknowledge that if the two teams played 10 series'' the Bruins would perhaps win 6 of them.
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Luck is also a matter of statistics. Luck is a matter of justice :-). Sometimes you are lucky that a ref calls something in your favor and vice-versa. Sometimes you score from the neutral zone on an unprepared goalie (Max Pac :-))

If you take eg. 20 games and your team is long-term average, you will get results more or less like this: 8 reg. wins, 2 after reg. wins, 2 after reg. losses, 8 reg. losses.

But: out of those 10 wins, 2-3 might be lucky wins, with a high "coincidence factor". But the same goes the other way. THAT is the reason why the seasons in collective sports are so long and embrace so many matches with various opponents. 82 games, 15 of which might end up by something "lucky". The rest is pure statistics: shots for, shots against, penalty minutes, special teams etc. Then you have to think of hot and cold streaks and injuries. Injuries are the worst, because hot and cold streaks somehow level out throughout the season. And if not during one season, then more seasons :-) The more long-term you take into account, the better statistical relation.

That is how I see it. The reason, why we win is how we play, you cannot win 16 out of 25 on a fluke.

Does it make sense?

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It makes sense but you can definitely win 16/25 and have some or even a pretty large portion of it be luck. The most important thing with statistics is sample size. The less of a factor you can make luck or the possibility of luck the more the numbers tell you.

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I always go back to the way Yzerman was perceived before and after his first Cup win. Until that win, he was a talented player without heart who didn't have the intangibles to help his team get over the playoff hump. After the win, he was suddenly the quintessential player with heart.

I certainly agree commentators often look for narratives where there are none, but I think we have to be careful not to go to far the other way and discount things thatare tradtionally considered 'intangibles' just because commentators use them innapropriately. I think that a lot of thigns tradtionally considered 'intangibles' in hockey are actually tangible and with a high enough sample and the proper record keeping could be quantifiable.

For example, some things that would traditonally be considered intangibles but that arguably could be quantified given the right data:

(intangible: leadership):

- how much time does a player help mentor youngering players?

- how often does player give tips that help improve other players game?

- how often does player give speeches motivating team?

(you could go beyond 'how often' to 'how well' but that will be harder to quantify, although still theoretically possible)

(intangible: heart):

- how hard does player contineu playing after getting hurt on ice (could use a number of stats to define "hard")

- how hard does player play when team is down

- how often does player "stick up for teammates" (however you define that: number of times a player enters a confrontation a teammates is having is quantifiable)

- how bad of injuries is player willing to play through? (could have doctors rate injuries to quantify)

- how many shifts does player "take-off" (defining what "take-off" is could be difficult, but things like skating speed, hits, etc. could presumably give some definition)

(intangible: clutch)

- how well does player play in tied 3rd period? (can use various shot, goal, etc. stats to define "how well")

- how well does player play in playoffs

- game-winning-goals, etc.

Some of these will require human judgement to assign a quantifiable number, but that is the case today with a lot of stats: eg. a hit isn't some scientific definition, it's some guy in the arena deciding what qualifies as a hit.

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I certainly agree commentators often look for narratives where there are none, but I think we have to be careful not to go to far the other way and discount things thatare tradtionally considered 'intangibles' just because commentators use them innapropriately. I think that a lot of thigns tradtionally considered 'intangibles' in hockey are actually tangible and with a high enough sample and the proper record keeping could be quantifiable.

For example, some things that would traditonally be considered intangibles but that arguably could be quantified given the right data:

(intangible: leadership):

- how much time does a player help mentor youngering players?

- how often does player give tips that help improve other players game?

- how often does player give speeches motivating team?

(you could go beyond 'how often' to 'how well' but that will be harder to quantify, although still theoretically possible)

(intangible: heart):

- how hard does player contineu playing after getting hurt on ice (could use a number of stats to define "hard")

- how hard does player play when team is down

- how often does player "stick up for teammates" (however you define that: number of times a player enters a confrontation a teammates is having is quantifiable)

- how bad of injuries is player willing to play through? (could have doctors rate injuries to quantify)

- how many shifts does player "take-off" (defining what "take-off" is could be difficult, but things like skating speed, hits, etc. could presumably give some definition)

(intangible: clutch)

- how well does player play in tied 3rd period? (can use various shot, goal, etc. stats to define "how well")

- how well does player play in playoffs

- game-winning-goals, etc.

