Ramblings: CAPS WIN!; Ovechkin, Seguin, Skinner, O’Reilly, and More – June 8

by Michael Clifford on June 8, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: CAPS WIN!; Ovechkin, Seguin, Skinner, O’Reilly, and More – June 8

For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Capitals played in a game that could clinch them the Stanley Cup. Also for the first time in franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights were facing elimination. One way or another, we were getting history on Thursday night.

The game started as maybe expected: prime scoring chances (outside of a post from Alex Ovechkin) were few and far between in the first period. Tomas Tatar had a good look from the slot but lost control on a toe-drag. Tom Wilon was, well, doing Tom Wilson things:

We were scoreless through 20 but things picked up in the middle period.

Jakub Vrana (my beautiful baby boy) got things going with a glove-high snipe on a partial break. That was replied by Nate Schmidt for Vegas. And then, who else but Alex Ovechkin would give the Caps the lead. While Ovechkin scored, this pass from Nicklas Backstrom was sublime:

Goals from David Perron and Reilly Smith had Vegas back ahead 3-2 for the third period.

The Caps seemed destined for victory in the final frame. A turnover by Luca Sbisa behind his own net led to a Brooks Orpik point shot, and Devante Smith-Pelly going skate-to-stick to tie it at three. Another Sbisa turnover in his own end a few minutes later led to a goal from Lars Eller, and that goal would hold up as the game-winning, and Cup-winning, tally for the Washington Capitals.

After so many years of disappointment, Washington finally did it. They finally made good on all the talent they’ve acquired and lost over the last 15 years. For the long-suffering fans, I’m sure it’s been well worth the wait. After all the seasons that flamed out, after the 600-plus goals without a Final appearance for Alex Ovechkin, after a Hall Of Fame resumé being put together by Nicklas Backstrom, after the goaltending uncertainty as recent as these playoffs, Washington and their fans finally have their long-awaited championship.

As mentioned in earlier Ramblings, the Conn Smythe was likely to go to a more prominent name like Ovechkin or Evgeny Kuznetsov – it ended up going to Ovechkin – but it was only fitting that Eller scored the Cup-clinching tally. He and his line mates gave this team a very good third line that they had been looking for all season. He played so well these playoffs. He earned it.

Congratulations once again to the players, the organization, and the fans. It was a great run and they fully deserve the result.

What a sight:

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There'll be plenty of time to dissect the Vegas season later. It was an unbelievable year for them and their success really was immeasurable. Congratulations to them on their achievements. I'm sure it hurts to fall just short but it's still an incredible story. 

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The incorporation of advanced stats into fantasy hockey was inevitable. In a game where the best (or highest) numbers win, using predictive stats that maybe your league mates aren’t is an advantage that would be foolish to ignore.  

The issue with the incorporation of advanced stats into fantasy hockey is parsing what is useful from what isn’t. Shot rates matter, but how much do they matter? And which shot rates matter the most? To that end, the focus in this Ramblings will be on daily fantasy hockey rather than season-long.

I hope everyone likes charts.

I have personally used it in the past but I wanted to see just how useful high-danger shot attempts (iHDCF) as defined by Natural Stat Trick were in relation to DraftKings points for forwards only. For those unfamiliar, this is how DraftKings scoring works for skaters:

  • 3 points for a goal
  • 2 points for an assist
  • 0.5 points for a blocked shot
  • 0.5 points for a shot on goal
  • 1-point bonus for a short-handed point (goal or assist)
  • 1.5-point bonus for a hat trick
  • 0.2 points for a shootout goal

For our purposes, some stats were excluded from consideration. The following charts only consider goals, assists, and shots on goal. Short-handed points and hat tricks are few and far between, shootouts are not important, and blocked shots are more the domain of defencemen. Here are the charts for each season from 2013-14 through 2017-18 containing the r2 for individual high-danger shot attempts and DK points/game alongside just individual shot attempts and DK points/game. Remember, this is for all forwards and it is at all strengths. It is intended to be descriptive rather than predictive, as well:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s look at a few things here.

First thing: OVI. Notice how there’s an orange dot to the top right of every iCF chart, which particularly stand out when you look at 3-4 years ago? Those are all Ovechkin. The one from 2014-15 stands out particularly when you realize the gap in total iCF between he and second place (Max Pacioretty) was roughly the same gap as Pacioretty and 96th place (Victor Rask). It doesn’t mean anything for the purposes of these Ramblings but it’s still amazing nonetheless.

More importantly, iCF outperformed iHDCF in each of the past five seasons in explaining DK points as defined for this exercise above. Not only that, but compared to five years ago, the relative gap in the relationship between iCF/DK points and iHDCF/DK points has grown. That means iCF in comparison to iHDCF has done a better job at explaining DK points that have occurred from 2016-18 for forwards than they did from 2013-16.

