October 06 2011 01:32PM
You all know Elliotte Friedman – he’s the Hockey Night in Canada Broadcaster who happens to write the best English language hockey column in the world. His 30 Thoughts go up every Monday (they’re rarely delayed, but when they are, Twitter has a panic-attack). No one captures chatter from the rink quite like Friedman does every Monday. It’s those insightful tidbits that make his 30 Thoughts columns indispensible to NHL fans. When 30 Thoughts returned from its summer hiatus this year, I noticed that Friedman was talking about zone-starts and hockey analytics in a way he previously hadn’t done. I thought perhaps there had been a change in his thinking over the summer in regards to fancy-stats, so I decided to e-mail him and see if he’d talk “moneypuck” with me. Elliotte agreed, and while I had my Wayne Campbell meeting Alice Cooper moment, we set the date of the interview for this past Tuesday. On Tuesday, Elliotte’s wife gave birth to the couples first son – but Elliotte e-mailed me the next day and was still interested in talking about hockey-stats. On behalf of the Nation Network, I’d like to extend my gratitude to Elliotte for his candor and class, and our congratulations to him and his wife on the birth of their son. What follows is the conversation we had:
Thom Drance: Elliotte, one of the main reasons I wanted to speak with you was the appearance of advanced metrics in your regular 30 thoughts column beginning last month, I'm curious, how would you describe your interest in these number?
Elliotte Friedman: I've always been interested in statistical analysis and what it can mean. I think that, in this day and age if you're not open-minded to something – it's a bad thing. You have to be open minded to all ideas and theories to see if they really make sense, and can help you judge players, teams or whatever. For me it was just a matter of having the time to figure out what they were trying to do, and if they made any sense.
October 06 2011 10:25AM
Every Thursday we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's.
October 05 2011 08:08PM
One thing that tends to pop up around this time of year is posts and articles about the output one can reasonably expect from the main players for the upcoming year. Of course, if you take a trip to your local messageboard you will quickly discover that expectations are usually actually quite unreasonable - in part because fans hopes spring eternal in the off-season and in part because people tend to project skaters totals outwards based on, say career totals (+10-25% or so), rather than probable role on the club.
October 05 2011 10:49AM
When rookie defenceman T.J. Brodie was among the scoring leaders on last year’s Abbotsford Heat, it was the culmination of two totally opposite story lines. It was somewhat of an indictment of the Heat, which as we all know by now, were dead last in the AHL in goals scored last season.
October 05 2011 06:17AM
(One sometimes overlooked aspect of the Flames big turn around last year was their improvement on the man advantage. The club went from bottom-third to top-10 very rapidly. I asked JaredL of the excellent analytic blog Driving Play to investigate whether that improvement was due to luck, ability or circumstance and what it might portend for this year. This is what he found)
Kent asked me to step away from my usual home at Driving Play to write an article on the Flames' improvement on the power play last season. Analyzing special teams is a tricky business, much more so than even-strength play. The sample sizes are drastically smaller; the Flames averaged over 49 minutes per game at even strength compared to about 6:25 on the power play and 5:42 killing penalties. They are also irregular - one game you might be on the power play just once and another you might get 10 opportunities. Despite all that, we can use shooting stats to get some insight into what was going on out there.