August 25, 2006

I have a dream

I’ve been processing hockey statistics since, 2002 and have gotten better as time progress. Not only have I gotten better, but so has the reporting: adding hits, blocked and missed shots, ice time sheets. There is still a long way to go and here is my hockey statistics wish list, in order of importance and usefulness of such data (of course the order isn't perfect and I made a few up quickly to get this one done) starting with the least important #10:

10. Position of every player at every second, this is the most ambitious goal and won’t happen till after I’m dead (or later). It would allow for detailed analysis of when players shoot successfully, what causes icing, effective power-play and penalty kill techniques (what works, what doesn’t), does chasing the point man help or hurt the penalty kill?

9. More accurate times, hockey is all about time. Even one extra digit would make a remarkable difference in inferences and data, rebounds for example are approximated to around 3 seconds, but a 1 second rebound is harder than a 1 second rebound or a 0.5 second rebound.

8. Subjective indicators, such as pressure, a tough save, anything that might be interesting.

7. More details about face-offs such not only who wins the face-off, but also the battles that often occur afterwards.

6. One thing that would be neat and not likely too challenging is to come up with a tool to measure the speed of shots on goal as this would show how speed affects save percentage and which players shoot the fastest.

5. One thing that is never recorded that could easily be, is the offended player when a penalty occurs, for example they guy who is high-sticked. There are players who are better able to draw penalties and a fan and an prospective employer should be able to find out.

4. Possession, like soccer, is an important aspect of hockey, face-offs, puck battles, give-aways all measure this, but the NHL does not measure the most important aspect of the above events: puck battles. Most hockey fans and commentators agree that losing puck battles often means you lose the game. The NHL is about hard work and that’s where a lot of it occurs, the NHL should record puck battle (start time and end time, winner, loser). This should fill the gaps on the score sheets on who has the puck at a given time and allow better possession analysis.

3. Shots should mention where on the net the shot is headed, this would be very difficult to measure. It could be as simple as breaking down the net into 9 quadrants. This would show individual goaltender weaknesses and shooters strengths. It would also make rating shots difficulty easier.

2. This rank high on my importance, list but the chance of it happening is extremely low, passing plays a central role in hockey and one cannot look at the game without knowing how many and when passes are made. For example I suspect a shot that occurs a split second after a pass is likely harder to stop. In order to record a pass you’ll have to mention off stick and on stick entries (to measure speed), zone of play should be recorded.

1. Topping the list would be better shot data, currently the NHL provides just distance (from the backboards?). I need an exact location (x and y) on the ice. One would be able to make a 3d graph representing probabilities of scoring (it would look really cool), but more importantly it would make the shot statistics much more accurate and goaltender quality would likely be useful. Preferably, shots would be recorded as radius from net and a theta from the net, although x and y works as well.

Many of these events could be easily account for with the use of GPS detectors on players, sticks and puck and recorded in a database at some given interval.

I do have a nice long post in the works, editing it tonight...

4 comments:

Earl Sleek said...

Probably just as an aside, it might be nice to have a set database of players, each with a unique ID.

Then you could test stuff like how size or experience or country of origin might have an effect on things.

I dunno, might make tracking easier when it comes to mid-season player trades, also.

Really good list, though.

Andy Grabia said...

Don't get me started on shots on net.

The Falconer said...

One of the items on your wish list--the player against whom the pentaly is committed--is recorded already by the NHL I am told. The expanded boxscores at ESPN.com have this penalty detail listed for some games but for others. Which is very frustrating since I'd like to see which player draws the most penalties in the league.

The Falconer said...

I'm keeping track of penalty minutes drawn by Atlanta players this season. I've posted the numbers for October on my blog