Weekly Statistical Update

Robert Vollman
September 06 2011 08:25AM

 

 

Every Monday throughout this season we'll be providing a summary of how the Flames are doing using advanced statistical analysis. In a single page we'll supplement your subjective observations and the traditional box score statistics (“box cars”) with the raw numbers, and some interpretive analysis.

Using all the tools of modern statistic hockey analysis, and an eye so cold and objective that it makes Jonathan Toews look like Ed Whalen, we'll explore how every Flame is performing on a weekly basis. 

For those of you not fully familiar with such metrics as offensive zone starts, Quality of Competition, Corsi, Fenwick, scoring chance data, Quality Starts and so on – don't worry.  In the coming weeks we'll cover what they mean, what to watch for, and how everyone did last year.

And for those of you who think this approach to hockey is a bunch of crap that provides absolutely nothing of value – don't worry.  We will stay off your lawn.  And we still love you on Coach's Corner.

In general I'll be your humble weekly servant in this matter – Robert Vollman of Hockey Prospectus.  We've been working with these statistics for years, are starting our fourth year with ESPN Insider, and just produced our second book on the topic.  Hopefully you caught my FlamesNation guest spots last year – either the write-ups on projecting a player's scoring totals by looking for historical comparables, a blurb on retired numbers, or else the fun look at Calgary's best and worst trades.

And in all Bobby Bittmanesque seriousness, please accept my apologies for the joke about getting off your lawn. Hockey's a complicated sport, and its statistical analysis is in it's relative infancy, especially compared to baseball.  It's completely understandable if your experience hasn't been positive, but we're hoping to change that this year.  With your help we can sculpt this weekly update into something in which everyone can find something useful and insightful.  Or, failing that, at least some good Mike Ricci jokes.

With that in mind, here's what we propose covering every week.

1. OZQoC Chart

Every week we'll start with an updated OZQoC chart.  That's pronounced “Oz-Coke”, but since we're the ones that mispronounced Phil Housley's name for years, call it what you wish.

We'll explain what it means in greater detail next week, but essentially it's a visual representation of the role each player has been assigned.  It's important to review first, because it provides the context by which the remaining analysis can be properly understood.

2. Even-Strength Differentials

The statistics themselves are fairly simple: the on-ice goals, scoring chances and shot-type events (Corsi/Fenwick), for and against, for each player.  The complexity comes into play when extracting their meaning.

3. Special Teams Update

We'll supplement the above even-strength analysis with a run-down of how each player is performing with the man advantage and while killing penalties.

4. Goalie Update

We'll conclude our analysis every week by looking at the Flames goalies, looking at their save percentage in various manpower situations, and keeping track of their Quality Starts.

Sounds Great!

The first weekly update will appear October 10th when the season is just a day old.  Until then we'll use our time together to review last year's final totals for each of these four components.  Not only can this act as a reference later in the season when we forget what Corsi actually means, but we can make any Flames-specific additions or modifications to maximize its usefulness to us.

With that in mind, if there's anything we want to include or avoid in our weekly analysis, let's discuss that right now in the comment section. While we're at it, please suggest a name for this column. Leave it to me and it'll either be the boring title you see already, or else it will involve either a Ricci/ugly or Chelios/old joke.

Go ahead. Call my bluff. 

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Rob Vollman of www.HockeyAbstract.com is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
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#1 Danny Gray
September 06 2011, 08:30AM
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Great idea Robert! I would suggest you call it the Black Box. As you'll have a deeper understanding of just what caused the inevitable wreck.

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#2 mats thomassen
September 06 2011, 08:37AM
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"the Black Box"

in electrical engineering parlance, that would be the attempt to divine a system's inner workings by examining only the outputs.

approriate, i think!

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#3 Kent Wilson
September 06 2011, 09:12AM
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haha. Black Box is a great idea.

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#5 Danny Gray
September 06 2011, 12:05PM
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@Kent Wilson

I see my attempts at trolling have failed. I'll show myself out.

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#6 Kent Wilson
September 06 2011, 12:29PM
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@Danny Gray

Yeah, sorry man. Next time try to be more mindlessly antagonistic.

Flames r suk!! etc.

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#7 Danny Gray
September 06 2011, 01:49PM
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@Kent Wilson

Oh you just wait.

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#8 Kent Wilson
September 06 2011, 02:27PM
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I'm personally looking forward to this project. It was allow us to see the minor bumps in the road as the season progresses and to parse the data a lot better once the season is done.

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#9 Scott
September 06 2011, 03:54PM
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@Kent Wilson

I agree i am really excited. I for one don't have a firm grasp on all the terminology yet, so seeing it in action on a regular basis will help. Mainly, I'm quite interested in analyzing on a game by game, and then watching the runs and slumps that the team goes through and how the stats are affected. How the players are utilized etc.

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#10 Tach
September 06 2011, 11:52PM
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I also think this is a good idea. Curious how the data will be parses out each week. Will we get some indication of the line combos? This is where I think this will add a lot of value in terms of understanding units working together and changing over a season.

Thanks in advance to Rob for taking this on!

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