Sunday, October 27, 2013

What wins hockey games?

Check out this post on the new version of Rink Stats.
What wins a hockey game? We often hear from announcers things like, "The team that wins in the faceoff circle will win this game" or "They've got to get the puck on the net if they want to win tonight." But which of these statements are true? More generally, which team stats are best at predicting who wins hockey games?

I take a first stab at that question here by looking at what correlates with winning hockey games. I use seven years of NHL play-by-play data to generate statistics like shot-differential, hit-differential, faceoff win-differential, etc. and then use those statistics as variables in logistic regression in order to evaluate who wins games and why.

What surprised me is that the statistic that I would have guess correlates most strongly with winning (shots on goal) is highly correlated with winning, but in the wrong direction. That's to say, the team that takes more shots in a game is, on average, less likely to win the game. More predictably, I also find that winning faceoffs and being the beneficiary of turnovers both positively contribute to a team's chances of winning.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rink Stats in the Boston Globe!

Check out this post on the new version of Rink Stats. I was really excited yesterday to see that my work on NHL realignment had generated some publicity beyond the internet. At the New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports a couple weekends ago, I talked with Fluto Shinzawa, the Bruins beat writer for the Boston Globe, about my work on why the realignment is unfair for Eastern Conference teams.

In yesterday's Boston Globe he had incorporated some of my research findings into his preview of the 2013-2014 NHL season. Check it out here. And just to prove that it really appeared in print, I bought a copy of the paper and took a picture of the article: