Thursday, December 20, 2007


It means: if you put on the suit, you're the big guy.

Back aways, after the '05/'06 season, both Vic and Tyler were playing around a bit with assessing Quality of Competition, and used a semi-objective concept called The Big 8. To see who coaches were depending on against tough competition, and how they were faring, Vic looked at results against Modano, Thornton, Naslund, Selanne, Zetterberg, Iginla, Sakic and Demitra.

This was a great idea for two reasons:
  1. It avoids the mathematical problems with (e.g.) the Desjardins numbers, discussed genially at some length here (note: I believe his methodology continues to evolve, and this is absolutely not criticism of those efforts)
  2. It's very accessible and intuitive -- several orders simpler than even perfected QComp ratings. When Vic notes that Bertuzzi was +3/-18 against The Big 8, it means that Bert got fustigated against tough comp. When Vic notes that Arnott was on for 56 EV GF, and only one of them was against the Big 8, it means that Tippett was keeping him away from Tier 1 hockey players.
Anyway, now that I've gone through that, I'm not actually interested in talking about quality of competition today. For obvious reasons, though, I am interested in looking at players (or lines) that may or may not be carrying their respective teams. These are 5v5 numbers from Behind The Net.

Not to get too sidetracked, but a word on Why These 8, roughly:
So unsurprisingly, the answer to the question, "Which team would be most screwed if their star suffered a high ankle sprain?" is the Flames. Calgary is +2.04/60 when Jarome Iginla is on the ice, and -0.36/60 when he's not; that difference of +2.40/60 (right-most column) is the biggest of the 8, with Stastny, Horcoff, and Thornton close behind.

Looking at least screwed, the smallest number in that column is Gaborik. Minnesota is still a break-even team when he's on the bench (yes, or in the trainer's room), but the better answer is probably Zetterberg. For starters, look at the 1st and 4th columns there; the rest of these guys are at least occasionally on the ice for a GF without getting a goal or assist, but not Gaborik.

But more to the point, look at the pink cells in columns 7/8/9. The Red Wings, in case their 25-6-3 record didn't give it away, are a very, very good team. They are more likely to score with their main man off the ice than any of the other 7 teams shown; they are also less likely to allow a goal. 6 of these teams are in the minus with their #1 on the bench, MIN is even, and the Wings are +0.76/60.

Also not surprising: the Oilers are awful when Horcoff isn't on the ice. 6 of the 8 here actually have higher GA/60 when they're on than when they're off, which should probably be expected. They make their money scoring: the risk/reward of selling out a bit is a good gamble, and as noted, they're more likely than their teammates to be facing opposition that has the ability to score themselves.

The two exceptions are Thornton -- the Sharks allow slightly fewer goals when he's on -- and Horcoff. I think we knew this already. However, factoring in his offensive output this season... come to think of it, the answer to that high ankle sprain question might be the Oilers. Looking at that 2nd last column (#9), the Flames could conceivably scrap along and win some low-scoring games without Jarome** (-0.36/60); the Oil is just plain atrocious (-1.12/60) sans The Heterochromatic One.

*I was planning on using a Sedin, but the Canucks' results are virtually identical whether they are on or off the ice. Worth knowing, but not worth illustrating in table form
**Damn right I'm touching wood

[Instant Addendum! Just to be super-clear: this is not intended to be rigorous in any way, it is merely some basic comparisons between very good Western Conference players (and their teams). Linemates are not factored in, but obviously make a difference. So do PP results (where, for instance, the Sedins certainly do make a huge difference to the Canucks). This is not the list of the eight scariest players in the WC. Entertainment purposes, blah blah...]


Off-topic: A quote from the TSN preview of the Canucks-Stars game tonight:

"Dallas' current winning run includes a victory in the first two games of its current four-game winning streak."

It also include victories in the third and fourth games.

I call bullshit. They lost both those games.

I assume there's a couple of words missing in that one, but that'

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