Practical Concerns: Ovechkin, Boyes And The Perfect Shootout Move

Why is Alex Ovechkin so bad in the shootout?

Why is Brad Boyes so good in the shootout?

Is there such as thing as the perfect shootout move? (the answer could be yes, so read on)

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A while ago, Steve Ness took the time to watch every single NHL shootout attempt between 2012 and 2015, and came to some interesting findings.

By Ness’ count, 32% of shootout attempts are converted, which is interesting if we look at the following two screencaps:

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Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of hockey. The Russian skates faster, shoots harder and has better stickhandling abilities than Boyes, so what gives?

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Using Cluster Analysis To Identify Player Position

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What did you think the first time you watched hockey? Did you know the difference between a forward and a defensive skater? Could you tell the difference just by watching? It’s likely that some outside factor (a friend, the play by play announcer, a graphic on the broadcast) alerted you to the fact that NHL teams use more than one type of skater.

But, say that outside variable never intervened, and you were left to your own devices. How long would it take for you to develop the idea of “forwards” and “defensive skaters”? Would you come up with your own classifications? Would you differentiate them at all?

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Practical Concerns: Garret Sparks, Emotions & My New Favorite Hockey Movie

Garret Sparks of the Toronto Maple Leafs made history in his NHL debut after being drafted in the 7th round and working his way up from the ECHL. By all accounts, he did it on merit by maintaining a .924sv% since turning pro, including playing for .940 in the past two years in the minors.

He’s earned his big break, but in a way he is lucky to be playing for an organization which values performance and statistical trends as much as the Leafs. I’m not sure his story would have unfolded quite this way had he been born a couple of years earlier, or had he belonged to team which only tries out a young goalie if he’s over 6’5″. But we’ll get back to that.

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Rebounds, Extended Zone Time, and the Quest For More Offense

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Long has it been argued that sustained zone time is a reliable way to not only prevent your opponents from scoring but as a way to produce offense of your own. The argument that is often made, or at least the one that’s often heard, is that the longer you are in the offensive zone the more likely it is that the defense will become fatigued and make a mistake that leaves someone open for a prime scoring opportunity. 

So let’s test that theory by asking a more data driven question; does sustained zone time lead to an increase in shooting percentage?

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