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Tag: Expected Goals

Outperforming xG Is The Secret To Success

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A mystery surrounding the Golden Knights, since Bruce Cassidy became the head coach, has been the correlation between expected and actual results.

Last year in the playoffs, Vegas was expected to score 73 goals while allowing 72. In reality, they scored 88 while allowing just 57. Thus, they outplayed the expected results by 30 goals in 22 games.

The numbers haven’t been as staggering this year, but the Golden Knights remain an outlier to the expected goals system. NaturalStatTrick.com’s expected goals have VGK at +6 (150-144) while their actual goal differential is +25 (157-132).

There are all sorts of reasons why the Golden Knights’ numbers skew this way, but it’s all somewhat hypothetical and there’s not one clear reason, so we’re going to leave that alone for today. Instead, we’re going to focus on areas in which the numbers have shown some significance.

We’ll start super simple. When the Golden Knights finish a game with more expected goals than their opponent, they are 14-5-2, when they finish with fewer, they are 14-9-4. It’s definitely an indicator of success on a game-to-game basis, but not nearly as much as you might expect. There’s a .122-point percentage difference for the Golden Knights. The Oilers are much more indicative with a difference of .202 (22-9-1 when win xG, 6-6-0 when lose xG).

Where it’s mattered a little more is when the Golden Knights win the xG battle by a significant margin. When VGK post at least a 60% expected goals percentage, they are 6-2-1, while when they are at 40% or less, they are 3-2-2. A difference of .151 points percentage, a bit more than the .122.

The biggest difference for the Golden Knights is how they perform compared to their expected goals. In theory, the more expected goals you rack up, the more likely you are to score. However, for Vegas, that hasn’t always been the case. They’ve generated at least three expected goals in 18 games this season, but they are just 9-7-2 in those games. When they’ve actually scored three or more, they are 24-2-4.

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Key Advanced Stat Places VGK Among NHL’s Elite

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are in first place in the Western Conference. They are in first place in the Pacific Division. They are in 4th place in the entire league.

They’ve been among the NHL’s best teams based on record since the moment the season began. However, a lot of that was based on a torrid start to the season that has since cooled off significantly. VGK jumped out to a 13-2-0 start to begin the Bruce Cassidy era, but they have continued at just 14-11-2.

The first 15 games had them on pace for a 142 point seaon. Obviously, as that would break the single-season record by 10 points, playing at that level would clearly have the Golden Knights as the elite team in the league. The most recent 27 games though leave reason for pause, especially if you watched Saturday night’s game from start to finish. The .571 points percentage since November 10th would have them on pace for 94 points over a full season, clearly not elite.

This all came up in my mind because of a recent tweet that has the Golden Knights in a very enviable place.

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Expect More Success Based On Expected Goals

Hockey can be a cruel sport. Sometimes a team dominates the game but a bounce here or there costs them a win. Other times a team can be getting smoked but their goalie stands on his head and keeps him in it.

It’s almost astounding how often in the game of hockey that the scoreboard and the stat sheet doesn’t match up. Whether you are looking at shots, Corsi, Fenwick, chances, PDO or anything else, from game to game, stats lie.

It’s why many times after losses Gerard Gallant steps to the podium and says something like “we played well but…” or “if we keep playing like that…” sending a positive message despite his team dropping the game.

Over the course of 60 minutes, the better team loses a lot. Over the course of seven games, it happens from time to time. Over the course of a season, or even multiple seasons, stats usually don’t lie.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the biggest challenges that #NotAMajor has thrown the Golden Knights, and its fans, is an inability to fairly compare the two teams from Year 1 to Year 2. While the 17-18 Golden Knights went to the Cup Final and nearly completed the fairy tale, there’s a strong argument that the 18-19 team was better. But, since they were bounced in the first round it’s tricky to compare the teams.

There’s a fairly new stat bouncing around the hockey world called “expected goals” which could help not only sort out the difference between the first two teams, but also predict the future of the 2019-20 team. What expected goals calculates is how often a team should have scored compared to how often they actually did. It’s based on shot location compared to the league average. The closer the shot to the net, the better chance it has to go in.

The stat is measured in “expected goals for,” “expected goals against,” and then a difference is calculated based on the actual numbers that were scored and allowed.

17-1818-19Difference
Goals Scored175173-2
Goals Allowed157162+5
Expected Goals182.3201.218.9
Expected Goals Against175.0171.93.1
exDIFF+11-18-29

As you can see, the Year 2 Golden Knights should have scored much more, but didn’t.

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