Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Divisional Effects on the Dominator

I received the suggestion lately that one of the reasons for the large save percentage discrepancy between Brodeur and Hasek was that there was stronger opposition in the Atlantic Division than in the Northeast. I decided to run the numbers for both goalies to check this out. I decided to look at games from 2000-01 and earlier for both goalies, as that was Hasek's last season in Buffalo.

Brodeur: .911 vs. division, .911 vs. rest of East, .916 vs. West
Hasek: .934 vs. division, .925 vs. rest of East, .925 vs. West

There wasn't much effect for Brodeur, but Hasek's result was surprising to me. The schedule was more balanced in the 1990s, so the divisional effects we see with the current NHL schedule shouldn't have been as much of a factor.

Yahoo Sports gives a breakdown of every goalies' record against all other teams (here's the link to Hasek's page). If we isolate the rest of the teams in Hasek's division, they don't look too out of the ordinary for him, with one clear exception:

Boston: .927
Montreal: .935
Ottawa: .950
Toronto: .928

In his career, Dominik Hasek has gone 24-9-5 with a 1.49 GAA and a .950 save percentage against the Ottawa Senators.

The type of Ottawa teams Hasek would have faced are very different, from the lousy expansion team of 1992-93 to the President's Trophy winners of 2002-03. Thanks to, shot and save results are available for every game against Ottawa. The Senators were a low-scoring team until 1998-99, when they won their division with 103 points. It makes the most sense to divide Ottawa games into two periods: the expansion team period from 1992-93 to 1997-98, and the dominant team period from 1998-99 to 2000-01.

From 1992-93 to 1997-98, Dominik Hasek was 17-4-1 against Ottawa, with a miniscule 1.33 GAA and a .955 save percentage. That is about what one would expect for an expansion team up against the greatest goalie of all time, and it supports the theory that Hasek fattened up on some weak teams.

Except that Hasek's success against Ottawa continued even when the Senators got good. Here are his results from 1998-99 to 2000-01: 4-3-4, 1.41, .957. His save percentage actually improved as the Senators did, although his team obviously provided almost no goal support. Hasek also dominated Ottawa in the playoffs, going 5-1, 1.55, .952 in the one-and-a-half series he played against the Sens.

Playing against the Senators was not much of an advantage for Hasek, because of the balanced schedule. Martin Brodeur played against Ottawa almost as many times in this period (28 games) as Hasek did (32). From 1993-94 to 1997-98, Brodeur was 12-3-2 against Ottawa with a 1.46 GAA and .937 save percentage. The difference is that Brodeur wasn't able to handle an improved Ottawa team as well as Hasek was. The Devils lost to the Senators in the 1998 playoffs, although Brodeur played pretty well (.927, 1.95), and Brodeur then went 4-5-2, 2.96, .893 against the Senators over the next three seasons.

I don't think playing in different divisions had much of an effect on the statistics of Brodeur and Hasek. The schedule back then was balanced so their strength of opposition was relatively similar. Both racked up wins and shutouts against the expansion Senators, the difference was that Hasek continued his domination even as Ottawa rose to be one of the best teams in the league.

Sometimes players have unusual success against a particular franchise, and that seems to be true in the case of Hasek vs. Ottawa. Hasek's repeated success against Ottawa is the main reason why he had such strong intra-division numbers in the 1990s. Little wonder then that the Senators went out and acquired Hasek in 2004. They had definitely "seen him good".


jamestobrien said...

It all makes sense now. Hasek was simply used to breaking the Senators' hearts that year he was injured in the Olympics ...

Anonymous said...

I still belive there is more to it than just Ottawa. Divisional rivals faced each other 6 times, and those outside the division, at most 4 times. Thus facing weak offensive teams like Boston, Montreal, and Ottawa is 6 extra games, or 10% of a guy like Hasek who only played 60 games a year, while the inverse effect is Brodeurs extra 6 coming against Philadelphia, and New York, teams that were much more efficient at putting the puck in the net. Perhaps using math to average what Haseks stats would look like facing Brodeur's division 6 times and his only 4 a piece, and vice versa for Brodeur would shed light on the difference, if there is any.

JLikens said...


The problem with your argument is that the NE teams that you listed weren't necessarily weak offensive teams during Hasek's tenure in Buffalo.

Similarly, the Atlantic teams outside of New Jersey weren't necessarily strong offensive teams during the same period.

Anonymous said...

Either way, it wouldnt hurt to see the numbers compared, and even more insightfully, to have them adjusted. Taking Hasek's average over 4 games against the Flyers and weighting that to 6 games, and then cutting the weight of Ottawa from 6 games to 4, I am sure would prove my theory.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap... you've finally convinced me... Brodeur's 544 wins are a fraud, he never really won those games! I have a sneaky suspicion that some Enron type accounting tactics were used to inflate his numbers and make Marty look better than he actually is. Maybe instead of debiting the goals, the NHL actually credited them in Marty's favor, creating an artificial amount of wins, resulting in his stance 7 wins away from the all-time record. So, in all honesty, Marty should have like, half or even less wins than he does on paper... and once you factor in the adjustments for save percentage and quality shots, you will see that the games he won shouldn't count as wins, but rather adjusted losses. Its all in this asshat, clown algorithm I have perfected called green-eyed player-hating envy, which gives me perfect 20-20 beer goggle vision when speaking about the most hated man in sports, Marty Brodeur.

Anonymous said...

Aonymous (the dumb one) - why don't you provide some actual facts & arguments, besides listing Brodeur's career wins total (which everyone knows)?

Otherwise you sound like some 13 yr old NJ fan who is sneaking onto his parents' computer.

(Do you actually think that anyone who examines the stats & therefore feels that Brodeur is overrated is exhibiting "green-eyed player-hating envy"? Bizarre.)