As with the rest of the Calder Cup we have been looking at some of the underlying numbers to try and analyze the likely outcomes of each round. Although performance metrics are gaining some mainstream attention in the NHL, they tend to be quite rare in other leagues. This is one of the few places where AHL fancystats are known, so lets use these numbers one last time this year to look at the final match up in the Calder Cup Finals to see who is most likely to walk away the winner.
Continue past the jump for a breakdown of the final!
This years Calder Cup final is between the St. John’s Ice Caps (affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets) and the Texas Stars (affiliate of the Dallas Stars). Interestingly enough this final features a longer distance traveled (5,515 km) than the farthest NHL final (2011, VAN/BOS, 5,118 km). There will also be a 5 game delay between games 4 and 5 because of an anesthesiologist’s conference scheduled at Mile One Stadium in St. John’s (ahh the life of the AHL).
Both teams are ranked number 1 in their respective conferences, but what do their underlying numbers look like?
St. John’s v. Texas
St. John’s IceCaps
St. John’s finished the regulars season 6th in possession during close situations at 51.86%. They also had a high PDO of 101.47% thanks to a 10.43% Sh%. Their last series was against W-B/Scranton which looked to be a very close series ended up going six games. In that series they managed to control only 50.2% of possession suggesting it was fairly close but thanks to their 105.4% PDO (10.3% Sh%, 95.1% Sh%) they were able to grab the win and advance to the final.
Through the post season St. John’s is now at 51.2% possession with a 103.2% PDO thanks to their goalies rocking a 94.3 Sv%. Their shots were not going in earlier in the post season but their sh% has risen to 9.0% recently overall, meaning the puck is starting in their favour.
Texas has been the possession monster in the AHL this year with a 56.93% possession in close situations. In the last round they faced the Toronto Marlies, the AHL master of PDO a,nd despite controlling 59.6% of possession against them it took seven games to edge out a win. This was in large because of the Stars 89.0% Sv% and a low 7.5 Sh%. Winning the round despite such lousy percentages speaks to how well the Stars control the play. Throughout the Calder Cup Texas has a 57.7% possession with a 99.8% PDO. They are going to need the puck luck if they want to win this series.
For some more analytics on Texas Stars check out this Defending Big D post on zone entries for Game 7 of the Stars last series. Additionally McKeen’s hockey has some good work explaining their special teams systems which helps drive their possession numbers. Also here’s a good game-by-game review of the last series for Texas.
Throughout the year Texas has been much stronger in possession than St. John’s, even throughout the post-season this continues to hold true. If Texas can get something of a normal PDO throughout their final series they will be able to walk away the winner. If not, St. John’s can win.