Sharks vs. Sharks: A glance at the numbers (and a case for Niemi-inspired optimism)

Something I did during the lockout was start to read (and catch up on) all the work statistical work that was being done on hockey. There's way more out there than I had initially thought. Like a(n) (Imperial) shit-ton more. I humbly began to look at historical Sharks team stats on a team-season basis, and I wasn't sure how to interpret what was going on. With this season over, I thought I'd revisit this by asking: in terms of the statistical aggregates, what Sharks team is the 2012-2013 Sharks team the most like?

Yeah, here's a table:

close 5v5 fenwick toi gf/60 ga/60 sf/60 sa/60 mf/60 ma/60 fenFOR/60 fenAG/60 totFEN/60 pts ppg playoff result
2007-2008 56.33 29.78 2.51 2.36 28.08 20.96 11.28 9.14 41.87 32.46 74.33 108 1.32 2nd RD
2008-2009 55.86 28.12 2.50 2.16 29.64 22.74 11.92 9.91 44.06 34.81 78.87 117 1.43 1st RD
2009-2010 51.10 27.67 2.91 2.35 29.19 28.69 12.64 11.77 44.74 42.81 87.55 113 1.38 WCF
2010-2011 54.44 30.37 2.48 2.10 30.33 26.19 13.01 10.07 45.82 38.36 84.18 105 1.28 WCF
2011-2012 52.19 32.14 2.39 2.25 29.51 26.50 12.00 11.45 43.90 40.20 84.10 96 1.17 1st RD
2012-2013 53.03 30.04 2.51 2.00 28.51 26.39 13.98 11.47 45.00 39.86 84.86 57 1.19 ??

Table. TABLE. Aggregate numbers in Close 5v5 situations, Sharks, 07-08 through 12-13.

First, I looked at Fenwick% as this encapsulates goals, shots, and missed shots. In this perspective, this year's team is most like last year's team, but a little better. In what ways better? Well, they have given up the least of amount of goals in Close 5v5 play than any Shark team in the time period. This is probably due to Antti Niemi's sick season. Thanks, Antti. Seriously.

Then I looked at other "defensive" aspects, like shots against/missed shots against, to get some context, and what struck me when I first looked at these numbers came roaring back. The teams from 07-08 and 08-09 were ridiculous in terms of Fenwick Against. It's a real break in the data, if you consider their shots against and missed shots rates (summed in the fenAG column). What's also striking is that, with the exception of 11-12 Sharks, every other team had a better Fenwick For figure than 07-08 and 08-09. (And yeah, 09-10 had the worst Fenwick% and went to the WCF.)

So, what this all mean? I'd actually like to think that the Sharks of this year are more like Sharks 10-11 than Sharks 11-12. They are closer in terms of goals for and goals against, and total fenFOR. I want to think that with Niemi playing extremely well, as long as this team gets pucks toward the net (this year's iteration the 2nd best at doing so), they have a good a chance as any of the previous teams to go deep.

This item was created by a member of this blog's community and is not necessarily endorsed by Fear The Fin.

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