It is probably true that anything to do with numbers is the last thing most people will want to read after the first two games of this series. It might go something like this:
A: Man, we lost!!
B: Still out-chanced ‘em. By my count--[A punches B]
A: OH GOD NUMMMMMMBERS [staggers, pets a wounded, yet still-breathing shark, sheds a tear, dries the tear, whispers something to wherever a shark's ear is located, exeunt]
For some, numbers provide no quarter. For others, their ease of manipulation allows us to "keep believing" in spite of harsh realities. Maybe you’re in the middle. I’m still in the latter group. Come on over. Try to the Kool-Aid.
[A re-enters, gives audience skeptical look.]
In a previous Fanpost, I looked at the notion "score effects". I looked at just the recently completed regular season and created expected outcomes for a team Down 2 at even-strength (as this happened to the Sharks in Game 1—sorry to bring that up). There were positives to be drawn (Sharks outperformed the league in Shots For) and negatives (Quick SV%=100).
There was an interesting finding I didn’t mention. In Down 2 situations, at even-strength:
Goals Against (GA) rate > Goals For (GF) rate
I didn’t mention this because I felt that I needed to look at more data to verify it. In looking at the past 6 regular seasons, it is always the case. The rate of a Down 2 team allowing another goal was greater than the rate of getting one goal back.
Now, it’s a little tricky to understand this because I believe the rates are determined by totaling GF and GA in Down 2 situations and then dividing by time on ice (TOI). However, we can conclude that a GA occurs more frequently (and, if I may, is more likely) than a GF. This is the case in each individual season (and obviously in the overall mean).
Then I looked at the last 5 playoffs. The data itself here is a little spotty, plus it is a smaller N, and I think cross-checking with NHL RTSS would help, but I calculated some means anyway. Three quick points: 1) the GF and GA rates fluctuate A LOT more; 2) in two playoffs (2007-2008 and 2010-2011) we saw GF rates larger than GA rates; and 3) in the overall mean, however GA rate was still greater than GF rate in the playoffs and the difference was actually much greater in the 5 playoffs than the 6 regular seasons.
[A reaches for bludgeoning weapon, any bludgeoning weapon.]
|REG MEANS (N=6)||3.780055556||0.04697037||0.053122222||0.553132407||0.429240741||0.234322222||0.183561111||0.834425||0.665924074||0.921729457|
|POFF MEANS (n=5)||3.335||0.04089359||0.055173718||0.455249145||0.365640598||0.210475855||0.159383333||0.70661859||0.58019765||0.917576966|
|DOWN 2, even-strength; from BTN|
What’s this mean? First, regarding Game 2 (sorry to bring it up) Sharks outperformed the league by generating positive Fenwick events and getting a goal in 2.12 minutes of Down 2 play. Second, regarding Games 1 and 2, Sharks outperformed the league in terms of a) positive Fenwick events; and b) not allowing a GA. Three, when we say "score effects" we should know that really we are simply talking about a positive Fenwick differential that is greater than what we typically see in Close situations (demonstrating this with data would be a next step). In the aggregate, the explanation seems to be: in Down 2 situations, teams take greater risks to get shots off, which leads to more shots, but can also lead to odd-man rushes and GA the other way. In fact, this seems to happen more often than actually generating a GF from a Fenwick event. This has not happened to the Sharks, which means that when they are Down 2, they are outperforming most other teams. This is a good thing.
[A yells some stuff like WHERE GRAPH YOU NUMMMMBERS, exeunt.]
Now, if they could just not be Down 2 again on Saturday. Until then...
[Shared spreadsheet with data (individual sheets for season/playoff years; sheet with means by season and in the aggregate, expected outcomes from season/playoff, and Sharks actual outcomes in Games 1 and 2) here.]