It’s no secret that sports fans consider close games that come down to the wire to be the best. The unpredictable outcome paired along with instantaneous joy or heartbreak are what make the games so exciting. The win-loss column doesn’t care how the outcome of the game came to be, just that one team won and the other didn’t. Sports are made on this concept, but it’s hard to analyze teams based on their win-loss record along, and that too is no secret. If a team is constantly losing close games, they may not be bad, but unlucky. As much as sports fans think everything happen for a reason, a lot of outcomes are based on luck, especially in small sample sizes.
Here are the current NLL league wide standings headed into Week 15:
By removing all one-goal games, we leave games that were clearly won by one team, though we cannot take the larger scale randomness out of the games. All wins and losses will be by at least two goals, with all empty-netters removed.
|Team||Record||One Goal Wins||One Goal Losses||Record Without||Win Percentage|
This chart helps us have clearer picture of who is clearly winning and losing games, and which teams may be lucky/unlucky late in games. Interestingly, this chart can tell us something about the seasons of Toronto, Calgary, and Edmonton.
Toronto has been on top of the standings and the NLL Power Rankings on IL Indoor pretty much all season, due to significant additions to their defense, breakout offensive players in Rob Hellyer and Brett Hickey, and above far average goaltending (Rose and Miller are ranked second and fourth in the league in save percentage respectively). These factors are enough to justify Toronto’s success, but it’s good to look at the chart above to keep their success so far, in context. They are the league leaders in one-goal games by twice the amount of the next team team. Without those games, they still sit near the top of the standings, but are no longer the runaway leaders.
When we look at the Calgary Roughnecks, we see a much more positive spin on the season than the regular standings have told. In this scenario, they would be in a playoff spot ahead of Vancouver. Luck has not been on their side (six one-goal losses), with their goaltending performing far below average early in the season.
Calgary’s rough start goaltending-wise dealt them a blow, but the numbers have since recovered, partly thanks to Frankie Scigliano’s play, and partly because it’s hard to sustain numbers that bad for a long time. They still aren’t near the top of the league in this category, but compared to their start, average netminding is a meaningful improvement. Without having to worry about goaltending, it’s hard to count the Roughnecks out at this point. They only sit half a game back of Vancouver for the final playoff spot in the West Division, and pose a big threat to both Edmonton and Colorado if they were to get Calgary in a playoff matchup.
In our new chart, Edmonton is the top team in the league with seven wins and one loss. This stays true when you look at goal differential as well.
Edmonton is not just winning, but they’re winning by the largest amount of any team out there. At this stage of the season, they’re playing like the best team in the NLL, and have shown it by winning five games in a row. The Rush defense is deadly, only allowing three goals to the Rochester Knighthawks two weeks ago. That game helped to bring their goals against average to 11.4, the lowest in the league. The Rush’s offensive output is also the best, averaging 13.8 goals per game, thanks in part to a franchise record-breaking year from Mark Matthews has 85 points (38+47). They have also had significant help from Robert Church (30+38), Zack Greer (33+29), and the rookie Ben McIntosh (25+35). All four forwards sit in the top 16 in league scoring, with eight other players in the mix who have played more games.
The final chart also shows some unfavorable results for Vancouver, which averages over 15 goals against per game. It’s tough to score more than 15 goals per game consistently, so it’s very important for them to make some defensive changes if they are going to fend off Calgary for the last playoff spot in the West Division. Having Tyler Richards out doesn’t help their cause right now.
NLL Week 15 features six games this weekend so we will have an even better idea about which teams are the contenders and pretenders headed down the final stretch of the regular season in the quest for the Champion’s Cup.
By Mike Wilson (@RushBeat) for NLL.com.