Some of these will require human judgement to assign a quantifiable number, but that is the case today with a lot of stats: eg. a hit isn't some scientific definition, it's some guy in the arena deciding what qualifies as a hit.

The intangible is how much value those provide though. Like sure, we can judge and assess leadership and who has more of it based on certain events but the question would then become what's the actual value of that? How much should a team pay a guy on top of his on ice value because of that?

I'm of the belief that most intangibles exist on some level but I also believe they show up in tangible production. Playing with heart isn't worth anything other than the impact is has on your performance. Being willing to go down and block a shot means basically nothing if you never actually block the shot, or being willing to take a hit to make a play means nothing if you don't ever actually make the play. Guys who have "heart" as it's traditionally credited shows up in performance

Things like playing through injury are harder to quantify I guess because we don't know how often guys are injured and as an organization the Habs don't really know how often a guy is playing through injuries on other teams before they acquire them but durability is definitely a skill that's pretty easy to quantify and I think it's an important one.

Leadership is the intangible that really doesn't show up on the ice and I don't deny the existence although I will say I believe it's STRONGLY overrated. Often it's a chicken and the egg thing, good teams get along well because things are going well so one of their best players is credited as a leader and bad teams are miserable and unhappy so people blame the fact that there's no leadership. Sure, I'm willing to subscribe leadership helps and having good guys on your team is important but like I asked earlier, how much am stock am I going to put in it when I put a team together? Is player X worth 1 million more because he's a great leader? 2 million more? Like how do we even begin to guess?

I think for the most part the whole theory of clutch has kind of been debunked, it doesn't really exist over large samples. It's just random. I think on a larger scale it may exist in hockey but players who can't handle playing in tight games or "choke" are weeded out long before professional hockey. I don't think there's really any evidence of it on a larger scale in the NHL.

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It makes sense but you can definitely win 16/25 and have some or even a pretty large portion of it be luck. The most important thing with statistics is sample size. The less of a factor you can make luck or the possibility of luck the more the numbers tell you.

Well as I pointed out earlier our PDO is quite high (probably not as high after the shelling Price took vs. Pittsburgh), we've definitely been riding some luck (mostly a high SH%) to take us to #1 in the East. However, our Fenwick close numbers are good enough that I don't think we're Minnesota from last year, we're definitely a good team, but we aren't better than Boston. We still might end up in 1st at the end of a 48 game season, but I don't think we're actually better than the Bruins and in an 82 game season they'd be 1st in the NE.

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The intangible is how much value those provide though. Like sure, we can judge and assess leadership and who has more of it based on certain events but the question would then become what's the actual value of that? How much should a team pay a guy on top of his on ice value because of that?

That's a question you'd need to figure out for sure, but you can say the same thing about something traditionally considered 'tangible' like hits.

'm of the belief that most intangibles exist on some level but I also believe they show up in tangible production. Playing with heart isn't worth anything other than the impact is has on your performance. Being willing to go down and block a shot means basically nothing if you never actually block the shot, or being willing to take a hit to make a play means nothing if you don't ever actually make the play. Guys who have "heart" as it's traditionally credited shows up in performance

But again, hitting is a tangible stat and you can say the same thing as your shot blocking example. But your general point here is kind of what I was saying: 'heart' in and of itself may be intangible, but what people use to generally define 'heart' is in theory quantifiable, and if you can quantify it then you should be able to look at some stats around it to see if it helps you win or not. Shot blocking is a great example, and as you point out you may need to separate out 'successful' and 'insuccessful' shot blocks to make good analysis. Insuccessful shot blocks

Leadership is the intangible that really doesn't show up on the ice and I don't deny the existence although I will say I believe it's STRONGLY overrated. Often it's a chicken and the egg thing, good teams get along well because things are going well so one of their best players is credited as a leader and bad teams are miserable and unhappy so people blame the fact that there's no leadership. Sure, I'm willing to subscribe leadership helps and having good guys on your team is important but like I asked earlier, how much am stock am I going to put in it when I put a team together? Is player X worth 1 million more because he's a great leader? 2 million more? Like how do we even begin to guess?

