Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Toskala is better than Nabby this year, right?

Not so fast. BoC is a good hockey blog for us west-coasters, and Mike Chen, who writes about the Sharks, has a good post on the Nabby vs. Tosk debate. As the post shows, one can make the case that Nabby has faced much tougher opponents than Toskala. In terms of the "pushover" set, Nabby has faced the Islanders (who aren't really a pushover now at 15-11-3) and Phoenix once. Toskala has faced St. Louis twice, Columbus, Philly, and the Kings three times. Their stats are basically identical, and Nabby has one more shutout.

But read the comments of the post too- In the 'tough' starts, Tosk has fared better.

Here's my own analysis. You have to factor in the strength of the team's record when you face them. There may not be that many swings now, but to use one example, the Penguins were 7-3-0 when we faced them in November. Now they are 13-11-5. It might be interesting to use the opponent's record for the previous ten games, but I already did the analysis based on the "at the time" (ATT) record, so too bad. Maybe in a future post.

The ATT record Nabokov has faced so far this season is 132-91-17, where Toskala's is 90-108-29. But since the most recent games will be more heavily weighted (the most recent game against the Kings had their record 11-16-4, but the first time it was 5-9-3), we should use points per game instead. The average Opponents Points Per Game At the Time (OPPGAAT, hehe) is 1.13 for Nabokov, 0.908 for Toskala. That's a big difference. Extrapolate that points per game for a season, and Nabokov is facing a 92-point team vs Toskala facing a 74-point team.

In the comments thread, they talk about tough games, but using OPPGAAT, Nabby's 4 toughest games are the toughest of the season thus far. Those were the first Minnesota game (loss), the second Minnesota game (win), the Anaheim game (loss), and the most recent Nashville game (win). All those had an OPPGAAT of 1.39 and higher. Toskala's toughest game (using OPPGAAT) was a win against Detroit, with an OPPGAAT of 1.33.

So Nabby has a worse record against "tough" opponents, but Nabby's "toughest" opponents were "tougher" than Toskala's "toughest" opponents. By a lot. That may be the most time the root "tough" has ever been used in a sentence. Comparing Toskala's most difficult starts against Nabokov's is not a level playing field. Nabokov has faced tougher starts, and more of them.

Nabby has clearly had the better season, in my opinion.


Bryce said...

And the statistics show it, after his win over the kings his GAA dipped below toskala's and his save percentage rose above it.

have any analysis on the upcoming schedule toughness for the two netminders, should the rotation hold?

Mike said...

Good idea. I'll try to get something out this weekend.