Let’s Talk About Clutch, Baby (Let’s Talk About All the Losing and the Winning)

As a follow up to Version 1, I wanted to go through and refine how I was ranking “clutch” because, as was rightly pointed out, comparing players to just themselves often overvalued 3rd & 4th liners, and undervalued guys who were good in all situations. Compare the following:

Player Phryne*:
Lead by 1: 2.0 P60
Tied: 2.0 P60
Trail by 1: 2.2 P60
Trail by 2: 2.3 P60

Player Jack:
Lead by 1: 1.1 P60
Tied: 1.5 P60
Trail by 1: 1.4 P60
Trail by 2: 1.6 P60

NHL Avg:
Lead by 1: 1.5 P60

In all scenarios, Phryne is the better player, however, Phryne’s rank would be much worse, because the change between her Lead by 1 P60 and other game states is smaller. However, if I ranked them based on change from NHL Average, Jack would be unfairly disadvantaged as “clutch” because while he has a large personal delta, he mostly is right at NHL average in P60.

What I ended up with was a Lead 1 average weighted by on Time on Ice. As mentioned in the first article, coaches don’t typically change their usage of players within the varying game states, so a fourth liner will always have less TOI than a star.

Player Phryne:
Lead1: 2.0 P60, 220 minutes

Player Jack:
Lead1: 1.1 P60, 105 minutes

NHL Avg:
Lead1: 1.5 P60, 180 minutes

Using a TOI weight, Phryne & Jack will have different compares. Phryne’s will weigh her own P60 more heavily, whereas Jack’s will weigh the NHL average more heavily. Examples below:

Weighted Lead1 P60 = 2.0*(220/400) + 1.5*(180/400) = 1.775

Weighted Lead1 P60 = 1.1*(105/285)  + 1.5*(180/285) = 1.353

With these weighted Leads, we’re still holding Phryne accountable to improving her own play to be considered “clutch”, but we’re also understanding that Jack isn’t quite up to snuff.

The other change I made for forwards was to add back in Individual Scoring Chances per 60 (iSC/60) but at a lower weight than the individual High Danger Scoring Chances (iHSC/60) because I felt snipers like Ovechkin were being unfairly disadvantaged for being most effective from the outside. The individual component of the ranking is still only 33%, with 20% being given to iHSC/60, and 13% to iSC/60. There is now some good evidence that iHSC/60 actually goes down when Tied or Losing, so I feel this is still extremely important to include when considering who is more “clutch”.

Just like in version 1, all data is 5v5 and regular season only, pulled from war-on-ice.

So with that said, here are the new Top 20 most clutch forwards from 14/15:

Top 20 Clutch2 - 1415

And for the three years I pulled, here are your Top 20**:

Top 20 Clutch2 - 3yr Avg

I also pulled together the same rankings for Defenders, as we’re seeing them become more active on offense. There was only one change – I eliminated the iHCS/60 component in favor of just an iSC/60 rank. It’s very unusual to see a Defender shoot from the slot, so I felt it was a poor measure of individual effort.

Here are the Top 20 Clutch Defenders from 14/15:

top 20 Clutch - D - 1415 - v2

And here are the best over the last three years:

Top 20 Clutch2 - 3yr Avg - Dmen

With the new ranking system, both the Forwards and the Defenders had about a 20% variance year on year, with a higher variance for players who were traded or signed with a new team between years.

Just like before, I put everything in a google doc for you to peruse at your leisure. I still want to work on playoff numbers, but because of the lower minutes available, that’s presenting some difficulty.

So tell me, what do you think of the new rankings? What am I missing? Did I get it right?

* If you aren’t, you should be watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix.

**Players must’ve hit the cut-off for 5v5 minutes each year. This is true of both Forwards and Defenders.
12/13: 400 minutes
13/14 & 14/15: 750 minutes


2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Clutch, Baby (Let’s Talk About All the Losing and the Winning)

  1. Hi! Thanks for updating this in light of the comments – it’s very interesting. There are definitely some good players topping the lists, but also some I wouldn’t have expected to be there. Do you think they match up well with players who have a reputation for being clutch?


    • Well, I think most players earn a “clutch” reputation in the playoffs, so there’s some legit criticism that since this is just regular season data, it doesn’t mean much. However, what I did notice (specifically for 14/15) is that both Anaheim & Dallas had a lot of people at the top – and we know they both played a lot of 1 goal games. I think there are still improvements that could be made (for instance, Tied also takes into account 0-0 scores), but overall, I think it gets it right.


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