Monday, March 26, 2007

Drawing Penalties

I've received a few questions about the "Penalties Drawn" statistics. Most people want to know why I record who's on the ice for the penalty as opposed to recording which individual drew the penalty.

Unfortunately, there are five or six teams that still don't record this information at home. Off the top of my head, I think Anaheim, Nashville, Boston and Florida don't, and I can't remember the others. So we're missing a big chunk of data, and we're forced to estimate the total number of penalties drawn by extrapolating from the road data. This wouldn't be a big problem if Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne weren't among the players whose penalty-drawing performance isn't properly reported.

So until all 30 teams record penalties drawn, I think we're better off crediting everyone who's on the ice. To me, it's obvious that Ovechkin and Kariya are responsible for their own high totals, and it's not a big deal that their defensemen also get credit. This is the same situation as +/-, where a D like Tom Preissing has a really high number that's quite obviously due to the offensive skills of other players. We know it's not Preissing - it's Alfredsson and Heatley. Same goes for drawing penalties.


Saturday, March 24, 2007


I fixed an odd bug today: in games where the Tampa Bay Lighting were shut out, my parsing programs would find Martin St. Louis and assume - because of the 'St. Louis' - that the Blues were playing. This affected two games, but I've fixed the problem and updated the stats.

There were also a few bit players who were being assigned the stats of regular players who wore the same number as them. I fixed that, though there are still a few players (Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart, Glen Metropolit) who are wrong. I'll fix that before the playoffs start.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Ottawa Senator's PK

I was reading some discussion of the Ottawa Senators over on HFBoards ( in case you're interested.)

Here's a comment:

"Kelly/Vermette have by far the most penalty killing minutes for our forwards and yet they are considered the worst? If Heatley is our best statistical PKer why does he have the least amount of PK time?And Volchenkov is the worst statistical PKer? Phillips has over 300 minutes on the PK...yet according to the +/- ranking we should be using Schubert."

It would be wrong to infer that a good +/- on the PK by itself means that a player should be playing the PK. You have to take into account who's on the opposing PP:

Volchenkov 279 minutes, -4.30 G/60, opponent PP = +4.77
Phillips 319 minutes, -3.39 G/60, opponent PP = +4.76
Vermette 195 minutes, -3.39 G/60, opponent PP = +4.76
Kelly 215 minutes, -3.70 G/60, opponent PP = +4.76
Schubert 78 minutes, -0.77 G/60, opponent PP = +4.39
Heatley 64 minutes, +1.87 G/60, opponent PP = +4.27

There isn't much spread in opponent PP (0.21 standard deviation league-wide), so you can't compare Ottawa's top unit to Schubert and Heatley, who only get PK time in very specific circumstances - against inferior teams or against a team's 2nd or even 3rd PP unit. In fact, Heatley's opponent PP is the second-lowest in the league for anyone with 60 minutes of PK time.

So the statistics don't suggest that Heatley and Schubert should be on the ice. In fact, we don't know what would happen if Heatley played against the other team's first PP line - but we do know that he's not doing it right now, and that we shouldn't be misled by his pristine PK stats.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

PP Stats this time

More from James Mirtle: (thanks for the link, btw!) (That's really from the Globe and Mail, but the url is too long)

A commenter points out that while Ryder, Koivu, Higgins, Souray and Streit have been good on the PP, they've been absolutely completely horrendous at even strength:

Koivu: +29/-53
Ryder: +25/-47
Higgins: +23/-41
Souray: +32/-56
Streit: +23/-33

Now I know Souray is Don Cherry's favorite player, but he sure looks like a stinker on this line. These guys were mostly minuses in similar roles on a 2005-06 Canadiens team that had a better GF/GA rate. So what's the deal? Do they just not play defense? Are they dominant on the PP (22.4% success rate) just because they're behind all the time?


Monday, March 19, 2007

Who is the NHL's best penalty killer?

James Mirtle has some analysis of the Behind the Net Penalty-Kill statistics over at his blog:

Vancouver's top PK unit dominates the list, and their second PK unit is right near the top too. Of course, Vancouver also has good goaltending, and it's difficult to separate out which individual player is responsible.

[You might have also noticed that James limited his list to 140 minutes of PK time. That leaves off Martin St. Louis, with 133 minutes, and at -2, arguably the best PK stats in the NHL.]

I'm still not convinced that we can draw much of a conclusion from one year's worth of PK numbers, given how low the minutes are (<200 for forwards, <300 for defense.) I've never checked year-to-year correlation of penalty-kill, and while I imagine it's fairly high, it's unclear how much the loss of any one player would mean to the overall performance. I think that's a study for another day...


Trading Deadline: Interim On/Off-Ice +/- Numbers

Sometimes it's hard to tell how a team did at the trading deadline. Goals and Assists over 20 games can be misleading, and you never know who to give credit to when a team starts doing better as a whole.

On the other hand, sometimes you have a case like the Atlanta Thrashers, who've gone on a tear since picking up Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik, in no small part thanks to the tremendous offensive performance of those two new guys. Here's a smattering of other trade deadline performers, before and after the trade:

Tkachuk +0.71 -> +3.72
Zhitnik +2.00 (NYI), -0.19 (PHI) -> +2.92
Rivet -0.38 -> +2.81
Bergeron +0.42 -> +1.45
Smyth +1.22 -> + 1.38
Stuart -0.44 -> +0.50
Guerin +1.23 -> + 0.43
Carter +0.66 -> -0.97
Comrie +1.08 -> -1.44
Perreault +0.67 -> -1.68
Forsberg +2.42 -> -1.88
Laraque +2.05 -> -2.91

See these numbers and more at

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Welcome to the Behindthenet blog

As you can see, Behindthenet is mostly statistics these days. This wasn't intentional - I'm more of a fan of written content - but the amount of time required to collect and generate statistics made it impossible to keep everything up.

I've completely automated the statistics collection, so I now have more time to actually write about hockey. The purpose of this blog is to record anything I find interesting in the Behindthenet statistics - thus far, I've just been thinking about them rather than writing about them - and also to link to any interesting discussions out there involving Behindthenet stats.

Comments, as always, are welcome!


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