It’s at this point where another reminder has to be given: this is for individual shot attempts and individual high-danger shot attempts only. These aren’t on-ice stats where we take the team context into account, and these aren’t the expected goals models from Corsica Hockey. I simply wanted to look at individual shot attempts and individual high-danger shot attempts as defined by NatStat.

While the implications considered here are for daily fantasy, the implication for season-long is obvious. If iHDCF has a weaker relationship to DK points/game than iCF where goals/assists/shots are the only stats counted, it is a pretty strong signal to season-long points-only players that just sorting by iHDCF during the season looking for over/under-performing players to trade for/away, or scour the waiver wire, isn’t really the way to go. Sometimes the “old” ways are still the best, and at least when deciding to choose between iCF and iHDCF, the former is still the way to go.

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Just for fun, I went and looked at the relationship between both on-ice CF and on-ice HDCF as far as DK points per game are concerned. On-ice numbers are just the shot attempt and high-danger shot attempt totals for a team that occur with a given player on the ice, not the actual shots from the players themselves. I won’t inundate everyone with a bevy of more charts, but there were a couple interesting things:

  • How much DK points/game was explained by on-ice CF diminished compared to iCF and DK points/game. Conversely, the correlation between on-ice HDCF and DK points/game increased compared to iHDCF and DK points/game.
  • It got to the point where there wasn’t really a difference between CF/HDCF and DK points/game. Unlike individual shot attempt rates, there is no need to really differentiate between on-ice shot attempt rates as far as DK points/game are concerned.

Long story short, whether a person uses on-ice CF or HDCF to explain DK points/game, it doesn’t really matter. The only difference comes with individual corsifor and individual high-danger corsifor. 

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Speaking of Alex Ovechkin and his insane iCF rates, I wanted to see what the gap between him and everyone else was over the last five seasons. Seeing as he’s so far above everyone else nearly every year, it just seemed like a necessary step. The results are, predictably, hilarious (via Corsica):

  • At all strengths, since the start of the 2013-14 season, Ovechkin has 3697 individual shot attempts. The next-closest forward is Tyler Seguin at 2639. Yes, he has over 1000 more shot attempts over the last five seasons as the next-closest forward.
  • That gap between Ovechkin and Seguin (1058 shot attempts) is larger than the gap between Seguin and the 62nd-most individual shot attempts (Brayden Scehnn) at 1046.
  • Ovechkin has more shot attempts over the last five seasons (3697) than Patric Hornqvist and James van Riemsdyk combined (3696).

What Ovechkin has done to the NHL his entire career is hilarious but what he’s done over the last five years, considering he’s supposed to be on the downswing, is amazing.

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I must say, that also gave me an appreciation for Tyler Seguin. If you exclude Ovechkin, Seguin’s five seasons since getting to Dallas look pretty good. Not only is he second in all-strengths shot attempts, he’s second in all-strengths shots (133 more than second place), tied for second in all-strengths goals (173, with Sidney Crosby), 16th in all-strengths assists (211, one behind John Tavares), and tied for sixth in all-strengths points (384, with Nicklas Backstrom).

It’s also the consistency, as he’s the only forward to manage at least 25 goals, 35 assists, and 240 shots on goal in each of the past five seasons. Only three players even have four such seasons out of the last five (Benn, Crosby, Tavares).

Considering the minutes he plays, the elite players he plays with, and his history of production, it’s a wonder he hasn’t had one of those “everything goes right” types of seasons where he blows up to be among the contenders for the Hart Trophy.

Oh yeah, he’s also an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season. It’s a wonder his name doesn’t come up in the media more often, but I assume that changes once the season starts.

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TSN released their Trade Bait board for the summer a couple of days ago. You can view it here. Prior Ramblings have discussed both Phil Kessel and PK Subban so there’s no need to dig into it further here. A few things that seemed surprising:

 

Ryan O’Reilly

That the Sabres might want to trade someone with a high cap hit isn’t overly surprising. It would essentially be the start of their second (third?) rebuild, but with Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, and eventually Rasmus Dahlin in place, along with two first-round picks next year, the chance to further stock the cupboard with prospects/picks makes sense.

O’Reilly has been nothing but fantastic for the Sabres but maximizing the return now in hopes to build a contender 3-4 years down the road seems like the right move. I’m sure the Canadiens are inquiring.

 

Vancouver’s First Pick

I can’t see this coming to pass.

But if it does, LOL.

 

Jeff Skinner

Carolina seems intent on blowing it up; there are a number of Hurricanes skaters on this board. All their blowing up won’t matter unless they get goaltending that isn’t among the bottom-5 of the league for a decade. There are a lot of teams that probably think they can contend with one more goal scorer and Skinner is exactly that. The opportunity to see him in a true prime role is salivating as a fantasy owner.

 

Phillipp Grubauer

The Caps recently signed Ilya Samsonov, Grubauer is due for a raise, and the team is tight against the cap. The question is whether teams see him as a potential starter like Antti Raanta, Martin Jones, or Cam Talbot, or as a career backup. It’ll be very interesting to see where he lands.