1. 4.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Points Per Shift Part II: Defensemen and Rookies – The Colonel

Monday morning’s post offered a new statistic, Points Per Shift (PPS), to use in measuring which players produce the most for their team. PPS “…analyzes how many Points Per Game (PPG) each player provides divided by the average number of shifts he takes in order to tell you what he brings to the Great Game each and every time he goes over the boards….”

But there are two types of players that are analyzed differently by the Hockey community than just as the top scorers in the NHL. Defensemen do not normally produce as much scoring as forwards, so would correspondingly have a lower PPS. And rookies also do not normally get as many Shifts Per Game (SPG) as those same, top forwards. To gauge where they stand in terms of the effort they give their team each and every time they skate, they must be looked at differently.

To complete this study, we maintain our evaluation date of games ending on Saturday Night, 5 December for the sake of continuity. We also show the Top 10 PPS with a few notes, then go to defensemen and finally, the rookies. And we close with two notes of interest on Points Per Minute (PPM) and measuring defensive efforts.

Points Per Shift – The Top 10

As stated earlier, PPS = PPG / SPG.

Scoring Rank Player PPS
14 Alex Ovechkin 0.07186
27 Ilya Kovalchuk 0.07065
22 Evgeni Malkin 0.05860
29 Maxim Afinogenov 0.05556
2 Marian Gaborik 0.05468
3 Sidney Crosby 0.05368
9 Nicklas Backstrom 0.05182
10 Brad Richards 0.05148
5 Henrik Sedin 0.04835
1 Joe Thornton 0.04813

From the Top 30 scorers after 5 December we arrive at the Top 10 PPS list above. You can see the range is from a high of Ovechkin’s .07186 down to Thornton’s .04813 rating. The average PPS from the Top 30 is .04559, so you can see that eight of the 10 players above top that. Not shown here but in the equation you also find eight of the 10 also play less than the average SPG (24.8767) for various reasons which positively affects their PPS.

What can we find if we look solely at the Top 30 Defenders in the NHL?

Defensemen and PPS

The Top 10 defensemen who have played at least 20 games and their PPS are:

Rank Player PPS
1 Mike Green 0.042126
2 Tomas Kaberle 0.035294
7 Tobias Enstrom 0.031429
16 Alex Goligoski 0.031405
6 Lubomir Visnovsky 0.030833
5 Drew Doughty 0.028516
3 Dan Boyle 0.027273
4 Duncan Keith 0.026452
14 Michael Del Zotto 0.026222
11 Christian Ehrhoff 0.025

It becomes immediately apparent that the leading defender’s PPS does not even equal the average for the Top 30 forwards. This has to do in large measure with the fact that top defensemen at 27.5833 skate for more SPG than the forwards (24.8767) do which lowers their numbers.

The average defenseman PPS from the Top 30 pool is .023849, your standard measure of a blue liner. Interestingly, while we did not get below Number 8 in the forward category before players dropped under their average PPS, that didn’t occur until the 12th defenseman.

That average blue liners’ PPS both gives Mike Green of Washington Statistical Supremacy in the defenseman category over all other defenders, and the Top 30 players’ PPS Statistical Supremacy over the d-man category. It should be noted Green is also Number 16 on the overall PPS list, just in front of Dany Heatley, and Tomas Kaberle sits at the Number 27 position in front of Ryan Malone, Rick Nash and Paul Stastny.

How do the rookies’ PPS rankings stack up to the overall and defensemen lists?

Rookie PPS

The Top 10 rookies as of 5 December are:

Rank Player PPS
2 James van Riemsdyk 0.046111
1 John Tavares 0.034545
3 Niclas Bergfors 0.031308
14 Scott Parse 0.029762
21 Mathieu Perreault 0.029197
9 Evander Kane 0.028249
10 Artem Anisimov 0.026627
5 Michael Del Zotto 0.026222
7 Jamie Benn 0.026066
11 Jason Demers 0.025131

A couple of notes come to mind from the rookie table.

