NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

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    NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Joel Quenneville took his cue for defensive pairings from statistical analysts. If you are sentimental toward the NHL’s current state, commit these games to your digital archive. Five years from now, they will be unrecognizable.


    In hockey, progress happens regularly. Players become bigger, faster, and stronger. Equipment gets lighter and more durable. Coaches devise better game plans.


    Related


    But the NHL will hinge — and change — upon the explosion of hockey intelligence. We are experiencing the game’s IQ transformation. Teams like Los Angeles and Chicago are mining data diamonds and applying them to the ice.


    They understand that four lines of skill, speed, and puck-possessing prowess overwhelm the traditional template of two skilled units, a checking three some, and an energy group. They acquire and play mobile, pace-pushing blue liners over hold-your-ground defensive defensemen. They don’t panic when they fall behind, 2-0, because statistics show that scoring next impacts the outcome more than allowing a third goal.


    Duncan Keith is Chicago’s best defenseman. But Keith sits against first lines. Chicago deploys Niklas Hjalmarsson in a shutdown role. That allows Keith to flourish in situations that play to his strengths: quickness, speed with the puck, accurate passing, and offensive instinct. Joel Quenneville didn’t conclude this based on what he knew about the game. The Chicago coach listened to his stats guys.


    Data is everywhere. Wall Street banks piles of cash because they study companies’ price-earnings ratios and historical rates of return. Presidential campaigns research block-by-block polling results and voting records to target areas of improvement. Smart people created these world-changing innovations. They’ve applied their brains to other sports. In baseball, teams don’t bunt as often. More NFL coaches are going for it on fourth down instead of punting. The corner 3-pointer is the trend in the NBA.


    Now the smarties are flooding the zone in hockey.


    Edmonton hired Tyler Dellow, a former lawyer and stats-centric blogger, as a statistical consultant. New Jersey landed Sunny Mehta, an ex-professional poker player, as its director of hockey analytics. Eric Tulsky majored in chemistry and physics at Harvard and has a PhD in chemistry from Berkeley. Brian Macdonald was an assistant professor in mathematical sciences at West Point. Tulsky and Macdonald are consulting for undisclosed clubs.


    Their employment is inspiring others. On Wednesday, during a panel at the Joint Statistical Meetings at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, speaker Sam Ventura , a PhD candidate in statistics at Carnegie Mellon, noted with a smile that he will be available for hire next year.


    Ventura and other brainiacs, such as fellow panelists Macdonald, Kevin Mongeon (Brock University), Michael Schuckers (St. Lawrence), Michael Lopez (Skidmore), and Andrew Thomas (Carnegie Mellon), are already conducting groundbreaking work. They’re studying hockey’s granular events — odd-man rushes, zone entries, shots taken early and late in a shift — and uncovering information that complements intelligence gathered by traditional scouting.


    Cracks exist in the latter method. One scout, for example, might prefer to conduct viewings on an AHL player on a Sunday, after he’s played road games on Friday and Saturday. The scout is trying to determine how the player performs when he’s tired to gauge his competitiveness. Another scout might ignore the Sunday viewing as garbage because of fatigue. This centers on a scout’s preferences.


    Analytics is about sealing every crack. It’s not accurate enough to look at a goalie’s save percentage. It has to be adjusted for variables such as shot location, quality of competition, and save frequency. This requires math. The adjusted save percentage gives teams a more accurate depiction of a goalie’s skills.


    The point, after all, is to find value. Teams regularly err by giving fat contracts to players who don’t deserve such plumpness (think four years, $13.5 million to Rob Scuderi). The smart clubs, with analytics as one of their tools, target players whose warts make them unworthy elsewhere. When Ottawa dismissed Ales Hemsky, Dallas signed him to a three-year, $12 million deal. If he plays with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, Hemsky’s numbers will look like those balls tumbling from lottery machines.


    The point is also to adjust game strategy and roster composition to mesh with the data. If teams board the analytics train, coaches will pull their goalies earlier to erase deficits. Forwards will leave a shot alone instead of blocking it. GMs will consider a roster with weight diversity — some 220-pounders with some 175-pound water bugs — instead of body uniformity. Coaches will not dress an enforcer who plays four minutes and chases the puck. Organizations will invest in forwards and goalies more than defensemen.


    Such tweaks will require courage. They run counter to generations of hockey tradition. But people with lots of letters after their names will tell you that data doesn’t lie. The figurative data asteroid is expected to strike the NHL in 2015-16. By then, the league could introduce player motion tracking via SportVU, the company that performs the same service in the NBA.


