Fun With Numbers, Part II: Hockey East

As tonight’s Beanpot championship approaches, I figured that Monday would be a good day to take a look at the top Hobey Baker candidates in Hockey East and see how their performances this season measure up when I apply the Campbellnomics system and find out who’s coming up biggest at crunch time.

Campbellnomics, as you may recall from Sunday’s blog post, was developed by Ken Campbell of the Hockey News, and it focuses on the most meaningful goals of a game by awarding points only on seven types of goals: the first goal of the game, a goal that produces a lead, a goal that ties the game, a goal that produces the last lead, a goal that leads to a comeback, an overtime goal, and a shootout goal. The system also favors goal-scorers by awarding a full point for a goal in each of those situations, and half a point for an assist. One goal can count in multiple categories, so, for example, the scorer of a game-winning goal in a 1-0 win would receive four points: one for the first goal of the game, one for the lead, one for the last lead, and one for overtime. Meanwhile, a player who assisted on that goal would receive two points.

Ken keeps a running total throughout the season, and uses point totals rather than averages, since most NHL players play all 82 games. Because we’re dealing with college hockey, and different teams play different numbers of games, whether it’s because of tournament or travel exemptions or Ivy League restrictions, I’m using a per-game average. For frame of reference, the Campbellnomics leader as of last Tuesday, Sidney Crosby, was averaging approximately 1.18 CPPG (Campbellnomics Points Per Game). Also, while the CCHA does use a shootout, along with some holiday tournaments, I am not counting shootout goals, as they aren’t widespread enough in college hockey to make for a fair comparison.

Yesterday, I looked at the top five Hobey Baker candidates from Atlantic Hockey and the CHA, finding that Air Force’s Jacques Lamoureux led the the group with .80 CPPG, ahead of Bemidji State’s Matt Read (.73), Sacred Heart’s Nick Johnson (.73) and Canisius’ Cory Conacher (.71) Today, I’m turning my attention to Hockey East, and will be looking at five forwards: Maine sophomore Gustav Nyquist, UMass junior James Marcou, UMass sophomore Casey Wellman, New Hampshire senior Bobby Butler, and Boston College junior Brian Gibbons (later in the week, when I evaluate defensemen, I’ll be looking at UNH’s Blake Kessel, UMass-Lowell’s Nick Schaus and BU’s Kevin Shattenkirk or Colby Cohen…I still haven’t decided which).

Gustav Nyquist has been a key to Maine’s resurgence this season, which has the Black Bears contending for the Hockey East lead after a weekend sweep of UNH, not to mention a return to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence. The Swedish sophomore is currently second overall in the nation in points per game with 14 goals and 26 assists in 26 games, an average of 1.54 points per game. He’s also only been held off the scoresheet in four contests this year. After looking at the game situations in which he scored, though, Nyquist comes up with a total of 18 Campbellnomics points, an average of .69 CPPG.

UMass has one of the most dynamic one-two punches in the nation in the tandem of junior James Marcou and sophomore Casey Wellman. Marcou, with his nine goals and 32 assists in 27 games, is No. 3 in the nation in scoring average at 1.52 points per game, while Wellman is 11th, his 19 goals and 16 assists averaging out to approximately 1.30 points per game. Under the Campbellnomics system, however, the roles are reversed. Because the system weights goals by awarding twice as much for them as for assists, Marcou’s total is 21 Campbellnomics points for a very respectable average of .78 CPPG, higher than any of the Atlantic and CHA players I evaluated on Sunday. Wellman, meanwhile, totaled 27.5 Campbellnomics points, averaging approximately 1.02 CPPG. Not only is Wellman scoring big for the Minutemen, but he’s scoring at big times, and Marcou is usually there with a helping hand.

New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler has been a Hockey East Player of the Month for the Wildcats, and has managed to keep up a high scoring pace following that honor. Overall, Butler’s 18 goals and 19 assists in 27 games give him an average of 1.37 PPG, good for seventh in the country. He also holds up nicely under the Campbellnomics system, totalling 24.5 Campbellnomics points for an average of .91 CPPG, No. 2 among all the players I’ve evaluated so far.

Finally, we turn to Brian Gibbons of Boston College, who made a nice impression at the Beanpot last week and will look to do the same tonight. Gibbons is ninth in the country in overall scoring, his 10 goals and 24 assists in 25 games averaging out to 1.36 points per game. Campbellnomics, however, is not kind to Gibbons, awarding him a total of 15.5 points, an average of .62 CPPG.

So, to recap:

Casey Wellman, So., F, UMass: 1.02 CPPG

Bobby Butler, Sr., F, UNH: .91 CPPG

James Marcou, Jr., F, UMass: .78 CPPG

Gustav Nyquist, So., F, Maine: .69 CPPG

Brian Gibbons, Jr., F, Boston College: .62 CPPG

Now, I’m certainly not saying that Casey Wellman is far and away a better canidate than Gustav Nyquist because of the cap in their scores. For one thing, I’m uncomfortable about not counting the goal that stretches a one-goal lead to a two-goal lead, particularly when a later score by the opposing team turns that goal into the game-winner. Also, Wellman has the benefit of playing with Marcou, a returning All-American, which Nyquist does not (this is not to discount the abilities of his teammates and linemates, but they don’t have Marcou’s credentials). This is just another element to look at as we compare these players and see who might be deserving of a spot as a Hobey Baker finalist when the selections are announced in a little more than a month.

And who knows? Maybe next season I’ll develop my own system. USCHOmetrics, anyone?