Caps advanced stats All-Stars of the Ovechkin Era

As part of their 40th anniversary season, the Caps are asking fans to help them vote on the 40 greatest Caps players in the team’s history. I’m not asking for your vote and I’m not looking at the entire history of the team. Instead, I am looking at the Caps advanced stats All-Stars from the Alex Ovechkin era (2005-06-present). I am not claiming that advanced stats are the end of the discussion when it comes to player evaluation. However, they are for my purposes here. I also didn’t consider forward specific positions. Instead, I picked 3 forwards and 2 defenseman. I set the minimum games played to a completely arbitrary 115 games.

To rank the players, I looked at FenClose, FenClose rel, zone starts, and quality of competition. If a player ranked 1st, he got 5 points, down through 5th place getting 1 point. This was done for each of the 4 categories.

Without further delay, here are the long-awaited Caps advanced stats All-Stars from the Ovechkin era.

Forward #1-Sergei Fedorov (10 points)

Fedorov finished first in FenClose (56.19%) and FenRel (+4.43%). He wasn’t anywhere near the top in zone starts (0.73%% ZS rel), but did finish 8th in quality of competition (28.82).

Forward #2-Nick Backstrom (9 points)

Backstrom’s FenClose was good enough for 5th (53.44) and his FenRel 3rd (+3.28%). Backstrom’s zone starts were not noteworthy (6.08%). Backstrom really shines in quality of competition, where he finished first (29.63%)

Forward #3-Viktor Kozlov (7 points)

Kozlov finished 2nd in FenClose (54.48%), but did not place in the top-5 in FenClose rel (0.34%), a sign that he benefited from playing on very strong possession teams. Kozlov also didn’t find himself in the top-5 in zone starts (5.58% ZS rel). However, he  finished 3rd in quality of competition (29.39), cementing his place on the All-Star team.

Defenseman #1-Mike Green (10 points)

This isn’t surprising to anyone who pays attention to possession numbers. Green finished 1st in FenClose (53.10%) and 2nd in FenClose rel (+3.12%). Green didn’t place in the top 5 in zone starts (4.54%) but came in 5th in quality of competition (28.62%).

Defenseman #2 Shaone Morrissonn (9 points)

This was the biggest surprise to me, by a long ways. Morrisonn finished 5th in FenClose (50.21%) but didn’t make the top 5 in FenClose rel (-1.21%). He faced the toughest zone starts (-4.17%) and the 3rd toughest quality of competition (29.03%).

Here’s a player usage chart of the 5 All-Stars.

allstarusagechart

Morrisonn was the only negative possession player relative to his teammates. However, this is counter-balanced by the fact that he faced the toughest zone starts and 3rd toughest competition among all qualified defenseman. His inclusion is still shocking to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is finally over. Let’s hear it for your Caps advanced stats All-Stars of the Ovechkin era.

What Todd Reirden could mean for Mike Green

Green_1a

Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Since the departure of Alex Semin, Mike Green is the most divisive player among Caps fans. I’m a Green supporter. Yes, he has defensive lapses that are glaring and costly. Yes, his offensive production has dropped off significantly and injuries have mounted. But the Caps are a better team with Mike Green than without him. He’s a possession monster and his skating ability is top-notch. The Caps additions on the blue line this off-season have left Green’s role in question, including who will play the point on the power play.

A lot of things will go into Green’s level of success this year. Perhaps the most important change is that the new coaching staff, led by Barry Trotz, have already said they will move away from Adam Oates’ insistence that the Caps defenders not carry the puck. Allowing Green the ability to showcase his skating a bit more should help his production.

One facet that I wanted to look at is how the coaching changes could affect Green by looking at how other offensive defeseman have fared before and during their time under the guidance of Todd Reirdan, who replaces Calle Johannson in handling the coaching duties of the Caps defenseman. As I said, this is just one of many facets and by focusing on this one facet I am not suggesting that it exists in a vacuum. I’m also not suggesting that the difference in results below are simply because of a coaching change.

