The Mailbag: July 13

We’re back! Phase 3 is underway, which means that hockey updates are starting to look like like actual hockey updates again. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up for you to decide – I’ve already exhausted my skepticisms – but so long as it’s happening, we’re all going to talk about it.

But first – It’s also Monday, and I do have questions from the crowd. So let’s tackle those.

In Case You Missed It

Before we get started, here’s what I got up to last week:

The Mailbag

My general choice: Pavel Bure, #10, Vancouver Canucks in the Black “Skate” design with all the right patches (Canucks Place, the Frank Griffiths tribute, 94 Finals). Favourite player, favourite design, a match made in nostalgia heaven.

My sentimental choice: My dad’s Wendel Clark Leafs jersey. It was among his prized hockey possessions and while I tend to wear jerseys more for playing in (outdoor rinks, renting ice with friends, etc) than casual wear, I’ll throw this one on from time to time for him.

I think there absolutely is – mapping and modelling injury impacts is going to be a huge frontier moving forward, particularly when it comes to avoiding risks at the negotiating table.

The issue, honestly, is the quality and quantity of information. Teams often give out vague info, and a lot of the historical exacts tend to be hidden behind paywalls on things like fantasy sports sites. I don’t think that should stop anyone from trying, though – resources like NHLInjuryViz have been a great start in the right direction.

So if this is something you’re interested in? No guarantees you’ll find the conclusions you expect to, but I think there’s a lot of upside in exploring it.

Honestly, I’m not sure, and I’m excited to find out. Hockey has a huge issue with even-up calling, particularly when score is considered, and the playoffs are known to be even more relaxed. At the same time, as I mentioned in my home-ice advantage piece, the data being collected in German soccer right now indicates that empty stadiums have a psychological effect on how referees are calling fouls, bookings, and penalties. I’m very, very curious to see if similar happens in the NHL.

Lots of merit to it. Since the coaching change, the Leafs hve posted the 8th-best record in the NHL – and were closer to cracking the Top 5 than they were to falling out of the Top 10. They were 7th in Score-Adjusted Corsi, and 5th in Expected Goals Share.

Conversely, they were 27th in save percentage in this sample. Some might point to this and yell “shot quality”, but the difference in their shots against rate in this span (14th) and expected goals against rate (also 14th), is non-existant, and breaking down Corsi/attempts against expected goals and high-danger attempts shows a team in the lower-middle of the pack, which is where they’ve been when throughout Andersen’s best seasons as well, if not worse.

Many players have played noticeably better since the change. To me, it seems evident that the team has been in good shape since it happened, but due to the angst leading up to it, people weren’t able to shake off their concerns. If the Leafs can come out swinging against Columbus, I think the collective worry will shake off pretty quickly.

Frankly, I can’t give an answer on this without learning more about what both do, particularly on McRae’s front. However, I cross paths with Josh at the rink a bunch since he does a lot of his work from Toronto, so I’m going to do the Hockey Man (TM) thing and pick the guy I’m personally familiar with until I learn more.

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