How to read Skater Cards

Thank you to Danny Page and Megan Richardson for visual editing and advice.

Each card shows a set of key statistics about a player's performance over one or more seasons. They gather summaries of individual scoring, penalty, on-ice shot and goal results, together with score, zone, and skater deployment context.

This chart belongs to Mike Hoffman, and covers the past three season, the most recent of which still incomplete. His name, official NHL position, and ages during the three seasons in question are displayed first. The official positions are often wonky; in particular, many players are listed as centres even after playing wing for years. The number of games played is shown below the name, Hoffman played a total of 199 games, all with Ottawa.

The next bar is the Ice-time bar: Hoffman played approximately 14 minutes per game at even-strength, and just over a minute each on the powerplay and the penalty kill; because of rounding to the nearest minute the overall number is not always the sum of the displayed numbers for the sub-situations. The "Line" indicator above his minutes show the distribution of the top 90 forwards (the "first liners" of the league) over the past three seasons, marked "1", then the next 90 forwards by total ice time, marked "2", and so on. Hoffman's bar reaches into the "2" bar which means his minutes were, compared to the whole league, second-line minutes.

The next bar is Even-Strength Scoring, measured in primary points per hour of even strength ice-time. He scored 1.1 even-strength goals per hour, and picked up 0.8 even-strength assists per hour of even-strength ice time. The same scale is used above the bar, for the sum of 2.0 primary points per hour; by this measure, Hoffman was a comfortably a top-line player over these three years, despite his low second-line minutes.

The third bar is Power-play Scoring, which is measured in primary points per hour of power-play time. It's not on the same scale as the second bar, since power-play points are much easier to come by than even-strength points. The "first unit" and "second unit" guides are defined in terms of players who played regular power-play minutes in the seasons in question; Hoffman's 6.4 primary points per hour puts him into the lower ranks of top power-play unit players.

The pair of scatter plots show 5v5 shots (all shots, blocked, missed, saved, and scored) and 5v5 goals. The black "NHL" box shows the league average, the blue "On" box shows the results Hoffman's teams obtained when he was on the ice, and the red "Off" boxes show the results his teams obtained when he was on the bench or not dressed. The red line marks 50% (as many shots or goals for Hoffman's team as for his opponents) and the y-axis of both plots is inverted, so that the top right of each plot is "good", as marked. The number in the "On" and "Off" plots is the deviation from 50, in percentage points. Hoffman's teams had +0.3 - (-2.4) = 2.7 percentage points more of the shots when he was on the ice, and +7.9-(-2.8) = 10.7 percentage points more of the goals when he was on the ice.

The shot totals are adjusted for score (since shots are easier to obtain when trailing) and home-ice (since they are easier to obtain at home). The blue shaded regions indicate one standard deviation, as measured from the set of regular players in the seasons at hand.

The four sets of blue and red bars show penalties, on-ice goaltending results, zone usage, and score usage. They all follow a common pattern: the player measures are shown by the sizes of the blue and red bars, with the values shown with white numbers. The solid lines show the same measures for Hoffman's team in the games that he played, and the dotted lines show them for the league as a whole for the indicated seasons.

In broad terms, I chose to make blue the things that would please me to be high if I were the player in question, and red conversely: playing in front of great goaltending and facing dreadful ones, drawing many penalties while taking few, starting my shifts in the offensive zone, and playing for a team that is routinely ahead.

The bottom-right plot shows the Teammate and Opponent Skater Quality that Hoffman shared the ice with at 5v5, as measured by the all-sitution ice-time of those players. The horizontal axis shows the typical defender that Hoffman played with (in blue) and against (in red), on average, both averages are "second pair". This is typical for most forwards, who play both with and against all defenders in the course of most games. The vertical axis shows the typical forward with whom Hoffman played (in blue) and against (in red). His competition was slightly easier (borderline second/third line players) in this sense than his forward support (good second liners).


© Micah Blake McCurdy 2017, supported via patreon