Ender
Oct 15th, 2009
12:37AM UTC

An Addendum to Something I Didn't Write

People who read Oilers’ blogs know I give the hardest working man in the ‘sphere a hard time now and again, but I thought this time I’d actually do something a bit productive rather than just picking at issues in methodology.  So, regarding Willis’s last post, here are a couple of notes.

Unreasonably high and low shooting and save percentages likely do mean something.  What though?

  • If a team has an overly high SH% AND an overly high SV% AND are winning the majority of their games by one goal (or two goals if there’s an empty-netter), that team is likely to lose more games going forwards, barring a substantial increase in shots and blocked shots.
  • If a team has an overly high SH% OR SV% but not both and win the majority of their games by one or two goals, the team likely will need to shore up their defence or shooting, but not both.
  • If a team doesn’t have an overly high or low SH% or SV%, we can’t say anything about them at this time.
  • If a team has an overly low SH% OR SV% but not both and lose the majority of their games by one or two goals, the team likely will win more games once the stat has returned to the mean.
  • If a team has an overly low SH% AND an overly low SV% AND are losing the majority of their games by one goal (or two goals if there’s an empty-netter), that team’s record is likely to improve drastically.
  • If any team is winning or losing by more than 1 goal, we can’t really say anything about them either.

So, looking at Willis’ list, can we say anything about any of the teams with reasonable certainty?

The teams in both highs are Colorado and the Rangers.  Colorado has won most of their games by 3 goals, so they fall outside of the criteria I’ve provided.  They’re enough of an outlier that we can’t say much about them.  The Rangers also have 3 large wins and two 1-goal wins.  While we expect that both the Rangers and Avalanche’s numbers will go down, we can’t really tie that to how the team will do in the future.

The teams in both lows are Minnesota and Toronto.  With Toronto it’s a bit difficult because the two big losses they had were at the hands of the Rangers and Avalanche (Well, and Pittsburgh).  Again, Toronto falls far enough into the margin that we can’t say anything about them at this point in time.  Minnesota is on the edge of acceptable, losing 3 games by 1 goal, and 2 by more.  As such, we should expect Minnesota to improve drastically in the near future.

Atlanta and LA won most of their games by more than 1, so I’m ignoring them.  Edmonton, Calgary, Washington, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh will likely need to find a way to shoot more or play better defence to maintain their record.  Columbus is outside of the 1-goal radius, so they’re ignored.

On the low end, the Islanders have lost most games by one goal, so expect them to start winning more games any time now.  Florida is outside of the criteria, so again, ignored. Nashville seems to switch between 1-goal games and blowouts, so we can’t say much about them.  I’m putting them in the “can’t say much” pile.

Vancouver, Boston have lost by more than one for the most part, so they’re outside the criteria.  Detroit and Chicago have been in many 1-goal games, so expect their records to improve soon.

Phoenix and Buffalo are outside of the criteria because they’re in the top and bottom in SH% and SV%.  They really could go in either direction or no direction at all.

So, to sum up:

  • Teams who we can say with reasonable certainty that their records will improve in the near future: Detroit, Chicago, New York Islanders.
  • Teams who will need to improve in their shooting or team defence to maintain their current records: Edmonton, Calgary, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus.
  • Teams who should improve, but that won’t necessarily affect their record: Vancouver, Boston, Toronto, Florida, Nashville.
  • Teams who should do worse, but it might not affect their record: Atlanta, LA, Colorado, New York Rangers.
  • Teams who should see their record drastically improve: Minnesota.

Now, obviously these criteria mean a hell of a lot more with a larger sample space, and while intuitively we’d think that Toronto has to get better, this small sample space doesn’t come anywhere near indicating that.

And that’s my nitpicky 2 cents.  Feel free to pick at my methodology in the comments ;)

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2 Responses to “An Addendum to Something I Didn't Write”


  1. I don’t strongly disagree with you hedging your bet by reducing teams you consider to those with a lot of one goal losses (after all, caution isn’t a bad thing) I don’t really see the need for it.

    Goal totals fluctuate almost exactly as much as shooting percentage – in fact, with shooting percentage – so using goal totals as a limit doesn’t make sense to me when you’re considering the SH% outliers anyway.

  2. Ender says:

    The reason that it matters is that teams don’t get their records at the end of the year by adding up all their GF and GA. What matters is who gets more or less goals in any one specific game. There is not enough of a mathematical difference between your outliers and your non-outliers to drop 2/3 goals per game. There is to drop 1 goal per game.

    Again, I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but your numbers don’t give you what you’re arguing they do. To quote The Princess Bride “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Except replace the first think with know. ;)

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