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Gretzky 88-89 Even Strength

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Old
11-11-2010, 08:37 PM
  #26
Ziggy Stardust
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
No. Sakic/Forsberg, Malkin/Crosby, Yzerman/Fedorov is how how add up to a situation like this. Nicholls is not an all-time great, not a top-100 player or anything close to it. He's not an "excuse".

Let's look at this revolving cast of wingers Ziggy Stardust says Gretzky had:

Marty McSorley. 1.07 on, 1.14 off. Practically identical to Gretzky. Not much can be concluded here.

Bobby Carpenter. Played just 39 games with the team. 1.14 on, 1.12 off. Very similar to Gretzky.

Mark Krushelnyski . Same as Carpenter.

With better goal differentials than Gretzky, who was operating at a 1.10 clip, if they each played with Gretzky half the time, the most likely scenario was that they were 1.18 without him and 1.10 with him, to average out at 1.14.

Mike Allison. 1.25 on, 1.1 off. He was outperforming the team average. Knowing that Gretzky was a 1.1 on the season, Allison had to be achieving a better even strength goal differential when he wasn't with Gretzky, than when he was.

Igor Liba. Dude played 27 games.

Chris Kontos. You're bringing up a guy who played 7 games, and based on stats, almost certainly not any of them with Gretzky?
Kontos played with Gretzky during the playoffs. He sent record numbers with the amount of goals scored in the opening round series against Edmonton. While Liba has a small sample size, he did (sadly) skate shifts with Gretzky.

Gretz didn't really have regular linemates on the Kings until they dealt Nicholls for Granato and Sandstrom and had Todd Elik center the 2nd line with Luc Robitaille and Bob Kudelski.

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Old
11-11-2010, 08:48 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
Kontos played with Gretzky during the playoffs. He sent record numbers with the amount of goals scored in the opening round series against Edmonton. While Liba has a small sample size, he did (sadly) skate shifts with Gretzky.

Gretz didn't really have regular linemates on the Kings until they dealt Nicholls for Granato and Sandstrom and had Todd Elik center the 2nd line with Luc Robitaille and Bob Kudelski.
I believe that. Unfortunately I don't have any stats to go by for the playoffs so I can't comment on what happened to the team's goal differential. Clearly Gretzky and his linemates scored points, as usual.

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11-11-2010, 09:00 PM
  #28
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Yeah this is the thing that people repeatedly don't get about trying to use stats like this.. defense is not done by one player.
Yes, it is annoying when someone doesn't understand statistics. Offence is not "done" by one player either. Context must always be considered, but there are stats that do give an indication about the contribution of each player defensively, whether you choose to believe it or not.

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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Gretzky is largely only controlling one side of the equation here.. the GF for the most part. Although he was great at breaking up plays and takeaways he was by and large an offensive player.
Gretzky actually is responsible for playing defence as well. It's great that he was scoring, but if more goals are being scored against his team when he is on the ice compard to his teammates then he is not nearly as valuable as his offensive numbers would indicate.

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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Add to that the fact that the best winger on the team had more chemistry and therefore played with Nicholls, and the fact that Gretzky most likely faced the better checkers it adds up to a situation where you get a ratio like this.
That would partially explain why Gretzky performed poorly, but it is ridiculous to assert that playing against better checkers and without the team's best winger explains why the team as a whole performed better with Gretzky off the ice. Generally the best player on a team is going to have the most positive impact on the ice at even strength. It seems that Gretzky did not for the most part.

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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
The fact that he was keeping up at all with the way they were letting them in is pretty remarkable in itself.
The defence was bad no matter who was on the ice... so all players were affected on the Kings, not just Gretzky.

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11-11-2010, 09:07 PM
  #29
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The main thing that can be taken from this thread is Gretzky was not effective defensively - which I'm not sure comes as a shock to anyone. He definitely relied on his linemates for that, and obviously fared worse in this department on a worse team.

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11-11-2010, 10:29 PM
  #30
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These numbers were all put together by overpass. I hope he comes in to comment on this. The only explanation I see is that Gretzky had stopped being a major difference-maker at even-strength. But overpass' analysis of his own figures is often eye-opening.

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11-11-2010, 10:36 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by JackSlater View Post
Yes, it is annoying when someone doesn't understand statistics. Offence is not "done" by one player either. Context must always be considered, but there are stats that do give an indication about the contribution of each player defensively, whether you choose to believe it or not.
The big difference is that I can say for sure Gretzky shot the puck in the net or passed the puck to the guy who did.

