With Hockey analytics being a topic of conversation of late as noted members of its online community are hired by respective NHL clubs, I was inspired to dig around the interwebs and came across some interesting work done by A.C. Thomas, who also just so happened to be a keynote speakers at Wednesday’s 2014 Joint Statistical Meeting in Boston that focused on the sport of hockey.
Over at Thomas’ personal website, he has borrowed Kirk Goldsberry’s hexagonal bin plot graphic concept for basketball and applied it to hockey. (As an aside, Thomas is also leading the way to develop a Wins Above Replacement — WAR — rating for hockey that he’s also chronicling on his website. Regardless of what you think about using an all-encompassing statistic to value players, the process and methods used to figure it out should be worthwhile enough to check his website out on a pretty regular basis.)
The result is a series of plots that show some interesting visual representations of the shot rates and shooting percentages of the Ottawa Senators relative to the rest of the NHL.
The graph below indicates Ottawa’s shot rates for and shot rates against while playing at even strength during the 2013/14 season:
Interestingly, for a team that finished fourth in the league in shots for, I would have expected the Senators to rate a little more favourably in the “dirty” areas around the net. While true that the Senators generated their share from the high slot area, there were a lot of perimeter shots – including a substantial amount of shots from the top of the right faceoff circle to the right point. You can thank Erik Karlsson for that.
Looking at the number of shots recorded against the Senators, that bright red number of hexagons around the goal mouth isn’t something to be particularly proud of however.
A.C. Thomas expanded upon the problem stating:
“Ottawa both attempted and allowed a large number of shots, though Ottawa’s shots were on the perimeter — the clear difference is in the scoring chances allowed in which they were dominated. The relative flatness of the shooting percentages suggests that this isn’t a scorer’s bias in awarding extra shot attempts.“
To contrast Ottawa’s numbers with an elite defensive team like the Los Angeles Kings, you will notice a stark change in the colour of the hexagons.
Looking at the graphic on the right, I haven’t seen that much blue since I last attended a Leafs game at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Over the past year, members of the Senators organization has downplayed the significance of the quantity of shots that they allow – consistently excusing the volume by explaining that the bulk of the shots come from the perimeter, so it’s okay. As the Senators’ plot shows, they did give up a plethora of shots from the outside, however, there were also above league average shot rates generated in the vicinity of the net.
Had the Senators received goaltending like they did during the 2012/13 lockout shortened season, that wouldn’t be as big of a deal. But in looking at the relative shooting percentages against the Senators, you can see the difference when Senators goaltenders failed to replicate their 2012/13 even strength save percentages.
As you can see by the graphs, there is a substantial difference in the shooting percentages for the opposition between the two seasons and in explanation, the Senators’ goaltenders enjoyed a even strength save percentage of .936 (2nd best in the entire NHL) in 2012/13 before it dropped to .921 last season.
For anyone who wants to peruse Thomas’ hexagonal plot database, you can access them using this link and you can access each season’s data going back to the 2008/09 season.
Sens Prospect Signs ELC
Nothing against Vincent Dunn, but the best part about the Senators’ announcement that their prospect had signed a three-year entry-level contract was seeing Bryan Murray photographed with Dunn.
I believe it was Murray’s first public appearance since the organization revealed that their general manager was battling cancer. It was encouraging to see.
News that Dunn had signed an entry-level contract should not come as a surprise.
After concluding his productive season with the Gatineau Olympiques in which he scored 31 goals and 51 points in 50 games, Dunn appeared in one regular season game for the Binghamton Senators. So even though Dunn did not begin the 2013/14 season ranked as one of Ottawa’s top prospects, because of junior success and subsequent promotion, it always felt like he was part of Ottawa’s future plans.
Through the expected graduation of prospects like Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and potentially Jean-Gabriel Pageau, as well as the departures of Stephane Da Costa and a few other players who weren’t extended qualifying offers, there should be ample opportunity for Dunn to claim a spot and play a key role for a retooling Binghamton team.
The Hockey News Rankings:
— SensChirp (@SensChirp) August 6, 2014
As shocking as it is to see Florida be ranked above the Senators, it’s just a preseason ranking that’s difficult to get that worked up over. If anything, it’s a third party perspective that tells fans what they already know, people outside of Ottawa simply don’t expect this year’s version of the Ottawa Senators to do well.