Which Calgary Flames players have contributed the most to the team’s success this season? If you want to be completely unscientific and subjective about it, the answer is “Chad Johnson and Johnny Gaudreau,” of course. But if you want to dig into the nuances of each player’s contributions, you need a tool to do so.
That’s where game score comes in.
WHAT IS GAME SCORE?
Our pal Dom Luszczyszyn (of Leafs Nation and Hockey Graphs fame) formulated game score earlier this year, adapting a concept from baseball:
Game Score is originally a baseball stat created by Bill James, but the basketball version was created by John Hollinger. It was meant as an extension and simpler alternative of player efficiency rating (PER)
and aims to “give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a
single game” with a similar scale to points scored, something the
average basketball fan would immediately be familiar with. A Game Score
of 40 would be outstanding (James’ game six performance netted a 44.1)
intuitively because we know that a 40 point game in basketball is a damn
good game. It includes every box score stat and assigns an appropriate
value to it to provide a rough overall picture of how a player played
during that game.
Dom formulated a version for hockey that includes various things that contribute to wins, including goals, (primary and secondary) assists, shots, blocks, faceoff differential, penalty differential, Corsi differential and even strength goal differential. (Dom limits Corsi and goal differential to 5-on-5, I calculated using even strength. The difference is negligible.) For goalies, it’s goals and saves that contribute. The weighing for each factor was constructed to give goalies and skaters equal opportunity to garner the same score.
In Dom’s game score updates from Leafs Nation, he’s used a scale to assess performances. Since it’s a simple scale, it’ll work well for our purposes of assessing who’s helping the Flames win (or who isn’t).
- “Awful”: Below -0.15.
- “Bad”: Between -0.15 and 0.15.
- “Fine”: Between 0.15 and 0.45.
- “Good”: Between 0.45 and 0.95.
- “Great”: Above 0.95.
A BIG TABLE
The best goalie? Johnson, by far.
The best defenders? Hamilton and Gordano by a fair margin. Note that in terms of game score, Brodie is the worst regular defender on the team (and slightly behind Jokipakka). He leads the entire team in awful/bad games (19 combined).
The best forwards? I hope you don’t have a heart condition, because prepare to be shocked: Gaudreau leads the team’s forwards. He’s followed rather closely by Frolik, Tkachuk and Backlund (in that order). Frolik leads the entire team in good/great games (18 combined). Gaudreau leads the team in great games (12), but doesn’t have any good games yet. Bouma and Hamilton are among the worst regular forwards by this metric.
A general trend: Based on game score, the Flames are split into “good players” (Johnson, Gaudreau, Frolik, D.Hamilton, Tkachuk, Giordano, Backlund and Versteeg, all averaging over .450 per game) and everyone else, who are much less consistent.
SUM IT UP
Do the various game scores hold weight? Do they match up with what’s been happening on the ice? Personally I’m a fan of the concept since it’s simple and comparable, and I think it passes the smell test given that Johnson and Gaudreau do better than everyone else.
But do the player performances as broken down by game score match up with your impressions? Sound off in the comments!