Not so with the defensive stats available to us in hockey whether you choose to believe it or not. They give an indication but crunching some numbers and then making a statement that a playmaking center who was 4th in the league in even strength goals isn't a good even strength player is a pretty big reach.


Quote:
Gretzky actually is responsible for playing defence as well. It's great that he was scoring, but if more goals are being scored against his team when he is on the ice compard to his teammates then he is not nearly as valuable as his offensive numbers would indicate.
He sure is if they would have given up pretty much the same number of goals without him (1.15 to 1.10 after all) and scored less goals to even it out.

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11-11-2010, 10:41 PM
  #32
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Lets drill a little more into the numbers. Since goals for/against in a single season include a lot of random variation, I'll look at the numbers for Gretzky's last three seasons in Edmonton and first three seasons in Los Angeles.

1986-88: Gretzky on the ice: 431 ESGF, 264 ESGA, 1.64 R-ON.
1986-88: Gretzky off the ice: 419 ESGF, 347 ESGA, 1.21 R-OFF

1989-91: Gretzky on the ice: 371 ESGF, 302 ESGA, 1.23 R-ON.
1989-91: Gretzky off the ice: 404 ESGF, 348 ESGA, 1.16 R-OFF

What changed? Gretzky's team lost about 60 ESGF and added about 40 ESGA while he was on the ice, meaning that his plus-minus dropped by about 100. That's a very significant difference.

How much of this was due to the change in teammates? At first look, not much. Los Angeles had almost identical numbers to Edmonton while Gretzky was off the ice. However, there may be more to the story, and I'll throw out a couple of possible differences below.

Theories that fit this observed change in the numbers:

1. Gretzky was getting old. 28-30 doesn't sound that old, but players of the 80s didn't last as long as today's players. Also, Gretzky had played over 100 playoff games in the previous 6 seasons.

Counterpoint: Maybe too much of a coincidence that he got old right when leaving Edmonton. But this really has to be part of the story.

2. Gretzky really missed Jari Kurri. Kurri was a great finisher and terrific defensive player who really helped Gretzky cover his defensive responsibilities.

Counterpoint: Kurri was good...but if you think Kurri made 100 goals difference over 3 seasons, then Gretzky is way overrated and Kurri is way underrated historically. Gretzky's numbers were still very good before he was regularly paired with Kurri.

3. Gretzky got the prime offensive icetime in Edmonton, with Mark Messier, Craig MacTavish, and others picking up the defensive zone faceoffs and tough matchups. When he went to Los Angeles, he suddenly had to take on more defensive responsibility. Who else was going to, Bernie Nicholls?

Counterpoint: Gretzky played enough minutes that he couldn't have been completely sheltered in Edmonton. Also, if you think this was the whole difference, it makes Gretzky's Edmonton numbers less impressive, looking back (although this really only matters in a Gretzky-Orr-Howe debate).

Some combination of these three factors may explain things.

BTW, Gretzky's numbers for the following three seasons. I blame Gary Suter.

1992-94: Gretzky on the ice: 210 ESGF, 233 ESGA, 0.90 R-ON.
1992-94: Gretzky off the ice: 390 ESGF, 409 ESGA, 0.95 R-OFF

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11-11-2010, 11:02 PM
  #33
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Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
Those are only a few factors that can lead to an explanation, but there are so many others we aren't observing or taking into consideration. How many EN goals did the Kings allow where Gretzky was on the ice trying to tie a game? How many PP goals were scored against the Kings when Gretzky was on the ice?

The Kings were one of the worst defensive teams in the league that year (6th worst in fact). Did Gretzky contribute to that? Unlikely, as the season prior to Gretzky's arrival, the Kings were a league worst with 359 GA.

Gretzky took the tougher shifts (and longer shifts) than any one of his linemates. And while he had to face the likes of Tikkanen and Otto, those players also had strong support and were overall better defensively than the Kings were. The attention Gretzky drew enabled Nicholls to have an easier time blasting shots past goalies.
I think this comment gets to the heart of the matter. SeventiesLord does bring up an interesting statistic here but it's actual meaning is somewhat limited in that it does not tell the whole story.

It is a useful stat but although I'm not going to equate it with plus/minus, it might not tell us enough about a players actual impact on a team in any given season.

Other variable such as those listed above and others that we might not have thought of yet come into play and every once in a while there is also a statical anomaly that occurs.

