Preparing and organizing game footage is one of my main responsibilities working for the McGill Martlet hockey team, and has become something that I enjoy quite a bit over the course of the past two seasons. Having played for coaches who use video analysis to various degrees in both hockey and tennis growing up, I think seeing one’s self play sports on video is the best way to correct deficiencies and identify areas for growth.
Fandom means a lot of different things to different people. But one thing unites us all: we hope our favorite team will win, and spend a great deal of time thinking how they can.
For those of us who dig a little deeper on the “how” side and use analytics, we hope that our work will eventually make its way to a front office. In some ways, it already has: numerous “hockey bloggers” hirings have been made recently.
But how many and for which teams?
With some research, I’ve culled a working document on all analytics hires for NHL teams and how they may be using analytics. The following descriptions comes from a variety of sources including Craig Custance’s Great Analytics Rankings [Paywall], fellow bloggers from across the internet, media reports, word of mouth and anonymous insiders.
It should be noted that just because a team has made an “analytics hiring”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they value their input or use the analysis provided properly. In fact, hires can be made simply for PR reasons, and some teams may even give analytics tasks as secondary duties to staff members who do not posses any formal background in the subject. Teams may also have hired private firms providing proprietary data, which in reality may not provide any tangible, verifiable value than what is free and readily available online.
Garret and Rhys return this week to break down the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and some other fun stuff.
Join us after the jump (or on iTunes!).
With the season upon us, and multiple stat sites now hosting team and player fancystats, it is pretty tempting for a hockey fan (well, one who’s into fancystats) to try and check how his team is doing in possession in close situations – in other words, in Fenwick Close (alternatively, score adjusted fenwick). The problem with this, of course, is that the sample sizes are currently so small as to make the #s pretty meaningless – some teams have played as few as 3 games, so you can’t make any judgments based upon these numbers on their own.
But, as I mentioned on twitter, we can still try and take these numbers and make something out of them, using our prior knowledge of the NHL to make judgments. For example, I can look at current fenwick close #s and pretty confidently state “Buffalo is going to be a terrible terrible team” at this point, despite the sample size, given our prior knowledge of what the Sabres are. In other words, we can incorporate current fenwick close #s into a Bayesian Analysis.
Finishing last season with an average of 87.6 points per team, the Atlantic/Flortheast Division was the worst in the NHL. I see that gap widening, not narrowing, in 2014-15.
The battle at the top of the division will, in my eyes, come down to two teams: the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins have placed either first or second in their division (the Atlantic or the former Northeast) in each of the past four seasons. The 2nd place Lightning finished a full 16 points behind the Bruins in 2013-14, but a strong off-season combined with a full season of Steven Stamkos and rookie Jonathan Drouin potentially making an impact has them near even money with the Bruins.
Photo by “Resolute”, via Wikimedia Commons
One of the more remarkable and underreported stories of this season has been Tampa Bay’s continued competitiveness despite the loss of the NHL’s most dangerous sniper. You could hear the wind whoosh out of Lightning fans’ sails when Stamkos went down in November, and for good reason. Martin St. Louis’s Art Ross Trophy aside, Stamkos was the driving force behind the Tampa Bay attack.
Yet, at the time of this post, the Lightning are 3rd in the Eastern Conference, and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. What changed when Stamkos went down? How has Tampa Bay managed to continue competing at such a high level? The short answer: they transformed from a star-driven team to a top-to-bottom threat. It was extraordinary, it was a model of what good management can accomplish, and it can be a lesson to teams in the future.
After the jump, I’ll break down how it happened.