My guess is if you did quantify it, the 'big speech' side of leadership is overrated, but the 'mentorship' side does make a big difference for a team in the long run. Realistically, no one is going to keep stats on these, but theoretical it is possible. That's why I've always believed you should give the C to a skilled player who your young stars can look up to, not someone who can just sound good in interviews. I want our rookies this year looking up to Plekanec and Gionta, not Moen.

I think for the most part the whole theory of clutch has kind of been debunked, it doesn't really exist over large samples. It's just random. I think on a larger scale it may exist in hockey but players who can't handle playing in tight games or "choke" are weeded out long before professional hockey. I don't think there's really any evidence of it on a larger scale in the NHL.

That may be, but again that has nothing to do with it being intangible, it just may turns out to be a useless thing to look at when evaluating players (eg., this obviously is hypothetical, but let's say over a large number of games all players took the same number of shots, shots is still a tangible stat, it just turns out to be one that is pointless to look at).

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But again, hitting is a tangible stat and you can say the same thing as your shot blocking example. But your general point here is kind of what I was saying: 'heart' in and of itself may be intangible, but what people use to generally define 'heart' is in theory quantifiable, and if you can quantify it then you should be able to look at some stats around it to see if it helps you win or not. Shot blocking is a great example, and as you point out you may need to separate out 'successful' and 'insuccessful' shot blocks to make good analysis.

You're right and the more I've thought about the whole intangible thing the more I've come to believe the truly important intangibles just show up in tangible performance. Sometimes we tend to pay too much attention to how a player arrived at his production. Should we really care how Gionta arrives at his output (offensively, defensively, physically, whatever) vs how Plekanec arrives at his?

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You're right and the more I've thought about the whole intangible thing the more I've come to believe the truly important intangibles just show up in tangible performance. Sometimes we tend to pay too much attention to how a player arrived at his production. Should we really care how Gionta arrives at his output (offensively, defensively, physically, whatever) vs how Plekanec arrives at his?

That's a great point. If you have a guy that "gives 100%" vs. a guy that's kind of lazy, if they are otherwise similar players, the guy who gives 100% should have better tangible stats (ie: more takeaways, better posession numbers, possibly more hits etc).

So you don't have to put him in because he's a "heat and sole guy", you can put him in because his relative corsi is higher, there is positive shot differential when he's on the ice etc.

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That's a great point. If you have a guy that "gives 100%" vs. a guy that's kind of lazy, if they are otherwise similar players, the guy who gives 100% should have better tangible stats (ie: more takeaways, better posession numbers, possibly more hits etc).

It's something we tend to obsess over as sports fans and it's not unique to hockey, although definitely more pronounced. Just to be clear to people though that when I say output or production I don't just mean points or offensively, you can be productive in a lot of ways.

In theory, why would we care how a player arrives at his production? I'm not saying we shouldn't on some level or it's wrong I'm just actually curious. If you owned a company at 1 guy arrived at his quota with 65% skill and 35% effort and another arrived at his quota with 65% effort and 35% skill would you really care? I mean, an argument can be made that having guys who are working hard is a positive so I can understand maybe favoring them a bit? I can't really understand favoring an inferior player because he arrives at his inferior production by working really hard.

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It's something we tend to obsess over as sports fans and it's not unique to hockey, although definitely more pronounced. Just to be clear to people though that when I say output or production I don't just mean points or offensively, you can be productive in a lot of ways.

In theory, why would we care how a player arrives at his production? I'm not saying we shouldn't on some level or it's wrong I'm just actually curious. If you owned a company at 1 guy arrived at his quota with 65% skill and 35% effort and another arrived at his quota with 65% effort and 35% skill would you really care? I mean, an argument can be made that having guys who are working hard is a positive so I can understand maybe favoring them a bit? I can't really understand favoring an inferior player because he arrives at his inferior production by working really hard.

