This was initially conceived as an all-encompassing Canadian sports blog, and I was really hoping to have something to add on the Hamilton stadium mess today, but I have a real desire to bring my readers content that they wouldn't find anywhere else. Without actually being in the room and talking to City Councillors, this post would be as useful as a TSN comment in the long run.
Before moving onto arbitrary hockey numbers, I will just add that the CFL is a historic league. Had Canadian Football not existed ten years ago, it would be impossible for seven guys in a boardroom to stand up and say "I have this GREAT idea! It will be football, but just three downs!" and be taken seriously. Canadian Football is gridiron's closest living relative to rugby football, from which the game was originally derived, and must be treated as such. I'm a sucker for all things historic in sports, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is one of them. From one CFL blogger to the Hamilton City Council, figure this one out.
Since the last time I posted anything about player volatility, I picked up a few readers, so I guess I should provide a primer. My initial theory, sitting in the back of an English class one day, was that players who score a lot of goals also give up a lot of goals. I began keeping raw data and tracking which Canadian players were on the ice for each goal and goal against, but, since the start of the season, Behind The Net simplified itself and I can now copy and paste data onto Excel without hilarious holes in the spreadsheet.
There were a few stat columns that I added that may be of some worth, working with just the goals and goals against numbers from the site:
Relative Goals For: Goals For you were on the ice for subtracted by the Goals For you were off the ice for.
Relative Goals Against: Same concept as Relative Goals For, only not so much a good thing.
Volatility: Volatility is simply Goals For plus Goals Against while on the ice. You are more likely to see a goal when a player with higher volatility is out there. I've added 'Volatility On' and 'Volatility Off' and, because all things relative is my statistical obsession, 'Relative Volatility' which is On minus Off.
Who are the top offensive players in the game? The game changers who provide a huge scoring boost to their team? If you guessed Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby, by golly, you're right. Those two are #1 and #2 in the game for relative goals for at even strength.
Number three, amazingly, is Mikhail Grabovski with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Early on in the season I posted that Grabovski's total points output didn't really account for all the offensive work he was doing. The Belarussian Waffle had just four assists through October and didn't score a goal until November 6th. Since then, Grabovski has gone on a tear that nobody really seems to be talking about. He's scored seven goals in eight games and is probably the most underrated player in the game at this point.
Other notables near the top are Ales Hemsky, Ryan Whitney, Matt Stajan, Kristopher Letang (mostly notable because the man he replaced, Sergei Gonchar, is far at the bottom) Martin Havlat and Alex Tanguay.
Full list of players who average more than 1.5 goals than their teammates per 60 minutes of play:
And, while we're at it, here's a list of player who allow more than 1.5 goals than their teammates per 60 minutes of play:
A couple of Colorado Avalanche players up there, probably because they've been getting some real fluke-ass goaltending as of late. Nikita Filatov has allowed just .27 goals per 60 playing just under ten minutes of even strength time per game. It's enough for him to record seven assists.
As far as relative volatility goes, there are ways of looking at this. My thought is that a defenseman who has a lower volatility can aptly be described as 'shut-down'. Same thing with a forward. I've noticed that, with a few exceptions, Canadian or American-born players in the bottom six of an NHL roster tend to be described as 'defensive' while European-born players tend to be described as 'never quite panned out'.
So, to try and battle the stereotype, I give you the players who are on the ice for at least two more goals than their teammates per 60 minutes of even strength play:
MICHAEL DEL ZOTTO
I think Lightning or Kings fans who have had to deal with Randy Jones over the past few seasons wouldn't disagree with that. Now they can quantify that they get a little more nervous when Jones steps on the ice. Moore, Callahan, Langenbrunner, Booth, Malkin, Del Zotto and Carle are all players on the list other than Jones who have higher goals against averages than goals for averages.
Notice the absence of Steven Stamkos, who can be found with Henrik Sedin teetering around 60th on this list, but the presence of Crosby and Grabovski. Does this mean that Stamkos and Sedin are 'lower risk' for their scoring talents compared to Sid and Grabbo? Is this a potential monkey in the wrench of the first-half MVP discussion?
Here's the list for players who are on the ice for 2 fewer goals than their teammates per 60:
A few goons up here, and that's no real surprise, seeing as coaches put their goons out against other goons and sticks spend more time collecting zamboni residue than they do handling the puck.
Admittedly, this system is still very crude, but it's interesting to look at goals for and goals against rates for players as we do goalies. We have so many more ways now of determining whether a player is good defensively or not, and I think relative goals against is a pretty good absolute to deal with.
Numbers like these are good for starting MVP discussions and assessing player value. A player like Stamkos is more valuable to the Lightning than Henrik Sedin is to the Canucks, since Sedin has a much better supporting cast around him. Ditto what we see with Mikhail Grabovski. If we're caught comparing Dustin Byfuglien to, say, Drew Doughty, you could argue that Byfuglien is more valuable to his team defensively because he has a lower relative goals against average, despite allowing a 2.17 goals per 60 to Doughty's 1.98.
These numbers can set you up for observation. Seeing Rusty Klesla high up on the relative goals for list means that I'll probably keep a note on him when I watch the Jackets/Canucks game later today to see how his team does when he's on the ice.