Stop reading here if you don’t believe there is a happy medium between The Paste Eaters and The Analytics Movement.
Randy Carlyle: Last 10 ( 3-7-0)
Peter Horachek: First 10 ( 1-8-1)
Can we all agree that wins are good?
Can we also agree that watching back and forth open hockey is exciting?
Do we agree that watching structured shot suppressing hockey is boring?
Previous to the coaching change I would sit there and watch our Leafs play, becoming infuriated witnessing the onslaught of pucks our two netminders had to face. Only to get excited when they would have an odd man rush the other way, scoring, then winning, because they could capatalize on our opponents mistakes.(<—– If you remember anything from this entry — remember this). Since the day of epiphany (Jan 6th), the difference in play itself is very visible to the eye, and also to the possession data provided and borrowed from www.war-on-ice.com. So far, under the Horachek regime, the game actually looks more even and not lopsided like before Randy Carlyle’s departure. They are actually playing in the offensive zone. So much so, that our shot-attempts for, have increased, and our shot-attempts against, have dropped — overnight. Those who swear by Corsi metrics alone, should agree, that zone time has been better split. Our 5v5 CorsiFor% through the last 10 games is just under 50%, including two back to back’s. To be honest anyone who has watched these games to their entirety should be able to validate the data by eye. They look better. Their play on the back to backs was also to be expected.
Move your mouse over the graphs to see interactive elements.
Though being a small sample, the above chart breaks down our CF, CA and CF% over Peter Horachek’s first 10 games as Interim Head Coach. I have used a stepped area to better show shot attempt differential, Green Higher = Good, Red Higher = Bad. Please keep in mind that all 4 of the western teams played on western road trip, are extremely good at puck possession. In my my opinion anything close to 50% in those games is acceptable. If anyone is already questioning a 10 game sample size, please enjoy the following chart. For this is what Peter Horachek did for the Florida Panthers, from a possession perspective, after he took over. A Florida team that was no where near the talent level that they, Florida, have this year.
All little back ground on the above chart, The direction changes in my so called “trend line” represent major events. Point 1 indicates the start of the 2013-2014 season. Point 2 is the coaching change, Point 3 is the injury bug. Point 4, obviously, represents the end of the 2103-2014 season. I have also added a line that just represent 50% on the CF% axis. Now if you shorten this chart into only Peter Horachek (below), his reign looked a lot more promising until a sudden drop off . Injury-related in my opinion. Also, game 63, just days after Luongo was traded back to Florida and Thomas was traded to Dallas, is something to possibly keep in mind as well. I should also note that Peter Horachek (as coach) finished the season(66 Games) with a 51.4 CF%.
OK, enough defending my home town hockey boy, Peter Horachek. I think people get my point.
Lets look at Randy Carlyle and show how poorly the Leafs played from a possession perspective, and how poor our season’s possession rating was headed. I am not here to slam Randy Carlyle as a coach/person/father/son/whatever. I am attempting to show that maybe his style of hockey, whatever it was, was not the right fit for these players and was not the answer long term. RC did in fact keep us on the edge of our seats with his defensive minded — totally open — run and gun style. Pretty sure this was the way media explained his style throughout the seasons, my best guess is most of them couldn’t decide how to explain his system/process/style/whatever.
However you wish to explain RC’s coaching, it was abysmal in a possession aspect and headed in the wrong direction. Obviously management felt this was not how they wanted to move forward as a group and decided to part ways with the long time NHL head coach.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
More a transition period than a break up, but I enjoy oldies music even at the young age of 33. We in #LeafsNation need to cut this new coach a little slack, he is only 10 games in. System transition at the mid-way point of the season can’t be easy on the coaches, players and management. Not only have I shown statistically, but I am completely positive that you have seen, with your cute little peepers, that this team can actually play a possession minded hockey game. Can they find the scoring touch again? That is up for debate. Playing a better possession game was the easy part. Though a small sample, they seem to have grasped Horachek’s 5-5-5 zone attitude thus far. You can see that they are harder to play against in the neutral zone, hence they have made it harder for the opposition to gain a controlled zoned entry. Though I have no data to validate my zone entry statement, I will admit my eyes are not to bad. So all in all, give the guy a break, he is doing what many of us have yearned for, structure, process, defence, possession. It is all there. I have listened to radio personalities wonder, “when will the moral wins, be not enough, and when will this team revert to an all familiar run and gun style”. I really hope never.