Todd Reirden joins the Caps coaching staff after being an assistant in Pittsburgh since 2010. In Pittsburgh, two of the supremely offensively-gifted defenders Reirden coached were Kris Letang and now Cap Matt Niskanen. Here’s how each of these players did, possession wise, before and with Reirden.

letangniskanen

 

Both players saw a significant uptick in possession under Reirden. Yes, both of these guys also happened to enter their prime under Reirden, and these are overall possession numbers, not relative. But Reirden was the defensive coach during the time both players saw a significant uptick in their possession numbers. This can’t be ignored.

Enough about possession, how about production? This is 5-on-5 only.

letangniskanenproduction

Given the rise in possession shown in the first graph, the rise in production isn’t surprising. Both Niskanen and Letang saw a rise in production across the board under Reirden’s watch. In fact, both had a higher assists/60 with Reirden than points/60 before they were coached by him.

Simply because two offensive defenders entered their prime years under Reirden and improved their results drastically doesn’t mean that a 28 year old Mike Green is certain to have a return to glory because of the new coach in charge of the defense. But, it’s certainly not going to hurt. And allowing Green the freedom to use his skating ability and creativity is also not going to hurt. While I’m not expecting Green to return to his production levels from the Boudreau years, I do expect an uptick in his production this season.

On Nick Backstrom, appreciation, and linemates

Backstrom_1

Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Barry Trotz has not been shy in heaping praise upon Nick Backstrom since becoming head coach of the Caps. Trotz has also noted how under appreciated he feels Backstrom is around the league. I think Backstrom is deeply appreciated by Caps fans, generally recognized as one of the most important players on this team. But, just in case you forgot about how great Backstrom is, here’s a reminder.

backstromusage

Backstrom’s career usage chart displays a few things,none of which are surprising, but that I think are  cool to see in visual form. The first is that he’s only been a negative possession player relative to his teammates once in his career. That is was in 2008-09, and it was by less than 1/4 of a %. Other than that, the Caps, season-by-season, have always been a better possession team with Backstrom on the ice than without him. Backstrom has also faced pretty stiff competition, almost always finishing a season north of 29.2% TOI competition. That’s what we’d expect to find from a 1C who is often deployed with Alex Ovechkin.

Much has been made about the fact that Alex Ovechkin will likely start the season back at LW. It’s a fairly safe assumption that Backstrom will line up at Center on a line with Ovechkin. What potential RW would benefit the most by being centered by Backstrom? And what player would Backstrom most benefit from having on his right side?

I’m making a few assumptions in my considerations. One is that Brooks Laich and Evgeny Kuznetsov are not candidates, as I expect them to fill the 3C and 2C spots, respectively. I’m also assuming that most any winger is eligible. It is safe to assume that Trotz won’t be as obsessed with handedness as Adam Oates was, right? I’ve also excluded Tom Wilson from my list of viable options to play alongside Backstrom because their sample size together is minuscule, so there’s nothing to learn from their history together. Here’s how the remaining options for Trotz stack up, measured in Corsi For with and without Backstrom. These are career numbers.

backstromwowy

A note on the sample size here. Minutes with Backstrom are as follows: Brouwer 758:32, Johansson 991:41, Ward 88:53, Fehr 391:26, Chimera 314:37.

Here’s how Backstrom fared with and without each player listed above.

Backstrompart2

 

The “with” sample sizes here are obviously the same.

Brouwer and Johansson have by far the biggest sample sizes playing with Backstrom. It’s clear that Brouwer and Backstrom are not a good match as they both see their possession numbers plummet when playing together. Johansson sees his possession numbers improve with Backstrom, but he’s dead weight to Backstrom, who sees a significant jump in possession away from Johansson. Jason Chimera also appears to be a poor fit with Backstrom.

Joel Ward’s sample size with Backstrom is quite small, but the results are decent. That being said, his skill set is one that thrives on a 3rd line and is likely not suited to play with the likes of Backstrom and Ovechkin on a regular basis.

