Who have been the biggest offensive and defensive contributors to the team so far?
Analyzing contributions through the lens of an Expected Goals model
With the weekend off from hockey, I thought it would be interesting to use our xG model to evaluate players in terms of their offensive and defensive contributions on ice. Goals and assists are obviously a good indicator of offensive contribution because, well, they are the actual contributions.
The problem with points is that guys can get lucky/unlucky with their scoring and their raw point total can be skewed in one way or the other. It’s the reason why shot attempts (Corsi) and expected goal models have been shown to be more predictive of future scoring than just previous point totals.
Defensive contribution is even harder to pick out from public data. There’s plus/minus, but again that can be skewed significantly by just being unlucky (or lucky). Should you really be penalized with a -1 in your plus/minus tally because your defenseman on the other side of the ice made a mistake that led to a goal? Probably not if you want to isolate a player’s individual contribution to the team.
That leaves our model, which takes quality and quantity into account from all the shots taken when a certain player is on ice (there’s a lot more of these than goals, so we get a much bigger sample size). If that player is on ice for a lot of high-quality (dangerous) shots for, then we can say that player is contributing positively to the offense. Same applies for the defensive side of things – we are looking for the players who are on ice for the fewest dangerous chances against.
Top 5v5 Offensive Contributors
Don’t get bogged down in what the exact numbers are, but more into which players are actually on the list. They are the forwards and defensemen on ice when the team is creating the most danger.
As a side note, this only measures 5v5 contribution. Hopefully in the future we will include special teams contribution (which is obviously also a huge part of the game), but for now this will only focus on even strength. It is what most of the game is played at after all.
There’s no real surprise here that the forwards listed have been the ones consistently in the top-9 (when healthy). The top three on the list have been on a largely successful line the past couple of weekends. Expect them to continue to rack up points.
Top 5v5 Defensive Contributors
On the defensive side of things, this list contains a lot of the guys who have filled out the bottom-six throughout the first chunk of the season. They are the guys who aren’t necessarily going to create a bunch of scoring chances themselves, but who will help prevent the other team from getting quality chances themselves.
Putting it All Together
When we combine both offensive and defensive contributions together, we are left with a picture of who has performed the best so far this season.
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