Analytics Pixie Dust Can't Assume Away Ovechkin's Glaring Deficiencies

Surprisingly, many in the analytics community are in agreement with many mainstream analysts who believe that Alexander Ovechkin merits serious consideration for M.V.P. Considerably less surprisingly, I disagree with all of them. To be fair, Ovechkin has had a good season and there really aren’t any forwards that have stepped up and separated themselves from […]

Why the team with the most points isn't always the best

In the 2008 playoffs, the Dallas Stars limped into a 5th seed in the Western Conference with a 3-5-2 finish and 97 points. As the third best team in a strong Pacific Division (8th overall), the Stars had drawn the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks as their first round opponents.   The Ducks finished […]

Sports Analysts and Their Intellectual Blind Spots

There are many great moments in Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, but one of my favorites involves an exchange between Dan Feinstein, the Oakland A’s video coordinator and newly acquired outfielder John Mabry.   Mabry and teammate Scott Hatteberg are commiserating over how difficult it is to prepare for a game against Seattle Mariners ace Jamie Moyer, […]

Ducks Luck

With his Anaheim Ducks in first place overall, coach Bruce Boudreau is in familiar territory.  All too familiar, in fact. In his last three seasons as coach of the Washington Capitals (2009-2011) he won one President’s Trophy (first place overall in the regular season), and came second and fourth overall in the two others. But […]

Puck possession helps predict playoff chances, analytics suggest

Springtime means different things in different NHL cities. In some cities, fans can begin to get comfortable with their shiny new trade deadline acquisitions – players intended to help them on their way to Lord Stanley’s coveted mug. In other cities, fans brace themselves for the inevitable end to the 18-wheeler’s freefall, and hope that […]

NHL’s draft lottery seems to help fight tanking

The season is approaching the three quarter mark, and two races are in full flight: the race to secure a playoff seed, and the race to secure a high draft pick. For fans of those teams clearly out of the former, losses are cheered perhaps more than wins as tanking is seen as the best […]

Dishonour for Connor: How the Lottery Has Affected Tanking

This week’s article in The Star looked at the effect that the draft lottery has had on the incentive for a team to intentionally try to be bad in order to get the top pick in the draft. The draft was instituted in 1963 as a way of sorting out how to bring amateur players […]

Sabres have best shot at Connor McDavid, analytics suggest

Now that we’re officially more than halfway into the season we’re starting to get a clearer picture of which teams are contenders and which are pretenders. However, there is still a lot of hockey left to play, and there will be a fair bit of movement up and down the standings. So what should we […]

Forecasting the Second Half

This week’s article in The Star looked at what information was most useful for predicting how teams will perform in the second half of the season. In a previous article, I considered how a team’s performance in several variables after 25 games was predictive of making the playoffs. Here, the prediction was not a simple […]

Depth: Seldom Defined, Possibly Overrated

Arguably the greatest contribution of hockey’s analytics revolution is its ability to subject longstanding articles of faith to cold hard logic.   Articles of faith have their appeal. Because if you say something often enough without thinking about it much, it eventually feels true.   Occasionally, even those who traffic in pure reason fall into […]