We’re four games into the preseason. It’s hard to really suss out exactly what’s happening with the sheer number of bodies at Calgary Flames camp, even after the many cuts that have been made. In an effort to separate the signal from the statistical noise, we’re going to be taking a look at game scores from Calgary’s preseason games to see how the players in the various camp battles stack up against each other.
Who’s doing well? Who’s struggling? Who’s stuck in the mucky middle?
What Are Game Scores?
In short, game score is an attempt to measure single-game performance
through aggregation of a bunch of statistical information. Dom Luszczyszyn over at Hockey Graphs poured through data from between 2007 and the end of this past season in
an attempt to formulate an effective measure, both for skaters and
goalies. (He aimed to make a “good” game score equally achievable for
skaters and goalies, so coefficients were scaled with that in mind.)
Here are the formulas he came up with:
Player Game Score = (0.75 * G) + (0.7 * A1) +
(0.55 * A2) + (0.075 * SOG) + (0.05 * BLK) + (0.15 * PD) – (0.15 * PT) +
(0.01 * FOW) – (0.01 * FOL) + (0.05 * CF) – (0.05 * CA) + (0.15 * GF) –
Goalie Game Score = (-0.75 * GA) + (0.1 * SV)
For some regular season context, Johnny Gaudreau’s average game score was a 0.94. How have the individual Flames involved in camp battles fared so far during the exhibition schedule?
Battles and Game Scores
- Matthew Tkachuk: 0.75 vs EDM, 1.73 vs VAN; combined 2.48
- Freddie Hamilton: -0.23 at EDM, 1.88 at WPG, -0.10 vs VAN; combined 1.55
- Emile Poirier: 0.58 at EDM, 0.95 at WPG; combined 1.53
- Hunter Shinkaruk: 1.07 vs EDM, 0.15 vs VAN; combined 1.22
- Linden Vey: -0.04 at EDM, 0.44 at WPG; combined 0.40
- Chris Higgins: 0.35 at EDM, -0.24 vs. VAN; combined 0.11
- Garnet Hathaway: -0.60 at EDM, 0.64 at WPG, -0.02 vs. VAN; combined 0.02
- Brandon Bollig: -0.35 vs EDM
Pribyl: injured, not skating
Tkachuk leads the way, with two pretty solid games (one of them quite strong)… at home, with two regular NHLers. He’s performed well, but he’s been in a great position to succeed. Hamilton has had one really good game and two fairly flat ones statistically. Poirier has had a pair of pretty solid games. Shinkaruk has also had a strong game and a solid game. These four players stand out overall.
After the top four, there’s a bit of gap: Vey, Higgins and Hathaway have had a mixed bag of good and bad games, and have generally averaged out to being fairly positive players overall. Hathaway’s game scores actually cancel each other out almost entirely, so he statistically seems to neither help nor harm his team’s chances of winning. Weird, eh?
Bollig’s played once and had a negative score, while Pribyl hasn’t played because he’s recovering from knee surgery.
Seventh NHL Defender:
- Brett Kulak: -0.55 at EDM, 2.73 at WPG; combined 2.18
- Oliver Kylington: 0.45 vs EDM, -0.38 vs VAN; combined 0.08
- Tyler Wotherspoon: -0.50 at EDM, -0.10 vs VAN; combined -0.60
- Nicklas Grossmann: -0.53 at EDM, -0.15 at WPG; combined -0.68
Kulak leads the way here, but that’s obviously on the strength of that monster game against Winnipeg. Kylington’s two outings seemingly cancel each other out, while Wotherspoon and Grossmann both have a pair of negative outings and sit noticeably behind the other two vying for the job opening in Calgary.
At this point, it’s probably a two-horse race, but I wouldn’t rule out Wotherspoon entirely due to his waiver status.
- Mikkel Aagaard: -0.11 at EDM
- Luke Adam: -0.30 at WPG
- Dennis Kravchenko: did not play
Kravchenko was demoted before the games began. Aagaard had one game and then was demoted as well. Adam is still in the mix at main camp, but needs to bounce back from an iffy game in Winnipeg.
- Colby Robak: -0.50 at WPG
- Stepan Falkovsky: did not play
- Mikhail Grigoriev: did not play
Falkovsky was demoted before playing a game, Grigoriev is still in camp but hasn’t slotted in yet, and Robak has played once and didn’t fare too well.
- David Rittich: 0.60 at WPG
- Mason McDonald: -0.05 vs EDM
McDonald gave up a goal on only a few shots at home against Edmonton. Rittich entered in relief of Chad Johnson in Winnipeg and held the line, so his numbers are significantly better. McDonald has since been sent to the farm.
Sum It Up
Game score is one way of approximating performance. As you probably noticed, there’s a bit of variation in just about everybody‘s performances thus far in preseason and given that the NHL is known as an “everyday league,” the players on the bubble for these various NHL jobs will probably get a few more preseason dates in to make their case.
Consistency is the challenge.