Someone more mathematical and knowledgeable about stats could shed light on the theoretical part of that equation.

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11-11-2010, 11:16 PM
  #34
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Quick question here how does one multi quote in a reply?

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11-11-2010, 11:26 PM
  #35
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Originally Posted by JackSlater View Post


Gretzky actually is responsible for playing defence as well. It's great that he was scoring, but if more goals are being scored against his team when he is on the ice compard to his teammates then he is not nearly as valuable as his offensive numbers would indicate.



That would partially explain why Gretzky performed poorly, but it is ridiculous to assert that playing against better checkers and without the team's best winger explains why the team as a whole performed better with Gretzky off the ice. Generally the best player on a team is going to have the most positive impact on the ice at even strength. It seems that Gretzky did not for the most part.
I find it hard to believe that Gretzky "performed poorly," when the Kings became a significantly better team the instant he arrived, despite whatever statistical smoke anyone wants to blow.

Here are some facts everyone seems to be ignoring:

-Between 88-89 and 89-90, the Kings went from a 68 point team to a 91 point team.
-Gretzky is given so much credit for leading their turnaround that he was awarded the Hart Trophy, despite losing the Art Ross to Mario Lemieux by a pretty wide margin.

Edit: I agree that the numbers are an interesting mystery and suggest a lot of things, but once we make the leap from the raw numbers to "Gretzky performed poorly that season," we are going off the deep end.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 11-11-2010 at 11:39 PM.
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11-11-2010, 11:42 PM
  #36
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I find it hard to believe that Gretzky "performed poorly," when the Kings became a significantly better team the instant he arrived, despite whatever statistical smoke anyone wants to blow out of their ass.

Here are some facts everyone seems to be ignoring:

-Between 88-89 and 89-90, the Kings went from a 68 point team to a 91 point team.
-Gretzky is given so much credit for leading their turnaround that he was given the Hart Trophy, despite losing the Art Ross to Mario Lemieux by a pretty wide margin.
Other things that happened between 88-89 and 89-90 in Los Angeles:

The goaltenders improved from a 0.863 SV% to 0.880 SV%. That's about a 50 goal or 10 standings point improvement right there. How much of that do you want to attribute to Gretzky?

Bernie Nicholls scored 87 even strength points instead of 41 - on a separate line from Gretzky.

The power play went from above league-average to below league-average, despite Gretzky's presence. On the other hand, the penalty kill improved, so that balances out.

But never mind, it's not a good story. Let's just to Gretzky.

Edit: Just saw your edit. I agree, Gretzky in no way performed poorly that season. If that's what you're going against you'll get no argument here.

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11-11-2010, 11:50 PM
  #37
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Originally Posted by overpass View Post
Other things that happened between 88-89 and 89-90 in Los Angeles:

The goaltenders improved from a 0.863 SV% to 0.880 SV%. That's about a 50 goal or 10 standings point improvement right there. How much of that do you want to attribute to Gretzky?
Likely a small portion of the rise is attributable to Gretzky, as opponents always played more tentatively when they knew they faced Gretzky on the other team.

Quote:
Bernie Nicholls scored 87 even strength points instead of 41 - on a separate line from Gretzky.
Unless this is a total statistical fluke (and I'm sure that's part of it), this has to be largely attributed to Gretzky taking virtually all the checking attention from the other team. I'm honestly not sure how Gretzky was used in LA, but there is no way that it didn't help Nicholls.

Out of curiosity, do you have a record of how many points Gretzky and Nicholls collaberated on? I'm pretty sure I've seen it here; I'll go looking.
Quote:
The power play went from above league-average to below league-average, despite Gretzky's presence. On the other hand, the penalty kill improved, so that balances out.

But never mind, it's not a good story. Let's just to Gretzky.
Strange

Quote:
Edit: Just saw your edit. I agree, Gretzky in no way performed poorly that season. If that's what you're going against you'll get no argument here.
I also edited out the "out of your ass" part out after "blowing statistical smoke." As amusing as it was to type, it was probably unnecessary.

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11-11-2010, 11:51 PM
  #38
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Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
Those are only a few factors that can lead to an explanation, but there are so many others we aren't observing or taking into consideration. How many EN goals did the Kings allow where Gretzky was on the ice trying to tie a game? How many PP goals were scored against the Kings when Gretzky was on the ice?
PP goals are irrelevant, this discussion is solely about even strength.

