Score-Adjusted Fenwick says, post-Carter Kings are really good

Los Angeles Kings: Masters of puck possession – Broad Street Hockey

[…] “What the heck is Score-Adjusted Fenwick?” I’m glad you asked…

[A]lthough it may be counter-intuitive, if you want to predict a team’s future winning percentage, you’ll do better by looking at their current shot differential (ignoring shooting percentages) than looking at their current goal differential or their current winning percentage.

[…] Just using shot differential does OK, but [a] team that’s leading will go into a […] defensive shell, allowing the other team to outshoot them. Accounting for that makes our predictions much better.

The simplest way to do that is to […]  just look at shot differential when the score is tied, so there aren’t any score effects. But whenever you shrink the sample size, you make it so you need more data to make good predictions […].

So we take a few steps to expand the sample size.

The first step is, […] instead of just looking at shots on goal, we can add missed shots. Shot differential including missed shots is called Fenwick, […] and it is an even better predictor than simple shot differential.

The next step is to […] add in situations where score effects play only a small role — where the team is up by a goal or down by a goal in the first two periods, and hasn’t changed their strategy much. My preferred method is to include all of the data but correct for score effects. […] The result is a formula that I called Score-Adjusted Fenwick, which averages together how much better or worse than average a team did in each game state. This turned out to be a better predictor than Fenwick Tied or Fenwick Close, especially early in the season. I released this stat last year and looked at how it did for predicting based on small sample sizes — and it sparkled in that role, very quickly flagging the Kings as the best team in the league after the Jeff Carter trade.

[…] And while I’ve seen people talking about the [2013] Kings as a sleeper team, I haven’t seen many people emphasize just how good they appear to be. Here’s how they rank against the teams with the highest Score-Adjusted Fenwick of the last five years:

Team Score-Adjusted Fenwick Result
2007-08 Red Wings 58.8% Stanley Cup
2009-10 Blackhawks 58.8% Stanley Cup
2013 Kings 57.7% TBD
2012 Kings w/Carter 57.5% Stanley Cup
2008-09 Red Wings 56.6% Stanley Cup Finals

The Kings now have close to 50 games under their belt since the Carter trade and have played a dominant brand of possession hockey over that span. Don’t let their middling record fool you — Jonathan Quick won’t be a .894 goaltender in the long run, and when things start to go his way, they will be awfully tough to beat.


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