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Silver Nuggets: Hockey Analytics Edition

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Your weekly Ottawa Senators links, plus a series of articles to help you understand advanced stats in hockey (that really aren't that advanced) if you're interested in learning!

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With the Toronto Maple Leafs hiring known "advanced stats" supporter Kyle Dubas as their Assistant GM, the hockey world has been discussing these statistics and the principles behind them with avid curiosity. I think that this change is a good thing for hockey analysis across all platforms. There are many types of fans: those who are just casual supporters who just want to watch the game without thinking too much about it, like how I am with basketball and the NFL, and fans who are more invested - physically, emotionally, with a spectrum of interest. I fall on the latter scale, and grew up playing, reading, and watching hockey for most of my waking moments. I stumbled onto Corsi, Fenwick, and the like a couple of years ago and it appealed to me in an academic way. I love learning and I'm intrinsically a very curious person, so trying to figure out what player X is doing wrong and why, without questioning his "heart" or "compete level" was a draw to me. Like Mike Babcock, I strong believe that information is power, but you also have to know how to use that information. You can draw wild conclusions from a series of single game data, which is why the term "sample size" often comes up - if you see the same pattern across 50-60 games, like the Toronto Maple Leafs 2013-14 season, it's more likely to mean something than a four game stretch where possession darlings San Jose lost to possession dynamos Los Angeles.

The purpose of this article is to give you, the readers, a series of links to explore if you're interested in learning about hockey analytics. I know that on both sides of the debate, things can get a little unfriendly and that can scare newcomers who just want to learn without getting ostracized for it. A lot of the articles I write here at Silver Seven include advanced stats, and I try my best to break things down to the simplest form and provide supplementary links with explanations so that I can account for a variety of education levels with respect to the topic. Many of the people who I will link below are more than open to talk about this stuff if you need an introduction, and articulate their ideas well, so hopefully you get something out of it.

The amazing Sean McIndoe, popularly known as Down Goes Brown, has written a quartet of articles that I always refer people to due to their comprehensiveness and conciseness when articulating ideas surrounding hockey analytics. This introduces you to the basic concepts, this talks about projecting success and failure with a relevant team example, this talks about the importance of zone entries, and this talks about the importance of looking at on-ice percentages. Start by reading those four, and if you're still interested, continue on to the ones below!

If you want an in-depth breakdown of the math and methods that went into the concepts at the very beginningObjective NHL is the place to start. I've linked the very first post and you can just hit "newer post" or look at the sidebar on the right. A similar archive is from a blog run by Oilers blogger Vic Ferrari here.

Gabe Desjardins, the founder of BehindTheNet.ca, one of the more commonly used sites to find the statistics used in many adv. stats pieces, wrote a 12-part FAQ on hockey analytics here: 123456789101112. If interested, you can also find a link to everything Gabe ever wrote here.

One of my favourite articles ever is by Nation Network overlord Kent Wilson, who wrote this on the limits of observation, and why we need hockey analytics. Kent also wrote this on common misconceptions of statistical analysis in hockey.

Lastly, we'll end with some websites and people to follow if you want to continue to explore this stuff.

  • @ExtraSkaterExtraskater.com is the most comprehensive source of data pertaining to hockey analytics at the moment. You can find most of the stats talked about in the previous articles here
  • @HockeyAnalysisHockeyanalysis.com is a great source for data as well, with multi-year data and WOWY (with-or-without-you) statistics found here. If you need a look at what WOWY analysis is, Travis Yost has a recent piece that includes it when looking at Ottawa's centremen [Yost]
  • @BSH_EricT - one of the progressives of hockey analytics; he was just hired by an NHL team and ran OutNumbered on SBNation for a while. His work is really clear and he's great at providing context with relevant examples, such as this on using zone entries to measure defensive contributions.
  • Hockeyprospectus.com - source of raw data, podcasts, and blog articles pertaining to hockey analytics.
  • Hockey-Graphs.com - six guys who talk about hockey analytics and like to visualize their data.
  • Hockeyabstract.com - a source for player usage charts and other data, run by @RobVollmanNHL
  • somekindofninja.com - a source for shot location data, scoring chance data, and player usage charts run by @theninjagreg
  • @NHLNumbersNHLnumbers.com publishes articles and podcasts regularly discussing topics related to hockey's advanced stats.
If you're ever out of information and want more, or need some clarification on a topic, feel free to tweet me @carteciel and I'll be glad to help (or refer you to someone who can).

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Sens Links
  • Reports came out yesterday that the Senators are close to signing RFA Robin Lehner to a new deal. Subsequent reports that the Sens are looking to meet with the agents for UFAs Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, and Marc Methot as well. [Ottawa CitizenSenShot]
  • At the opening of Sens House yesterday, TSN1200 had a number of interviews with members of the Senators organization (management and players) [Cyril Leeder, Cody CeciMark StoneAlex ChiassonMike Hoffman]
  • Nichols had a recap of the Hoffman interview. [6th Sens]
  • Travis Yost wrote quite a bit this week. Here he is on Ottawa's shot blocking issue, and on Alex Chiasson.
  • Nichols and Yost also talked about what the Kyle Dubas signing means to Ottawa. [6th SensHockeybuzz]
  • Varada published his 2014 Bad Contracts team! Go take a look [WTYKY]
  • Our latest Email Hotstove on who we'd like to take to dinner! [Silver Seven Staff]
  • Three new entries into our Which is More Likely series, which I am personally enjoying a ton. First up is Adnan on Karlsson v. Turris. Then it's Mrs. O on MacArthur v. Ryan. Lastly, Sheer_Craziness on Ryan v. Karlsson.
  • Sheer_Craziness tells us about how he became a Sens fan! [Making of a Sens fan]
  • Lastly, Amelia has a must-read Q&A with our Dallas Stars SBN blog Defending Big D on the players we got back in the Jason Spezza trade [Silver Seven]
NHL Links

The conversation this week is mainly about hockey analytics, so here are a couple of links that talk about that topic
  • TSN1050 radio interview with TSN's Scott Cullen talking about the relationship with hockey analytics to the fans. [TSN 1050]
  • Aaron Portzline on the Blue Jackets and "moneyball" thinking. [Columbus Dispatch]
  • An article from Defending Big D that includes Lindy Ruff talking about Corsi and the analytics he uses when coaching the Dallas Stars. I've heard Paul MacLean talk about similar things with respect to the Senators.. [Defending Big D]
  • Travis Yost with a fantastic interview of Jim Nill, who talks about the Stars rise, hockey analytics, and some love for the blogosphere. [Sporting News]
I know that this edition of Silver Nuggets featured a ton of links, but I hope that some of them were useful to you and feel free to comment below or tweet me if anything. Happy reading!