Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 1993 Canadiens in OT

Anyone who followed the 1993 NHL playoffs remembers that the Montreal Canadiens had an exceptional record in overtime. The Habs were 10-1 that year in games that went past 60 minutes, and even that one loss tends to get forgotten since it came in the Habs' first playoff game. As a result, the more oft-cited statistic is "Montreal won 10 straight playoff overtime games in 1993".

The journalistic narrative that year was that Patrick Roy singlehandedly won the Cup. Given that Roy didn't score any of Montreal's 10 overtime goals, any reasonable person would have to conclude that there was more to it than that. Roy's contribution was surely significant, but how much of the OT streak was a result of his play, and how much was earned by the shooters in front of him?

The Hockey Summary Project now has the 1993 numbers posted, which means that we now have access to shot data that might help answer that question.

In 11 overtime sessions in 1993 Montreal was outshot 66-59, yet scored 10 goals to their opposition's 1. That's a 16.9% shooting percentage and a .985 save percentage. Needless to say, that is a remarkable run (it is not often you see a PDO number of 1.15, even in a very small sample).

The league average save percentage in overtime in 1993 was .907. Montreal wasn't really affecting that average much since the total save percentage in overtime periods involving the Canadiens was .912, it was just heavily skewed in the Habs' favour.

If they had the league average OT shooting and save percentages Montreal would have been expected to score 5.5 goals and allow 6 in overtime. That means they outperformed their expected goal differential by 9.5 goals, of which 4.5 were the shooters outperforming and 5.0 was the goalie outperforming.

That gives approximately a 50-50 split in total contribution between the goalie and the shooters. Without question St. Patrick was great that spring, but even the best goalies need help if they want to win anything. Contrary to popular myth, Montreal had a very good team in front of him, and the Habs were able to increase their odds by managing to avoid the league's top teams in their playoff bracket. It was still a very heavy dose of good fortune that Montreal was able to be that opportunistic in those high-leverage situations, as without the Canadiens' great record in close games they probably would not have won the Stanley Cup.

2 comments:

Agent Orange said...

CG good article with some good information to think about. Far be it from me to every praise Patrick Roy but I remember this playoff run and being really impressed at Roy's and the Canadians performance.

I agree totally that the Canadians were not a terrible team that Roy saved. One thing that is worth noting is Roy had a terrible regular season by his standards. His 0.894 SV% was the 3rd lowest of his career. This came sandwiched between seasons of 0.914 and 0.918.

If Roy had a 0.916 SV% (the total SV% of the years before/after 92-93) over the same 62 games he played he would have allowed 40 less goals. This would have made the Habs a +86 team. Close to tops in the league.

It would appear as though he "saved it for the playoffs".

That considered I think we are selling the Habs opponents a bit short.

Here are their opponents

Team PTS GF GA Diff
MONT 102 326 280 46
QUE 104 351 300 51
BUF 86 335 297 38
NYI 87 335 297 38
LAK 88 338 340 -2

In addition to these numbers the Kings were without Gretzky for 30 games and likely would have been a much better offensive team had he played the entire time.

Basically the Habs/Nords outperformed their regular season numbers while the Sabres/Isles underperformed and the Kings fought injuries.

Basically the series should have been much closer than they were but were not thanks in a large part to Roy's greatly improved performance between reg season and playoffs.

In addition the Habs had a reg season GF of 3.88 and GA of 3.33. In 111 minutes of playing time we would expect GF 7.2 GA 6.2. Instead they got GF 10 GA 1.

This would contribute about 61% to goaltending/defense and 39% to shooters. Some of the 61% goes to the defense and team play of course but the goalie should get some credit.

I guess the end result is I agree with you to an extent. It wasn't just Roy but it isn't too much of a stretch to say his contribution was the greatest. The Habs were not a bad team, in fact they were quite good, but the teams they played against were also good teams who were capable of putting up very good games.

Montreal should have and did win the cup. Once they beat the Nords they should have won every round but the rounds should of been quite a bit closer than the over 12-2. That over performing is more measurable with Roy than any other individual team member.

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