That bring us to Eric Fehr. Fehr’s success with Ovechkin and Mikhail Grabovski is something we’ve already talked about here in other posts. Fehr’s possession benefits from playing with Backstrom and Backstrom’s possession drops the least when playing with Fehr out of all of the RW options. Long story short, if Eric Fehr is not playing RW alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom on opening night, I’ll consider it a mistake by Trotz.

Nicklas Backstrom is awesome, isn’t he? And boy, an Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fehr line on opening night sure does make a lot of sense.

All stats pulled from War on Ice and Hockey Analysis 

 

Getting to know Justin Peters

The Caps off-season signings of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen rightfully drew a lot more attention than the signing of Justin Peters as the teams’ backup goalie. Peters comes to the Caps from the Carolina Hurricanes, who drafted him in the 2nd round (38th overall) of the 2004 entry draft. In Carolina last year, Peters went 7-9-4 with a 2.50 GAA and of 91.9 save%.

The chart below, tweeted by Rob Vollman just before free agency opened, gives some context to Peters’ box score stats. Peters faced the toughest competition (the Y-axis in the chart below, determined by the average shooting % of opponents faced vs. the league) of any goalie who hit the open market on July 1st while also receiving relatively little goal supports (x-axis) Embedded image permalink

While the ability to measure the true quality of a goalie without factors such as team-effects skewing the numbers is difficult, 5-on-5 save %, while not perfect, is generally agreed upon as the best measure. The numbers below are combined totals from the past two seasons, showing how Peters compares to, for the sake of familiarity, Braden Hotlby and Michal Neuvirth.

Name 5 on 5 shots faced 5 on 5 save%
Braden Hotlby 1976 93.0%
Michal Neuvirth 617 91.9%
Justin Peters 895 91.1%

Small sample size warnings obviously apply here. Both the lockout and the fact that none of these guys held a job as a #1 goalie for the entirety of the two seasons limited the quantity of shots they each faced. However, the quick takeaway is that Holby is the superior goalie of the 3, while Peters is a backup-quality goalie.

Peters annual cap hit of $950,000 for the two years is currently 50th among NHL goalies, certainly a very reasonable contact. I consulted capgeek.com for a list of cap hit comparables for Peters. The chart below shows how Peters compares to 4 of those goalies since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Player Cap Hit Shots Faced 5-on-5 Save %
Thomas Greiss $1,000,000 619 93.4%
Ray Emery $1,000,000 893 92.2%
Justin Peters $950,000 895 91.1%
Anders Lindback $925,000 935 91.0%
Dan Ellis $900,000 1,070 90.2%

Again, sample size warnings apply. Peters 5-on-5 save% falls right in the middle of the 5 goalies, just as his cap hit does.

Justin Peters is a perfectly capable backup goalie, signed to a fair and reasonable contract.  Signing him sends the right message to Braden Holtby (that the #1 job is his) while also allowing Philipp Grubauer to get plenty of playing time as the starter in Hershey.

Q&A with Nate Schmidt

Nate Schmidt

 

Photo by Amanda Bowen of RRBG Photography

Nate Schmidt was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer some questions. This interview was conducted via email in mid-August.

Pat Holden: In an article on Collegehockey.com from 2012, you credited the workout program between your Freshman and Sophomore year at Minnestoa for helping take your game to the next level. Is that still a part of your off-season training?

Nate Schmidt: I am still working out and training here in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota. I have a great strength coach in Cal Dietz, who tailors all of our programs for each of the individual athletes. It also helps when we have ice available all the time and a lot of pro alumni that skate and use it all summer. It makes for a great combination.

PH: Have you had any contact with the new coaching staffs in Washington or Hershey? What’s your reaction to the changes?

NS: I have spoken to both Coach Trotz and Coach Reirden since they were both hired this offseason. I am very excited for the opportunity that will allow me to be working with such established coaches that focus on development and creating winning cultures. As for Hershey, I have not but I did play for Coach Mann at the end of last year and there is familiarity there.

PH: Do the Orpik and Niskanen signings have any impact on your mindset heading into camp?

