Happy Thanksgiving, everybody; here’s hoping it’s the tryptophan that’s putting you to sleep, and not the hockey. Or the hockey coverage.
Home %&#@ Home…
Let me know when you begin to see a pattern emerging here.
Last weekend, the host teams went 3-5-0 in league play for the second consecutive week. The visitors, as a collective, now sport a surprising 17-10-2 record, and have yet to lose a weekend.
Suffice to say, this is not what we were expecting.
Let me put it this way: the top half of the league is 13-2-1 away from home. Even the bottom half is 4-8-1, winning nearly a third of their contests away from home. Colgate, Harvard and Princeton are the only teams with losing records on the road after four weekends of EC’ play.
It may seem like I’m obsessed with this, but really, wow. Every coach in the league will tell you that the ECACHL is won with home cooking and special teams. Since no one here has learned how to cook yet, it’s no wonder the results have been so screwy.
By the way, Quinnipiac (2-0-0), St. Lawrence (2-0-0) and RPI (1-0-1) are the only teams with winning home records thus far.
Special Ops, a.k.a. Stats Ahoy!
To continue the previous thought, some observations on the state of special teams around the league.
If anyone has experience with the PP/PK, it’ll be Yale.
The Bulldogs lead the league with 140 penalty minutes in four game, for an even 35 minutes per. Of course, that’s not translating to 17 or 18 kills a game — the Elis have been shorthanded 41 times, in fact — but it certainly puts the Dogs in a bind.
However, Yale gets under its opponents’ skin with a fair amount of success as well, drawing 7.5 power plays a game, just better than the league median. The power-play unit has had a sharp 23% success rate so far, second in the league, while the eighth-place penalty kill could use some work, at 83% efficiency. Seen as a whole, Yale’s power play is just barely making up for all the penalties, scoring 1.725 goals per game, while the PK surrenders roughly 1.5.
While much is made of a team’s power-play and penalty-kill success rates, as well as the pure number of penalties taken, the number of power plays drawn is often overlooked.
Usually the byproduct of a high-pressure offense with strong puck control, drawing penalties is both indicative of a talented and disciplined offense, and necessary to a team’s long-term success.
So look up, Raider fans, because your team is leading the pack in positive potential right now.
Colgate drew an astounding 61 power plays in its first six games. While the much-maligned unit only scored seven times on those advantages, it should be noted that neither Princeton nor Cornell topped seven PP goals in their six games, either. The Raiders are sixth in the league in power-play goals per game, in fact. Thus, while it’s not exactly a lights-out scenario with the man-advantage, the ‘Gate — in the most literal and optimistic sense of the phrase — has nowhere to go but up.
On the flip side, if I asked you who was playing the most five-on-five of anyone in the league, who would guess St. Lawrence?
The Saints have had the fewest penalty minutes (13 per game), penalty-kills (six per game) and power-play opportunities (5.25/game) in the league, and by a fair margin. The man-up unit leads the ECACHL in efficiency, with an astonishing 28.6% rate, but that’s still only six goals in four games. Yale’s got that beat, and Cornell draws even.
I’m not going to say that SLU is due for a fall, because the Saints are playing tight, clean hockey … it’s not as though they’ve had to overcompensate for having guys in the box. However, head coach Joe Marsh would be the first to tell you (and he has) that “12 percent isn’t going to cut it.”
Among the rest of the league, Harvard also demonstrates the low penalty minutes/high penalties-drawn characteristic, though it’s not nearly as disparate as Colgate’s figures. Princeton is in the box for barely 14 minutes a game, but so are its opponents.
Quinnipiac is perfectly even, with exactly seven power plays and seven kills a game, but the overwhelming success of the Bobcats’ penalty-kill (88.1%) has negated most of those potentially negative results. Brown has got to cut down on the penalties to succeed on these terms, for while the Bears have drawn better than nine man-advantages a night, they’re shorthanded just as frequently. Thank goodness for an adequate PK unit, or Brown might be sunk far too early in the season.
But Then Again…
Don’t forget about that ever-exciting/frustrating wild-card, shorthanded goals.
Quinnipiac is playing some crazy hockey in that regard, scoring three shorties, but also surrendering a pair. That’s insane, to consider that through six games and 42 shorthanded situations, the Bobcats are only a -2 differential on the kill.
Clarkson enjoyed the same shorthanded success, without the bitter taste of reciprocity. The Knights scored a trio of man-down markers in only four games, in 35 shorthanded situations for a mirror -2 differential.
In a small sampling of two games, Union has already suffered two shorthanded goals against, with only one power-play goal for. Fortunately for Union, that will probably break back to positive when the Dutch resume play again this weekend.
First intermission, sponsored by Starbucks? How else to explain Quinnipiac’s 12 second-period league goals this year, far and away the most single-period scoring of any team in the ECACHL? (Can I claim some sort of fee for proposing that ingenious marketing tie-in?)
On the other side of that coin, both Dartmouth and Colgate have allowed double-digit goals in the final frame. The Green surrendered 10 through seven games; the Raiders, 13 in six.
Dan Rosen appears to be holding the reins in Providence, sporting a 1.39 goals-against average, .958 save percentage, and a 2-1-0 record in over 215 minutes between the pipes. The 5-foot-11 freshman from Syosset, N.Y., also holds a ridiculous 1.01 GAA in two league starts so far.
I’m clearly a stat-head; I love breaking down the minutiae of the games, and the sport as a whole. However, I know there are a lot more experienced — and talented — statisticians out there than I. Any other hockey-stat studies out there, regardless of how informal, that you’ve really devoted yourself to? Anything that’s always interested you, but you’ve never had the time, access, or raw data to get it done? Let’s see what we can put together. Yeah, I’m serious; I’m a team player.
If your cat falls asleep on the keyboard and you really dig the random pseudo-Hungarian-name-looking alphabetical assortment that results, send it my way: [email protected].