Life In the True North, Strong And Free

Originally, we wanted to get this article up before the game against Ottawa, but then my beloved war-on-ice was down for maintenance, and then we started talking about hockey hair and then, well, you know what happened.

We all know that most teams do better at home than on the road, though the Stars do buck that trend slightly, with an 11-9-2 schedule Away (11-10-5 at Home). Still, that’s not enough to say they’re a great road team, like the Flames or Jets have been this season (14-10-1, and 14-7-5 respectively).

But there does seem to be something about going into the Great White North that really inspires this Texas team to strive for excellence: over the last three seasons, the Stars have won 67% of their games in Canada.  Even more surprising – of those 18 games, only one went to OT, which was the shootout versus Edmonton this year.

So, a disclaimer, it does take time for war-on-ice to update their season tables, so all the following numbers do not include the 1/29 Ottawa game. I’ve pulled three seasons worth of data, so these are numbers from the 12-13 season up to now (while one of those seasons is missing the #SeguinEffect, it does still have Bennie in a top role). Also, these numbers are 5v5, and are score adjusted (unlike my game recaps), because that is a better predictor of future performance. And of course, all of these numbers are taken from games played in Canada, not just against Canadian teams.

1.30 Canada CF SF SCF

Jumping right in, there are three main stats that you look at when you’re trying to predict a win: Corsi For %, which is a predictor of possession based on shots, Shots on Goal (because you can’t score goals without shooting), and Scoring Chances, which are shots from certain areas of the ice where a team is more likely to score (click here for a more detailed definition).

It’s pretty obvious that even when Dallas loses, they play a pretty dominant possession game.  We saw this on Tuesday against Montreal. However, it’s unusual for them to be leading in SCF% like they did Tuesday, which is why it’s a better predictor of winning than SOG. In the last three seasons, the Stars have only lost 6 times total in Canada, so any anomaly will have a larger effect on the percentage (sample size, it’s a thing).

This season, they’re even more dominant numbers-wise, outstripping the three season average in CF% by 7%, and SCF% by 6%. The record so far this season is matching up well with the 67% wins on average – Dallas has won 4 and lost 2 (no OT losses).

But maybe they’re just getting lucky.

1.30 Canada PDO

As a quick refresher, PDO = Save % + Shooting %*, so it’s a pretty good measure of whether you’re getting those “lucky bounces”. Over time, it regresses to a mean of 100 (or 1, depending on the site).

Clearly, it’s going to be up and down game-over-game, which is to be expected. Also, PDO 5v5 in losses is expected to be about what you’re seeing here, and PDO in wins is also going to trend well above the mean, as shown. The three season average is literally 100.08, so no, the Stars aren’t getting lucky in Canada with these wins.

In fact, this season, they are slightly unlucky, mostly dragged down by their performance against Montreal, where they posted an abysmal 86.6 PDO, second lowest of any game in this data set.

Still, winning against the Oilers isn’t exactly a feather in the cap, and until this season the Jets and the Flames were mediocre. Maybe the Stars are just taking advantage of the lower quality of competition.

1.30 Canadians At Home CF SF SCF

Oof. And this is at home, folks.

It’s obvious that there are some difficulties on home ice, so maybe success like the Stars’ is just to be expected when trekking through Toque-menistan.

Well, a Shot Against at home is the same thing as a Shot For of the away team. So if the Stars represented the average away team, the addition of the two graphs would equal 100%. But that’s not the case.

In Corsi, the Stars have a 5% lead over the other away teams, and a whopping 11.8% lead this year.

The numbers for Shots aren’t quite as significant, with an average lead of 3.5% and a season long lead of 7.1%.

Scoring Chances, the biggest predictor of wins, is still impressive with an average lead of 2.0% on other teams, and a lead this season of 8.3%.

All this adds up to say, for whatever reason, the Stars play better than the average competition for the Canadian teams. Why is this important at look at the end of a road trip? Well, with tonight’s game, we have 6 more games against Canadian teams, and 5 of them will be played in America’s Hat. With the playoff race as tight as it is, the points we pick up there could be the difference between a good regular season run, and the exhilaration of the post-season.

*Shooting % should be more accurately named Goal Scoring %, as it = Goals/Shots on Goal. Alone, it doesn’t measure much of anything, but as a part of PDO, it’s rather useful.

**Other than the 2.0% SCF% number listed above, all of those differentials are statistically significant at over 1 deviation from the average. (The CF% number this year is an impressive almost 3 deviations away)

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