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i don't like doing this but here we are

this should be 10 thousand words
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I created an algorithm to help me decide which hockey team to support in my inaugural season of NHL fandom. Here are the results!

Hello hockey
As the title states, I have created a mathematical formula to decide what hockey team I will support. I will break up this post into a few sections to make it easier to read (aka casually skim through until the very end to see the results). There will be a TLDR at the end of each section.
Let’s start off with a little background for this fun scientific experiment. I live in a little midwest state by the name of Indiana. You may have heard of us. We’re known for many things, such as basketball (yay!) and the Indy 500 (meh). Outside of Larry Bird, Tony Stewart, and casual racism from everyone’s grandparents, there’s not too much else here. Anyway, growing up in the mid-to-late 1990s, Indiana was a great place in terms of sports. The Indiana Pacers were a consistently great team, thanks to Reggie Miller & company (still sad no titles). The Colts were up-and-coming with the one and only Peyton Manning. Bobby Knight still coached IU basketball and there was still an air of success around the program. Like most kids in Indiana at the time, I gravitated towards basketball.
Fast forward to today. Here I am, nearly 26 years old. The Pacers heyday has come and gone, with our biggest star in 20 years now gone. IU basketball is the shell of a program it used to be, with the team flirting with relevancy during my days as a student there (2010-2014), before spiraling down to our current state of mid-tier in the Big Ten. The Colts, even though we secured a Super Bowl, felt like there should’ve been 2 or 3 more, and will forever be known as postseason choke artists of the 2000s.
Enter the 2017 NBA and NHL Playoffs.
The 2017 NBA playoffs was essentially a two month time period where some groups of guys tried to throw pebbles at a couple of Apache Attack Helicopters. Like when you’re playing Civilization, and you move your tanks into a group of crossbowmen. From day one of this NBA season, everyone knew the Finals would be the Warriors vs the Cavs. I love watching basketball, especially playoffs, but first three rounds of the NBA playoffs were hard to watch. Very few close, exciting games, with lots of blow outs. This left a void in my heart. I needed to watch something sports related before we got to the worst time of the year (the time of year where basketball is over and football has yet to begin, and the only sport to watch on TV is baseball. In-person, baseball is fine. You get some fresh air, some hotdogs, and a couple beers with some friends. Good times. But who wants to watch a full baseball game on TV? 55 year old, white, recently divorced fathers, that’s who. Seeing as how I am only one of those things (I’ll let you guess which), I did NOT want to spend the last couple months before baseball-only season with no entertaining sports. So, as I was watching my Pacers give up the largest playoff lead in NBA playoff history, I decided to flip over to some playoff hockey.
It was so fun! I ended up watching Rangers vs Habs (Rangers won 3-2 in OT) and Sharks vs Oilers (Oilers won in OT). I struggled to understand some of what was going on, but it was EXCITING! So the next day, I watched the Caps beat the Leafs in OT, and Bruins beat the Sens in OT. And you know what, THOSE GAMES WERE EXCITING TOO (Well, Bruins - Sens was kind of exciting. More on that later). I barely even watched the NBA Playoffs that night, I was hooked. So I started popping into hockey and lurking through some of the game threads. I saw some gifs of Fleury doing silly things like hiding the puck from the refs, pat the goal-posts when a puck bounces off the iron, and even jerk off his stick when the handle saved a goal. Charles Barkley started preaching about the NHL being awesome, and I’ve always admired Chuck for telling it like it is. I saw both the exciting side and the silly side of the NHL in this subreddit. I knew I could get into this sport.
Prior to those two nights of playoff hockey, my exposure to hockey was minimal. In 2002, when I was 11, I got the videogame Backyard Hockey for PC for my birthday. Martin Brodeur was my team’s goalie, and Jaromir Jagr lead my team in points. I chose the Flames as my franchise, because to an 11 year old, WHAT’S COOLER THAN FIRE!?! C is the letter of my first name, which as you know is also Calgary’s logo, so naturally, I had to pick them. I even renamed them the Calgary Caleb’s. What a fucking dynasty. 12 straight undefeated seasons. Wow, such an amazing run. One for the record books. That’s the only thing I remember from that video game. I didn’t play the game much after a month or so, because that is when I got sucked into Morrowind for hundreds of hours.