EN goals can be a factor, they probably do have a minor impact. The team allowed 11 ENG that year.

Quote:
Gretzky took the tougher shifts (and longer shifts) than any one of his linemates.
All the best players take the tougher shifts. All the best players still outperform the rest of their team at even strength. That's why they're the best players. Gretzky not doing so this season was a major anomaly.

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And while he had to face the likes of Tikkanen and Otto, those players also had strong support and were overall better defensively than the Kings were.
Better defensively doesn't = better overall. Gretzky should have still been able to have a better GF:GA ratio against Tikkanen and Otto, than Nicholls would have against the Gilmours and Carsons. He's freaking Gretzky.

Quote:
The attention Gretzky drew enabled Nicholls to have an easier time blasting shots past goalies.
That's fine, but Nicholls only accounts for 40% of the off-ice number that Gretzky couldn't top.

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Originally Posted by Hardyvan123 View Post
Someone more mathematical and knowledgeable about stats could shed light on the theoretical part of that equation.
overpass did.

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Old
11-11-2010, 11:56 PM
  #39
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Apparently Gretzky assisted on 40 of the 97 goals Nicholls scored when they were in LA together, for what that's worth. Didn't see a season by season breakdown.

From this thread if anyone cares.

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11-11-2010, 11:57 PM
  #40
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Unless this is a total statistical fluke (and I'm sure that's part of it), this has to be largely attributed to Gretzky taking virtually all the checking attention from the other team. I'm honestly not sure how Gretzky was used in LA, but there is no way that it didn't help Nicholls.

Out of curiosity, do you have a record of how many points Gretzky and Nicholls collaberated on? I'm pretty sure I've seen it here; I'll go looking.
Yeah, it could be that Gretzky was playing a more defensive role in LA - the "Messier" to Nicholls' "Gretzky", if you will. I've never really considered this before, but it would make sense. No idea if it's true.

No numbers on Gretzky/Nicholls, because the HSP hasn't covered that season. If they've appeared it's from another source.

I see you found some numbers. Nicholls only scored 29 power play goals in LA together with Gretzky, so obviously they played at least some time together at even strength. That's not surprising, usually lines get mixed up a bit at times over a season.


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11-12-2010, 12:00 AM
  #41
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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Apparently Gretzky assisted on 40 of the 97 goals Nicholls scored when they were in LA together, for what that's worth. Didn't see a season by season breakdown.

From this thread if anyone cares.
It is counting all goals, so I imagine most of these are PP goals unless the story about these two playing on separate lines the whole time is not all true.

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11-12-2010, 12:06 AM
  #42
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It is counting all goals, so I imagine most of these are PP goals unless the story about these two playing on separate lines the whole time is not all true.
Good point (and I have no idea why I didn't address it already).

Nicholls had 60 ES, 29 PP, and 8 SH goals in his season and a half with Gretzky.

If Gretzky assisted on 40 of them, he was clearly playing significant minutes with Nicholls at times other than on the PP.

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11-12-2010, 12:11 AM
  #43
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Good point (and I have no idea why I didn't address it already).

Nicholls had 60 ES, 29 PP, and 8 SH goals in his season and a half with Gretzky.

If Gretzky assisted on 40 of them, he was clearly playing significant minutes with Nicholls at times other than on the PP.
which makes his below team average GF/GA ratio even more puzzling.

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11-12-2010, 12:23 AM
  #44
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"Beginning of the end" of Gretzky in 1989?

LOL

Yeah, that's what I thought when he carried the Kings to the Finals in '93.

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11-12-2010, 12:40 AM
  #45
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"Beginning of the end" of Gretzky in 1989?

LOL

Yeah, that's what I thought when he carried the Kings to the Finals in '93.
Yes, that's right - the beginning of the end of Gretzky as a dominant even strength player. Why the LOL?

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11-12-2010, 01:25 AM
  #46
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To clarify, Gretzky in Edmonton was the most dominant even strength forward ever post-expansion and probably of all-time. Lemieux had the PP edge, but Gretzky a clear even strength edge.

So calling 88-89 "the beginning of the end" doesn't mean he was necessarily playing badly. I do think it was obvious that he wasn't as dominant as he was in his (best ever) peak. But I also think calling his performance "poor" is an awful misreading of the available statistics, when you consider how much better his team became once he joined.

