Posts Tagged ‘advanced stats’

The thing about ‘advanced’ stats in hockey is that they’re not really intended to be all that advanced…but compared to the crappy normal stats like +/- they are miles ahead. A lot of stats that look at usage–zone starts and quality of competition–are designed to illustrate a player’s deployment to provide context to his goal production. And the granddaddy of all fancy stats, Corsi, is not really that complicated once you wrap your head around it. The object of the game is to score goals and prevent them from being scored against your team, and since goals come from shots, the Corsi stats are intended to be simply a richer tool for analysis. So, when you think of a “good” hockey player, the tools and skills he owns should lead him to be a good possession player. Things like skating ability, hand-eye coordination, vision, anticipation, etc., these are the building blocks that make up a quality hockey player. Of course, those things don’t always come through in Corsi stats, and today I wanted to do sort of a case study on a Minnesota Wild player who is still very young, and seems to be developing nicely but is still a “bad possession player” by the numbers: Mikael Granlund. Read on…

Hockey is a game, and fantasy hockey is a game based around a game (though not a game within a game, that would be Inception!)

In game theory, an important distinction is whether the players have perfect information or imperfect information.

In games with perfect information (chess and checkers are good examples,) all the factors are known by all players. Each player can see all of his opponent’s pieces, and there is no ‘hidden’ information except for the plans and strategies inside the other guy’s head.

In games with imperfect information (most card games, blackjack and poker for example,) some of the factors are unknown by the players, which is where the complexity, the skill, and the intricacies of the game come into play. If everyone knew the dealer’s face down card in blackjack, or what everyone else at the poker table had as their pocket cards, those games would be a lot less fun.

So, do we have perfect information or imperfect information in fantasy hockey? Some would foolishly say it’s the former–they look at the stats for last night’s games or a guy’s production last season, and think it’s perfect information. After all, there’s the numbers right there in black and white, there’s everything that happened in the game, right in the box score. But when I think about how advanced stats like Corsi, PDO, zone starts, and qual comp contribute to fantasy, I think about how they make those boxcar stats look imperfect in an awful hurry. Sure, this guy got that many points, but he did it against really soft competition, or he got some really good puck luck, and those points may not really be an accurate reflection of his skill or a predictor of how many points he can put up going forward.

But on the other side of the coin, fantasy doesn’t care about a player’s QoC or his PDO…goals are goals. Let me clarify: if you drafted Patrick Marleau or Thomas Vanek this season, you got yourself a whole heap of goals in the first few games of the season, and you almost certainly won your first couple matchups. Whether those goals came on ridiculously high shooting percentages (they did) or came easier because of favorable zone starts (they did,) they still counted. Last April, I got myself on board the Pascal Dupuis express during my fantasy playoffs, and I enjoyed a nice little hot streak, to the tune of around a point per game over a couple weeks. Did I know that production was unsustainable? Certainly. Did I keep sending him out there night after night? You’re damn right I did! But I digress…

The point I’m trying to make is that the role of more sophisticated stats (or advanced stats, or underlying stats, or fancy stats, or whatever you want to call them, ultimately it doesn’t really matter) is to provide more *context* to a hockey player’s production. And in fantasy, that context can be supremely helpful. It can give us strong signals on whether to buy low or sell high on a team or player, and those signals (if we choose to heed them) can give us a leg up on our competition who is ignorant to even basic stuff like individual Sh%.

These stats don’t give us perfect information, by any means. No self-respecting stat guy (or gal) would tell you that. And we as a community are constantly trying to improve our methods, to develop new numbers and metrics that are meaningful and useful and not downright crazy (if you’re plugged in to the #fancystats community on Twitter, you may have heard about the paper that got accepted to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that makes that case that Alexander Steen is one of the most important players in the league. But I digress again…)

Bottom line: in fantasy hockey, we are dealing with imperfect information. But the value of Corsi and Fenwick and the usage charts and all that is that they give us slightly *less imperfect* information. One step closer to knowing when the dealer is about to flip over that suicide king, or that the guy on the button is working with deuce-seven offsuit.

^^The podcast is embedded in this page. Click the play button above to begin streaming, or click here to download an .mp3 file.

Today I interview one of my favorite hockey researchers, Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus and Hockey Abstract. Rob has developed a number of great tools and stats that have become a major part of the hockey analytics community.

“A good hockey stat first of all has to be useful.”

“The real achievement is to take something that’s complex and make it simple.”


Hockey Abstract

Rob’s personal page where he puts all his work. This site is a wealth of information–everything from Quality Starts to “Oz Coke charts” (AKA player usage charts) to historical comparisons. Your one-stop-shop for Vollman’s writing.

Hockey Prospectus

Another great site with a ton of great hockey writing from a bunch of today’s smartest minds.

>>E-mail me your fantasy hockey questions at hashtaghockey [at] gmail [dot] com, and follow me on Twitter, @Hashtag_Hockey

***The podcast is embedded in this post. Click the PLAY button above to start listening!!***

Or, if that doesn’t work, here is a direct link to the MP3 file: Hashtag Hockey Podcast Ep 1 Goalies


Today, I launched the Hashtag Hockey Podcast! I talked about how goalies can make or break a fantasy hockey season, and how to look at goalie stats differently than just the simple Win-Loss record, overall Sv% and GAA.

Here are the show notes, with some of the information I presented on the podcast and relevant links:


Even Strength Sv% vs Overall Sv%

DEFINITION: Even strength Sv% is simply a goalie’s Sv% when the game is at 5-vs-5 (not including Power Plays or Penalty Kill). Overall Sv% is the stat used most commonly, a goalie’s Sv% for the whole game.

LINK: A look at Niklas Backstrom’s Even Strength Sv%, from The Providence


Niklas Backstrom

Even Strength Sv%

07-08              08-09              09-10              10-11              11-12

.925                .923                .912                .928                .931

Overall Sv%

07-08              08-09              09-10              10-11              11-12

.920                .923                .903                .916                .919

PP Sv%

07-08              08-09              09-10              10-11              11-12

.905                .918                .880                .859                .864


Jonas Hiller

Even Strength Sv%

07-08              08-09              09-10              10-11              11-12

.940                .910                .930                .931                .915

Overall Sv%

07-08              08-09              09-10              10-11              11-12

.922                .900                .918                .924                .910

PP Sv%

07-08              08-09              09-10              10-11              11-12

.867                .867                .874                .891                .870

Quality Starts Explained

LINK: Hockey Prospectus, Quality Starts 2011-12

LINK: Hockey Prospectus, Quality Starts 2010-11

LINK: Hockey Prospectus, Quality Starts 2009-10

LINK: Hockey Prospectus, Quality Starts original article


Quality Start Definitions:

Quality Start (QS): A game in which the starting goalie records a .917 Sv% or better; OR a game in which the starting goalie allows two or fewer goals and records a .885 Sv% or better. Generally speaking, a team will win around 75% of the games where the goalie posts a QS.

Quality Start Wasted (QSW): A game where the starting goalie records a QS but the team loses the game.

Bailout (BO): A game where the starting goalie does not record a QS but the team wins the game.

Terrible Start (TS): A game where the starting goalie records a Sv% less than .850.

Terrible Start Bail Out (TSBO): A game where the starting goalie records a TS but the team wins the game.

For more on Ev Sv% and QS stats, see some of my earliest posts on Mike Smith, Jimmy Howard, Jaroslav Halak, and Jonathan Quick


Thanks for checking out the podcast, and remember to follow me on Twitter @Hashtag_Hockey