Tag Archives: 2009-2010

Carey: a postseason history

I did a shot-by-shot breakdown of Carey Price’s 2010 playoff performance and looked at his save percentage by every possible split. Working from the NHL play-by-play sheets, I was able to amass a lot of data about the shots he faced: situation, shooter, shot type, distance, and location on the ice. Below, you can see the variations in his save percentage from situation to situation.

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for awhile to focus on some personal things, but my goal for 2010-2011 is to perform this type of tracking and classification for every single shot faced by Habs goalies. There’s just one thing missing from the NHL play-by-play sheets: shot trajectory. They don’t log the path a shot takes towards the net. So, from the logs alone, I have no visibility into whether a shot is going high glove side or low stick side or five hole or whatnot. To overcome that, I’ll chart each shot and then reconcile my numbers with the NHL.com play-by-play data. A fun challenge!

Anyway, see you in the new season. Enjoy Carey’s 2010 playoff numbers for now:

Split Goals Saves Shots Save %
Even strength 6 51 57 0.895
on Power Play 1 0 1 0.000
Short Handed 1 14 15 0.933
vs. Defencemen 0 15 15 1.000
vs. Forwards 8 50 58 0.862
Shooter’s S%: <10%* 1 19 20 0.950
Shooter’s S%: 10% – 14%* 6 21 27 0.778
Shooter’s S%: >14%* 1 25 26 0.962
Backhand 1 5 6 0.833
Slap 0 14 14 1.000
Snap 1 8 9 0.889
Wrist 6 35 41 0.854
Other type 0 3 3 1.000
1 – 15 ft away 4 14 18 0.778
16 – 30 ft away 3 17 20 0.850
31 – 45 ft away 1 15 16 0.938
46 ft + away 0 19 19 1.000
from Slot 5 24 29 0.828
from Carey’s LEFT 1 21 22 0.955
from Carey’s RIGHT 2 18 20 0.900
Neutral zone 0 2 2 1.000
* note that these are regular season figures
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Habs Coaches: second year blues

Quick Sunday post this evening.

A few weeks ago, I detailed how the Montreal Canadiens’ stunning playoff run deodorized what was an historically lackluster first regular season for coach Jacques Martin. Well, if history is anything to go by, regular season #2 could be even tougher for Martin.

Since the beginning of Toe Blake’s tenure, there has been an uncanny tendency for Habs teams to regress during a coach’s second full regular season leading the squad. Since 1955-1956, 9 coaches have started their Habs coaching tenure with at least two full regular seasons. Looking at their teams’ year-over-year performances in terms of three distinct metrics–changes in regulation winning %, team goals versus NHL average (GVA), and team goals allowed versus NHL average (GAVA)–it becomes readily apparent that success behind the Habs bench during a coach’s second regular season has been significantly harder to come by.

Red denotes a year over year decline in the relevant metric, and there’s a lot of red on that table. Indeed, only Scotty Bowman and Guy Carbonneau posted better numbers across the board in their second regular seasons as Habs bench bosses. That’s the bad news. The good news is that two coaches (Blake and Bowman) won Stanley Cups in their second seasons, while 3 more made it as least as far as the second round.

Blake: From 1st to 2nd in 6-team league (won Cup)
Ruel: From 1st in the East to 5th in the East (no playoffs)
Bowman: From 3rd in East to 1st in East (won Cup)
Berry: From 1st in the Adams to 2nd in the Adams (swept in Round 1)
Perron: Held steady at 2nd in the Adams (lost in Conference Finals)
Burns: From 1st in the Adams to 3rd in the Adams (eliminated in Round 2)
Demers: Held steady at 3rd in division (bounced in Round 1)
Vigneault: From 4th in Northeast to 5th in Northeast (no playoffs)
Carbonneau: From 4th in Northeast to 1st in Northeast (fell in Round 2)

So where will Martin fit into all this? Hopefully more like Carbo than Vigneault or more like Bowman than Berry.

Habs’ Playoff Goaltending Performances: redux

A few weeks back, I prepared a post that compared Jaroslav Halak’s 2010 playoff series performances against those turned in by other Montreal Canadiens goalies, going back to Key Dryden’s rookie season. While I was happy with the piece I did, I had a lingering sense of doubt after it went out. Something was missing; the analysis was too simplistic, too cursory.

