Two: Where to Find NHL Stats, A Novice's Guide

Two: Where to Find NHL Stats, A Novice's Guide

Oilers

Two: Where to Find NHL Stats, A Novice's Guide

Hockey Analysis

Perhaps the best all-round advanced stats website in the absence of extraskater is Hockey Analysis. Run by David Johnson, this site is perhaps best known for its WOWY (with or without you) pages, but it offers a lot more.

There are three basic sections to the site, I use all for various purposes. Let’s go through them:

Team Stats

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Here you can order all 30 NHL teams according to a variety of measures. At even strength, most visitors are going to be interested in basic items like CorsiFor Percentage (which I’ve highlighted), GoalsFor Percentage, etc. But, they also break these items down into raw data (such as total CorsiFor and Against events; CorsiFor and Against per 60; etc.).

These supplementary options can be very insightful. For example, looking solely at New Jersey’s possession percentage (3rd in CorsiFor %) gives one the impression of a very good team (they consistently out shot attempted their opponents). However, when you look at their CorsiFor per 60 rate, they are 27th in the league. That is, while they are incredibly good at suppressing shots, they are almost as bad at generating them.

On the team page you can also check in on other situational play (power play and penalty kill). One thing I like to look at is the shooting % and save % of at special teams alongside the raw shot generation numbers (As I’ve written about before, power play and penalty kill performance can be heavily luck dependent).

Player Stats

Filterable by league, team, position, etc. this page offers a wealth of information, but I want to draw your attention to a few specific things.

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First, be sure to set a minutes played threshold like always. Second, the default here is set to points per 60 (this is the same stat that we saw with BTN). Third, this page offers a handy stat not found elsewhere, IPP (I’ve talked at length about IPP before).

Beyond this, visitors can take advantage of the more advanced stats pages offered under the Player Stats heading. The “report” toggle lets you switch between a variety of on-ice data sets (goals, shots, corsi and fenwick). These pages are broken down into myriad kinds of information, each with its own use. I suspect most users will likely focus on straightforward information like CorsiFor %, or the handy CorsiFor and Against per 20 listings.

Players

Mostly, however, I use Hockey Analysis for WOWY stats. With or Without You (WOWY) stats show a player’s CorsiFor percentage with and without every player he’s played with. In essence, WOWY stats are used to qualify a player’s stats for teammate effects, i.e., they are used to answer the question: who, if anyone, is doing the heavy lifting?

For example, if a player has a strong CF%, but his WOWY stats show that when away from a particular player, his CF% drops significantly, we can make some reasonable assumptions about that player’s contribution to the shot metrics.

To get these, go to the “Players” and find a player you are interested in. Here’s Taylor Hall’s page:

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What you are mostly going to want are the straight “5×5” numbers. The site allows you to choose a variety of year combinations. For the most part you are going to want to check the most current season’s numbers and/or a few seasons in succession. Let’s have a look at Hall’s WOWYs for 13-14:

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This chart looks daunting, but once you know what to look for it’s actually fairly easy to navigate. In most cases, you are going to ignore the vast majority of the information on this page and concentrate on the 4 rectangles of information.

The red rectangle (#1) is simply Hall’s #fancystats numbers for the season. This is the base line you can use to evaluate his WOWY stats. It is the sum of all of Hall’s even strength play with every linemate he played with.

The second rectangle (#2, blue), shows Hall’s CorsiFor percentage WITH a series of players ordered by time on ice.

The third rectangle (#3, blue), shows Hall’s CorsiFor percentage WITHOUT that same series of players (again, ordered by time on ice).

The final rectangle (#4, blue), shows Hall’s teammate’s CorsiFor percentage WITHOUT Hall (by time on ice).

In general these four sets of data are all you need to juxtapose a player’s Corsi numbers against his teammates.

