How much does size impact faceoff ability in the NHL?

Jonathan Willis
May 15 2012 08:59AM


(NHLNumbers will occasionally publish some of our authors' archived material. This article was originally posted on December 24, 2010)

A question that has come up a few times is whether big players tend to have an advantage when taking faceoffs. There is a certain logic to the idea that they do: after all, bigger, stronger players should be able to out-muscle their smaller counterparts in the faceoff circle.

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Kings - Coyotes Game 1 Scoring Chances

Corey S.
May 14 2012 05:11PM

Can anyone stop Dustin Brown?
Photo by Nichole Glaze, via Wikimedia Commons

With the scoring chance project growing in popularity this season, it is only appropriate that we carry this analysis into the playoffs. I, along with a few other bloggers, have been tracking chances for various playoff games this post-season. However, the Western Conference Finals series between the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes will be the debut of the scoring chance project on NHLNumbers.

For those who are not familiar with this system, a scoring chance is an unblocked shot directed at the net from what is defined as a "dangerous scoring area," which is represented by this diagram. Scoring chances are tracked because they give us a better idea of who is creating and preventing the most opportunities for their team than shots alone can. Stats like corsi (aka. even strength shot attempts) give us an idea of which players are controlling possession, but scoring chances give us a better idea of who is creating more offense for their team.

This entire project was made possible by Vic Ferrari and his fantastic Time On Ice site that let's anyone log scoring chances for any game.

As for this game, most people who watched it will tell you that the Kings dominated about 80% of the contest en route to a 4-2 victory and the underlying numbers don't disagree. LA was blowing away Phoenix shot-wise and outchanced (+7) at even strength and (+8) overall.

The real story is how dominant Los Angeles' top line was. They looked as good as any unit in the playoffs this year and are going to be huge trouble for Phoenix if they keep it up.

A closer look at this game is coming after the jump.

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The Secret To The Kings Turnaround

Derek Zona
May 14 2012 11:48AM

Quality.  Photo by Buchanan-Hermit via Wikimedia Commons

Author's Note: Though the tagline has my name only, this story was made possible by conversations with and the work of Eric T.

In January of this year, I received the following e-mail from noted Kings' writer Rudy Kelly:

Subj: Penner

My Dearest Derek,

What the f*(k.


Rudy Kelly

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Who Were The Best Shot Blockers In The NHL In 2011-12?

Derek Zona
May 13 2012 02:51PM

 Photo by Saruwine, via Wikimedia Commons , commons license.

If blocked shots are your thing, and going by the number of readers and analysts who use them to judge defensemen, there are a ton, you're probably used to hearing how essential shot-blocking is to sucessful NHL teams. You've also probably looked at shot block totals, or listened to an analyst discuss shot block totals and laud the players with the most blocks. The danger of using raw blocked shot totals as a measurement of effectiveness is that the players who see the most icetime and/or allow the most shot opportunities are natually going to block the most shots. 

Noted tactics writer Dawgbone has written about what happens when blockers get in the way, and the results haven't always been pretty. Sunny Mehta showed a small team skill in shot blocking and Desjardins showed an even smaller individual skill in the same. While shot blocking is a skill, or an art, for a very small segment of the NHL player population, talking heads espouse it as yet another magical part of the game, dictated by hard work and grit. In reality, a large quantity of blocked shots simply means the team, or player, is being dominated and forced to spend their time in their own end blocking rubber rather than possessing the puck and forcing the other team to block shots.

Earlier this season, I was in the midst of a discussion with the incomparable George Ays who turned me on to the idea of re-measuring shot blocking with context.  Ays re-created a formula used by Desjardins (we think) to determine which players were blocking the most shots, and which players were giving up a bunch of shots and blocking some.

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Alexander Ovechkin, lies, damned lies, and statistics

Jonathan Willis
May 13 2012 12:04PM

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation license

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation license

There was a relationship that came up a few times during Washington’s post-season run, ended in (yet another) one-goal game last night against New York. When Alexander Ovechkin played more than 20:00 in a game, the Capitals were 1-and-5; when Ovechkin played less than 20:00 per game, the Capitals were 6-and-2.

Is that useful information?

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