    Currently, stat geeks are tracking shot attempts, among other events, as a possession facsimile. If one team takes more shots (on net, missed, and blocked) than the other, it’s probably controlling the puck and creating more scoring chances.


    The resulting stat is Corsi. It’s gaining traction among casual hockey observers. The analytics community would consider Corsi cute. These are guys who use phrases such as Poisson-like, Gaussian regularization methods, and shrinkage behavior (the latter being unrelated to Brad Richards’s Stanley Cup Final play).


    Precise Corsi valuation depends on assuming the NHL’s real-time scoring system, which measures statistics such as shot location, giveaways, and hits, is accurate. It’s not entirely reliable. None of it is automated. At each rink, a group of off-ice officials tracks and logs these events from the press box — which, at some facilities, requires oxygen masks for entry.


    Assuming the NHL welcomes player tracking, everything will be automated. The result will be clean, dependable data: a statistician’s dream. Smart people currently on the sidelines will sprint into the market.


    “We’ll know where every player is on the ice at every moment,” Ventura said. “It gives us location information for all things happening over the course of the game — shots, hits, passes, people carrying the puck, where defensemen are positioned. Are they in the lane, ready to block a shot? Or are they giving up an easy lane for a goal. We can look at things like positioning for all plays, not just on shots. It’s really going to lead to a much richer data set.”


    Player tracking and the information it provides won’t be the magic bullet. Unlike baseball, hockey isn’t a neat chain of static events. Players play offense and defense simultaneously. Substitutions happen on the fly. Goals aren’t scored regularly. A winger can be just as critical to a faceoff win as a center. Teams will need smart hockey people to eliminate the statistical noise.


    People in the food industry are familiar with the bliss point, the perfect combination of salt, sugar, and fat. There will be something similar in hockey that marries good players, good coaching, and good analysis. The dinosaurs that miss this intersection will become extinct. The organisms that evolve and connect will thrive.


    Perhaps above all else, analytics gets people thinking. Good information validates some theories. It nixes others. But it prompts us to consider ideas we might otherwise classify as foolish. In hockey, that’s a neat and novel approach.


    statistically speaking


    Penn State grad has lowdown on scoring Hockey goes through a regular cycle of prospects seeking professional opportunities. The analytics community is no different. Students, even undergraduates, are crunching numbers, exploring hypotheses, and arriving at data-driven conclusions. Samantha Key, a 2014 Penn State graduate, was a presenter at the Joint Statistical Meetings.


    Key, a Penguins fan, studied the importance of scoring first in the NHL. Key tabulated results from over 12,000 games between 2002-12. Key learned that teams that score first in the opening period won 66.7 percent of their games. Teams making it 1-0 in the second period won 69.1 percent of their games. The results spiked in the third period. Teams scoring first in the final period won 79.4 percent of the time.


    Some of the conclusions Key teased out from her results:


    ■ Fatigue, injuries, and time are factors in the third-period jump. It’s harder for a tired team, maybe one featuring several hobbled players, to rally with less than 20 minutes to play.


    ■ It’s OK to enter first or second intermission down by one goal. It’s important for coaches and players not to panic in these situations. Chances of a comeback after 40 minutes are still better than if you fall behind at some point in the third.


    ■ If you have a 1-0 lead sometime in the first two periods, it’s not safe. It’s too early to ease off the offense and play conservatively.


    ■ If the game is scoreless after 40 minutes, it’s critical for coaches to think offensively at the start of the third. Skilled players deserve more ice time.


    “You still want to play hard, but it’s not a big deal if you lose the lead. There’s still plenty of time,” Key said of the first two periods. “In the third period, it matters. That’s when if you don’t score first, you’re most likely going to lose.”


    Rink effects


    According to Michael Schuckers, one of the hockey analytics speakers at the Joint Statistical Meetings, off-ice officials at TD Garden undercount blocks and missed shots compared with the rest of the league. The result is a rink effect that skews the real-time data. It’s why teams prefer to track their own statistics in search of more accurate data. But this is an area in which player tracking will help players, too. Agents use the NHL’s real-time data in contract negotiations. For example, if Dennis Seidenberg is blocking more shots than he’s credited for, that could factor in his next deal."


    https://twitter.com/GlobeFluto" rel="nofollow">https://twitter.com/GlobeFluto


     


    Just a fad, it will never be adopted.