The only other exposure I had into hockey was during college. Like I said earlier, I went to Indiana University, and of course, that school was LOADED with Blackhawk bandwagoners. I hadn’t seen a single Hawks jersey on campus until they won the cup in 2013, and then they were everywhere. This annoyed me. So the following year, I was out at the bars and the 2014 NHL Playoffs had just started. It was game 1 between the Blues and the Hawks, and of course, the bar was packed with people wearing Blackhawks jerseys, not even watching the game. Me, being slightly intoxicated, started heckling everyone wearing a Hawks jersey. “GOOOOOOOO BLUE TEAM!” I repeatedly shouted. Finally, after 3 OTs, the Blues won the game, so I began heckling even more. I’m surprised I didn’t get in a fight, but after a while, I realized it’s because the Hawks fans there were just bandwagoning and probably didn’t really care. Fun Fact: The number of fights I got into that night is equal to the number of games the Blackhawks won this postseason.
Once I got sucked into the NHL playoffs this year, I knew I wanted to get into hockey for real. The problem was, I live in central Indiana. I can’t just support my local team, because I don’t have a local team. I thought about being a Blues fan (GOOOO BLUE TEAM!), but I didn’t really like the idea of supporting a team solely out of my disdain for the fans of another team (Hawks). I wanted to be fully invested in the team. I also considered the Golden Knights, but then I remembered this article from fivethirtyeight. I could totally come up with something like that for my own. After an hour or so of tweaking and determining criteria, the algorithm was born.
TLDR: Channel Surfed to 2017 NHL Playoffs, games were awesome, no local team for me to support, time to create a (mostly) unbiased formula.
Warning, some dry math-shit ahead.
I will be assigning a score of 1 to 10 for every single team against a set of criteria. Each criteria will be weighted. I decided to score every NHL team on the following 14 criteria.
1. Jersey and Logo Coolness. Very much a personal opinion here. I wouldn't want to support a team wearing the Mooterus Stars jersey or the Fisherman Islanders jersey. Granted, there really isn't anything quite as ugly as those currently but I will also try and factor in throwback uniforms and logos as well.
2. Quality of Best Player (Skill + Likability). It's important to have a marketable player, both via skill and personality. For example, Crosby would score very high skill-wise, but low on the likeability factor. Half the score here is skill, the other half likability. This was 1 of 2 criteria that generated a lot of internal argument
3. Geographic Closeness. The closest team to where I live is the Blue Jackets at 3 hours 20 minutes(drive time). They will serve as the baseline 10 for this criteria. Every additional 2 hours past 3 hours 20 minutes will result in a loss of a point. Google maps will serve as the utility for which time is measured
4. Quality of Fanbase. Are you fans classy, or are they all inconsiderate douchebags? Low score = hostile fans or fair weather fans.
5. Appearance of bandwagoning if supporting. Nobody likes a bandwagoner. Indiana University was filled with Blackhawk jerseys after they won the Stanley Cup. I hadn't seen a single Blackhawks jersey prior. I find this type of behavior extremely annoying, so I do not want to join a team that has a high bandwagon factor. A low score indicates a high bandwagon appearance.
6. Potential for next 5 years (Youth + Assets). I want to support a team that doesn't necessarily have to be a contender to win it all next year, but I would like to support a team that at least is considered to be a on the upswing. This was the other criteria that generated a lot of internal argument
7. Past Postseason Success. Self Explanatory.
8. Franchise Reputation. Is the franchise known for having a great GM, making savvy personnel decisions, being considered a model franchise by other franchises and other fans? Think the San Antonio Spurs of the NHL.
9. Quality of Goal Song / Power Play Song. A small factor that shouldn't be overlooked. A good goal song should be happy and joyful, a good power play song should stir excitement. I don't even know if all teams have a goal or power play song, but if you don't, you're wrong and I hate you. I concede, Chelsea Dagger is a great goal song
10. Entertainment Factor. I don't care if my future team goes 82-0 if they win every game 1-0 with a goal in the first period. I want to support a team that will excite, for better or worse. Kind of like the Capitals being a choke-hazard. Ottawa, on the other hand, is notorious for running a 1-3-1, which in layman’s terms, translates to “Boring AF”. (The first Sens - Bruins game I watched this post-season wasn’t that bad, but as the playoffs progressed, I started to get worn down by their style)
11. Disposition for City Based Upon Other Sport Fandom And Other Personal Experiences. I like basketball and football. I used to be a bigger baseball fan, but that has waned off in the past 6-7 years. I still pay attention, but not to the degree of the other two sports. Naturally, the teams I support (Pacers, Colts, Reds) have rivals. It would pain me to be a fan of the Bruins, because I know that a lot of Bruin fans are also Patriot fans. Same with Chicago because of Bulls vs Pacers. A low score here indicates that I do not like other sports teams in this city. I will also factor in personal experiences if I have ever been to the city in question.
