By: Edward Egros

hockey

The Numbers Behind Hitchcock's Return to Dallas

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The Dallas Stars are bringing back a familiar face, hiring Ken Hitchcock for a second tenure as their head coach. As with all head coaching changes, the team isn't just changing a person, it's changing a philosophy.

Its last coach, Lindy Ruff, was an offense first person, and that is not a "bad" philosophy. As we've shown in our research, hockey teams can win emphasizing offense. But with so many injuries last season to forwards and not having necessary backups to win low-scoring games, the Stars are now emphasizing defense.

Ken Hitchcock does just that.

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A Better Way to Compare Athletes?

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Walker Zimmerman of FC Dallas earned an invitation to play for Team USA and has already logged international acclaim. European clubs are also reportedly interested in his services. It is safe to say he has impressed enough around the world to be considered one of the more talented American-born soccer players currently playing.

Comparing soccer—as well as basketball and hockey players—has often been an inexact science. Some refer to their approach as the "eye" test while others use more analytical approaches. For instance, basketball has "
wins produced per 48 minutes played", hockey has "goals versus threshold" and soccer has "goal probability added". But one of the problems one data scientist poses is it is difficult to compare athletes who play different positions, have different styles of play and may emphasize different skill sets.

At the 2017 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference,
Shael Brown, an undergraduate student at Dalhousie University in Canada, proposes a new metric based upon the PageRank algorithm, the way Google's search engine ranks websites in its results. His presentation discusses how players' "relative ranks" when it comes to the flow of their game, can better help us compare the best in each sport.

To listen to this podcast,
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To read Shael Brown's paper,
click here.

Hockey Analytics

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Hockey is fast and physical, but slow and passive when it comes to adopting more analytics. At least that was the case during the sports analytic revolution of the 2000s. Now, the majority of NHL teams employ someone with an analytic slant. It's also becoming easier for the fan to recognize trends and put together more educated predictions.

My guest is Carolyn Wilke, Managing Editor of Today's Snapshot and a statistical consultant for the NWHL. You can follow her on twitter
@Classlicity.

To listen to this podcast, click here.