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from BadHabitude. Show BadHabitude's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    If they would only think about dedicating half as much effort to drafting.

     

     
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from Bookboy007. Show Bookboy007's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    More data?  Hey, sure, why not?  But please, that "scoring first in the third is more important than scoring first in the first period or second period" is pretty lame.  The disproportionate spike likely has everything to do with the fact that if you make it 1-0 with 2 minutes to go in the 3rd, the likelihood of a comeback in the remaining time is slim, where in the previous two periods, you know you have 20+ minutes of hockey left.  The conclusion - play your stars into the ground in the first five minutes of the third - is hard to support based on only what's here, and hardly differs from the way many coaches already behave - up the ice for difference makers when the game is on the line.

    I'd like to know exactly what analytics went into Quenneville's handling of Keith's ice. 

     

     

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  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Bookboy007. Show Bookboy007's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to BadHabitude's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    If they would only think about dedicating half as much effort to drafting.

     

     [/QUOTE]

    I think "they" have - if you mean NHL clubs generally.  I've been tempted to look at the factors involved, but it sure looks to me like we haven't had a lousy draft year - or what used to be a routine draft year - in a very long time.  Even the supposedly weak draft of 2007 has turned it around in the last year or two with guys like Thomas Hickey and Brendan Smith becoming regular NHL players.  There have been fewer and fewer Zach Hamills or Patrick Stefans in the top ten.  If you look at 2010, for example, there aren't many players from that first round who haven't had a cup of coffee already and most of the players who were expected to become front line players are well on their way to being front line players, if they aren't already there. 

     


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  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from Not-A-Shot. Show Not-A-Shot's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    "Duncan Keith is Chicago’s best defenseman. But Keith sits against first lines."

    Meanwhile, Subban gets blown up for not being on the penalty kill!

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from bostonfan191646. Show bostonfan191646's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to Not-A-Shot's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    "Duncan Keith is Chicago’s best defenseman. But Keith sits against first lines."

    Meanwhile, Subban gets blown up for not being on the penalty kill!

    [/QUOTE]

    Subban is the best in the league at what he does. I think some people just don't think that's all that important is all. I want my mobile d men to be second pairing guys, and my first pairing to be all situation guys. I don't think Subban is an elite d man because where a coach would be happy throwing doughty Chara or Keith over the boards in any important situation, the same cannot be said of subban 

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from Fletcher1. Show Fletcher1's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to Not-A-Shot's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    "Duncan Keith is Chicago’s best defenseman. But Keith sits against first lines."

    [/QUOTE]

    Man, there's a lot wrong with all of this.

    For one, it comes as quite a surprise to hear that about Keith.  Probably because it isn't true.  Hjalmarsson may be their best true defender, and the chosen matchup to play the shut down role against the best lines, if possible, but Keith is out there all the time.  He plays all situations (thus, the point with Subban).  He played a ton against the Bruins top two lines in the SC.  I saw him play plenty against top lines throughout this years' playoffs.  He's on the ice for 25-30 minutes in a lot of the playoff games -- how on earth would he sit against the top lines?  Half the games are on the road too, where they can't even choose.  Sheesh.

    There are also an awful lot of soft conclusions in this article, that are very far from being proven as accurate.  Tons of rival hypothesis, like the one Book points out about the amount of time left to play being a bigger factor in holding a lead than the arbitrary conclusion that goals scored in this period or that period are more impactful.

    I don't doubt that the use of analytics is useful is some areas and is becoming more common, but most of this article alludes to combining some new data with a bunch of guesswork, and then assuming it's groundbreaking.

    A little heavy on the drama too -- e.g. the game will be "unrecognizable".  'Is that water polo they're playing out there, with all this new data for line changes?  

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from Sportsnutty. Show Sportsnutty's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Ive got one thing to say about this article...


    This is hockey. F**k maths.



    Lets GO BRUINS!!!

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from Bookboy007. Show Bookboy007's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    I suspect the "analytics" will eventually lead us to some groundbreaking ideas like the best defense is a good offense and other tired old truisms - only now, there will be data.

    Data is good, but a lot of this analysis depends on assumptions and that's the part where I'm not convinced that you're better off making assumptions about the data or making assumptions about hockey the way a good coach does.  Julien has been running four lines and playing them almost equally in 5 on 5 situations for most of his coaching life.  Now it's a brilliant insight of "analytics" that having a good blend of skills on all lines is good?