Later it came to me: in ranking Canadiens’ playoff goaltending performances solely on the basis of nominal save percentage, I was leaving at least three important factors out (there is a fourth factor, shot caliber, but there just simply isn’t enough data available prior to 2005-2006 to tackle this one). So, I went back and ranked each playoff series performance according to these three factors, and then created a weighted average of the three to arrive at the final performance metric. (Before I did this, I set the qualifying criterion at a minimum of 4 starts in a given series. That means that Steve Penney’s marvelous little 3-game run against Boston in 1984 is excluded from consideration.)

Here are the three factors, along with their respective weights:

1) Shot intensity (weight = 25%): Human fatigue plays a critical role during any 60-minute sporting event. A goalie that faces 18 shots and makes 17 saves gets credited with a save percentage of .944. A goalie that faces 38 shots and makes 36 saves get credited with roughly the same figure. But being able to maintain that save percentage over those 20 additional shots should count in that latter goalie’s favor. To put it in economic terms, the buildup of fatigue assigns an increasing marginal cost to each extra shot faced by the goalie, so—all else being equal—shots 34 through 38 should be tougher to stop than shots 7 through 11. Of course, there is the concept of the athlete who “gets stronger as the game wears on,” but I have to make the assumption that those athletes are special cases.

2) Opponent’s regular season goal differential (weight = 25%): On balance, the average shot coming off the blade of an elite sniper is more difficult to stop than the average shot coming off the blade of a 4th-line grinder. You can label that the God-given talent factor. Unfortunately, detailed shot-by-shot data doesn’t exist for most of the time period I covered. So, by way of proxy, I looked at the opposing team’s goals-above-league-average (expressed as a % of the league average) for that given NHL regular season. For example, in 2010, the Washington Capitals scored 318 regular season goals, while the NHL average was 233; so, their regular season goal differential (expressed as a percentage of the NHL average) would be 36%.

3) Series save percentage versus league average (weight = 50%): Call this my attempt to account for inflation. Improvements in goaltending equipment and goaltender technique, along with a series of other factors, have combined to push the average NHL save percentage up almost uninterruptedly since the league began tracking the metric officially back in the early 1980s. Put differently, posting a .910 save percentage back in 1984-1985 was quite a big deal, whereas it would have been fairly commonplace in 2009-2010. So, I calculated the delta between a given goalie’s series save percentage and the NHL average for the playoff year (the aggregated data comes courtesy of QuantHockey.com).

And here’s how the re-crunched data comes out:

montreal canadiens playoff goalies

In the end, Jaroslav Halak’s 2009-2010 performance against Washington comes out as the single best playoff series performance by a Montreal Canadiens goalie since 1983-1984. It’s a pity that I can’t push this back into the Dryden era, but I do feel better about this analysis than I did about the first iteration. While my method might not be perfect (having no way to measure shot quality across the years is quite unfortunate), I think you will find it to be far more rigorous than my first go round.

When does 24 wins make a great NHL season?

The answer: when we’re talking about the 2009-2010 Montreal Canadiens.

Last season’s Habs team won only 24 games in regulation. 8 more wins came in overtime, with another 7 coming in shoot-outs. The 24 regulation wins represents a regulation winning percentage of 29%. Put differently, if you were watching a Montreal Canadiens regular season game, you had less than a 30% chance of seeing the Habs seal up the victory within 60 minutes.

Of the 88 points accumulated by the Canadiens in regular season last year, only 48 were earned in regulation. That’s only 55%. Close to 1 in 2 points earned by the 2009-2010 Canadiens were earned after the 60-minute siren sounded.

Even more interesting is the fact that the 29% regular season regulation winning percentage marks the lowest mark for any Montreal Canadiens team since the NHL introduced regular season overtime in the 1983-1984 season. Yes, that’s right: last year’s Montreal Canadiens team had a lower propensity of winning a game in regulation than the miserable 2000-2001 outfit.

Habs Regulation Winning Percentage

Much like 1983-1984, the 2009-2010 season will be remembered for a gloriously unlikely playoff run. That playoff run certainly deodorized a regular season where regulation victories were painfully hard to come by.