Predators vs Canucks advanced stats demonstrate the "Score Effect"

VANCOUVER, CANADA - OCTOBER 20: Craig Smith #15 of the Nashville Predators tries to gain control of the puck while being checked by Aaron Volpatti #54 of the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in NHL action on October 20, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Last night's 5-1 loss at Vancouver was certainly frustrating in a different sense than Monday's at Edmonton, with reckless penalties getting in the way of any attempt at a comeback, including two by captain Shea Weber which put the Preds into a 5-on-3 situation. 

As far as the advanced even-strength stats go for this game, they provide a perfect example of how important it is to appreciate context before simply throwing numbers around. What hockey stats analysts call the "Score Effect" is the notion that while out-shooting your opponent is a fundamental step towards victory, the overall shot totals can be skewed by how the game is playing out on the scoreboard. Quite simply, once teams get a lead, they tend to scale back offensively, while the trailing team works harder to get the puck on net. You can find two seminal posts on the subject at Brodeur Is A Fraud and mc79hockey.

Sometimes, this effect plays out quite clearly, as documented by Josh Cooper in a couple of tweets from Barry Trotz's post-game comments:

Trotz: "I want to thank Alain Vigneault for not playing his top two lines the last 10 minutes."

I looked at the ice-time. Vigneault did not play his top two lines the last 10 mins. Was not a shot by Trotz at all. 

So with that in mind, let's take a look at last night's results...

As far as matching the "how I saw the game" impression, what's notable to me is that I thought during the game that Tootoo was doing a decent job trying to create something offensively, and Kostitsyn looked good. Legwand was completely invisible, and the Klein/Blum pairing had a rough night (but then, given the number of odd-man rushes coming their way all game, just about any D pairing would).

Overall, however, these numbers you see below are much more positive than what one might expect if we didn't take the Score Effect into consideration. In terms of Shots On Goal, the Preds outshot Vancouver over the final two periods 14-10 in 5-on-5 play, but it would be hard to argue that they were the better team. The Canucks simply eased off the gas.

I know last night's game recap was especially brief, so I'll add a few extra scattered thoughts here:

  • Mattias Ekholm could develop into a very effective defenseman, but he needs time in Milwaukee. I hope he can be convinced to accept such an assignment, as it's really the best thing for his long-term development.
  • There was a lot of discussion about bad bounces in the 1st period, but in particular, I thought Daniel Sedin's opening goal was a savvy play on his part. He saw from behind the net that Pekka was down on his knees, not hugging the post, and banked the puck off him into the net.
  • I wonder if Shea Weber's 3rd period Boarding call will result in a call from Brendan Shanahan.
  • As noted in some of the conversation on Twitter, the later stages of this game (and really, Saturday's at Calgary) will prove to be an audition for who wants to stay in Nashville once guys like Francis Bouillon, Mike Fisher, and Martin Erat return to the lineup. Will we see any of the kids step up and separate themselves from the pack? That will be the key to watch tomorrow vs. the Flames.
 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Nick Spaling C 12:15 1 0 0 1 8 7 +1 15 14 +1
 Colin Wilson C 12:13 0 0 0 0 4 6 -2 10 12 -2
 Patric Hornqvist R 11:15 3 1 0 0 7 4 +3 11 11 0
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 11:02 1 1 1 1 7 3 +4 13 7 +6
 David Legwand C 10:05 0 0 0 0 3 7 -4 8 14 -6
 Craig Smith C 9:53 0 0 0 0 6 7 -1 12 8 +4
 Brian McGrattan R 9:33 0 1 0 0 3 4 -1 13 5 +8
 Matt Halischuk R 8:56 3 1 1 0 3 4 -1 7 7 0
 Jerred Smithson R 8:21 1 1 1 0 6 6 0 14 6 +8
 Blake Geoffrion C 8:19 0 0 1 0 3 9 -6 11 10 +1
 Jordin Tootoo R 8:13 4 2 2 0 8 6 +2 19 8 +11
 Niclas Bergfors R 7:52 2 0 0 0 5 3 +2 8 4 +4
 Ryan Suter D 14:09 2 1 0 0 7 6 +1 15 10 +5
 Jonathon Blum D 13:50 0 0 1 2 7 11 -4 14 18 -4
 Kevin Klein D 13:40 0 1 0 1 6 10 -4 14 15 -1
 Shea Weber D 13:38 1 0 2 0 8 7 +1 16 13 +3
 Teemu Laakso D 12:22 2 4 1 0 7 7 0 16 12 +4
 Mattias Ekholm D 12:10 1 2 1 1 7 6 +1 19 9 +10
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