NS: As for the free-agent signs the summer, it just means that I have to work that much harder and that nothing is going to come easy for me this year. Both are tremendous players and are proven NHL guys, and anytime a team adds those types of players it shakes up the depth chart a little bit. But I am excited for the challenge and all I can do is work hard, and continue to develop into a more well-rounded defenseman.

PH: You’re a strong supporter of Defending the Blue Line and have donated your time to the cause. What specifically draws you to the cause? Is there anything Caps and Bears fans can do if they want to get involved?

NS: Defending the Blue Line is a first class organization ran by a first class gentleman by the name of Shane Hudella. I am a huge supporter of our troops and everything they do in order to keep us safe and allowing all of us to live safely and in pursuit of our dreams. I believe that it is the least I can do to help those who put so much on the line for us. It also is just a boatload of fun being a part of the events or just spending time with the military families as well. If any of the Caps or Bears fans want to check it out they can go online to defendingtheblueline.org to take a look!

Defending the Blue Line commercial starring Nate Schmidt!

PH: There were many of us in the Caps community calling for you to get more playing time in Washington last year, in part because your “advanced” stats, like Corsi and Fenwick, are stellar. A few teams have made hires this off-season that show “advanced” stats are being used more and more in NHL front offices. Are advanced stats something that, as a player, are on your radar?

NS: First, I appreciate the support! And as for the advanced stats from a players standpoint, it is something that is not talked about very often to be honest. Guys talk more about playmaking and puck moving ability as well as poise. Those are the ways we measure stats such as Corsi and Fenwick.

PH: Which Caps or Bears teammate would be the worst to live with?

NS: I can’t think of anyone that I really wouldn’t like to live with in the organization, I really can’t think of anyone. haha

PH: A little know fact: I beat John Carlson a few years ago in a game of NHL 12 on XBOX 360 after he tweeted his gamer profile. He played as the Caps and I won two fights against John Carlson the video character being controlled by the real John Carlson. Consider this my official announcement to anyone in the Caps organization, including you, that play the NHL games on 360 that I am undefeated vs. all Caps players and taking all comers!

NS: As for Carly’s gaming prowess, I don’t know how good of a player he is but I do feel that I would consider myself an NHL 14 contender!

(Editor’s note: Stay tuned to BrooksLaichyear for an EA Sports NHL battle between Nate and Pat later this season)

______________________________________________________________________________

I’d like to thank Nate for taking the time to do this interview. It was really generous of him. However, I will still show no mercy when I crush him in EA Sports hockey later this season.

Did Alex Ovechkin deserve the Calder in 2005-06?

Alex Ovechkin won the Calder trophy for NHL rookie of the year following the 2005-06 season. Ovechkin totaled 52 goals and 54 assist in 81 games. His 106 points is the 3rd highest total ever for a rookie. 2005-06 was also Sidney Crosby’s rookie season. Crosby had 39 goals and 63 assists. According to Wikipedia, the only other time two rookies have had over 100 points in the same season was in 1992-93 (Teemu Selanne and Joe Juneau).

The voting for the Calder was not specially close, as Ovechkin received 125 of the 129 possible first place votes. He also received 4 second place votes. Crosby received 4 first place votes, 95 second place votes, as well as a number of third and fourth place votes. Scoring 52 goals as a rookie is going to grab the attention of voters. Ovechkin’s highlight reel goals and physical style of play was also credited for helping him win the award nearly unanimously.

Advanced stats are more prevalent than ever before in the NHL, and are certainly more of a thought than they were in 2005-06. While there’s no doubt many voters still pay them no mind, I want to take a look at how the Ovechkin’s and Crosby’s rookie seasons match-up from an advanced stats perspective.

First, here’s a look at a player usage chart.

crosbyovechkin

 

This is for all 5-on-5 situation. So, Crosby (57.256) faced easier zone starts than Ovechkin (52.68%), but also faced (slightly) tougher competition (28.78% to 28.56%). The wide gap on the Y-axis is actually quite small if you look at the scale. Both players had somewhat sheltered zone starts, as would be expected as rookies. The bubble color is set to FenRel% which resulted in no noticeable color for either player because, as you’ll see shortly, these two had similar FenClose numbers in their rookie season. Not pictured here is that both players also had very similar strength of teammates, as measured by TOI teammate %. Ovechkin’s was 30.45%, Crosby 30.48%.

