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Sharks Gameday: Staccuracy

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Nashville captain Shea Weber.
Nashville captain Shea Weber.

Back in December, I created a new advanced NHL statistic: the SONA index. SONA uses the Family Watchdog website to rank NHL teams by the number of registered sex offenders that live within a 1.5 square mile radius of their arena.

Here are the top six SONA teams in the NHL this season:

1 Nashville 458
2 St. Louis 424
3 Detroit 128
4 Washington 124
5 NY Rangers 123
6 Pittsburgh 105

And here are the current top six teams in the NHL in terms of standings points:

Team Points
1 St. Louis
2 NY Rangers
3 Vancouver 92
4 Detroit 91
5 Pittsburgh 89
6 Nashville 89

Since the SONA index only changes when someone is bored enough to look up all the NHL arenas on Family Watchdog and update the sex offender numbers (not likely to happen any time soon), these SONA rankings are pretty much final. The top six teams in the standings can obviously change before the end of the season, though there is a two point gap between the Predators and the next team with only about a dozen games left to play for everybody (all the stats in this post were updated prior to Wednesday night's games).

Assuming these six teams remain the top teams in the standings through the end of the season, the SONA index will have successfully predicted five out of the top six NHL teams (not in the exact right position, of course). It's important to note that SONA doesn't include ANY Canadian teams because of the vast Mountie conspiracy to keep sex offender data hidden from the public, so the Canucks couldn't possibly show up in the top six for SONA. With this limitation in mind, I'm going to assign the SONA index a tentative Staccuracy rating of 5/6, with "Staccuracy" being a meta-statistic I just made up that measures how well a certain statistic predicts the top NHL teams in terms of standings points.

For a stat that should have absolutely no connection whatsoever to how a team plays on the ice, SONA has done an amazing job. There are a few possible explanations for this. First and most boringest, it could just be a crazy coincidence. Second, there may be some weird demographic quirk that connects cities with large sex offender populations in certain areas with fanbases and organizations that create quality hockey teams - we won't know if this is true until someone completes the craziest sociology thesis paper in history. Finally, perhaps teams that play in high SONA cities are motivated to play better because of all the creepy dudes surrounding them all the time.

I don't know, I'm not a scientist.

The point is, SONA Staccuracy is 5/6. After the jump we'll compare it with some other statistics.

#1 Last year's top six

At the end of the 10-11 regular season, the top six NHL teams were:

Team Points
1 Vancouver
2 Washington
3 Philadelphia 106
4 Pittsburgh
5 San Jose 105
6 Detroit 104

(Teams that are not currently in the top six are in italics.)

Last year's standings only have a Staccuracy rating of 3/6. As a predictor it fails to anticipate the drop-offs from Washington and San Jose or the aggravated assault on the standings (with special circumstances) the Blues and Predators have both been guilty of this season.

#2 5 on 5 Goals for/against

The rationale behind this statistic is that eliminates special teams goals, which are notoriously unpredictable and not good measurements of team performance, and tries to look as clearly as possible at how a team is performing at even strength, which is how a team spends the majority of its time.

The top six 5-5 F/A teams are:

Team 5-5 F/A
1 Detroit
2 St. Louis
3 Boston 1.30
4 NY Rangers
5 Vancouver 1.17
6 Philadelphia 1.14

This is a decent measurement of team performance and has a Staccuracy of 4/6. It's no SONA, but it's pretty good.

#3 Fenwick Close

One of the crown jewels of the advanced stat crowd, the Fenwick rating (terrible name) measures shots directed towards the different nets, subtracting blocked shots but including missed shots. It's seen as a good measurement of team performance because it includes a very large sample size (much larger than the number of goals) which helps eliminate the effect of luck and illustrate how well a team is actually controlling the play. Additionally, experts say that "Fenwick close," which looks at the Fenwick rating only at times when the score is close and both teams are presumably trying their very best, is even better than regular Fenwick.

Jesus, Fenwick is a horrible name for this stat. And look at how many times I had to type it in that previous paragraph! Ridiculous.

Anyways, here are the current top six "Fenwick close" teams:

Team FWC
1 Detroit
2 St. Louis
3 Pittsburgh 54.82
4 Boston
5 San Jose
6 Los Angeles

Disgraceful. A Staccuracy of only 3/6? What a waste of time.

#4 Primary Team Color Wavelength

Since SONA turned out to be a great predictor of team performance despite being totally unrelated to hockey, maybe this one will be another success. In fact, the color of a team's jersey might actually have a significant connection to a team's performance, since science has suggested that the color red can inspire people to perform better in both mental and physical tasks.

Here are the top six NHL teams measured by the wavelength of the primary color of the team's home jersey:

Team Color
1 Detroit
2 Calgary
3 Carolina Red
4 New Jersey
5 Chicago
6 Florida

Okay so obviously that didn't work. This color-based measurement has a Staccuracy of only 1/6.

Clearly SONA is something very special.

#5 Clear Victory Standings

For our final stat, we'll look at one of my favorites: Clear Victory Standings. I've talked about this stat before this season, and continue to believe it's a useful measurement of team success (and one of the many reasons Copper & Blue is better than our stupid blog).

Here are the top teams in the league in terms of winning percentage in clear victory games:

Team CV %
1 Detroit
2 St. Louis
3 Boston .742
4 Pittsburgh
5 Vancouver
6 NY Rangers

Welp, there you go. Clear Victory Standings have a Staccuracy of 5/6.

The SONA index, something I made up as a joke, is as good of a predictor of team success as any other measurement we've got.

I'm some kind of god damn genius, folks.

Next Game

Nashville Predators
@ San Jose Sharks

Thursday, Mar 15, 2012, 7:30 PM PDT
HP Pavilion

Complete Coverage >

Prediction: The Sharks all carry pepper spray during their time in Nashville, but that doesn't help TJ Galiardi.

Today's movie is The Matrix, which Rudy and I already talked about, pretty much.