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Eliminating Bias; How Often Do Our Scorers Score?

Created 2 years 58 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

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by Michael DeNicola


Friday, October 16th, 2015 --



For starters, I want to say that the majority of this data isn’t telling us something that we don’t already know for certain—our secondary scoring is weak. But my main mission here was to eliminate or prove a certain bias that a number of the Flyers’ key forwards, who are considered our main points-getters, are consistent scorers or players who score their points in bunches.


I did this by listing out these forwards: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Michael Raffl, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Matt Read, and Wayne Simmonds. And to eliminate any outside influence, this data has been pulled from each player’s career as a Philadelphia Flyer; any prior team affiliation has not been factored.


I took the total quantity of regular season games they’ve played as a Flyer and separated the quantity of games they’ve scored one point or more. I did the same for Playoff games as well. Then once these totals were separated, I added the percentage of 1+ point games versus the total number of games they’ve played. 


And lastly, just to provide context for your own interpretation, I added the Player's offensive-zone start percentage (the percentage of shifts the Player starts in his own zone, regular season & Playoffs combined). 


Here is that data. 



PLAYER   # REG SEAS GMS   # GMS w >/= 1PT      %     # PLAYOFF GMS    # GMS w >/= 1PT         %   OZST% 
Giroux   500  293  58.6  57  35  61.4   51.8
Voracek   294  162  55.1  18  11  61.11   57.2
Raffl   139  43  30.94   7  1  14.29  56.3
B.Schenn   269  108  40.15  18  9  50.0  55.7
Couturier   291  102  35.05  18  1  5.56  39.5
Read   280  105  37.5  18  7  38.89  45.1
Simmonds   288  141  48.96  18  7  38.89  55.20

Regular Season, Mean% : 43.76

Playoffs, Mean% : 38.59


[Hockey-Reference.com]



These aren't "fancy stats". This shouldn't turn away even the most skeptic of skeptics in terms of analytics because there's nothing real analytical about this. This data is farmed from the most tangible of statistics: Games Played, and Points Scored. There's no arguing any of those. 


But at the end of the day, what does this mean? 


Take Claude Giroux for example. As of today, out of the 500 NHL regular season games Claude has played in, he has scored at least one point in 58.6% of them. Out of the 57 NHL Playoff games Claude has played in, he has scored at least one point in 61.4% of them. 


To put that in perspective, let's compare these figures to another active NHLer, Sidney Crosby. 


As of today, out of the 631 NHL regular season games Sidney has played in, he has scored at least one point in 72.6% of them. Out of the 100 NHL Playoff games Sidney has played in, he has scored at least one point in 64% of them. 


So, when the Flyers take the ice versus the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, October 20th, based on the scope of his career, there's a 58.6% chance Claude Giroux skates away with at least one point (a goal, or an assist). 


Today, the NHL regular season average is roughly 40%, and the Hockey Hall of Fame threshold is said to be 60%, or so I'm told by a friend of mine with deep NHL connections. 



Getting back to the data table... outside of Giroux, Voracek and Simmonds, our scoring depth is average from a consistency field. Actually, if we isolate Couturier, Read, Schenn and Raffl, the combined percentage (35.91) is less than average. Obviously Read and Couturier's figures lower that average significantly, but I refuse to omit them from the formula because we depend on them to manufacture production, even if it means doing so from heavily defensive situations or dragging anchors as linemates. 


I have beaten on Brayden Schenn for awhile; probably dating back to his sophomore campaign in the Orange & Black. If you look at his totals on paper, Schenn has almost had back-to-back 20 goal seasons for the Flyers. He's averaged 0.50 points per game in his career, which isn't terrible for a young kid who's been tossed up and down the lineup, and switched in and out of every forward position you can think of. He's got 16 game-winning goals in the regular season, and 13 of them have come in the past three years... one already THIS season. 


Not too shabby, right?


My biggest criticism with Brayden Schenn has been his scoring; it comes in bunches, and often times (this season not included) his Octobers have started slow and unproductive. 


Sure, he's scoring in 40% of the games he plays in. That's the NHL average, so what's wrong with that? Well, probably the fact that our offense is dependent on a guy like Brayden Schenn to provide secondary scoring consistently throughout the playing season. That number has got to be better than average. 


However, and even though it's not a terribly large sampling, Schenn's percentage between the regular season and the Playoffs grows by 10%... which is the largest difference of any our players from the skilled forward group. 


This season has started well for Brayden. And if he can shut critics up (like me), and really build on his production's frequency, that'd be stupendous. He'd begin inching closer and closer to achieving the expectation scouts had when he was coming into the NHL. 



Data may also be misleading. Take Wayne Simmonds for example...


Now, I'm not bashing the Wayne Train. He's great, and between what he's brought on the scoresheet versus his annual cap hit, he's arguably the one player who has the most value. 


As a member of the Flyers, Simmonds has tallied 100 goals and 193 points in 288 regular season games. And Simmonds has scored one or more of those 193 points in 48.96% of the 288 games. That's damn fine. Especially when you compare it to his figures in Los Angeles: 240 GP, 39 G, 93 Points, and scored a point or more in 32.08% of those games as a King. 


That difference is legendary. 


Here comes the "but".... BUT, of those 193 points as a Flyer, 42% of them came on the man-advantage. 


You saw this coming, I know. 


Look, points are points. And Simmonds gets us points, obviously. So maybe I am just nitpicking and getting TOO granular. Though, as a whole team, I think we all can agree that we'd like to see more scoring at even-strength in more and more games. That's all I'll say about that. 



People can twist data any way they like. It's up to the reader to consume and interpret this data. Everyone's interpretations are different. But I was really trying to eliminate as much doubt as I could. 


We have skilled players, but not many scorers. We're average at putting pucks to the back of the net, and it has been that way for several seasons. For a team that's virtually maxed out on the salary cap, that's unacceptable. But like I mentioned at the beginning, none of this information sheds light on some sudden revelation. 


Although sometimes just having the raw data in front of your face confirms what you've suspected all along. 



None of this data provides much context such as our struggle on the blueline, strength of schedule, injuries impacting chemistry, time spent defending possession in our own zone, time devoted to killing penalties, or anything else of substance that exists outside the walls of a calculator. Not one player on that list is defined by his percentage, or any figure on that table. One coach, one system, even one player-change could alter the course of that table in an instant. 


The question becomes, how can Hextall alter those numbers, and send them trending in the right direction?


Or maybe... has it already begun?




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