12. Coaching. Nothing more infuriating in sports than having a great roster with poor direction from the coach. I have much experience with that feeling, unfortunately. (See the 2013 IU Men’s Basketball team, who was ranked number 1 in the nation, but couldn’t break a fucking zone defense from Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen. Really, Tom Crean? Really? That’s middle school stuff right there)
13. Arena Quality. How bad is the arena in need of renovations? Is there a new stadium coming? Does the stadium kick ass? I plan on actually traveling to see a game in the next year or two, a nice arena would be welcome.
14. Strength In Advanced Stats. My friend Jacob, the advanced stats nerd of a hockey fan, suggested this criteria. He created a custom formula to rank every team in this area. Here is his write-up for the formula he created. Warning, even dryer math-shit ahead. Skip this quoted area to get on with the methodology.
No seriously, this shit is dry. You have been warned
To summarize goalie performance, I wanted to use season-by-season goals saved above average (GSAA).
Basic formula:
GSAA=Saves-(Total ShotsLeague Average season save%)*
Summary: "How many more saves did this goalie make than a league-average goalie would have made on the same amount of shots?" (higher is better).
This takes into account ever-changing league average save% and weights for shot quantity. However, this alone does not factor in shot quality which in my mind is an important factor as well, to remove team defensive ability from the goalie’s performance. If a goalie pads his stats with saves on low-quality shots, what does that truly say about his ability?
To include shot quality, I pulled goalie save data from, which has shots categorized by low/medium/high danger. I computed the league average for each of these danger categories & calculated every goalie’s GSAA for each category. I then rounded all 3 up into one number, which was weighted as such:
Weighted GSAA=1.2High Danger GSAA+Medium Danger GSAA+0.8*Low Danger GSAA *
Validity sniff test:
In the 2016-17 season, the top 2 goalies by my calculations were Cam Talbot and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Talbot had a huge workload (started 73 games) and had an above-league-average overall save% at .919, all while facing the most high-danger shots of any goalie.
Weighted GSAA: 49.14
Bobrovsky had a big workload (started 63 games), had a historic overall save% of .931, also faced many high-danger shots, and won the Vezina trophy.
Weighted GSAA: 48.89
Though some may debate the order, in my mind, this passes.
I evaluated each team’s starter & backup by calculating each of their last 3 seasons’ weighted GSAA. To gauge their overall quality, I weighted their last 3 seasons 4/9, 3/9, and 2/9 (from most recent to least) to project ability & weed out outlier seasons as best as possible.
For overall goalie systems, I used starter quality by weighted GSAA, backup quality by weighted GSAA, and prospect quality to get an overall snapshot of a team’s goalie system. Prospect quality came from InGoal Magazine’s rankings from pre-2016-17 season, which admittedly is dated but was the best I could find.
Overall Team Goalie Quality=0.65Starter Quality+0.25Prospect Quality+0.1Backup Quality*
(note: in this section, when I say “shot” I mean “unblocked shot”, aka “shots on goal + missed shots”, aka “Fenwick”)
To summarize team’s skaters ability, I wanted to cover 4 aspects: even-strength shot generation, even-strength shot suppression, power play shot generation, and penalty kill shot suppression. As noted by Micah Blake McCurdy of, shot generation & suppression are mostly independent, so I reviewed those 2 parameters separately rather than in terms of Fenwick %.
Upfront, I’ll acknowledge the weaknesses in this section:
Ideally I would have used zone-, score-, and venue-adjusted Fenwick for these calculations, but with Corsica down I made do with the free analytics data I could find. I also only used last season’s numbers here...since there have been plenty of offseason moves, particularly with the expansion draft, I figured looking at only last regular season’s shot data would be the most representative going forward, though I admit it won’t be perfect.
To cover the 4 aspects mentioned previously, I pulled the following data, and weighted the numbers as noted:
I then ranked all teams based on this weighted criteria. For Vegas, I made a snap judgement call & rated them right in the middle of the pack. This was reinforced by their current signed roster; they have a mix of historically positive shot impact players like James Neal, average possession players like Cody Eakin, & negative possession players like Luca Sbisa. As far as I can tell, they’re aiming for right in the middle of the pack in terms of puck possession.
After all that, my overall ranking system was simple. 40% goalie, 60% skaters to give a one-stop estimator of team’s advanced stats strength.
Wow, I thought my algorithm was in-depth, but Jacob put his super complex shit inside of my kinda complex shit. And I thought I was a nerd.