The only time (again in theory) I could see someone caring is if this affected the consistency of the production. Like you, I'm not talking about raw production in terms of goals and assists necessarily. Pretty much all scorers are streaky to some extent.

For example let's compare two 60 point players:

Player 1 (the 65% effort guy) achieves his 60 points by playing the same through most of his games. He gets around 5 shots per game and rarely deviates from that, his posession numbers and shot differentials are almost always positive, rarely off the charts good, so he's usually a + defensively even if he's not usually lighting the world on fire.

Player 2 (the 65% skill guy) achieves his 60 points by using his superior skill which has varying degrees of effectiveness. There are nights when this guy takes over the game and puts 9-10 shots on goal and is a beast all over the ice, but there are others where he's 0s accross the board and you wonder if he played.

Both guys arrive at 60 points. Should be we care how they get there? We've often argued no, but I would argue maybe. With player 1, we have a clearer expectation of what his performance will be on most nights. And there's probably value in that.

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The only time (again in theory) I could see someone caring is if this affected the consistency of the production. Like you, I'm not talking about raw production in terms of goals and assists necessarily. Pretty much all scorers are streaky to some extent.

For example let's compare two 60 point players:

Player 1 (the 65% effort guy) achieves his 60 points by playing the same through most of his games. He gets around 5 shots per game and rarely deviates from that, his posession numbers and shot differentials are almost always positive, rarely off the charts good, so he's usually a + defensively even if he's not usually lighting the world on fire.

Player 2 (the 65% skill guy) achieves his 60 points by using his superior skill which has varying degrees of effectiveness. There are nights when this guy takes over the game and puts 9-10 shots on goal and is a beast all over the ice, but there are others where he's 0s accross the board and you wonder if he played.

Both guys arrive at 60 points. Should be we care how they get there? We've often argued no, but I would argue maybe. With player 1, we have a clearer expectation of what his performance will be on most nights. And there's probably value in that.

I would probably count consistency under skill and arguably productivity since there's probably slightly more value in it but I don't think effort and consistency necessarily correlate, Gionta being a good example, highly streaky and a high effort player.

In that case, yes I'd probably opt for the consistent player but I'm not sure his effort level is what drives consistency for the most part. Also, there's an argument to be made for the potential greatness in that scenario as well. Kovalev being a good example in that, even when he wasn't at his best he drew so much defensive attention because of his sheer ability to win games on his own. We missed that after we lost him.

Like I said, I would opt for consistency and reliability but the 65% skill guy could be the consistent one too.

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I would probably count consistency under skill and arguably productivity since there's probably slightly more value in it but I don't think effort and consistency necessarily correlate, Gionta being a good example, highly streaky and a high effort player.

In that case, yes I'd probably opt for the consistent player but I'm not sure his effort level is what drives consistency for the most part. Also, there's an argument to be made for the potential greatness in that scenario as well. Kovalev being a good example in that, even when he wasn't at his best he drew so much defensive attention because of his sheer ability to win games on his own. We missed that after we lost him.

Like I said, I would opt for consistency and reliability but the 65% skill guy could be the consistent one too.

Agreed, there's certainly no proof they correlate. I was more saying, for some players, that's one aspect of the game which might correlate with effort. Regardless, we shouldn't have to worry much about wether it correlates, since again we can measure consistency fairly objectively by using the same performance metrics and just looking at say standard deviation or something.

The answer is probably having the mix of players. Having the highly skilled streaky Player 2 helps, since he'll probably win you games by himself some nights and draw defense coverage a lot times even we can't get anything going. Likewise, if you insulate him with a couple of Player 1s, they help insulate player 2 and provide some consistent production to mitigate the negative impact of his "off" nights.

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And further to that point, even though Kovalev was routinely bashed for a perceived lack of effort, he was actually one of the most consistent (if not THE most consistent) forwards we had from 2005-2009 in terms of steady production over an 82-game season. He actually didn't score 4 goals one night and go missing for the next five games. In reality, he would chip in with a goal or an assist, or sometimes both, game after game.

