Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports
The NHL added a new wrinkle to the schedule this season with the league mandated bye week. Each team gets one, granting the players respite from the rigours of an 82 game season if ever so briefly. The NHLPA secured the vacation time in exchange for agreeing to the three-on-three format in the NHL All-Star Game.
With five teams coming off their bye week this past weekend, the combined record is now 4-12-4. Teams playing in the first game out of their bye week are outscored 39-68 in their first game back.
It’s worth pointing out that we’re looking at a sample size of 20 games out of a 1230 game season. There are limitations to the predictive value of the data thus far, thanks in no small way to sampling, and as a result, we can’t draw definitive conclusions based on this data.
All the same, it’s worthwhile to look at how teams perform in their return to action from that briefest mandated respite. Better still, we can get an idea of what to expect from the other nine teams in the midst of their bye week and the one team still awaiting theirs.
Thankfully, /u/le_canuck on Reddit already tabulated and listed the NHL bye weeks for all 30 teams:
The Dallas Stars’ bye week concludes tomorrow. The Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres all return to action on the 25th. The St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets and Detroit Red Wings return to work on the 26th. The Anaheim Ducks will be the last team to enjoy a week off, as theirs goes into early March and encompasses the trade deadline.
The league average for goals per game is currently 2.74. If we look at the teams coming out of the bye week, it’s clear they fall well below that mark in goals for, and give up about 0.75 more goals per game:
Another way to look at this is breaking down goals by wins, losses and overtime or shootout losses.
Per the available data, the majority of games result in a loss, which skews the numbers undoubtedly. Still, the difference in goals against in losses is a significant deviation from league average.
The power play is one of the areas most significantly impacted by the layoff. One could convincingly argue that special teams require the most practice, which goes a long way towards explaining why they’re among the areas most negatively impacted by the time away from the rink. When one compares data sets, there’s a seven percent drop from league average immediately following the bye.
We can again see the sampling issues present in this data set. The wins, overtime losses and shootout losses account for a total of eight games. That has an impact on the set as a whole. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Arizona Coyotes (winning teams) combined for eleven power play opportunities and converted on four of them.
Currently, there is an average of 3.1 power play opportunities for each team when looking at all of the teams coming out of their bye-week, they received an average of 3.35 PPO. The average PPG per game is 0.58 goals, and the combined bye-week teams have 0.4 PPG for.
Just like the power play, a penalty kill unit is a group that saw a difference in percentages in the first game back from the bye week. The difference between the full season PK and the first game back PK does see a smaller variance when compared to the PP
As mentioned above, the current league average is 3.1 PPO for each team. These teams conceded 3.1 PPO per game. So right in line with the league average for chances. Well below in percentage in the 12 losses, league average in the OTL/SOL and well above the line in the four wins.
Shots and Corsi For
The league averages for shots is 30.0 SH/PG. For teams coming out of the bye-week, it looks like this.
|Shots For||Shots Against|
It’s clear that teams coming out of the bye-week generate more shots, with an average of 33.4 SH/PG. They keep their opponents to around the league average. It’s interesting to see that in the losses, the teams outshoot their opponents, while in the victorious contests they are out shot.
The league average shooting percentage is currently 8.7%, while the mean of the 20 bye week games is 5.8%. Interestingly, in the four wins, the shooting percentage is 12.9%, so that naturally inflates the goal totals due to a higher shooting success rate. Obviously, it’s only four games, but still an interesting takeaway.
I’ve broken down the Corsi for and Corsi against events below.
In the above image, orange represents winners, and grey highlights the teams that lost in shootout and overtime. Three of the four winners had less CF than CA, where the losers usually had a CF, with a few exceptions like Ottawa, Montreal and New Jersey, who got buried.
I was interested to see who was playing these teams coming out of their bye weeks.
Blue represents games that have already been played, while orange represents contests in the future.
What stuck out to me, is that there are so many teams who don’t play a team coming out of the bye week, while San Jose, Colorado and Arizona. Geography may play a part in it, but San Jose played New Jersey and Boston, both of which were on the same road trip. They will play Vancouver on Saturday night, as both teams come out of their bye week.
Colorado is 0-0-2, Arizona is 0-2-0 and San Jose is 1-1-0. So they haven’t been taking advantage of the opportunity, but with that said, Colorado and Arizona are 29th and 30th in the league for a reason.
As pointed out in the comment section – the wins are actually slighted skewed too. Toronto and New Yrok played each other coming out of their bye week (just like San Jose and Vancouver this weekend), thus there was going to be a ‘W’ somewhere. Pittsburgh won in overtime, Boston defeated San Jose in a shootout (San Jose on 2nd of back to back), and Arizona defeated Winnipeg in regulation.
This is all just some data to see what has happened to these teams coming out of the break. From my own viewings of games, the teams making their return have been sloppy. The lower success rates on the powerplay reinforce that, as there have been quite a few studies done to show that powerplay structure can help lead to goals, thus some rust can not allow clean entries, puck movement, etc.
It’s also interesting to notice that for the most part, the teams have higher Corsi for events, but much lower shooting percentage from the league average.
There are ten teams left to complete their bye-weeks, so it’s definitely something to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks.
All data is up to and including games played on February 21st, 2017
League averages were taken from www.hockey-reference.com
Schedule and results are from www.nhl.com
Underlying numbers are taken from hockeystats.ca