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They Are Who We Thought They Were, Statistically Speaking

Clicking around the intrawebs yesterday revealed that Alan Ryder's look at the 2008-2009 season was complete and up for public consumption.  Some of you may be familiar with his work, others may find this both new and interesting, and still others won't understand any of it.  Anyway, I thought I'd strip mine the 64-page document for all the good and bad from last season's team and give it to the MHH faithful in nice, easy-to-digest quotes.

Lucky and Unlucky Teams

Wins are about 94% predicted by goals for and against (or by marginal goals totals). When a team wins in spite of a low marginal goal performance it is either very skilled at winning close games or it is lucky. Historical analysis suggests that this is mostly luck. I would not completely rule out some intangible, but nobody has found it yet. Lucky teams tend to regress the following season (and vice versa). But these teams may also be systemically able to win tight games....Colorado (2.84) rounded out the bottom five in skating time winning efficiency.

The Avs' offense regressed from 2007-1008, something we were afraid would happen and then were terrified to watch.

The Avalanche also fell off the offensive cliff with 40 fewer goals from offense.

Alan's analysis basically says that the Avs had AHL-level goaltending for the bulk of last season.  He supports my personal contention that even Jose Theodore wouldn't have fared better behind the Avs and our new love-child Mr. Anderson gives us hope for the future. He even warns Canuck fans of the perils of Raycroft.


A marginal goals analysis compares performance to a threshold. The threshold is based on my estimate of zero-value performance. You can see from the table above that Colorado barely cleared that threshold. There was also an unimpressive goaltending contribution in Atlanta.

Colorado (-34) suffered a white out in net. I suppose the writing was on the wall when they signed Toronto cast-off Andrew Raycroft. He played better in 2009, but his save percentage of .892 was still quite marginal. The former Calder Trophy winter has moved on to Vancouver for the coming season and Canuck fans should pray for a healthy Roberto Luongo. That Raycroft got 1,722 minutes of playing time says that Peter Budaj was a disappointment as well. His save percentage in 2008 (.903) should not have inspired much hope and he delivered more-or-less as expected in 2009 (.899). The loss of Jose Theodore’s 2008 performance (.910 save percentage) turned out to be quite painful (but note that he only delivered a .900 save percentage in Washington). For 2010 Craig Anderson has been acquired to lead the Avalanche out of the blizzard. I think there is considerable upside potential there.

Florida was +21 on the basis of a weaker defense and an improvement in team save percentage.... Craig Anderson still contributed materially to the overall team improvement. The Panthers have lost his contribution for the 2010 season to the Avalanche.

Shootout were a plus for the team, and Alan's analysis bears that out:

Colorado had a league best .512 shooting percentage, winning 9 of 13, followed by the Devils (.480).

And a little something for all the Hobbit Haters out there (you know who you are).  Scott Hannan was dismal in his first season as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, but according to Alan, he's back in his San Jose form as of last season:

Two years ago Scott Hannan was a teammate of Vlasic and I had him ranked as the second best defensive defenseman in the NHL. In 2008 he moved on to Colorado (for a $4.5 million a year contract) and slipped to 65th in the defensive rankings. But, this season, he is back – ranked 5th overall.

Some more personal accolades from Alan.  Two Avs made the defensive 2nd teams.  Nope, not Salei and Clark, but two-way juggernaughts The Duke and the Baron:

Each of San Jose (#1 ranked NHL defense), Columbus (3), Detroit (4) and Colorado (6) placed two players on this team.

Anyway, lots of stuff we knew and a couple of surprises (Hannan, getting what we expected out of Budaj).  I hope you take the time to read through Alan's work.  It's fascinating from a stats-junkie standpoint and I personally enjoy his contributions to the larger NHL statistical world.  For even more stats-related fun, make sure you check out one of the newest SBN members, Gabe over at Behind the Net. Head on over and give him a shout-out from MHH.