7 December 2011

The Steigerwald Files

Those who know me know that there is nothing I like more about the NHL than games being accompanied by the reasoned, unbiased contributions of a Steigerwald.

Not being as plugged in to the wider Pennsylvania media as I clearly should be, I was unaware that I was missing out on the startling journalistic insight of the brother of the more famous loathsome homer broadcaster revered Penguins announcer until the recent firestorm created by this well-researched opus on the struggles of Alexander Ovechkin, a gutsy column in taking a critical view of a hugely popular figure in the Pittsburgh region.

After admirably defending his position in a dominant and rational performance during his radio interview of Puck Daddy critic, Ryan Lambert, more unpublished Steigerwald notes on a selection of Washington Capitals have now entered the public domain...

Tom Poti
Percentage of NHL games missed in seasons prior to Barry Bonds' retirement: 9.5%
Percentage of NHL games missed in seasons after Barry Bonds' retirement: 39.5%

Alexander Semin
The season before the Vancouver Olympics, the guy beats Marc Staal to a bloody pulp, shocking the hockey world with his immense physical gifts. Now tell me, how many fights have you seen him in since then, huh?

Nicklas Backstrom
I hear whispers that he is from Europe. Unlike some of these guys ripping me on their blogs, I'm old enough to be pretty sure that a couple of World Wars started in Europe. Now that doesn't make Backstrom a genocidal maniac, I accept that, but it's not a stretch to think he could've thrown a grenade or two in Poland, right?

Joel Ward
He apparently oversleeps and misses a team meeting. On 23 November. Coincidentally, 200 crimes were committed in the District of Columbia on 22 November and 23 November. I'm told the kid had a tough upbringing. I'm just telling you the statistics. Draw your own conclusions.

John Erskine
Born in Kingston. I've been around a while, met a few Jamaicans. They like a smoke, know what I'm saying? How many of these special smokes do you reckon you can get with a $1.5m contract? Think he might have enough to spare for a few friends? Just putting it out there...

Matt Hendricks
Think about this. His father, Jimi was a successful recording artist in the late 1960s. I was around at that time. A lot of wacky stuff going on, being consumed back then. I don't have any proof of his boy getting involved in funky stuff like that, but he's from that culture, right? Been around the scene. Not outrageous to join the dots on that one.

Dave Steckel
OK, I know this guy's no longer on the Capitals, but my friend Damien Cox tells me he's a great faceoff guy, hard worker. Really admires the guy as a player. But did you hear any mention of this so-called "global financial crisis" before he took Crosby out like he did? Not a single word! None of my production team here have either. That's clearly not just message board talk.

Roman Hamrlik
Guys I speak to in the locker room have told me this guy was born in a place called "Czechoslovakia". Go look on a map for this place. Do it right now. You won't find it. Now I'm not saying I've seen the guy's immigration papers or anything, but I wouldn't stamp his passport if it were my job. If you are an American patriot too, you would do the same.

The Pain Game 2011/12 - Part Two

Injury stats update – November 2011

This is my second look for the 2011/12 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2011/12 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Again, for a different indicator of player "value", I've also illustrated a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.  Clearly, neither cap charge nor TOI/G are perfect measures of player value, since each have a number of limitations and inconsistencies, but they provide a decent comparison and the results do vary somewhat.

A quick summary of the alternative metric:
  • TOI/G replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For* - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on).  [*Actually, "Games Played by Team - Games Missed by Goalie" - I'm not inclined to disentangle any three-goalie systems or minor-league conditioning stints.]
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (several examples at this point of the season) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games, I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...
The table below shows:
  • Total CHIP for each team over the 2011/12 regular season (through games played on 30 November), as well as the distribution of CHIP by position
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)
10 second analysis...
The Penguins slip from top spot following November's Resurrection, passed by the Canadiens, who should have a decent chance at staying there for a while now Andrei Markov has had a third knee surgery on his second knee surgery.

Four Canadian teams in the top seven - most of the injuries presumably occurring from visor-less players fighting each other in a barn while being hectored by Don Cherry.  Calgary's appearance in the bottom four presumably testament to their players' ability to suck it up and play badly hurt.

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

I expected Gomez to be much higher on these lists, since he's not been seen on the ice for two or three years.  James Reimer's worth to the goalie-rich Leafs is probably more accurately reflected in his CMIP figure than his more modest CHIP contribution.

Where does it hurt?
This is another update of the crude injury-by-location analysis. Again, I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.

Finally, a look at the Evasiveness Index.  This is basically the proportion of injury instances for each team that have been described as either "Undisclosed" or the helpfully pointless "Upper/Lower Body" in the same TSN profiles.  I have made no judgement about whether the many instances of "Illness" (i.e. concussion) or "Flu" (i.e. concussion) should also be included.

  • Figures exclude a few minor-leaguers / marginal NHLers (perhaps an arbitrary judgement on my part in some cases) who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season. Generally, if a minor-leaguer gets called up and then injured in an NHL game, his games missed will then count towards the CHIP though.  I try to exclude minor-league conditioning stints immediately after/during a period on IR from the man-games lost figures (but can't guarantee I get it right every time)
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I do the best I can with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com - man-games lost info more than likely does not exactly match up with the "official" figures released by individual teams
  • Cap info courtesy of capgeek.com