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11-12-2010, 04:12 AM
  #47
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1974 Esposito .98
1996 Sakic .99
1974 Hodge .99
2009 Crosby 1.05
1993 Oates 1.07
2003 Naslund 1.08
1990 Gretzky 1.10
1991 Gretzky 1.10
Just curious...how did Gretzky compare to his team in these seasons?

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11-12-2010, 04:26 AM
  #48
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I know this is a little off-topic, so I apologize please check this, http://articles.latimes.com/1991-09-..._1_back-injury What was the back injury he suffered in 1989-1990 that made him was the last 5 games of the season? I was too young to recall what it was if I ever specifically knew.


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11-12-2010, 06:34 AM
  #49
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Originally Posted by overpass View Post
Other things that happened between 88-89 and 89-90 in Los Angeles:

The goaltenders improved from a 0.863 SV% to 0.880 SV%. That's about a 50 goal or 10 standings point improvement right there. How much of that do you want to attribute to Gretzky?

Bernie Nicholls scored 87 even strength points instead of 41 - on a separate line from Gretzky.

The power play went from above league-average to below league-average, despite Gretzky's presence. On the other hand, the penalty kill improved, so that balances out.

But never mind, it's not a good story. Let's just to Gretzky.

Edit: Just saw your edit. I agree, Gretzky in no way performed poorly that season. If that's what you're going against you'll get no argument here.
I suspect Gretzky's biggest impact was changing expectations.

He instantly turned that team from an also-ran who expected to lose and had (consistently) for the last decade to a team that suddenly had some expectations, and had the best player in the world skating alongside them. I'm sure that instilled a sense of belief and commitment to all-around play.

When organizations lack direction, the on-ice product tends to suffer, and vice-versa.

Of course, this has nothing to do with how Gretzky *actually* performed, on the ice.


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EN goals can be a factor, they probably do have a minor impact. The team allowed 11 ENG that year.
That'll have more than a minor impact.

11 EN goals in one season is a *huge* amount. For comparison's sake, Washington and Boston lost a similar # of games that year and allowed 2 and 3 EN goals, respectively.

Given that Gretzky would *always* be on the ice for the last minute of the game when these 'free' goals were being scored, I'd guess 9 or 10 of them go against him.

To give up 10 free goals relative to your teammates who didn't play in the last minute is really going to skew the numbers.

I'd be fairly certain that that's a big part of your answer right there.

________

That 11 EN goal figure is really an anomaly. Looking at it further, the bottom 3 teams in the league that year (who you'd assume would give up the most EN goals because they were trailing the most often) only gave up 16 EN goals between them, or 5-6/team.

For a 90-point team to give up 11 EN goals in only 30 losses is really unusual. I'd say 4-5/season for a .500 team would be pretty average.

Kinda curious now what the NHL record for EN goals allowed in a season is and how this compares.

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11-12-2010, 06:58 AM
  #50
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I suspect Gretzky's biggest impact was changing expectations.

He instantly turned that team from an also-ran who expected to lose and had (consistently) for the last decade to a team that suddenly had some expectations, and had the best player in the world skating alongside them. I'm sure that instilled a sense of belief and commitment to all-around play.

When organizations lack direction, the on-ice product tends to suffer, and vice-versa.

Of course, this has nothing to do with how Gretzky *actually* performed, on the ice.




That'll have more than a minor impact.

11 EN goals in one season is a *huge* amount. For comparison's sake, Washington and Boston lost a similar # of games that year and allowed 2 and 3 EN goals, respectively.

Given that Gretzky would *always* be on the ice for the last minute of the game when these 'free' goals were being scored, I'd guess 9 or 10 of them go against him.

To give up 10 free goals relative to your teammates who didn't play in the last minute is really going to skew the numbers.

I'd be fairly certain that that's a big part of your answer right there.

________

That 11 EN goal figure is really an anomaly. Looking at it further, the bottom 3 teams in the league that year (who you'd assume would give up the most EN goals because they were trailing the most often) only gave up 16 EN goals between them, or 5-6/team.

For a 90-point team to give up 11 EN goals in only 30 losses is really unusual. I'd say 4-5/season for a .500 team would be pretty average.

Kinda curious now what the NHL record for EN goals allowed in a season is and how this compares.
This is actually a really good point because we're really only talking about what.. 6-7 goals here? to sway Gretzky from being behind the rest of the team in GF/GA to the same.

So even if he was on for a few more EN than the others that would basically make up the difference.

If he was on for them all then he would be doing better than the rest of the team in GF/GA.

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