But how did I determine the weight of the criteria? I didn’t want to just arbitrarily assigned values to each criteria. I wanted to be a bit more scientific. Using a website called, I input the 14 criteria into their tool. The website then randomly pits one criteria against another, and I had to choose which I think is more important. I did this over the course of three weeks with 700 matchups voted upon. This “over time” approach help paint a more accurate picture as to what I find truly the most important. My opinions could change day to day, but across 3 weeks, this helped create a better overall picture. Once I reached the day I had planned to do the algorithm, I viewed the results. The website presented me with a 1-100% chance that a criteria would beat any other criteria. I then took the values and divided them by 50. This reduced the scale of the weight to be between 0 and 2. I felt that a criteria weight between 0-2 was a good number. I didn’t feel that any one criteria was more than 2 times more important than another. This would give me a much tighter spread on final point totals than if I had just assigned a 1 to 14 criteria importance. Also, a tighter point spread means more excitement for me and my friends as we filled out the algorithm. If Franchise Reputation is weight of 1.5, and I scored a team with a 10 for that criteria, then that is worth 15 points. Hopefully that makes sense. See screenshot in the final google sheet for the head-to-head probability results. This is pre-scaling of the weight.
I’m new to hockey, so how the hell am I supposed to know what team has a great coach, or who the hell has potential for the future, or a good reputation? To help me conduct the algorithm, I am relying on three of my friends who are hockey fans to help me determine point values for the criteria. u/the_team_plug is a lifelong Bruins fan, so when it comes to the Habs, I’m not sure I will take his opinion into consideration. Otherwise, he played goalie up through college, so he actually has a pretty good knowledge base. u/OsuJaws is a longtime Red Wings fan, and seems to believe the Red Wings won’t suck soon. Even though he went to school in Columbus Ohio, he could never bring himself to be a fan of the Blue Jackets. The other is Jacob (who won’t tell us his username, probably because he leaves creepy stalker comments all over porn subreddits). He’s the guy who came up with the advanced stats criteria above. He first got into the NHL when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became a Jets, so he just sided with the newest team at the time. Because Jacob isn’t a complete sadist, he jumped off the Jets wagon and has now been a Predators fan for all of 2 months. Convenient timing and totally not a bandwagon move.
TLDR: Math happened and an algorithm was made. Hockey friends will help me assign values that are somewhat in-between subjectivity and objectivity.
The Stakes
I am putting my money where my math is. Whatever team wins the algorithm scoring, I will purchase some fan gear at the end of the night. Maybe just a t-shirt, maybe a jersey, maybe a full blown mascot costume. That largely depends on how many beers I drink with the guys while scoring this. It also depends on how much I think my wife will harm me if I spend like $200 (Maybe I can make an algorithm for that as well. Beers consumed vs dollars spent vs doghouse potential, find the optimal break-even point). The two other guys are here not only to advise me in scoring of criteria I may not know, but also to keep me honest. I will buy merchandise and be a fan of whatever team wins, NO MATTER THE RESULT. Would it pain me to be a Hawks fan based upon my past experiences? You bet your ass it would, but the numbers don’t lie. And let’s be honest, my friends would have a laugh seeing me wearing a Hawks jersey. So whatever happens, that’s what happens. No going back to fudge numbers. This is it. If I feel ambitious (ie, not lazy) I may even do the stereotypical write a letteemail to the team, explaining the situation, and beg for merchandise asking for a letter back.
TLDR: Gonna buy some gear when finished, no matter who wins.
Conducting the Algorithm
At the start of the event, we decided that it would be better to hide to total column until the very end. Once a criteria had been fully scored, we also hid that column. This would help prevent bias by being able to glance at the totals as started tallying.
The Result and Closing Notes
Before I share the results: I am certain that there will be disagreement on some of the scoring. I just want to take a minute and say that we scored everything to the best of our abilities. There was a lot of internal arguments for some of the scores, but all reached compromise. For things that we were uncertain, we researched between this subreddit and a few other hockey websites/forums. We know that these scores won’t please everyone. If you want to conduct this experiment on your own, I’d love to help you out!
You can choose to uncover the spoiler here, or you can open up the google sheet just below that.
I am pleased to announce that in my inaugural season of hockey fandom, I will be taking my talents to the Toronto Maple Leafs!
Here is a link to the google sheet with league-wide results, sorted descending in final scoring. Be sure to hover over some of the cells to see detailed notes.
I hope you all have enjoyed this post, and I look forward to becoming more knowledgeable and enjoy this great sport!
EDIT: Whew, I struck a nerve huh?. Listen, I'm new. I know some of you had your team-pride hurt by my rankings. I can admit that some of it was inaccurate and this is not a perfect method. There probably is no perfect method to picking a team. I'm sure a lot of you are coming from a good place and are wondering on some of my scores. Even calling me stupid may be fair (I mean, I am new), but sending me PMs from throwaway accounts wishing harm upon me is a bit much, no?
EDIT 3: Is only game
submitted by AlbinoMonster to hockey [link] [comments]

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