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Friday Funbag: Using puck and player tracking to improve broadcasts, visors, and much more
It's a Friday, thanks for reading.
There’s been a lot of discourse about the proper usage of NHL puck and player tracking since the data — or at least a sampling of the data — was released by the NHL last week.
At this point the data is still too raw and unrefined, the user-interface is rough, to be used by itself as a in analysis. It’s why in pieces about goalie analysis, like I did this week on Jake Oettinger and Ville Husso, I made sure to double-check and use additional data from InStat.
But I think there are some instant applications that can help hockey viewer and listenership.
For example, on Thursday I was driving home from the Florida Panthers 2-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings and listening to the radio broadcast of the Dallas Stars 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers.
There was a sequence in the second period where Even Bouchard hit back-to-back posts. Stars play-by-play broadcaster Josh Bogorad slipped in the speed of both shots, 93 and 95 miles per hour, and as a radio listener I instantly had a better picture of how much zip those blasts had.
Similarly, in the game I attended in person on Thursday, there was a 10-minute stretch where the Panthers outshot the Red Wings 9-0 in the first period. Sitting up in the press box, my neck was basically cranked to the right the entire time watching play in the Detroit defensive zone.
This is a spot where a broadcast could capitalize on puck-and-player tracking to help illustrate how dominate the Panthers possession was. For example, it’s one thing to say “the Panthers are dominating possession,” it’s another to lay out “Florida has spent a combined seven of the first 10 minutes in the Red Wings zone.”
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It’s just food for thought as we work on implementing better data usage into the NHL.
Imagine watching a baseball game on TV without the speed of the pitch popping up. I can’t. For my simple brain knowing the speed of the pitch gives me much better in-game context of what I’m witnessing.
While it’s not as simple as baseball, hockey needs to think about the tools we do have to better make context and connection points for simple brains like mine.
Some visor talk
I watched the third period of the Dallas-Edmonton game on TV and noticed both Roope Hintz and Mason Marchment were using darker visors than I remembered.
I double-checked with friend of the program Owen Newkirk, who is on the ground in Dallas, and he confirmed that Hintz did switch to the darker visor this season.
I’m not sure of the reason for Hintz and Marchment using the darker visor, maybe someone will ask for me, but it naturally reminded me of the purplish/pink visor that Daniel Sprong uses in Detroit.
Here’s an excerpt from that story I wrote about Sprong last month.
Sprong was concussed in the playoffs last season while playing for the Seattle Kraken against the Dallas Stars — publicly the Kraken only called it an upper-body injury — and while he was working to come back, potentially for Game 7 of that series, he started using a tinted visor after a suggestion from Morgan Geekie.
“As I was coming out of the protocol I tried the normal visor and I was very sensitive to light, so I tried a darker visor and I couldn’t see very well,” Sprong said. “So I tried the visor Geekie suggested and I found it really helped my eyes and with the sensitivity to arena lights.”
Here is the full story if you want to read more on that:
Ok, let’s get to the mailbag portion of the evening.
Eileen Any thoughts on the Kane to Dallas rumors?? Just doesn't seem to make any sense for the Stars and the possible moves they can make this season
Patrick Kane has been rumored to Dallas after Elliotte Friedman discussed it in depth on his podcast 32 Thoughts.
Here’s the thing, I rarely doubt Friedman’s reporting, he’s about as connected as you can be in the NHL. But I also don’t see the realistic/logistical fit for Kane with the Stars salary cap situation.
The Stars as of today less than $500,000 in cap space and they are only carrying 22 players on the NHL roster. At this point the Stars don’t even have the cap space to call up a player from the AHL under non-emergency conditions.
So I don’t understand/see where the Stars could find the cap space to fit Kane in Dallas.
As far as roster logistics and fits, I’ve seen people mention that the Stars don’t have space on the wing open for Kane. While that might seem like the case, in reality if the Stars could find a financial way to make Kane fit, they would certainly be interested in bringing him into the fold.
Guessing, and to be clear this is guessing, I have a gut feeling that Kane ends up signing with the Florida Panthers. It fits as an Eastern Conference team with the travel Kane is looking for, is also a tax-free haven, and the Panthers showing in October, even with a heavy dose of injuries, have raised their profile for a potential destination.
Andrew Vs the Flames the line of Smith Steel and Delly looked fantastic. Is the team finally moving in from Faksa? Is it even on the table based on how they looked without him? What are your thoughts on their performance.
Radek Faksa was out this week with an upper-body injury, and while the Smith-Steel-Dellandrea line clicked, Faksa is still part of the plan in Dallas and with his contract, he’s going to get more opportunities.
It’s important to remember that contracts make jobs in the NHL, it’s the reason that even if Pete DeBoer wanted to, he couldn’t sit Ryan Suter. Jim Nill doesn’t force a coach’s hand in lineup decisions, but there are certain guidelines that come with usage of certain players.
Because of his contract Faksa is also difficult to move, the NHL is too much of a cap strapped league right now for anyone to want to spend more than $3 million on a bottom-six center.
Bill Hayes Sean, it feels like the Stars are not winning face-offs at the same rate as last year. But if I look at the stats on NHL, they won 54.8% of face-offs last season, and they are at 52.9% this season. Looking deeper though, it seems they are worse though in key situations like short-handed (down from 53.7% to 42.4%) and defensive zone draws (down from 56.3% to 49.7%). Should we be concerned?
The Stars got worse on faceoffs when they let Luke Glendening walk in free agency.
No matter what you think about his overall game, Glendening made the Stars a better team in that one category.
For a side-by-side look, here is the Stars work on faceoffs last regular season.
And here is the Stars work on faceoffs by spot on ice this season.
Now this is an eight-game sample size vs. an 82-game sample size. It’s not something I would be worried about right now, but it’s a fair question to examine/explore after about 20 games when numbers will be more normalized.
Thanks for reading. Any future questions/ideas/thoughts you want tackled here at Shap Shots, feel free to let me know in the comments or respond to any of the emails, they all go right to me.
Enjoy your weekend!