August 29, 2014

Howard after RBS or QS

Yesterday I looked at the goals Jimmy Howard gave up in Quality Starts and in his Really Bad Starts. The final results showed that most of the time Jimmy posts quality starts by not allowing transitional goals, leading me to the conclusion that the team defense may be a bigger factor than Jimmy himself. However, this does not tell us if Jimmy’s previous starts are affecting his confidence in the next start. To do that I did the same analysis for both the game after a Quality Start and the game following a Really Bad Start.

The sample size for games after Really Bad Starts is extremely small so I wont try to make any conclusions based on this data. Although I do find the massive increase in rebound goals interesting since we saw a huge drop in rebound goals in really bad starts. For the time being, I am going to assume that this is merely a sampling issue, with more data next season I can try to figure out what is really going on. Thankfully, we do have a larger sample for the game after a quality start.

Interestingly this data could support the argument that Jimmy was more confident in games following a Quality Start. One theory I brought up last time was that due to his confidence, Jimmy plays slightly deeper in his net. With this change in positioning, Jimmy would be more likely to give up clean, deflection and screened goals since he is covering less of the net. However, the shorter distance post to post would make him more likely to make saves on transitional shots. The data supports this theory since we see a massive drop in transitional goals, and a slight increase in goals coming from screened, deflected and clean shots. Since we are assuming this confidence is carrying over from the past game, I thought the time between starts might also be relevant. The confidence from a game 2 days prior should have more of an impact than a game before Olympic break. To account for the time differences I only kept Jimmy's next start if it was within 3 days of a Quality Start.

Despite my inclinations this had little affect on the results. My final potential explanation was something that I did not mention in the piece yesterday, the effect of Power Play goals. It has been demonstrated that save percentage at even strength is much more controllable than save percentage shorthanded. This makes intuitive sense since on the power play teams are easily able to create transition plays and get screens in front. By eliminating all Power Plays goals from the results I was hoping to see if by chance, there happened to be a larger number of power play goals in these certain games disrupting the distribution. Yet even after removing Power Play goals, the pattern remains roughly the same, only the percentage of screen goals drop dramatically, which is to be expected.

While all of the data above does support this theory, I am still hesitant to buy in completely. Until I have tracked all the shots and goals for next season, I am more comfortable believing basic variation is the main cause. However, the potential for Howie’s confidence to affect his next game is still worthy of future study. 

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