There’s No Secret to Protecting a Lead

I was born into a family of Islander fans, so I never had a chance to avoid the sadness that comes with that fandom. While Islander fans are sad for a lot of reasons, one constant complaint over the past several years has been their inability to protect a lead.

However, this is not a unique complaint of Islander fans alone. Fans of other teams have similar gripes. For example, the Leafs have been criticized this season on the same grounds. And here’s fellow Hockey Graphs write Asmae when I suggested doing some research on blown leads:

image-0-asmae

So, are some teams particularly bad at holding leads? Asked another way, is keeping a lead a skill distinct from the rest of the team’s performance, or is it just a function of the team’s overall skill and luck?

Continue reading

Applying CUSUM to hockey prediction models

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The NHL season is a long and grueling affair and most teams will experience some ups and downs over the course of 82 games. Even a team that had a 67% chance of winning every game it played, would still have a 20% probability of putting up a five-game losing streak. And this is just straight probability theory with fixed probabilities. What happens when you consider all of the factors that go into determining the probability of winning an individual game, let alone predicting performance over an entire season?

Well, I’m not here to answer that question.

What I am here to do is to try to apply an analytical technique that was developed in the 1950s for the purposes of quality control in industrial and manufacturing processes to the game of hockey. Continue reading

25 Games In, What Does the Corsi Say?

Happy Max Corsi Productivity Day! We’ve reached the point in the season where Corsi best predicts future winning percentage. There’s plenty of more advanced ways to better predict how the rest of the season will go, but Corsi offers a simple baseline in a way that helps explain why it is so important.  I’ll first explain what that means and why it matters, then take a look at how we can use it to predict basic shifts in the standings for the rest of the NHL season.

Continue reading

How does performance as of Dec. 1 relate to making the playoffs?

Embed from Getty Images

Every year right around December 1, NHL analysts and fans alike start thinking a little more seriously about playoff chances. Although in many ways this is an arbitrary point in time, particularly when linking it to US Thanksgiving, there’s also some logic to it as well.

By the end of November, we are two months in and most teams have played 20-25 games, or a quarter of the season. And from an analytics perspective, that’s about the point when you can start making use of most of the early season data.

So while most of the traditional playoff discussion at this time of the year tends to focus on points or even where teams are in the standings, let’s take a look at how early-season shot-based metrics relate to whether a team ultimately makes the playoffs.

Continue reading

2015 Hockey Graphs Standings Predictions

As a loyal reader of Hockey Graphs you may be aware that today marks the start of the 2015-16 NHL season. This is an uncertain time in many hockey fans’ lives, and you probably have questions: Will my favourite team make the playoffs? Who is going to win the Stanley Cup? Are the Leafs really going to be that bad again?

As standings-list-compiler-in-chief of Hockey Graphs (we almost went with Listicleditor in Chief but thought it was too wordy), my job is to answer those questions for you. I have made the process of knowing who is going to make the playoffs, win their division, and play for the cup easy! So easy in fact, that even a Habs fan could get it (the process, not the Cup, they’re definitely not going to win the Cup). Simply consult the sharply presented table below and you (probably) won’t even need to watch the games! Isn’t that simpler and more fulfilling?

Continue reading