Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ducks Gameday—Streak Comparison: This Season vs. Last

Anaheim Ducks (14-8-3, 3rd in west) at Detroit Red Wings (15-4-4, 2nd in west)
Battle of the Hangovers


For today's post I threw together a comparison table looking at how the Ducks and Red Wings have been performing compared to a specific stretch of games last season. For the Ducks, the selected stretches have been hand-picked from each season:

07-08: the first 19 games after Scott Niedermayer returned to the lineup.
08-09: the most recent 19 games (excluding the 1-5-0 first six games).
I decided to stick to stretches where the Ducks have been performing well points-wise. In the 07-08 stretch, the Ducks went 12-5-2; in the 08-09 stretch the Ducks went 13-3-3. For the Red Wings, the selection is much more straightforward:
07-08: the first 23 games of the season.
08-09: the first 23 games of the season.
This one's much more obvious: I'm just looking at how Detroit's "hangover" start (15-4-4) compares to its season start from last year (15-6-2). Now I don't want to read too much into these early-season comparisons, but I think it's worth noting that while each of these teams have actually improved their ability to accumulate standings points (for a stretch, anyways), a lot of the underlying numbers have gotten worse. Let's take a look:


Note: excludes shootout goals. Click image to enlarge.

Patterns: For both the Ducks and Red Wings, the current-year versions have been surrendering way more goals than they did last year -- each team is giving up around 2/3 an extra goal-per-game, with some of that comes from a declining penalty kill. Each team has found a way to generate wins despite a shakier defense, though, mainly through an improved team offense.

Offensively, one of the keys has been each team's power play, which has for each team produced more power play goals in fewer power play opportunities than the year before. Overall, each team has improved its offense, though not by the same margin that the defensive numbers have changed; each team this year has a worse goal-differential-per-game than the previous year.

Shot analysis shows a similar story: shots-for per game are marginally improved, but shots-against per game have increased even further; the net shot differential has gotten worse this year for both squads (the Ducks, in fact, are now typically outshot).

So basically, what does this mean? Both squads have shown an improved ability to accumulate standings points this year vs. last year despite some declines in the differential statistics and underlying numbers -- in a way, this suggests that the current win pattern is a bit illusory. I'd expect that each team would have gotten worse results with the current year's statistics, but at least so far, that hasn't really been the case. I wouldn't worry about these patterns just yet for either team (there is absolutely nothing wrong with illusory win streaks in November), but here's some open-ended questions for the comments:
  • Why do you think these teams have continued to win despite worsened statistics: is there something to the notion of "knowing how to win all styles of hockey" where these veteran rosters are capable of adjusting to a more free-flowing game?

  • What do you see as the primary drivers for the change in offensive and defensive numbers for these teams? Are opponents treating them differently, or are these squads more careless than they used to be?

  • Going forward, what do you expect out of each team? Will the numbers eventually tighten up, or is this an offense-friendly evolution for the Ducks and Red Wings? If the statistics do not tighten up, can these teams continue winning the way they currently are?
Food for thought, anyway.

Prediction: Now that I've demonstrated a more offense-friendly tendency for both the Ducks and Red Wings, we're probably in for a tight defensive battle tonight. Ducks 2, Wings 1. Goals by Ryan and Pahlsson. For your Wings coverage, there's always A2Y, Winging it in Motown, and On the Wings.

Go Ducks.

12 comments:

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, and one note: I don't mean to imply that both teams necessarily have the same reasons for their statistical trends -- even though both have similarities in the comparisons, it's highly likely that they are caused by different elements entirely.

The Ducks have turned over half their blueline and 1/3 of their top-six forwards since then; the Wings have added Hossa but Osgood has fallen off a bit -- still they both continue to find ways to win. That common ability is largely the point of the post, not necessarily the fact that the numbers are similarly worse.

Matt said...

I get what you're doing Earl, but the premise is a bit bizarre... w.r.t. the Ducks at least, excluding a bad stretch and looking at a hot streak will necessarily show some numbers that are... hot, i.e. not really sustainable. This is a variation on the TV favourite of "when Jarome Iginla has a multi-point game, the Flames are 18-1-1" etc.. When you're (by definition) excluding the games where the Flames scored 1 or 0 goals, you'll be excluding losses for the most part.

This link (thanks Vic) is the Ducks at EV, excluding the 1-5 start, when the game score is tied. Ducks are being outshot, but are +16/-8. You guys have superior goaltending so I'm not surprised that the shot differential is covered via the percentages, but that seems like a bit much. So does the 27+ PP%. Hiller's SV% is 1.000 at EV-Tied.

