November 12, 2006

Ottawa Senators

There have been a number of articles written on Ottawa, and for good reason. Here’s a team that’s played well, but is ranked second last in the east (just above Philadelphia). Interestingly, but my algorithm is predicting a great 123 point season or 110 points in 66 games (77% - subtracted 8 points from OTL’s). According to the Pythagorean prediction the Senators should be playing at 57%. However in the last 7 games they’ve managed one win and given all those games were coin tosses there’s a 6.25% chance you lose all but one of those games and if they were a 57% team on average there’s a 2.8% chance of losing those 7 games. Also those loses include two losses to 13 point Boston. Interestingly, it seems that every win is a blowout and every loss is a one goal affair as well stated by Michael from LCS Hockey : “But even that number is misleading. Twenty-one of Ottawa's 37 goals came during the club's three-game binge against New Jersey and Toronto, meaning the Sens have managed just 16 goals in their other nine games.”

So what is going on? Obviously luck plays a certain factor here, but I feel that one cannot look at the Senators performance without thinking, what might be causing. McHockey notes the terrible power play for the Senators. And Michael from LCS Hockey concludes that Ottawa needs a second line center. Kelly Hrudey made some excellent comments on Martin Gerber and how he’s struggling to see pucks through traffic. However, what I’ve noticed is that Ottawa has lost a significant number of games because the other team comes back from a deficit. If you go over the last 7 losses you’ll see that they’ve lost all their games as a result of their second or third period. Boston outscored Ottawa 3-2 in the second on the 11th, Atlanta got 2 in the third to win 5 to 4, Carolina got 2 in the third to win 3 to 2, Montreal scored two in the second to win 4 to 2 and finally on the 28th of October Boston got two in the third to win 2 to 1. Even in the 3 game blowout streak Ottawa only managed 1 goal on average in the third period. Of course every game has some chance of a comeback, but losing so many games that should be won asks questions about what’s going on with Ottawa’s defense in the third period. A bad power play or bad goal tending has nothing to do with when you lose the game. With Ottawa's ability to score goal tending shouldn't be a big issue, neither should the power play if they can get the goals at even strength instead. A better way of looking at this information is an actual break down of their game per period. What's interesting is they start out so well, allowing only 1.7 goals

Another way of looking at the above is a break down of the teams’ performance by period. If you look at it this way the team allowed only 1.7 goals against per hour in the first (and only 24.6 should per hour). So without further ado, here’s the table:


Before delving too much into the table above I should say that:
P stands for period.
S stands for shots
G for goals
EG expected goals – an average number of goals based on the quality of the shots, SQN% - is the save percentage of the goaltender if he saw average shots (scales out the fact the shots are easier or harder to stop).

Now SQN% per period is correct to about 3% so a difference of 1 or 2% is perfectly normal so the differences in scoring and goal tending per period could be just the result of error (randomness). So certainly the SQN% show that Ottawa has been a bit unlucky in the third as their shooting percentage falls to 7.3% and save percentage falls below 90%. Scoring (EG, and G) are both accurate to about 0.7, similarly a difference of 4 shots is not significant. This certainly makes the shots provided to the opposition in the second period statistically significantly different (although actual scoring and expected goals aren’t statistically different). In general this is true as the NHL has about 10% more shots in the second period compared to the first or third. But you can see the Senators were able to more than outperform their chances against with their chances for, generating an astounding 4.3 goals for per hour in the second compared to 3.6 against, although many of these goals came in the blow outs.

The third period is really where the luck part strikes you, of course you can’t conclude whether this states their unlucky in the third or lucky in the first, but it’s probably a bit of both. It’s not like Ottawa isn’t shooting the puck in the third or getting good chances, it appears the opposition is simply getting lucky (they good shots aren’t going in). It’s interesting, while there’s a general trend for worse than average goal tending in the third period (SQN%: 90.9% vs. 90.3%), Ottawa has gotten better than average goal tending against them (Their shots are being stopped too often).

Basically what’s the problem: Ottawa hasn’t scored enough in the third period. If Ottawa could play as well in periods 2 and 3 as they did in the first they'd be doing just fine. If the first period becomes more like the 2nd and 3rd then their in trouble. I don't have anymore to say because I wanted to get this finished before the Canadiens game at 7:30 EST.

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