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09-16-2012, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
That's some interesting info and I didn't have access to that. Where did you get the data for those results?

Any theories as to why first liners score a higher proportion of points than in the 80s? It could be that once all of the European/Russian forwards were free to come to the NHL, they did so disproportionately, so that the top line forwards were relatively better compared to the 3rd/4th liners than back in the 80s. It could be that 3rd/4th liners were expected to score more back in the 80s, and are relied on more defensively in more recent years. It could be that with better goalie technique/equipment, it became disproportionately more difficult for 3rd/4th liners to score than for top line forwards. It may be a combination of these factors, but I'm interested to hear other theories and how any/all can be substantiated with data.
I think you hit the three possible explanations, or at least the only ones I could think of. It is definitely true that lower lines are coached to play more defensively now that in the 80s. The 80s were pretty unique in NHL history in that lower lines were often used simply to outscored the opponent's lower lines, rather than as primarily checking units. The other two reasons you give are probably true, as well. Good call on the "Europeans coming over tend to be skilled scorers" one - I hadn't seen it posted on the history board yet.

My guess is that the biggest factor is a change in the way lower lines are used by coaches, but I think the other two factors probably contribute, as well.

Now mathematically accounting for these factors - that's the hard part! Clearly more recent first liners should not get extra credit for lower line players having more difficulty scoring or or the way coaches use lower lines. But they probably should get credit for the fact that more of them are skilled Euros.

For now, I think the most accurate estimatation would be to assume the greater difficulty in first liners from the 80s getting adjusted points is all due to external factors of era, and a second adjustment should be made. Unless somehow you can find a way to tease out any disproportionate impact of Europeans coming over.

My guess is the impact of Europeans is a minor factor though - considering the percentages today resemble percentages from the 70s (correct?) and it's really just the 80s that is the major outlier, right?

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