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Tag: Analytics

VGK Must Boost Analytics To Avoid Inevitable Regression

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the All Star break, no one has been winning more than the Golden Knights. Their 12-2-2 record is the best in the league since the beginning of February and they’ve done it while playing one of the toughest schedules of any team.

The wins are continuing to cement VGK’s place in the playoff picture and have them as clear favorites to win the Pacific Division with less than 20 games to go. What the wins are not doing though are impressing the stat nerds (myself included).

While the Golden Knights have beaten many of the best teams in the league over this recent stretch, they are doing it in a bit of an ugly way. They’ve been outshot in 11 of the last 12, have given up at least eight high-danger chances in 13 straight games, and have lost the expected goals battle in 8 of the last 11.

Over the last 16 games, the Golden Knights lead the league in points percentage, while ranking 20th in expected goals, 25th in Corsi, and 25th in scoring chance percentage at 5-on-5. One of the main reasons for the difference in results vs. analytics is VGK’s shooting and save percentage. They rank 2nd in the league in shooting percentage and 3rd in save percentage for a wildly inflated PDO of 1.051.

So the question becomes, over the course of a larger sample size, how reliant are the Golden Knights’ results on their analytics?

The first way to analyze this is to look through a bunch of different 15-game segments the Golden Knights have played this season. There are a few awesome ones, a few poor ones, and some average ones. Comparing them to the analytics will help show the correlation or lack thereof.

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Beyond Analytics; Three Other Areas McPhee Should Be Focused On

If you listened to this week’s podcast then you heard me geeking out on advanced statistics. For instance, we talked how SF20/SA20 is a more accurate way to measure a player’s overall impact on the ice. Or how 5v5close can help coaches decide what players to trust in tight situations. Numbers like SF20/SA20, PDO, and 5v5close should help scouting departments as much as, if not more, than +/- rating, SOG, and TOI. However, you can’t measure all hockey skills by advanced statistics. Superstars and third line players are all important when it comes to situational hockey. Here are a few effective skill sets the Golden Knights will look to add in June.

Players with speed are important to competing teams for many reasons. The more obvious are odd-man rushes, chasing down pucks, and keeping defenders at bay. More importantly fast players create scoring chances some of which you can’t measure. Andrew Cogliano may not show up on the box score but his nightly impact is felt. Cogliano is one of the NHL’s faster players, and his ability to move the puck from the defensive to offensive zone is invaluable. The time it takes the former Wolverine to receive a pass and skate it to safety is much faster than the average defenseman. Cogliano may already be off the ice before Anaheim scores but his zone speed had as much impact as the shooter. Same goes for many second or third line speedsters. Whatever team creates the most scoring chances usually ends up winning.

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Drop The Gloves: Eye Test Can’t Be The Ultimate Decider

Welcome to another version of’ favorite battle ground, “Drop The Gloves.” Where two writers on the site disagree with each other, state their points, and let you decide who’s right.

Last time we argued over the activity, or inactivity, of the Las Vegas organization in the first few weeks. Now, it’s time to Drop The Gloves on analytics. The original article by Dana titled “McPhee/McCrimmon Scheming At The Ivan Hlinka” is being challenged by Jason. Please vote in the poll at the bottom to choose your side.


There’s no guaranteed success when drafting a player. Missing on a draft selection sets a club way back in its progression. The time and money spent on prospects makes it imperative to get it right. That’s why GM George McPhee and Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon are getting a head start at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

But when I think of the Las Vegas franchise, I picture a team that needs to be creative. Being forced a roster of NHL pros doesn’t always work out. Having an outside chance of the number one pick in the amateur draft is another dilemma. McPhee may have to play “Moneypuck” to find other ways to gather talent. That’s why Dana was right about highlighting the Czech tournament. However, I respectfully disagree with my colleague on the scouting strategy Las Vegas should adopt.

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Hockey Metrics Dividing Organizations Across NHL, McPhee Must Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here

Over the summer two trades changed the landscape of four teams, and two front offices. Both have been criticized as lopsided deals, and jobs are clearly on the line now. One element of the trades that weren’t as heavily discussed were the dismantling of analytic departments in Edmonton and Montreal. A TSN morning show did an extended segment on the topic with guest Travis Yost that’s definitely worth a listen.

The Oilers and Canadiens dumped two staffers that were specifically brought in for advanced hockey input. Leaving some to believe that the blockbuster trades split both organizations. Yost suggests that statistical analysis never really had an impact in Montreal or Edmonton anyways. But all of this back and fourth about the proper use of enhanced statistics has got me thinking. How will Las Vegas utilize analytics?

New GM George McPhee told the last week that he would eventually hire an advanced stat department. He referred to analytics as “another club in the bag.” So while we know it will be a part of the new organization, exactly how big of an impact it will have, we’ll have to wait to find out.

However, some teams are completely turning the pages of the old way of scouting. Teams now want to use the enhanced stats that are available now. Basically, stats like Corsi, Fenwick and PDO… You know geek stats. Teams like Florida, Arizona, and Carolina have all dedicated part of their organization to metrics. Will Las Vegas and George McPhee do the same?

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All In On Ice

The name Sunny Mehta probably doesn’t ring a bell to even the most diehard hockey fans. However, his story is one that the new Las Vegas franchise should become very familiar with.

He’s the advanced statistics director for the New Jersey Devils. A job that’s long been thought to only have a place in baseball, but basketball, soccer, and now hockey are beginning to embrace the ideals of analytics as well.

What’s the most important thing about Mehta’s path to the league is his career in Las Vegas.

As a jazz guitarist and caught on as a musician in New Orleans in the early 2000s. He taught himself poker there and made money on the side playing at casinos. He has written two books on poker.

After Hurricane Katrina, Mehta left for Las Vegas to play poker full time. He lasted six months before heading back to New Orleans, and he spent the next five years playing poker. –Pat Pickens,

A poker player. A genius in probabilities to head up a sports analytics department. Pretty pretty pretty pretty smart.

I’m not sure if you know this, but here in Las Vegas we have a lot of brilliant poker players.

Maybe The Creator and his team should take a page out of the Devils book (or maybe not) and look to the tables to improve the play on the ice.

Actually, come to think of it, I may just know the perfect guy to head up our Poker Players Analytics Division.

What’ya say Daniel?

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