Alex Diaz


Measuring the value of Crosby, Getzlaf, and Giroux to their teams

Last week, the Hart Memorial Trophy candidates were announced. According to the infallible internet, it’s likely that Crosby will win — but let’s figure out if that’s true. To get the obvious stats out of the way, Crosby (36G, 68A, 80GP), Getzlaf (31G, 56A, 77GP), and Giroux(28G, 58A, 82GP) finished first, second, and third in scoring this year, with points-per-games of 1.30, 1.13, and 1.05, respectively. Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and Philadelphia finished with 242, 263, and 233 goals, respectively. Since the Hart looks at a player’s value to his team, it makes sense to look at his contributions to the team’s overall scoring.

Pie charts are terrible.

Candidate’s points (in teal) as a proportion of a team’s overall goals.

Looking at points alone, Crosby has a pretty huge head start over the other two. Now, the Hart (allegedly) isn’t the Art Ross 2.0, so it makes sense for us to look at possession statistics and the some frequencies from association rule mining.

Team Strength Candidate Corsi % Fenwick %
Pittsburgh All On 0.6036322 0.6095969
Pittsburgh All Off 0.4225558 0.4267751
Anaheim All On 0.5423348 0.5500000
Anaheim All Off 0.4812510 0.4914966
Philadelphia All On 0.5998837 0.5955325
Philadelphia All Off 0.4552777 0.4539683
Pittsburgh Even On 0.5308595 0.5372152
Pittsburgh Even Off 0.4638907 0.4685562
Anaheim Even On 0.5193694 0.5249392
Anaheim Even Off 0.4928212 0.4995057
Philadelphia Even On 0.5437117 0.5356383
Philadelphia Even Off 0.4811052 0.4763085

You may have noticed that Crosby and Giroux have a larger impact on the ice for their team than Getzlaf. These differences become much clearer when they’re visualized.

Fenwick strength status

At this point it becomes clear that if there’s any competition, it’s between Crosby and Giroux. While all of the players improve their teams’ performances, it’s obvious that Getzlaf’s relative contribution is not as strong as either of the other two.

Looking deeper, the Fenwick percentage at even-strength tilts the odds further towards Crosby and quite a bit farther away from Getzlaf. The next combination of graphs compares the game-by-game Fenwick.

Hart multiplot even

Blue and red lines represent season averages with and without the player on the ice, respectively. Black lines are the team average.

Two things to notice here: (1) Pittsburgh’s possession stats with Crosby are higher than Philadelphia’s with Giroux; and (2) Pittsburgh possession stats without Crosby are lower than Philadelphia’s without Giroux. This is especially evident when you look at the gaps between points — Giroux is very good, but Crosby absolutely lifts his team. This caught me a bit off guard, since until I wrote this post I hadn’t noticed that Pittsburgh finished the regular season with Corsi and Fenwick percentages below 0.500.

When we look at association rules, we the same story being told, albeit in a different manner.

Rank Player Event Support Confidence
1 Any Shot for 0.155 0.155
2 Any Shot against 0.149 0.149
3 Any Hit for 0.137 0.137
4 Any Hit against 0.133 0.133
5 Any Block for 0.075 0.075
6 Sidney Crosby Shot for 0.073 0.201
7 Any Block against 0.069 0.069
8 Any They miss 0.062 0.062
9 Chris Kunitz Shot for 0.062 0.201
10 Matt Niskanen Shot for 0.061 0.178
Rank Player Event Support Confidence
1 Any Shot against 0.150 0.150
2 Any Shot for 0.149 0.149
3 Any Hit for 0.130 0.130
4 Any Hit against 0.125 0.125
5 Any Block against 0.077 0.077
6 Any Block for 0.072 0.072
7 Claude Giroux Shot for 0.064 0.188
8 Braydon Coburn Shot against 0.061 0.175
9 Any We miss 0.060 0.060
10 Jakub Voracek Shot for 0.057 0.200

The main takeaway from Crosby’s table is how high up his generation of offense is — about 7.3% of all active events in the game are a Pittsburgh shot on goal while he’s on the ice, and when he’s on the ice, there’s 20.1% chance that the active event will be a Pittsburgh shot hitting the net. In fact, Crosby was on the ice for a Pittsburgh shot on goal more often than any player was on the ice for an opponent having their shot blocked. Crosby’s linemate Kunitz is only on for 6.4% of Pittsburgh’s shots, so that suggests that Crosby is doing quite a bit on his own. (As a note, you’ll see similar stuff for players like Erik Karlsson, who tend to be head and shoulders above their teammates, even if their teammates are very skilled on their own.)

What’s the conclusion here? In terms of relative contributions to their teams, this is a race between Crosby and Giroux — one that Crosby will very probably win.

Category: Analytics, General, Hockey, Statistics


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