NHL News and Notes (10/28)

We’ve partnered with On Goal Analysis to provide in-depth NHL coverage this season. For more analysis, be sure to check out the On Goal Analysis website and the OGA Blog.

Submitted by Michael Pryor

There are two things to report on for The Scores Report submission this week. First is a quick analysis of players skating in all games for a team versus their standings points – is there a connection? And the other is the latest results for On Goal Analysis’ Playoff Qualifying Curve.

Players In All Games Versus Standings Points

If I was back in a college science class, I would properly begin a study with a hypothesis. So I offer here that I believe the more players who skate for every scheduled game, the better the overall team performance. Said another way, injuries are likely to adversely affect a team’s ability to earn the “W.”

There is no doubt the loss of an Ovechkin, Gaborik, or Kopitar with what they are providing their teams right now should produce a drop off in overall team production and ability to win games. True, teams often rise to the occasion, playing above their heads and sucking it up for their fallen comrade. The New Jersey Devils losing Martin Brodeur for most of last season is a good example. But more often than not, you are likely to see the kind of play Vancouver offered with the loss of Roberto Luongo last winter.

They used to say in that science class ‘…It is just as important to disprove a theory as it is to show you were right….’ So without further ado here are the mixed results of the comparison through games ending Sunday night, 25 October:

A few notes before the analysis:

• Team names are color-coded red for Eastern Conference and blue for Western Conference.

• The column marked “100% Pl” indicates how many players on a team have dressed for every game. While some players get benched to teach a lesson, a larger percentage have lost games for injury. When looking at these numbers remember NHL rosters have 21 skaters and two goalies at any one time.

• “Points” are points earned in the standings for Wins and OT/SOL’s as of Sunday, 25 October.

• And “Avg Pts” is the average points for all teams with the same amount of 100% Pl’s.

Analysis says my original hypothesis is just about correct. The group of teams with the highest Average Points is FLA, NYR and PIT who have all had 16 players skate in 100% of their scheduled games. (Granted, NYR and PIT raise FLA’s average with their performance.) The 17 teams who have had between 12 and 14 skaters in every game this season average as a whole 11.2 points in the standings and are the most consistent grouping of clubs. The 15 and 11 each 100% Players represent the bookends to this middling group and average between 10 and 11 standings points. And NSH, the team with less than half of the skating roster who has been present on the ice from the start averages the least points at seven.

You can call this a thin correlation this early in the season. I would offer that it begs for more scrutiny as last season, for example, SJS as the President’s trophy Winner finished the season with five players skating in 80 or more games while the NYI in last place had only two skaters that broke the 70-game mark.

OGA’s Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC)

On Goal Analysis stakes its place in the NHL’s blogosphere with the underlying premise that we can pick who will or will not be in the Playoffs as accurately and early as possible in the season. While we do not make those pre-season final predictions that many folks throw out there, we do make the calls on the fly based on team play during the season. And we did so last year with 89.7% accuracy and an average of 84 days before mathematical elimination.

We measure teams against our proprietary PQC and make the call every 10 games down that long and bumpy road that is the NHL’s regular season. As this is going to print, 22 of 30 teams have hit the 10-game mark and all will have done so by Halloween. At this point, three teams have been called Chasing Stanley, or IN the 2010 Playoffs, two more at Sharpening Skates which is just short of IN, 11 are In The Curve or right about average, and one is Dusting Off Clubs – just shy of elimination.

On Sunday, 1 November at 5:30pm EST, OGA will discuss the 10-game PQC calls in detail on their weekly JabberHockey show. You are invited to listen in and see what we know so you know who is likely to play on into late April and who is sorely lacking. You can also find out how to know WHEN OGA KNOWS versus simply at each 10-game mark. Join us on Sunday for this and other hot Hockey topics.

Did Anybody Notice…

…That 100 or more goals have been scored in the 2nd Period (350) than in any other so far this season through 27 October?

…That only 18.8% of all goals have been scored by special teams? Or how about the fact that last year special teams combined to account for a very close 18.2% of all goals scored?

…That the Colorado Andersons are kicking butt and taking names for real? We are past that point where they are merely on a streak. So unless the injury or illness bug comes swooping in, OGA is likely to be on target with a call of Chasing Stanley for them.

…That MTL is 5-0 in OTs/SOs and has one regulation win and NYI is 0-5 playing ‘Bonus Hockey’ to go with their lone, regulation victory? Does this mean NYI need only spend another $14.171M against the CAP in order to net those five points MTL did?

…That the Stanley Cup Champions once removed are in 11th place in their conference and last year’s victors 1st in theirs? Does losing four key players to trade and one key forward to injury cost that much in the standings?

We’ll be back next week with more engaging analysis of the NHL. You can catch us during the week at www.ongoalanalysis.com.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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