Back to looking at possession through FenRel %. This is another stat where there’s not a very meaningful difference between the two. Ovechkin’s FenRel % was 7.88 and Crosby’s was 7.44. Looking at close game situations also doesn’t give either guy much of an edge. Ovechkin’s close game Fenwick was 53.16%, Crosby 50.95%. When looking relative to their teammates, the numbers are 9.19% and 9.93%, respectively.

Advanced stats don’t do much to distinguish either player during their rookie campaigns. They both had good possession numbers, especially relative to their teammates. Both guys received zone starts that were a bit sheltered, Crosby a bit more than Ovechkin. And lastly, they played with and against very similar levels of competition. Sorry Sidney, I won’t be calling for a re-vote based off of advanced stats.

All data pulled from War on Ice

Charity raffle: Win a Caps jersey autographed by the 2013-14 team

My family, led by my Mom, puts on an annual bingo event to support Team Fox for Parkinson’s research. My Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years ago and has since put an amazing amount of energy into raising money for Team Fox. This year, we reached out to the Caps to donate an item for the bingo. They completely blew us away by donating a jersey autographed by the 2013-14 team. Yes, it comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Here’s a couple pictures of the jersey and the certificate

caps jersey1caps jersey2certificate

 

How can you win this? Well, you can purchase raffle tickets from us by contacting us at brookslaichyear AT gmail. Tickets cost $10 per chance. There is no limit as to how many you can buy.  We will then email you back with contact information so you can enter this great raffle.

100% of the money raised from this raffle goes to Team Fox. The raffle will be held at the bingo on September 27th, but you do not need to be present to win. However, if you’d like to attend the bingo, you can find event info here.

War on Ice is awesome: Advanced stats highlights from the Caps 2009-10 season

As we’ve already highlighted here on the blog, advanced stats have gotten a lot of publicity this summer. A large part of this was due to NHL front offices making hires that were aimed at forming analytic departments. One of those hires, by the Toronto Maple Leafs, was Darryl Metcalf, the founder of ExtraSkater.com. Extra Skater was the go-to advanced stats resource for many people, myself included, but was shut down when Metcalf was hired by the Leafs. One site that has popped up in Extra Skater’s place is War on Ice. I’ve tweeted some of the stuff that makes War on Ice such a cool site, even eclipsing Extra Skater in terms of depth and quality. While Extra Skater had stats from the present day dating back to the 2010-11 season, War on Ice has stats starting with the 2002-03 season. Much like I did when Extra Skater added stats from the ’10-11 season, I wanted to highlight some interesting stats on War on Ice from seasons that were not available on Extra Skater. This post will take a look at advanced stats highlights from the Caps 2009-10 season. This post will far from exhaust all there is to say about the information available on War on Ice from the 2009-10 Caps. Instead, this post is both an effort to point out some interesting highlights, as well as show off some of the stuff that makes War on Ice so great.

For those who don’t remember, 2009-10 was the season that the Caps dominated the league and were then Halak’d out of the playoffs by the Montreal Canadians in the first round of the playoffs. The Caps were dynamic. 6 players had over 20 goals. Mike Green had 76 points in 75 games. As a lifelong sports fan, this team was the most exciting team I’ve rooted for, regardless of the sport.

To start, here’s a look at 2009-10 via just one of the seemingly endlessly customized chart options on War on Ice. This is a chart looking at all 30 NHL teams. The X-Axis is Fenwick %. The Y-Axis is team goal +/- and the color bubble variance is PDO. The bubble size variance is time on ice, fairly trivial for this chart. This is at 5-on-5 in close game situations.

200910team

The further right, the better the team was, as measured by puck possession. A blue bubble would indicate good fortunate, with red representing poor fortunate.

-The Caps were good, according to Fenwick, but not elite. They finished 12th in FenClose as a team. The Caps FenClose % of 51.19 is their 3rd best since 2002.

