Better With Popcorn

Projecting the 2011-12 Flyers: Regressing to the Mean at the 20% Mark

The first month and a half of the season has passed and after 17 games, the Flyers sit tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers 10-4-3 record is also good for tops in the Eastern Conference with 23 points.

Over the summer, before the preseason, there was an attempt to project how the Flyers would produce as both a team and individuals. Of course, there were some things that were unaccounted for.

In the interest of transparency, the summer projections article mistakenly reported Matt Read’s waiver exempt status as being exempt for up to 60 games at the AHL or NHL level when in fact the counter is only at 60 NHL games. This mistake caused confusion in the initial calculations and a faulty assumption was made that this would make Read start in the AHL.

Also falsely reported was Andreas Lilja’s 35+ contract, as counting against the cap regardless of waivers for this season AND next. In fact, it only applies to next season.

These mistakes will be corrected for this projection and of course, the correct re-entry waivers status of players sent down will be corrected as well.

First up, through 17 games, here’s how the Flyers skaters have produced:

In order to project the final totals of each player, and in turn, the whole team, there will need to be progressions to 82 games, with regressions to the statistical mean. In short, there is more than just multiplying every number by 4.8235 to take 17 game totals to 82 game totals.

Rather, each player will have their shots multiplied by 4.8235 and their shooting percentage will be regressed to the mean to get their goal total for the season. From this goal total, assists can be projected based on role and minutes which is based on subjective observations of the games played so far.

With those projections, the following totals have been calculated:

Name

Projected Goals

Projected Assists

Projected points

Career Shooting Rate

JvR

25

32

57

10.70%

Giroux

35

53

88

14.00%

Jagr

30

46

76

14.10%

Voracek

14

37

51

8.90%

Briere

24

39

62

15.30%

Hartnell

17

27

44

10.90%

Talbot

11

15

26

11.60%

Schenn

3

0

3

8.10%

Simmonds

21

19

40

10.40%

Holmstrom

0

0

0

9.50%

Harry Z

3

3

6

10.00%

Nodl

2

5

7

8.60%

Read

21

21

42

12.00%

Couturier

21

14

35

16.67%

Rinaldo

2

6

8

5.00%

Wellwood

0

2

3

5.00%

Shelley

1

0

1

4.80%

Totals FWD

229

319

548

 

 

Defense

 

 

 

 

Pronger

6

32

38

6.00%

Carle

6

29

35

5.70%

Timonen

5

36

41

6.40%

Coburn

5

14

19

4.80%

Meszaros

7

19

26

5.10%

Lilja

2

14

16

3.40%

Walker

0

0

0

1.30%

Gustafsson

0

5

5

3.00%

Totals D

32

150

 

 

Team Total

261

469

 

 

 

In terms of interpreting the data, there are some simple conclusions that can be drawn. First, Claude Giroux and Max Talbot are not going to stay on their current hot paces, whether by injury or luck, they will probably cool off. Giroux did this last year, shooting ~26% through 16 games before cooling off and finishing around 14%.

For all rookies, AHL shooting percentages were regressed to NHL levels.

In the case of Brayden Schenn, he was assigned a league average SH% of 8.1% because WHL data on SH% was unavailable and his AHL sample was not significant enough to garner a large amount of data. Factored with a limited NHL sample of 13 games over three seasons and Schenn’s number was the hardest to project.

Danny Briere is on par with his career averages, this could go either way for his goal total, a hot streak during the season could lead to him hitting 30 again; cooling off could lead to less than 20 or he could stay completely consistent and post exactly what he is paced for.

On defense, it seems like the top-five are going to produce roughly the same amount of goals.

This makes sense given that the top-five defensemen are talented. In addition, Peter Laviolette has shown he will give the defense interchanging “easy” minutes at even strength.

As Behind The Net shows, Kimmo Timonen may get the most offensive zone draws of any Flyers defensemen, but this is offset by having the second hardest “Quality of Competition” rating.

The only defensemen who has it “easy” (per the chart) is Andreas Lilja, who has the best teammates and easiest opponents. Having the fewest offensive zone starts, meaning the easiest situational play in hard locations, offsets this.

The goaltending has started slow, with both Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky at a sub .900 SV%. This will regress closer to the career norms of both net minders. Bryzgalov should regress to somewhere around his career .916SV% and Bobrovsky should get back to a more respectable .910 SV%.

Through 17 games, the Flyers have allowed 471 shots, or 27.7 shots per game, it can be assumed the team will allow 2272 shots over 82 games. With that, it becomes possible to calculate the final save percentages. Right now, the game distribution is 61 starts for Bryzgalov and 22 for Bobrovsky.

Name

Shots Faced

Saves

Goals Allowed

Save %

Bryzgalov

1691

1549

142

.916

Bobrovsky

581

529

52

.910

 

That’s 194 goals allowed, or a GAA of   ~2.3 with the inevitable six empty net goals, which projects a 200 ‘goals against’ total. When combined with the 261 goals scored, the Flyers are on pace for a plus-61 goal differential.

Since six goals equal one win in the standings, the Flyers goal differential will add 10 wins to their season. Since a goal differential of 0 equals 91.5 points, the Flyers are on pace for 111.5 points. Since there is a 10% margin of error, this pace is actually 105-115 points, or still on pace for what was written in August.

As the regression shows, even though the offense will cool off, the goaltending should heat up. Instead of 9-8 games, expect to see some 2-1 contests instead. If not, see how the team is doing again next month when game 27 is played, pushing the team past the one-third mark.