It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for another Wednesday Webhits! The big topic of the week is obviously the Winter Olympics, and Puck Prospectus has given us a nice break-down of the top four Olympic hockey teams from a statistical perspective. And don’t worry, this post is not all about international competition, as we also take a look at the top scoring blue lines in the NHL, the top individual scorers (naturally with a healthy Washington presence), and – in a follow-up to a link from last week – what the optimal shift length should be. (Take note Sashas)
Puck Prospectus: 2010 Winter Olympics Preview
United States: 4th Place – http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=460
“The United States is a dark horse. In terms of talent they are a cut below Canada, Russia and Sweden, but if they play as a unit and get outstanding goaltending they are a candidate to muscle their way into top three finish. It’s been 30 years since Lake Placid, and while an American gold medal wouldn’t exactly be quite as unexpected as it was then, it still would be a minor miracle for this edition of Team USA to come out on top. If that script does play out, expect Ryan Miller to fill the Jim Craig role as the goalie who was largely responsible for backstopping the team to an upset victory. In all likelihood, however, the Americans will simply be outgunned when they run into one of Russia, Canada or Sweden in the medal round.”
Sweden: Bronze Medal – http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=461
“According to the GVT projections, Puck Prospectus has predicted a bronze medal for the Swedish Olympic team. That is probably a safe bet, but it would not be surprising in the least to see the triple-crown in the gold medal game once again. Let’s put it this way: The Swedes have a better chance of finishing above the third place prediction than below it.”
Canada: Silver Medal – http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=462
“After looking up and down this Olympic roster, you can see that Canada has no real weaknesses. They have two #1 goalies that are among the best in the business, the best blue line of any team with only Sweden coming close and forwards that match up favorably against every team except Russia’s. They must be considered co-favorites, along with the Russians, to reach the finals. Anything else will be a day of mourning in Canada.”
Russia: Gold Medal – http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=463
“Team Russia has the best offense hands down, and that’s the major reason why they’re statistically the favorites to win Gold. The key to upsetting Team Russia is to take advantage of their suspect defense, which we’ve calculated as just barely edging out Team Finland for 5th. Given the single-elimination nature of the Olympics it isn’t fair to expect that the Russians will automatically win Gold, but given their explosive offense and beatable defense, we can definitely expect some of the most exciting hockey we’ve seen in quite some time.”
The Leagues Top Scoring Blue Lines
“For starters, I did expect teams like the Capitals (league-best 247 goals for) and Sharks (second-best 204 goals for) to rank somewhere in the top five. I didn’t expect a division leader like the Devils to finish dead last.”
Washington’s blue line – led by Mike Green – are 6th in goals, 5th in assists, and 5th in points.
NHL Mid-Season Statistics Leaders
I’m shocked – shocked! – that Alex Ovechkin is first in the NHL in points per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice team at 4.12. Only slightly less surprising are two more Capitals in the top 6, with Alex Semin at #5 (3.33 points) and Nicklas Backstrom at #6 (3.01 points).
Optimal Even-Strength Shift Length
“And indeed that is true of Corsi percentage – the percentage of total shots that are shots for:
The small uptick for 0-6 seconds is from the attacking team’s defensemen jumping over the boards on an offensive rush. The defending team had better not be changing when the puck is coming into its end! At any rate, the break-even point is around 40 seconds, which is roughly the average even-strength shift length league-wide, and things fall apart after that.
By 70 seconds, only 40% of total shots are shots for. To put that in perspective, only the absolute worst players in the NHL have shot totals at that level – 40% for, 60% against. Staying on the ice even just a bit beyond a minute usually turns the average NHL player into a defensive catastrophe on the scale of Wade Belak. Shifts like this are relatively rare, but most players seem to have one egregiously long one per game, with, as you can see above, mediocre results.”