Monday, May 6, 2013

2013 NHL Goalie Performance

This past weekend I heard a number of hockey announcers state that the most important player in the playoffs was the goaltender.  That reminded me that I had not finished the regular season NHL goalie analysis.  For our purposes, the NHL goalie measure analyzes the number of wins above average a NHL goalie produces in a given time period (in this case the lockout shortened season). So here are the top 10 NHL goalies using our Wins Above Average measure of an NHL goalie.  The updated coefficient on goals against is -0.341814 over the seasons from 1995/96 to 2013.  Using that measure of the impact of goals against on standings points, yields the following top 20 NHL goalies during the 2013 regular season.

Player Team
1 Sergei Bobrovsky CBJ
2 Craig Anderson OTT
3 Henrik Lundqvist NYR
4 Tuukka Rask BOS
5 Antti Niemi SJS
6 Cory Schneider VAN
7 Jimmy Howard DET
8 James Reimer TOR
9 Corey Crawford CHI
10 Robin Lehner OTT
11 Devan Dubnyk EDM
12 Braden Holtby WSH
13 Viktor Fasth ANA
14 Ben Bishop OTT, TBL 0.968
15 Ray Emery CHI
16 Jason LaBarbera PHX
17 Chad Johnson PHX
18 Kari Lehtonen DAL
19 Nikolai Khabibulin EDM
20 Ryan Miller BUF

Friday, May 3, 2013

NHL Attendance Analysis

Now that the NHL regular season is over, let's take a look at NHL team attendance and see what effect (if any) the NHL lockout had on fan attendance as compared to the past few years.

I grabbed the NHL attendance data from ESPN from the 2000/2001 season to the current 2012/2013 NHL regular season, sorted the data and then ran a t-test (much like I did after the recent NBA lockout).  Here is the average home attendance from 2005-2006 to 2012 (or actually 2013) NHL regular seasons.  The pink line is the most recent NHL regular season and notice that even thought there were 17 fewer home games the average attendance for the teams is very similar to the average home regular season attendance in the previous non-lockout regular seasons.  In other words, there is not much change in attendance from 2011-2012 to this season.


Using more formal statistical analysis, I calculated the t-test for the last two NHL regular seasons and found that there is no statistical difference between the home regular season attendance in the 2011-2012 and 2013 seasons.  For those curious, the t-test was  0.318 using a two sample equal (and unequal) variance measure.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 NHL Pay and Performance

Today let's take a look at how well NHL (relative) team payroll and team regular season performance relate to each other.  I am interested in how payroll and team performance related for both just this (lock-out shortened) season and over a longer period of time, so I will present both below.

For NHL team payroll data, I usually use USA Today's payroll database, but USA Today does not have that data for the 2013 NHL season, so I found NHL team compensation data at the National Hockey Leagues Players Association (NHLPA) website, which I assume is very accurate.  Note this is total compensation, not compensation against the payroll (or salary) cap.  The NHLPA notes that their measure of team compensation "is comprised of base salary plus signing bonus for the current season".  Prior data comes from USA Today's NHL salary database, so there may be some differences in the two.  For NHL team performance data, I used the 2013 regular season standings data reported on  ESPN's website.  Prior regular seasons standings data come ESPN as well.  Here is the step-by-step details of how I calculated the relative payroll - team performance relationship.

So, for just the 2013 NHL season, running the numbers I find that the relationship between relative payroll and regular season performance is positive and statistically significant and results in that relative payroll "explains" 29.7% of NHL regular season performance, which is rather high as compared to the NFL.  Again by "explain" I mean that the amount of variation in relative payroll that is related to the amount of variation in regular season performance.  Even so that still leaves 70% of regular season performance not explained by payroll.  I will leave it to you to decide if that is a lot or a little.

Over a longer time period (2000-2001 to 2013) seasons (without the 2004-2005 cancelled season) we see that the relationship between relative payroll and regular season performance in the NHL is positive and statistically significant.  Relative payroll "explains" about 24.8% of NHL regular season performance, which is very similar to prior estimates, resulting in that relative payroll does not explain over three quarters of team performance.  As we contend in The Wages of Wins, the argument that team payrolls determine team regular season performance does not seem to be as big as some claim.