-The Caps have the darkest blue circle, meaning they led the league in PDO at an absurd 103.60.

-My quick takeaway from this chart is that the Caps, at 5-on-5, were a good team that was also very fortunate, which resulted in the huge goal differential.

-War on Ice tracks PDO back to 2002, and the 103.60 is by far the highest season PDO the Caps have had in the time frame. The next highest is 101.78 (2002-03)

The next chart is a look at the Caps defenders. The X-axis is FenRel % and the Y-axis is TOI Competition %. The bubble size and color are set to TOI/G. I’m not sure what variable to use as the 4th that will contribute to the substance of this chart, so I TOI is left as a repeat. I’m open to suggestions!

200910CapsD

A few takeaways from this chart:

-Tom Poti and Joe Corvo played a lot of minutes. They were tough minutes and they handled them really well.

-Karl Alzner played against weak competition and he struggled.

-Why was Brian Pothier getting more minutes than Shaone Morrisonn and Milan Jurcina?

Here are some other interesting details. First, the Caps top 5 FenClose Rel from 2009-10

Player Games FenClose Rel
Ovechkin 71 5.59
Backstrom 81 4.64
Poti 69 4.31
Gordon 35 3.83
Steckel 78 3.45

 

And the 5 worst

Player Games FenClose Rel
Alzner 21 -7.04%
Chimera 77 -4.89%
Perreault 21 -4.86%
Sloan 39 -4.78%
Fleischmann 68 -4.02%

 

These charts are pretty self-explanatory. Ovechkin and Backstrom, those two guys are pretty good, eh?

Let us not forget that 2009-10 was the year that Jeff Schultz led the league in +/-.  Now, when arguing with someone about how flawed of a stat +/- is, you can give them Schultz’s exact PDO in the ’09-10 season. Schultz’s PDO was 105.75, which was somehow only good enough for 4th on the Caps that season, behind Carlson (105.89), Fehr (105.87), and Ovechkin (105.81). If only considering players who played in 41+ games, Henrik Sedin finished first in the NHL in PDO at 106.71. The next 3 players league-wide were Caps! Carlson only appeared in 22 games, so the top 4 in the NHL is rounded out by Fehr, Ovechkin, and Schultz.

This look at the 2009-10 season is just scratching the surface of the data available on War on Ice. Go ahead and head over there yourself but be prepared to get lost for days!

 

A review of OOTP’s Franchise Hockey Manager ’14

Full disclosure: I was asked by a member of the OOTP team to write this review. No, I was not paid for it. Yes, I was given a free copy. No one with OOTP saw or edited this review before it was published. 

I am a huge fan of the Out of the Park baseball series released by OOTP developments. For an armchair general manager, given the mind-blowing level of details, it is the best sports simulation game ever created. So, needless to say, I was pretty excited when OOTP released their franchise hockey sim, Franchise Hockey Manager ’14. I was actually so excited about it that I didn’t allow myself to purchase it when it was released because I was in Graduate school and didn’t want to flunk out. Now that I’ve graduated and played the game, I’m glad I waited until after graduation, otherwise graduation day may never have come.

If you’ve ever found yourself daydreaming about being the General Manager of a hockey team, this is the game for you. The detail and and control this game gives you is great. You can take control of teams in about 20 leagues, including the NHL, AHL, KHL, OHL and WHL. You can also take control of any and every NHL season dating back to 1947. I didn’t play any of the historical seasons, as the depth of the game play starting in the present was plenty to keep my attention. However, if, as a Caps fans, you’re interested in seeing the 2009-10 season play out differently, this mode is for you. Or perhaps you often wish the 1998 season had ended differently. Well, here’s your chance to replay that season and trade Esa Tikkanen before he misses a wide open net in the Stanley Cup finals.

Like I said above, I found myself starting with the 2013-14 season and playing as the Caps GM. You have a lot of control that you can customize, a hallmark of the baseball sim series. One thing I really liked was the ability to assign ice time percentages when creating your lines. You have a lot of control over your scouting staff as well, so much that the detail of their reports can be overwhelming at times. The game gives you control over contracts, trade, promotions, etc that allows you to pull off all those moves you’ve been wishing your favorite team could make. For those of you, like me, who like advanced stats, the game tracks individual player Corsi and Fenwick, as well as Corsi Rel and Fenwick Rel. That was a really cool surprise!

