Monday, 13 April 2009

I'm sure I've ranted about this before, but I think hockey badly needs a "sabermetrification", i.e, a move to refine and take their stats more seriously. Here's an example from something I've been seeing lately. There's some talk that the Washington Capitals have set records for most points, most wins and most home wins in a season. But the problem is that the original records were set by the 1985-86 Capitals team. That team played at a time at which there was no shootout or regular season overtime, games tied at the end of regulation just ended with each team gaining a point. Also, that team played only 80 games, not 82 as they play today. Today, games ending in ties in regulation are 3 point games, a consolation point going to the loser, that wasn't the case in 85-86. So the teams now have more opportunities for wins and there are more points that can be won in a game. It's silly to just compare their records straight up. It's like comparing prices without adjusting for inflation.

It wouldn't be that hard to get a fair comparison, we'd just need to normalize the points. The most accurate way to normalize is to subtract all pts. gained in OT or SO (win or loss) and then give the Caps exactly one pt. for each game that ended in a tie in regulation. I don't have those numbers handy, an approximation is to drop the pts. gained in OT losses. So, this year's Caps have 96 "normalized" pts. after dropping the 8 pts they gained in OT losses. To finish with a comparable record they'd have to get 110 "normalized" pts. (they have 2 extra games, take the percentage of possible pts. the 85-86 team, won, .66875, and multiply by 82). But this year's team has only 3 games left. Or we could normalize the 85-86 records, perhaps most simply by assuming they'd have received a win in half their ties had they gone to a tiebreaker. This would give the 85-86 team 111 points in 80 games, which pro-rates to 114 in 82. So, IMO, the old record is safe.

What was Boudreau's, Caps coach, response when asked if these format changes rendered the record less impressive? "
You're going to have detractors anywhere you go when it comes to records. Everyone is going to want to put asterisks and things beside people's names. But in today's era, everything has changed. Everything has gotten bigger, faster, stronger, quicker. There was no salary cap in the '80s, either. There could have been a huge discrepancy. Everything evens out in the long run."

Hmm, I have no idea why the speed or strength of today's player is relevant. That today's players are faster and stronger doesn't change the fact that they give out more points and chances for wins today.

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