    The Keith thing, I could see as someone observing a pattern. Something like: 4/6 times Keith lines up primarily against lines other than the other team's top line, the goal differential when he's on the ice is 37% better than when another D pairing plays against non-top lines.  When Keith plays vs top lines, the differential is only 17% better, so the other-all goal differential for the Hawks playing him vs. non-top lines is 20% better....2/3rds of the time.  Seems to me that's the kind of thing good coaches figure out by watching their players all the time.  To quote the greatest manager of all time, Montgomery C. Burns, "It's called playing the percentages...now hit the showers!"

    Somebody's going to make a lot of money figuring out how to collect more sophisticated data that might actually help players be better players and teams be more specialized in who they go after to play certain roles.  If the push to collect this kind of data in junior and the NCAA ever kicked in, it might change who teams draft.  If you see stock in a company connected to someone who has a link to the hockey world, might be worth chucking a few dollars away on it.

     

     

     

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  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from stevegm. Show stevegm's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    I equate statistics, and data as information.  The more the better.  The problem is usually never the stat, it's the conclusion that comes from it, or isolating small pieces of data to make overall assumptions.  

    A good example is the "score first" stat.  Of course it's good to score first.  We already know that.  That's why we keep score.  Not a ton to be learned by anything statistical in this area, and the reason is simple.  No teams prefer to not score first,  nobody plans to not score first, and nobody prefers being behind.  Understanding more about statistical probabilities will not prepare a team to win more games, therefore it's quite useless.  

    There's a lot that can go straight to the trash barrel, but no end to what can be learned by collecting more information. 

     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from DrCC. Show DrCC's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Before the rumors start, I am not Tulsky!

    That student's analysis of the scoring first statistics made me want to cry.  Not in a good way.

    Tracking positioning in real-time will be interesting.  Hasn't it been coming for a long time though?  I thought I remember Samsonov wearing a tracker for a bunch of games.  In theory it should be possible to analyze what kind of positioning patterns succeed in what kinds of situations.  Well, faster than watching tons of game tape, at least.

    The dark side of this, of course, is that if the data all points to one style of play everyone will adopt it.  Then the analytics become useless and the game potentially stale.  Unless that style is balls-to-the-wall offense.  Perhaps some smart person will have to hack the databases once they get made...

    -- Proud user of Chambraigne; Now with Wiener Scent! --

     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from Bookboy007. Show Bookboy007's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Ok, Tulsky, get on it then....

     

     

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  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from lucdufour. Show lucdufour's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    If you get scored on first in the third period, it is bad.

    You won't score if you don't shoot.

    Mrs. Lippy's car.....is green

    Luc Dufour was as tough as Nails.

     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from islamorada. Show islamorada's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Interesting article.  Thanks Sandog.  

    Four lines of skilled players is not necessarily innovative.  Prior to the first expansion in the 1960s, most teams had skilled players at least in three lines.  The AHL teams of those times had players who were skilled enough to play in the NHL.  Check Bronco Horvath.  

     The fact is the explosion of scoring happened in the late 60s and in the 1980s after expansion. The end result is the talent or skill catching up to the expansion.  Although I tend to think the NHL is watered down on talent, one could simply say the talent or skill is finally catching up to the expansion.  

    Statistics are useful in assessing play, but I tend to think coaching is the most valuable way to judge talent and skill.  Keith makes tape to tape passes, Lucic creates room on the ice, Broduer could handle the puck as a goalie are difficult to measure.  21st statistics are valuable, yet hardly innovative.  Joel Quenneville may be a new type of coach with statistics in hand, but he is not unique in his coaching style.  BTW the Montreal Canadiens used a form of the trap in the 1950s, true?  

     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from Not-A-Shot. Show Not-A-Shot's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to islamorada's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Statistics are useful in assessing play, but I tend to think coaching is the most valuable way to judge talent and skill.  Keith makes tape to tape passes, Lucic creates room on the ice, Broduer could handle the puck as a goalie are difficult to measure.  21st statistics are valuable, yet hardly innovative.  Joel Quenneville may be a new type of coach with statistics in hand, but he is not unique in his coaching style.  BTW the Montreal Canadiens used a form of the trap in the 1950s, true?  

    [/QUOTE]

    I agree, Isla.  These stupid stats are a different way of telling what happened, but certainly cannot be used to predict what will.

     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from OatesCam. Show OatesCam's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    One of the big points in that passage should be obvious, especially to us:  Teams that are less tired are better in the third.  We've seen it with Julien using 4 lines, and the Bruins being the best team toward the end.

     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from jmwalters. Show jmwalters's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to Not-A-Shot's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to islamorada's comment:
    [QUOTE]

      BTW the Montreal Canadiens used a form of the trap in the 1950s, true?  

    [/QUOTE]

    I agree, Isla.  These stupid stats are a different way of telling what happened, but certainly cannot be used to predict what will.

    [/QUOTE]


     Bang on NAS. Funny, you will get many (including some on these boards) who will argue that you can indeed predict the future with stats but as one who plays with numbers myself for a living, its real use is in just driving a narrative.

    @Isla: I am not sure if the Habs used the trap in the 1950's but I do know Bowman's Habs employed an early version of it during his tenure there.

     

     
  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from socca10. Show socca10's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Baseball went through (is still going through) a similar transition, evolving from a a sport where a good scout could "recognize talent" to one almost entirely focused on the "data." Now I'm not comparing the two sports, because baseball is essentially a game of percentages/averages given the length of the season. I think the challenge for the NHL is to find useful ways to assess and adjust based on important statistics without becoming overly obsessed with the pure numbers. There are still too many human (and therefore unpredictable) elements in the game - emotions, crowd energy, puck luck, etc - that tend not to influence baseball games in the way they can influence hockey games. But I'd like to think any coach would want to know (making this one up) that they give up more odd-man rushes when line X plays with d-pair Y, for example.

     

    As for the Keith thing, one thing the stats can't tell you is if Coach Q thinks "hey, this is my best scoring defenseman, and I want to put him in positions where he can contribute as much to offense as he can, so I'm playing him against team's 2nd and 3rd defensive pairings as much as possible." So yeah, maybe he doesn't play as much against the other guys' top lines, but it's not necessarily because he sucks defensively. If I want him to have the puck more, I put him out there in situations where the other team is less good at keeping the puck.

     
  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from socca10. Show socca10's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Oh, and stats absolutely can be predictive: they can predict what is most likely to happen in similar situations in the future, averaged out over time. That works well in baseball, not as much in hockey.

     
  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from Not-A-Shot. Show Not-A-Shot's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to socca10's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Oh, and stats absolutely can be predictive: they can predict what is most likely to happen in similar situations in the future, averaged out over time. That works well in baseball, not as much in hockey.

    [/QUOTE]

    Yes, stats can be, but not in hockey.  There are too many factors.  It works in baseball because each player is working alone most of the time.  Hockey has many more variables than constants.  It'll never happen.

    You can predict the Kings will beat the Panthers, but you don't need possession stats for that.

     
  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from socca10. Show socca10's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to Not-A-Shot's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    In response to socca10's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Oh, and stats absolutely can be predictive: they can predict what is most likely to happen in similar situations in the future, averaged out over time. That works well in baseball, not as much in hockey.

    [/QUOTE]

    Yes, stats can be, but not in hockey.  There are too many factors.  It works in baseball because each player is working alone most of the time.  Hockey has many more variables than constants.  It'll never happen.

    You can predict the Kings will beat the Panthers, but you don't need possession stats for that.

    [/QUOTE]

    I get your point, but I'm mostly just arguing your blanket statement as too broad. Stats can be predictive, and they're used all the time in hockey: to whit, the Bruins are 1758219-0-2 in games which they lead by 2 goals going into the third period. That one gets tossed around a lot, and it seems pretty predictive to me. :)

    It's all about balance, to me the stats are much more valuable to tell you WHY the Panthers will lose to the Kings (and almost everyone else) so you can look for ways to improve. 

    Yeah, that was a shot at the Panthers, who no doubt will own the Bruins this coming season, with ST22 in their heads every game.

     
  22. You have chosen to ignore posts from Fletcher1. Show Fletcher1's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    Dr. CC Tulsky's point made me think about the draft, and how the preferences you may have based on trends from previous years, are entirely dependent on the same trends playing out.  Along with others, I've advocated for draft picks in the first few rounds by used on N. American forwards (thanks for listening PC).  But, of course, this preference only makes sense if other teams are not doing this -- e.g. taking defensemen, goalies and Norwegian forwards in those rounds, thereby allowing the surer bet Lucic-types to fall into lower draft spots.