This is a new franchise, so I came into this experience expecting for it to be a bit of a work in progress. Certainly, there are things that can be improved (luckily, the OOTP releases frequent patches and listens to feedback on their message boards). For one, the trade engine needs some work. As the Caps GM, I was able to acquire Claude Giroux, Jamie Benn and Jack Johnson without giving up Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, Alzner, Carlson or Holtby. With some tricky moves, I was able to stay under the salary cap. I then let the computer control the team so I could simulate a ways forward without interuptions to get a feel for how the game plays out as you move into future seasons. I was completely shocked to find the computer put Ovechkin and Benn on waivers for no apparent reason. Obviously, this wouldn’t happen if you stay in control of all roster moves, but that’s certainly something that should be fixed.

If you are the kind of sports fan that likes to think about the game from the perspective of a GM, this game is for you. My only word of warning is that there will be some small annoyances, as this is a new franchise and it is not yet as deeply developed as OOTP’s baseball sim. However, if the OOTP baseball sim is any indication, Franchise Hockey Manager is only going to get better from the strong foundation provided by FHM ’14.

For more info on the game or to pick up your own copy, visit the FHM website here

 

 

Advanced stats are not scary

Advanced stats have gotten a lot of attention in the hockey world this summer, in part thanks to numerous hires by organizations around the league that indicate the debate is over as to whether NHL teams are using advanced stats as part of their evaluation process. While dubbing it the ‘summer of advanced stats’ (or ‘analytics,’ if you prefer) may discredit the wave that has been building in the hockey world for years, advanced stats are certainly part of hockey conversations more than ever.

A word on the term “advanced stats”: Does calling these stats “advanced” increase the divide, perceived or real, between the “watch the game” crowd and the “advanced stats” crowd? The current state of advanced stats within hockey uses a lot of the same basic math required to understand the more well-known stats we’ve all been familiar with for quite some time. While the stats may be different and, at times more in-depth, the math is largely the same. Using the word “advanced” may dissuade those unfamiliar with what “advanced” stats are.

Truth be told, both watching the games (scouting) and using numbers are essential, and you should be skeptical of anyone who tells you otherwise. Why are (advanced) stats important? Well, for a lot of reasons. First off, no one watches every game. On top of that, every fan I’ve ever spoken to uses numbers and stats as part of a conversation about sports. Advanced stats aim to provide the most accurate, telling, and/or predictive (depending on the stat and sport) statistics possible. Advanced stats do not aim to replace the sports that we all love with spreadsheets and data.  If we’re already using stats to quantify things about sports, shouldn’t we seek to quantify these things in the most meaningful way possible? Advanced stats are not the start of a new conversation. Rather, they are a continuation of and an attempt to better inform conversations we have been having about the games we love for as long as they’ve been around.

Today, Puck Daddy broke the news that the Maple Leafs have hired, among others, Darryl Metcalf, the founder of Extraskater.com. Extraskater.com has been the site I’ve used the most when combing through advanced stats. I’ve seen some people on Twitter wonder where to turn for their advanced stats needs now that Extra Skater is offline. The good news is, there are other similar sites out there. The two I have used the most (other than Extra Skater) are HockeyAnalysis.com and Behind the Net. With so many smart people out there that have an interest in advanced stats, I fully expect similar sites to pop up sooner rather than later (as I was writing this, I saw this tweet from Peter of RMNB). Editor’s Note:  More details are now available about Peter’s plan. Check them out and contribute to the conversation here.

The bulk of this post was initially intended for something else but it felt relevant today with the news about Extra Skater. To those of you opposed to or skeptical of advanced stats: Dig around online, ask questions, and don’t be scared of them. To those of you mourning the loss of Extra Skater: I’m with you, but there’s still useful resources out there and more help is likely on the way.

 

 

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