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I believe shots on goal are a misleading stat sometimes.Some shots are scoring chances and some shots are from way off to the side or way out and anyone can save them.So a lot of times I hear people say after a game how team x outshot team y by a large margin yet still lost the game.

Then I find myself telling them I watched the game and even though team x had way more shots,90% of those shots were low quality,and team y had less shots but more quality chances.

Of course it doesnt always work out like this but when it does I feel a stat like scoring chances needs to be emphasized more.

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I believe shots on goal are a misleading stat sometimes.Some shots are scoring chances and some shots are from way off to the side or way out and anyone can save them.So a lot of times I hear people say after a game how team x outshot team y by a large margin yet still lost the game.

Then I find myself telling them I watched the game and even though team x had way more shots,90% of those shots were low quality,and team y had less shots but more quality chances.

Of course it doesnt always work out like this but when it does I feel a stat like scoring chances needs to be emphasized more.

Scoring chances are too subjective IMO. Shots are a proxy for possession, if you're shooting at the opponent's net, you're controlling the puck and driving the play, which is the more important concept. Quality of shots can be important over a game or a playoff series, but over a season (especially an 82 game season), the quality of shots generally normalizes. It's doubtful that a team can get significantly higher quality shots over 82 games than another team, the important thing is that you're getting more shots than the opposing team. If we ever develop a way to account for shot quality that would be ideal, but the number of shots is more important than the quality.

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Scoring chances are too subjective IMO. Shots are a proxy for possession, if you're shooting at the opponent's net, you're controlling the puck and driving the play, which is the more important concept. Quality of shots can be important over a game or a playoff series, but over a season (especially an 82 game season), the quality of shots generally normalizes. It's doubtful that a team can get significantly higher quality shots over 82 games than another team, the important thing is that you're getting more shots than the opposing team. If we ever develop a way to account for shot quality that would be ideal, but the number of shots is more important than the quality.

I disagree with that but thats ok.Quality shots are much more important then nothing shots from outside the perimeter.But I agree with 1 thing you said puck control is important.

Im saying I have seen teams outshoot their opponents but 95-99% percent of the shots were from the outside or really far back and didnt really challenge the goalie at all,and the other team was able to get into the hard to get to spots for good quality scoring chances.So even with less shots almost every shot or a great percentage of them were very difficult for the goalie to save.

Thats not to say number of shots do not matter at all,because obviously you dont want a team that gets outshot every game.Thats just to say quality of shots make all the difference in the world.Just to be clear Im not even saying in my example that the team that is outshot is being grossly outshot.No,No.lol.I mean something like lets say 35-23.Not 65-10 or anything.lol.That would be Halak playoff crazy.lol.

Anyway Im beating a deadhorse now.I made my point.

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If I'm reading Noob correctly, he's not saying that shot quality is less important than shot total in the abstract, or in the concrete. What he's saying is that since it's nigh impossible for a team to ensure that its shot quality stays high over an entire season, shot total is more important, because the more shots you take, the greater your chances (statistically) of generating high-quality shots.

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If I'm reading Noob correctly, he's not saying that shot quality is less important than shot total in the abstract, or in the concrete. What he's saying is that since it's nigh impossible for a team to ensure that its shot quality stays high over an entire season, shot total is more important, because the more shots you take, the greater your chances (statistically) of generating high-quality shots.

In most cases thats true,there are always exceptions of course.As a general rule or average over a whole season what hes saying makes sense.

I guess what Im saying makes sense if it is broken down on a game by game basis.

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Yeah, Weep took my place for me. Of course I agree that over the course of a game you can get outshot 35-27 but still win because you took better shots, what I mean is that it's hard to keep that up over a full season. That's why I like shots better as a predictor over the course of a full season or multiple seasons, it's pretty tough to consistently get exceptional chances and above average shots on a team level. Any deviation from the average shooting percentage is quite small, it's easier to direct more shots on net than to try and improve the shooting percentage of an entire team.

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