Calder Cup 2014 Round 2 Possession Preview

Josh W
May 06 2014 09:10AM

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Anyone who has ever heard anything about hockey analytics has probably heard of Fenwick and Corsi, these two numbers represent puck possession, or how often a team has the puck in the offensive zone.  Having the puck more means you have more chances to score, less chances to be scored against and has a high correlation with winning in the long term.

Now that the first round of the Calder Cup is over and the series have been set up for the second round we can use puck possession to analyze the match ups and try and guess who has a better chance of winning.

If you saw my first post I went over all 8 different series in the first round of the Calder Cup looking at the PDO, puck possession and recent puck possession for the teams. You can read that for more detail on the method of calculating possession, but the basic idea is that shots for % in the first two periods highly correlates to a team's fenwick close. 

What is tricky is that the first round of the Calder Cup is a best of 5 (not seven) and in short samples random chance plays a large role. Meaning PDO kills in these short series. So let's look at the upcoming matches and how the teams did in the first round.

Eastern Conference

St. John's v. Norfolk

StJohnsVNorfolk

St. John's faced Albany in the first round and these two teams were amongst the league leaders in possession. I leaned towards Albany but like I said, PDO kills. In the first round the IceCaps controlled 47.48% of possession with a 101.98% PDO (due to a 6.8% Sh% but a 95.16% Sv%) and won 3-1.

Norfolk has been at the bottom of the league for the year and in a similar match up as the IceCaps they controlled 47.06% of possession against Manchester with a 101% PDO (6.3% Sh% but a 94.7% Sv%).

Looking forwards on this next match up the winner will the one with the better percentages. That being said,  the IceCaps have much better talent in terms of possession and on the year average are a 51.44% vs Norfolk's 47.32%. I would lean towards St. John's in this match up.

Providence v. W-B/Scranton

wbscrantonVprovidence

Providence faced Springfield in the first round and while I had said the possession numbers were fairly close I did lean towards Springfield. The series ultimately went to five games even with Providence controlling 56.6% of possession during that series. The PDO was fairly even at 100.6% in favour of Providence.

Binghamton and W-B/Scranton were another fairly close series but I had leaned towards the Penguins. This series ended up going 4 games for the Baby Pens while they were controlling 57.25% of the series with a 103% PDO. You cannot win a series with a .883 Sv%. 

Over the season Providence controlled 51.78% of possession with W-B/Scranton controlling 49.65%. This number would have been better had they not cratered 2/3rd into the season with their call ups to Pittsburgh.  With the more recent gap in possession between the two teams I would lean on Providence taking the series.

Western Conference

Texas v. Grand Rapids

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Texas was one the leaders of possession in the AHL all year. They were so strong that I was confident they would be able to beat Oklahoma in round. They were victorious over OKC in three games but the numbers were much closer than expected. Texas had a 51.18% possession on the year. 

Grand Rapids was another team at the top of the league so we will be seeing two strong possession teams face each other here in the second round - this is the 'LA v. San Jose' matchup of the AHL. I was in favour of Grand Rapids winning their series and they dominated it controlling 58.7% of possession in four games with a 103% PDO (that sure doesn't hurt) over Abbotsford. 

Texas is now sitting at 56.6% average on the year while Grand Rapids is at 53.2%. Their recent possession has regressed towards each other so this match up is likely to be close. I would pick Texas to walk away from this series, though it is a bit of a coin flip.

Chicago v. Toronto

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In the first round Chicago went head-to-head against Rochester and it was a weird series. I had bet on Chicago in this round given their strong possession numbers and Rochester's weak ones. The match-up nevertheless went the distance and it was one of those rare series where the winner didn't have the better percentages.  Chicago managed to control 51.8% of possession but only had 98.5% PDO due to a low Sv% at .887. They prevailed because it was a series determined by power plays with a final goal differential of 16 to 15.

Toronto and Milwaukee was going to be a close series but I had leaded towards the Marlies winning. They managed to sweep Milwaukee in 3 games but were outplayed at even strength, only controlling 46.0% of the possession. They managed to win by having an astronomically high PDO of 109.6% due to a league leading 14.13% sh%. Thats some shot quality right there (but also a lot of luck no doubt).

As the two teams prepare to face each other, Chicago is now sitting at a year average of 52.64% possession rate while Toronto is down to 48.41%.  I would bet on Chicago but they have been closer in more recent games.  

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I am a Van Fan in Bytown. Living in Ottawa for work, I research Sports Analytics and Machine Learning at the University of Ottawa. I play hockey as well as a timbit but I compete in rowing with hopes of 2016 Olympic Gold. Follow me on twitter at @joshweissbock and feel free to send any questions or comments my way.
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