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Two Interesting Reads

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For the stats inclined here's two interesting posts. James Mirtle over at From The Rink takes a look at how much shot blocking is associated with winning. Not very much as it turns out. Top teams like the Red Wings and Sharks don't block all that many shots while a bottom team like the Islanders has many blocked shots. Much more important than shot blocking is the taking a lot of shots down at the other end of the rink. There's more stuff in Mirtle's post so check it out.

This dovetails quite nicely with a post over at about "luck" factors in hockey. During the recent Thrashers 5 game win streak I pointed out that the Thrashers were winning because they had an unreal Shooting Percentage (ST%). In his post, Tyler Dellow shows which team's that greatly out perform the league average in ES ST% of ES SV% almost always come back down to earth (back to the league average) in the remainder of the season.

In quantitative circles if a team (or individual) can repeatedly do something above average we call that a "skill" and if they can't repeat it again and again we call it "luck". So how about the Thrashers so far this year? They've been "lucky" so far in their ES ST% but a bit "unlucky" in the ES SV% and when you add the two up they have been slightly "lucky" but fairly close to the NHL average. Going forward regression towards the mean would lead us to expect better goaltending at ES in the future and worse ES ST% the rest of the way.

What these numbers point to are two crucial problems for the Thrashers:
1) Shots matter and the Thrashers get out shot badly most nights. Getting out shot has consequences--yes there is a difference in shot quality--but if you get out shot night after night that's an indication of a fundamental problem.

2) The Thrashers have been out shot at ES so far but some good "luck" has kept the ES Goals For/Goals Against nearly even--it is the PP and PK numbers that have really hurt them so far this year. Given the ES SF/SA problem I expect some decoration in the ES GF/GA ratio which means the PP and PK must get better--or the ES SF/SA has to radically improve.