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Useful sites that make this site possible

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Time to give credit to the people who maintain the information we use every day.

Nashville Predators v Toronto Maple Leafs
Fine, fine, but what was the Corsi in that game?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In one of his episodes of the Bobcast, Bob McKenzie talked about his career arc and how he began in print, making a big splash with The Hockey News before he moved to television. I used to have a subscription to that magazine. I’d buy their yearbook, and other publications that had these big sections in the back of historical stats and records. I’d run my finger down the columns counting the number of times Jari Kurri was in the top 10.

If you wanted a mathematical shape to the game, which is a natural thing to desire for many of us, that’s how you got it.

Such a brave new world, that has such people in it (what Huxley quoted with irony, I say with conviction) who put this kind of thing online, and then took it a step further and make the data more meaningfully and easy for all of us to access. So many databases of information. So much knowledge. The people maintaining these sites are all the librarians of all our yesterdays, our present, and maybe our future.

This is not an exhaustive list of all useful sites, but it is my personal list of places I keep returning to time and again.

Elite Prospects

www.eliteprospects.com

There is so much just basic utility in this site, it’s hard to know where to start with my praise. The thing that won me over forever with was their decision to include women in their database. This wasn’t such a huge jump for them, as they has already built their site on the idea that people all over the world play hockey in all sorts of leagues.

Top features for me are fun things like the pronunciation of players names, serious things like the transfer history right on the page for each player with links to original sources maintained over time, and useful things like league wide stats that have filters, particularly age filters, that help to judge one young player against his peers.

The EP Transfers twitter account is invaluable for keeping up with what’s going on, and also finding players in the world with your family names. Whoever you are, wherever you are from, check for your name at Elite Prospects. You might be like Nazem Kadri, only one of his name, or you might be surprised and find a few or a multitude with your name.

Hockey Reference

hockey-reference.com

I only started using this site because elseldo said he did all the time. And then he grumbled about newfangled sites and kids on his lawn, so I knew I had to give it a try.

This is not a modern website designed to kind of work on mobile, and perhaps that’s why it’s so useful. It’s complex, full of twisty paths to get to the data you want, but it also straddles the line between the old world of box scores and the new world of calculated numbers and shot metrics.

Their draft database is very useful, I find their season graphic of wins and losses a useful “tell at a glance how it’s going” tool, and I like that their tables are easily converted to CSV data to take away and use.

I’m not overly enamoured of their choice to use even strength data vs five-on-five, but it’s not a deal breaker. They do split traded players’ stats up by team which is necessary for so many questions of crushing importance like, “Is Ben Smith as bad as you all are saying on Twitter?” (No is the answer. Most Twitter outrage merchants were using his appallingly bad stats after one training camp at altitude and a few games on the worst team in the NHL to flood his slightly better Toronto numbers.)

Datarink

The site is set to close on Sunday, August 6.

datarink.com

This site is fast. No other modern hockey stats site is fast, but this one is. It’s gradually being built, has a modern, well-designed interface, and offers a unique comparison function that is sort of like a hero chart, only with more depth.

You can look at stats by team, for the whole league or by searching for players. It does not go back beyond last season, but it’s really fast. It’s like Kasperi Kapanen. He’s not the best hockey player on the Leafs but, damn, he’s got wheels.

Natural Stat Trick

naturalstattrick.com

Do you remember the old days when websites had no colours, but they did have tables with easy to understand filters and reasonable load times? NST is from that era. They’re like James van Riemsdyk. They play the game a bit old-fashioned, but they still score a lot of goals.

NST has some load time lag at times, but not crushingly bad, and the filters on team and league data are really useful for seeing the larger picture. I seamlessly switched from War on Ice to NST for my quarterly charts on how the Leafs are performing.

There are two graphical resources that are top notch as well. The in game push-pull shot differential graph and the heat map.

Put the two together and you can see the ebb and flow of the game but also the areas of defensive weakness/offensive superiority. The Capitals really were the better team and Corsi differential didn’t tell the full tale.

