With another terrible season winding down, Oilers fans' attention is starting to turn to the draft where the club is likely to make its second straight first overall selection. The debate has mainly centered around Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Gabriel Landeskog, but Derek Zona of Copper and Blue makes a compelling case for Sean Couturier this week.
Thanks to the QMJHL superior stats collection, Zona is able to do a thorough quantitative analysis of Couturier's season. He finds the rangy center leads Drummondville in many important underlying numbers, including faceoff percentage, shot rate and scoring chance rate.
While there probably isn't a true home run selection like Steven Stamkos or Taylor Hall this year, the Oilers certainly have some very nice options to choose from at the top-end of the draft pool. It's likely they will do well whatever player they decide to take.
While the Oilers are looking forward, Flames fans are still looking back, picking over the wreckage of another failed season. Hockey Prospectus' own Rob Vollman reviews some Flames player projections he made at Flames Nation this week.
Although some of the big names came in at both the top-end and bottom-end of the projection ranges, the actual aggregate production of everyone in question was right on the mean of the projected output. Nice work, Rob.
On the subject of scoring, ThrashersRecap recently set out to determine how much luck is involved with putting the puck in the net recently by sitting down and watching a sample of games. He devised a categorical system of that divided goals into "observed luck", "observed skill" and "undetermined" and then reviewed the 158 goals scored between March 25 and March 29 of this season.
According to his criteria, he found that nearly half of the goals scored involved some sort of lucky occurrence: accidental deflection, fortunate rebound, weird bounce, or the like.
Of course, 158 data points isn't all that much considering how many goals are scored a year, so it's possible that the high rate of "luck" in this sample isn't representative. Still, it's an excellent starting point for further examinations.
On a related note, Gabriel Desjardins combats the "stats versus observation" myth at Behind The Net. He argues that:
taking notes for one game is "watching the game" and enhances your enjoyment of the game, but taking those same notes for all 82 (or 1230) games would be "statistics" and boring. The irony is that what we've always argued for at this site is for people to take a systematic and rigorous approach to watching the game. It doesn't matter what you track as long as you track somethingyou'll ultimately end up with a useful result.
So I can't see this as anything other than a false dichotomy. Unfortunately, two things will need to subside for people to understand that: the native hostility many people have toward numbers and toward new ideas.
The animosity towards so-called "new stats" is mostly born of ignorance and confirmation bias. The truth is, no hockey fan (or sports fan for that matter) relies solely on observation and intuition to judge players. If they did, we wouldn't bother to look up counting stats or award the highest-scoring players trophies. When a traditionalist says a guy is a "40-goal scorer", no one replies "why don't you just watch the game!"
That said, if new ways of quantifying the game prove to be insightful, they will no doubt be absorbed into the popular lexicon over time.
Finally, Eric T. of Broad Street Hockey seeks to put the Phildelphia's current dry spell in context. He tours around various metrics from special teams shooting to goaltender save percentage to show where the Flyers have struggled versus their continued strengths.