    All of these analytics still seem to only really be useful when they are used in an innovative way.  I remember the fallout of the Moneyball hype for the Red Sox was an organizational strategy to make the pitchers throw more pitches.  The data showed that you have a better chance of winning when the starting pitcher throws more pitches and either gets tired or you'd get a reliever with a higher ERA to face.  Worked pretty well for a while.  Then teams caught on.  Pitches started throwing more strikes early in the count.  Before long, the Red Sox were batting from behind in the count.  A lot.  What do you know - the data showed that you have a lesser chance of winning when you're batting from behind in the count a lot.  So...the whole "take pitches" thing was obsolete.  It worked for a short window, and then turned into a liability.

    Any notion that the data, and the adjustments made because of it, will give Team A an advantage seems totally dependent on what Team B is doing.  Whoever is better at reading the data and making innovative adjustments might gain an advantage, but it's always going to be ephemeral.  It'll last just long enough for the other team to identify the pattern and adjust.

    With everyone trying to make meaningful adjustments, with an eye on the data, it might just come down to talent, effort, strategy, and luck.  You know, like it does now.

     
  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from stevegm. Show stevegm's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to Not-A-Shot's comment:
    [QUOTE]

     


    I agree, Isla.  These stupid stats are a different way of telling what happened, but certainly cannot be used to predict what will.

    [/QUOTE]


    Some do...some don't, and the kicker is to be able to figure out thresholds, and excercise the brain.  2 examples.  Stats may show that elite 5 foot 11, 180 pound NHL forwards make up only 6.7% of the category. That's a general piece of information, which is totally moot if the topic is the impact of Gretzky.

    If goalie A gives up 80% of his goals low stick side, that info is important moving forward.  A perceptive coach would probably already know this to an extent, but hard data would remove the probability of perception being either exaggerated or taken too lightly.  In this example, a smart hockey guy would want more data.  He'd want comparables to his other goalie, sample size, percentage of total shots low stick side and others to complete a more detailed analysis.  When, and if it becomes obvious there is a deficiency low stick side, it may be easily corrected, turning this goalie into an elite player.

     On the other hand, if 50% of those goals are a direct result of being screened by defenseman B, a high percentage are also the result of PP tap ins, and the goalie faces a disproportionate amount of quality low, stick side shots.....it becomes evident that  goalie A really doesn't have a problem low stick side, and any inference that it's a weakness, can be dismissed.

     
  24. You have chosen to ignore posts from SanDogBrewin. Show SanDogBrewin's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    "So...the whole "take pitches" thing was obsolete. It worked for a short window, and then turned into a liability."

    I can point to the Sox three World Series victories and say it worked. Of course pitching was a factor but if you look at Boston's hitting during the playoffs, I would say that philosophy worked compared to the crappier teams the Sox put out before hand. Cherington factored in thses players the summer of 2012.

     
  25. You have chosen to ignore posts from Fletcher1. Show Fletcher1's posts

    Re: NHL on brink of intelligence explosion

    In response to SanDogBrewin's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    "So...the whole "take pitches" thing was obsolete. It worked for a short window, and then turned into a liability."

    I can point to the Sox three World Series victories and say it worked. Of course pitching was a factor but if you look at Boston's hitting during the playoffs, I would say that philosophy worked compared to the crappier teams the Sox put out before hand. Cherington factored in thses players the summer of 2012.

    [/QUOTE]

    I think that in 2004, and particularly 2007, this was true.  I don't think it was really the style they played last year, and the complete crash and burn of 2012 was the end of the 'take pitches' philosophy as far as I could tell.  I just don't have the interest to look up the stats to confirm...

    To be fair, I think this strategy worked very well, for longer than you would expect.  Once the free swingers were removed (Nomar, Everett, Triple-A Shea, etc.), the 'take pitches' approach started to really pay dividends.  Guys like Mueller, Daubach, Millar, Youk, Bellhorn, etc. all outplayed their respective talents at the time by buying in, wearing pitchers down, and then letting the big bats drive them in.

    All I'm saying is this -- the benefit of that strategy was dependent on 1. Pitchers continuing to pitch the way they normally do; and 2. Other teams not signing the same players and doing the same thing.

    Once pitchers figured out that they could usually float an uncontested strike by on the first pitch, they started to do just that.  Then they could nibble at the corners when they were ahead in the count 0-1 or 0-2.  I think the approach became a liability and part of the reason for some lean seasons before 2013.

    That seems like the nature of the phenomenon -- you have a short window to exploit something with your game strategy before others figure a way to stop it, or copy it.

     
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