Conclusion? At the very least, I think it's more reasonable to believe that the Ducks are a legit 14-8-3 team than they are a legit 13-3-3 team.

Earl Sleek said...

Good link, Matt. I need to delve more into that site's offerings a bit more (although I'm not always a guy who wants to see the dark lining if things are going well on the surface).

At the very least, I think it's more reasonable to believe that the Ducks are a legit 14-8-3 team than they are a legit 13-3-3 team.

Yeah, and I don't want to overhype the Ducks' streak -- certainly it's felt very hollow at times. And yes, I have been awfully subjective in my game selection, though hopefully I've been transparent enough on what I'm looking at (there's certainly exclusion in last year's selection as well).

Still, for all the post's faults the current streak remains. It is nineteen consecutive games where the Ducks have somehow converted into "ten games above .500", so even if it's an illusion, I'm sure it's one that many teams would covet.

We'll see. I guess really my main take is that the Ducks (and probably the Wings) seemingly have some improving to do before the springtime, even though their recent records might not indicate that they do. Still, it's the first of December, a time of the year where I probably care more about the surface standings points than the underlying numbers.

Positivity! :) Thanks for the sanity check, though.

Matt said...

..I'm not always a guy who wants to see the dark lining if things are going well on the surface

Agreed.

Still, it's the first of December, a time of the year where I probably care more about the surface standings points than the underlying numbers.

Solid A and Questionable B definitely beats the reverse. (Doesn't it, Blue Jackets fans.)

Earl Sleek said...

If you're interested in why I exclude the Ducks' first six games, btw, it's pretty much because of the scoring leaders at that point. Here's the list of forwards who had multiple points after six games: Rob N., Moen, Pahlsson, Carter, Marchant, Sutherby, and May.

It's tough to tell you why the Ducks' actual scorers all started so poorly (dental problems, likely), but whatever kept them off the scoresheet seems to be isolated in the season's start.

So while it's definitely not "the full story" just to talk about the Ducks' most recent 19 games, it's tough to tell you what the first six games represent. If I wanted to project how the Ducks would perform without any scorers scoring (and a resulting 1-for-24 power play rate), I definitely would include those games. Since game seven, though, it seems none of those plaguing issues exist any more.

Mike in OC said...

A win tonight will speak volumes.

Lets Go Ducks!

hockeychic said...

Well, I'm just one of those paranoid Wings fans. I haven't seen much of the Ducks yet this year so....the Wings are just not the same defensively this year and I'm not sure what the problem is. The whole team looks to be out of synch. Hossa is a monster on the puck and very strong but he can't do it all himself. The goaltending has been pourous. The Wings have a tendency to bunch up around the puck too much and they are missing Holmstrom quite a bit.

Earl Sleek said...

Well, I'm just one of those paranoid Wings fans.

Yeah, that's one thing I'm noticing in the A2Y comments today.

When the Wings start the year with more standings points than last year's start, but it's probably a record that they don't really deserve, Wings fans get pessimistic. When the Ducks get more standings points than they deserve early in the year, I love it.

C'mon, positivity, Wings fans! As we've pointed out, it's better to get more standings points than you really deserve than it is to get fewer. There's still months to solve the underlying issues.

Thanks for the input, though. I haven't really caught a ton of Wings fans myself, so I'm way generalizing when I talk about their 'issues'.

RudyKelly said...

The Wings are allowing 4 more shots a game this season and are getting shittier goaltending than they were last season. I'd say that's the problem.

Oh, and thanks for re-signing Stuart and then waiving Quincey, by the way. You guys saved us from being stupid.

Christy Hammond said...

Well, you got the score right- just not the right team. :)

JS Giguere continues to amaze me. I hate him, but in a good way because he's a thorn in our side...

hockeychic said...

Hi Earl - I was going to write what Christy did about the score. Will you pick my lottery numbers for me?

I was just curious why J.S. was pulled in the 3rd? He was playing well, I thought. He still looks like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man but he is darn good (especially against the Wings).

Earl Sleek said...

I was just curious why J.S. was pulled in the 3rd?

Per game reports he had a cramp in his groin and didn't want to turn it into a pull. Also, I suspect he wanted to get revenge on Jonas Hiller for getting pulled in the Washington game a week or so ago.

He still looks like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man but he is darn good (especially against the Wings).

Yeah, he was quite good last night. If it weren't for Bobby Ryan's hand-deflection, he could have been a two-period first-star of the game.

Well, you got the score right- just not the right team. :)

Dyslexia strikes again!