First is that the average rookie PPS is .02096, the lowest of the three categories presented. And average SPG for the Top 30 rookies is 20.57, more than four shifts lass than veteran forwards and seven less than defensemen. Because of our equation of PPG/SPG = PPS, if rookies were scoring more than the veterans, they would hold much higher PPS rankings. (The same could be said for veteran skaters who simply do not score as much as your Thornton or Ovechkin does.)

The rookie PPS average gives both James van Riemsdyk and John Tavares Statistical Supremacy in this category and underscores how dominant they are as rookies. It should also be noted Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers rests at Number 8 in rookie PPS and Number 9 for all defensemen with a PPS above the average for both groups.

To compare PPS between rookies and veterans, van Riemsdyk’s PPS is higher than Anze Kopitar’s and Kopitar is ranked at Number 13. Tavares’ PPS is also higher than Rick Nash’s. These numbers, however, are somewhat relative because Kopitar has accumulated more points over 25.7 SPG to van Riemsdyk’s lesser point total in 18. Despite the higher PPS, however, van Riemsdyk and Tavares do not appear on the same chart as the veterans because their starting PPG is lower.

In this regard you can do one of two things: compare apples (rookies) to apples and not oranges (veterans); or measure rookies against players with a similar number of SPG. Van Riemsdyk’s .046111 PPS is less than Afinogenov’s .05556 PPS at 18 SPG just as Tavares’ .034545 PPS dips well below Nick Backstrom’s .05182 PPS at 22 SPG. These comparisons give Backstrom Statistical Supremacy over Tavares, but not Afinogenov over van Riemsdyk. Does this stand as proof that van Riemsdyk is a more prominent rookie than Tavares, or just that he is more dominant for the Flyers than Tavares is for the Islanders? Regardless of the answer to that debatable question, it does illustrate that the rookie category should be evaluated apart from the Top 30 forwards unless they are so dominating in scoring that they naturally belong among the more prolific group.

Two (Semi-)Final Notes

In the comments trailing after yesterday’s part one of this blog, two follow on questions came to mind.

First is why not measure dominance as Points Per Minute (PPM)? By way of simple illustration, I offer why we took a different tack:

If you score 2 goals in 10 shifts, you are a .2 player in PPS.

If you measure it as 2 goals in (10 shifts at 45 seconds each, or) 7.5 minutes, you are a .267 player at Points Per Minute.

With our data set of 5 December, Alex Ovechkin is a .07186 in PPS and a .06784 in PPM. I chose to quantify it by shift because they vary in length but are a known measure of when each player has an opportunity to do, or not do, something dominant for their team. And if we look at players in terms of minutes, we talk about a lot of what they do NOT do with the puck since that is what is going on for more pure time in each game.

Which segues into the other point nicely – how do you measure the contribution of a player who has roles on a team that naturally keep him off of the score sheet? For that answer, I will post by next week the statistic of Defense Per Shift, or DPS.


In comparing defenseman and rookie PPS to that of the veteran forwards, several points come to light. Defenders, with less total points and more SPG on average have a lower PPS to use as a measuring stick. Mike Green is as much an exception to this rule this season as last as he carves out a position on both the veteran forward and defenseman lists. Rookie PPS is the third lowest average amongst the entire study group and less than half that of veteran forwards, in large measure due to a combination of lesser points and SPG for the new players. Gauging rookie PPS is best done by comparing them to veterans with a like number of SPG to determine their possibilities once some of that veteran moxie works its way into the new player’s game. No matter how you slice it though, it is obvious veteran forwards, defensemen and rookies must be taken into account separately for the most accurate measure of their PPS.

Stay tuned to www.ongoalanalysis.com for a later blog on Defense Per Shift to measure who dominates in those little things away from a puck in the net. Also look for where we will run the a weekly Top Three overall, defenseman and rookie PPS update on our home page each and every Saturday for the rest of the season…

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com

No comments: