Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sasha vs. Sasha

In what will become a running segment during the regular season, today marks the debut of ‘Sasha vs. Sasha’, and in-depth competition between The Alexs, Ovechkin and Semin. Some of the competitive categories will be your standard statistical fare, while some will be up to my discretion (and completely off the wall).

We're calling it 'Sasha vs. Sasha'.

Today, we’ll look at something real: who scored their goals against better defensemen?

Trying to quantify every defenseman in the NHL is a tough task. I chose to go with 'Goals Against On-Ice Per 60 Minutes' DIVIDED BY 'Quality of Competition +1'. This brings negative values of QUALCOMP to a positive baseline that is <1. When GAON/60 is divided by this value, you see an adjustment up if the value is <1. It’s probably not the best way to evaluate a defenseman, but it works. We’ll call it GA60/QUAL. Here’s what I found.

Breaking down the defensemen on the ice for each of the Alexs’ 90 goals scored and using their GA60/QUAL, we come up with an average GA60/QUAL of 2.48 for Ovechkin and 2.71 for Semin (the lower the value, the better the defenseman). Using the standard deviation of the entries and grouping them by frequency, we come up with the following graph:

Clearly, Ovechkin is scoring against better defensemen (his curve shifted slightly to the left of Semin’s) while Semin is taking advantage of less effective defensemen (his curve extending far to the right, even though he scored 10 fewer goals). Obviously, Ovechkin was usually skating against a team's #1 defensive unit while Semin was attacking against unit #2 (and obviously Ovechkin is the 'Superstar' of the two).

But the fact that Semin was able to capitalize against the weaker defensemen in the league is also important, as those are the match-ups a good player/team needs to exploit (especially if your #1 player is seeing tougher defenses). Clearly both players have thier respective roles, with each one producing when called upon.

I'm scoring this one in Ovie's favor though. It's tough to deny the left side of the curve.


  1. I will be very interested to see the next installment of this series! Love the top pic.

  2. This is also why Semin's disappearance in the playoffs was so massively disappointing and crippling to the Caps' chances.

  3. I'd be curious to see what this looks like if PP goals were eliminated.

  4. If you remove PP goals, the averages are 2.49 for Ovie (up from 2.48) and 2.77 for Semin (up from 2.71). So a few more of Semin's goals against good D-men came while a man up compared to Ovie. The curves are slightly steeper (fewer data points), but are otherwise pretty close to the old ones.

  5. just what the caps fan base needs, another site putting down sasha semin. wow. the originality of it- so many small minds repeating what all the other small minds are saying, and trying to be cute about it. so his problem this time is he's not as good as alex ovechkin? well, either is 99% of the nhl league, so i guess semin's in good company.

  6. sorry to snark, but i really think picking on sasha is getting old. yes, he should have played better in the playoffs, and so should the entire rest of the team.