I love this site for in-game checks of what’s going on, particularly to see the heatmap develop from period to period. The shot differential line graph gives a different feel to the paired line style that Hockeystats.ca uses. You might like it better. But I like the fact that NST’s graph shows the net result.

CapFriendly

www.capfriendly.com

Where the hell would we be without them? Trying to make eleventy billion separate lists of contract details full of errors and lacking in verification? Or just throwing up our hands and repeating along with Gary that fans don’t care about contracts.

Some lesser known features of CF beyond their contract data are the qualifying offer calculator, the arbitration listings, the UFA and RFA lists and the waiver exemption information. They have an armchair GM feature which isn’t my thing, but might be yours, and their response time on accurate and useful expansion draft information was phenomenal.

If the idea of searching the actual CBA makes you queasy, their FAQs are a great resource.

Puckalytics

The site closed on Wednesday, August 3, no official word given. (Hockeyanalysis.com was his original, less effective site. Both sites closed.)

pucklytics.com

This modern stats site has all the historical data that some other sites lack. It has good filters, converts to CSV at the click of a button, and allows for multiple views of grouped years of data. I find this invaluable because I often want to see the New Maple Leafs data, not data from all guys who have ever worn a similar sweater, so I want specific years grouped.

There are load time issues here, but not severe ones, and the most recent re-design has solved a lot of technical problems. The goalie stats are of no interest to me, however. I do like the individual player pages with the ability to look at years of data in various ways.

Dispelling Voodoo

www.dispellingvoodoo.com

This is my go-to place for goalie numbers. You can view goalies in various hero chart formats or in line graphs to compare on various stats. Yes you can move beyond standard save percentage as a goalie measure. The line graphs are Tableau, so they have all the interface issues inherent in that system, but they also download images nicely.

NHL.com

A site that isn’t as bad as many think it is, but is lacking in many areas. You can’t easily copy the data to work with, but you can do it clumsily. Data on players is spread over multiple pages, and unlike Puckalytics, you can’t combine it into one table.

But they are useful for some views of player information, particularly if discussing the sorts of things awards voters seem to care about. I use the site for standings information and schedule information a lot more than stats.

Quant Hockey

quanthockey.com

This site is fun! If you like demographic data and are frustrated that Elite Prospects doesn’t really give it to you even though it’s tantalizingly there in their database, this site might fill a void. How many current NHL players were born in Toronto? And who is top of the list in points? The answer is fun to find out.

It has its limitations. Michael Nylander tops the historical list by points for NHLers born in Stockholm. William Nylander is chasing Gary Unger’s intimidating 804 points for players born in Calgary.

It has other leagues though, so it’s fun to discover who is leading what league in points.

They have graphs as well, not spiffy ones, just ordinary information presented in a way you can use. At what age do more players retire from the NHL than any other over the full history of the league? See if you can find that out.

I was surprised by the nationality percentages for the OHL and the fact that Russia is the third place country, although at a much lower rate than the second place USA, confirmed something I’d noticed anecdotally. Russians are coming over via the import draft and getting a North American junior education and learning English at a much higher rate than Swedes.

There, see what even a fun data site can show you?

HockeyViz

hockeyviz.com

This is not a data site, but a visualization site. There are very few numbers to be found here. Not everyone wants to see hockey in graphical form, and some of the charts that combine a lot of information don’t work for me.

One visualization I like a lot are the heatmaps of shot locations. This has become my favourite way to view shot data because it relates more directly to what you see when you watch a game. A number like X shots per 60 minutes is a frequency that never really happened in the game. A heatmap is footprints left on the ice.

But for a quick look at a team, who is good, who is a drag on the team, where is the team average, nothing beats this in my estimation:

You can almost feel 29 and 11 striving to drag the team out more and more towards the good range like the lead sled dogs with a very overloaded sled to pull. And yes, 18 does look like an anchor.