The Colorado Avalanche and the Assumptions of Hockey Analytics

Kevin McCartney
May 05 2014 04:31PM

ROR vs anaheim

Photo by Kerri Polizzi

The Avs accomplished a remarkable feat by going from the bottom of the Western Conference a year ago to the top of the Central Division with a whopping 112 points in 2013/14. The amount of change between those two seasons - behind the bench, in the front office, and in the dressing room - was massive, and confounds most simple attempts to point to a reason for the rapid change in fortune. 

Early in the season I said that they were building on the Blackhawks model based on how they used their speed in defensive transition. It looked like a wholly new team with only laundry to connect them to their recent failures, and Matt Duchene agreed, noting that team was finally playing a style that fit their personnel. Apparently others saw it differently as the narrative about their success has been organized around two factors: an amazing season by Semyon Varlamov and pure luck.

On Friday, well-known pessimist Ryan Lambert wrote about the expectations of the Avs to regress. 'Varlamaov can't repeat, and their percentages can't either' goes the reasoning. They were not a strong possession team (26th in 5 on 5 corsi %), and when you give up a lot of shots and your goalie gets worse, the end of that algebra equation is obvious. We can throw circumstantial evidence around that should make us uncomfortable with such a firm position on which way the wind is blowing - Montreal was 25th in corsi %, Anaheim 17th. Toronto was dead last and for all the obscene failures of that club, they still scored the 14th most even strength goals of any team.

Ultimately, however, the failure of using a regression analysis here is more fundamental. 

We found a way to quantify one way of winning hockey games, and teams are able to use that data to make efficient and insightful use of their limited funds when building a possession style club. But since when was there only one way to win a hockey game?

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Jetstream Podcast Ep 30: Trophies

Travis Hrubeniuk
May 05 2014 07:24AM


On this week's episode, the guys discuss the racist remarks from Bruins fans, an non-reviewable goal on Stalock and give out our end of season awards.  All that, plus a look back at our Round 1 picks, and our predictions for Round 2.

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Nation Playoff Pool Update #2

May 02 2014 02:02PM


So one week goes by and your ol' pal bm has dropped 100 spots in the playoff pool - magic genie I am not.  Last week, I was talking trash about the poor suckers below me in the standings, fast forward to today and I am in the tank. I'm dropping faster than lady garments in the red light district. DAMN YOU CHRIS KELLY! I'm not sure who I would have picked had I remembered you were injured, but I am blaming you for all my pool related misfortunes. For shame, Chris Kelly.

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The Best Year of Mark Stuart's Career

Kevin McCartney
May 02 2014 06:15AM

Mark Stuart alone

Mark Stuart is a divisive figure on the Jets blue line. Many fans love his rough-and-tumble style. The coaching staff appreciate his work ethic. We can all enjoy the absurdly square dimensions of his cranium. 

A select (and annoyingly vocal) few see him as a major liability to the club at 14 minutes per game, and a hilarious circus act at the 20+ he averaged under Paul Maurice. Playing alongside Jacob Trouba for much of the season, Stuart played more minutes per game this season than at any time in his career to date. By season end, he averaged 2 more minutes per game than he did just last season (a season of blue line injuries, devotees might remember).

Signed to a new four-year contract, Stuart seems poised to take a top-4 role in the Jets' defence group moving forward. The pressing question - what can we expect? The terrifying answer - he may take a step back from his performance this season. 

Inside we'll weigh the possibilities.

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NHL Awards: PHBA Edition

Travis Hrubeniuk
May 01 2014 11:37AM


It's time for something new. 

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