IT’S NOT LIKE THE SCORING CHANCES ARN’T THERE
According to www.war-on-ice.com:
So based on these measures, the average probability of a goal given the type and locations, and the consideration of team defense, we have these conditions for a ‘scoring chance’:
- In the low danger zone, unblocked rebounds and rush shots only.
- In the medium danger zone, all unblocked shots.
- In the high danger zone, all shot attempts (since blocked shots taken here may be more representative of more ‘wide-open nets’, though we don’t know this for sure.)
These definitions are flexible but we feel they’re a reasonable starting point given all the data we have available. We’re open to changing it if we have sufficient numerical evidence.
The full explanation can be found here if you are interested: blog.war-on-ice.com
So according to the definition set out by @War_On_Ice the above graph does show that their chances have been there and they have out chanced most opponents thus far, on a game by game basis. They have also limited the opposition to less scoring chances if you compare the above chart with the one below.
Currently Peter Horachek is posting a 50.12 SCF% (Scoring Chance For %).
SHUT UP — LET ME BE EXCITED OVER SOMETHING!!!!!
Hopefully with the new RFID tracking technology being implemented by the NHL in the future, there is a possibility on quantifying scoring chances a little better. Right now, the data and tracking are just not there yet. With that being said War-On Ice’s definition is still very good for the limited data that we have available.
OFF-TOPIC SIDE NOTE
I hate bringing this up, but a debate does exist on shot quality. Both sides of the debate have valid points on the topic. Obviously anyone can go back and look at “game tape” and decide what shots were of better quality than others, yet this may comes with visual biases. As for quantifying shot quality or a quality shot quantifier, is that not where SCF% may be heading? Could it not one day, with RFID data, become closer to a quantifier of quality. Right now as I understand SCF% is better at predicting future goals than it’s predecessor. In essence, the quality of the data interpretation is getting better and may become of such high “quality” that, a “shot quality” percentage, or a “Quality Shot” quantifier, could be interpreted from future data as more variables become available. Just a thought. Agree or Disagree I believe that one day “Quality” will be quantifiable.
As a reader you may argue that I have chosen a data set to fully support my argument. I believe, as an organization, moving forward and looking to the future, a style of play similar to what Peter Horachek is implementing is what is required to build a strong foundation of what a winning organization should look like. If the idea behind this management group is to do some sort of rebuild, Peter Horachek should be considered as a Head Coach moving forward. I am not saying “HIRE HIM, AND ONLY HIM”, I am just saying that he should be considered if a shot supressing game is what they are looking to. The idea of Mike Babcock swooping in and fixing this group of players is absurd. No matter what coach has coached most of these players, there has been no success with this team. The shortened season does not count in my eyes, sorry. What needs to be done is a thorough assessment, at the player level, of what player(s) can or will fit into this current shot suppressing system, (4-15-1) in last 20 is on the players. Over time box-score results should improve as players get more comfortable playing outside their comfort zone. Many have given their thoughts and ideas as to why this team is losing, though playing a more structured game and realistically look better out one the ice. The answer here is simple. The Leafs are now playing against the Leafs. During Randy Carlyle’s tenure as head coach, they have won more games being: out-played, out-chanced, out-shot, out-possessed, etc all the while capitalizing on their opponents untimely errors. Even Randy Carlyle himself, has admitted, time and time again “We cannot continue to win like this”. Now that the Leafs are the team: out-playing, out-chancing, out-shooting, and out-possessing their opponents, they are the ones losing, all to familiarly. The answer — is Karma. Karma is an intangible that exists and cannot be quantified statistically speaking. Basically — We had this coming — And Karma is one hell of a BITCH.
Disgruntled Hopeful – @LeafsLostSoul