Time On Ice/Nice Time On Ice

One of the longstanding, yet little known and used, #fancystat resources is the demonstrably user-unfriendly timeonice.com. The homepage looks like this:

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That’s it. There’s basically no interface, or general entry point to its various services. For all its problems, however, is remains an invaluable resource if you (especially in absence of extraskater) need some #fancystats and are willing to work through its intricacies. It was developed by Vic Ferrari, recently profiled by Elliotte Friedman, of the great stats blog Irreverent Oiler Fans.

Primers on how to use it are available here, here and here.

The site runs on the unique “game numbers” the NHL assigns each game (as is prompted by the box above). To find these game numbers simply go to the NHL’s website and find the “recap” of the game you want to check out. For our purposes, I’m going to use the last Oilers’ game of the 12-13 season vs. the Canucks. Here’s the recap page:

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The “game number” is the last 5 digit in the webpage address (in the red rectangle above). Next simply insert that game number into Time On Ice’s forms.

Or, even better, use this helpful service provided by the website nicetimeonice.com. This website creates links to game stats at Time On Ice in a far more user-friendly manner. Here’s how we get to the same game:

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Once you’ve selected the game you are after, the site creates links for you to the relevant Time On Ice pages in the bottom left of the screen, like so:

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You can follow these links to a variety of information the game in question.

While there’s a lot you can do with this website, there are only three that I’ve used (after some struggle) with any real consistency.

Head to Head Matchups

Using the same Nice Time On Ice method as above, let’s look at the head to head matchups from the Oilers’ last game of 12-13:

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There are four of these charts. They breakdown the TOI by each player on both teams both with his own teammates and against the opposition. This kind of information is helpful to illustrate coaching strategies like matchups and time-based usage (more on this later when we get to shift charts).

Fenwick/Corsi Reports

Like with extraskater, Time On Ice breaks down the shot metrics on an individual game basis. Here’s the report for the game in question:

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This chart is self-explanatory and charts of its kind are useful for single game analysis.

Zone Start Reports

These are charts for where players were deployed on the ice (offensive zone, neutral zone, defensive zone) for a faceoff in an individual game. They give you an idea of how a coach is using his players (are they getting an offensive push, or being burdened with having to get out of their own end?). Here’s the chart for the game in question:

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Shift Charts

While you can access shift chart reports from Time On Ice, a new site shiftchart.com, run by @ShiftChart, has created a much more user-friendly website (though it can look like a labyrinth of color blotches!).

In a nutshell, shift charts show you how two coaches are matching up their rosters against one another. It a visual guide to the in-game meddling coaches do to try and maximize their chances of winning by exploiting certain matchups.

Like a lot of the sites we’ve looked at, the visual on first blush can be overwhelming. And, the site is highly interactive with a lot of nooks of information. For our purposes, we’ll just walk through the basics of how it works. Here’s the shift chart for the Oilers’ last game of the 13-14 season:

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Now, we’re going to focus on a couple of things: color (blue = Oilers in this case; clear = Canucks) and blocks of players grouped vertically. A box next your name indicates when you start and end a shift. And, for the most part you can see that players come on the ice in groups (their regular linemates). Moreover, looking across the whole game, you can see that not only do those lines hold (more or less) throughout the game, but their opposition does too.

For example, as you can see Eakins started the game with the line centered by Anton Lander (with Perron and Smyth on the wings) and Tortorella matched this line with the Kesler lines (with Zalewski and Burrows on the wings). When these lines went off, Eakins sent out the Nugent-Hopkins line (with Hall and Eberle on the wings) and Tortorella matched with the Sedin line (with Jensen and Sedin on the wings). This pattern holds, for the most part, throughout the game.

Left Wing Lock

Left wing lock is a website largely catering to the fantasy hockey crowd. They have some interesting articles and post updates on rosters etc. For the most part, I only visit this site for one feature, their line combination information. While this isn’t information unavailable elsewhere, Left Wing Lock presents line combo information in an easy to read, user-friendly manner.

Here’s the Oilers displayed by their most common linesmates for the 13-14 season:

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There’s really not much to it. You simply select for team, on-ice situation and set a threshold for number of games. This site gives you a good snapshot of how consistent certain line combination were used.

[Final page: miscellany and wrap up]

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