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Is something up with the NHL’s play-by-play data? – TSN

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What is going on with the NHL’s play-by-play data?

It’s something I’ve grown increasingly curious about over the past week or so, and a game on Wednesday night between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens offered a corroborating data point.

An astute observer noticed that the play-by-play data — the foundation for all historical counting measures and advanced measurements alike – was not matching the run of play. This data is collected for each game by individuals (or trackers) in home arenas as part of the NHL’s Real Time Scoring System.

In this particular case, Leafs centre Auston Matthews won a defensive zone draw, starting the transition up ice. Toronto defenceman Morgan Rielly attempted a shot in the offensive zone, and a full minute later after the faceoff was won, Canadiens goalie Carey Price froze the puck. But Rielly was never credited with a shot of any kind. Also of note: Montreal forward Nick Suzuki’s hit on Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie was not recorded, nor was Suzuki’s earlier turnover.

Humans, not robots, are tracking the ultra-fast action in real-time. There is no expectation of perfection – in fact, the birth of hockey analytics was married to the reality of making adjustments to the data sets to improve quality. One obvious example? Combating home recording bias.

But there’s something unique about this season that makes me wonder if the issue has manifested in a bigger way. It wouldn’t be the first time that an issue was identified in this area. Just last season shot location data suddenly (and quietly) changed. When the broader stats community identified the issue, the NHL rallied to fix the problem and return shot location data to baseline.

Let’s take a look at the NHL this season compared to the beginning of the NHL’s Real Time Scoring System data, this time with a focus on offensive shot volume. (I’ve also added giveaway and taking data, notoriously less accurate than some of the other data we rely on, but I think it illustrates an important point).

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I broke the data sets out by game state because I think there are peculiarities in the tracking when it comes to even strength play, though I’m not smart enough to figure out why.

If you look at the data sets, you see strong collinearity with increasing offensive production over the years – teams are taking more shots, they’re taking those shots from more dangerous areas, and they’re scoring more frequently. (It’s a big reason why league save percentages are down, year after year).

This season, teams are still scoring in line with prior years at even strength, and quite a bit more on the power play. But take a look at shot generation at even strength, which is down five per cent year-over-year and at a 12-year low. Consequently, shooting percentage is at a 12-year high.

That alone means little – it’s certainly possible teams have suddenly become more selective about where they generate these shots at even strength, trading quantity in for heaps of quality. But there are reasons to question that data. Among other things: teams appear to be wholly abandoning that strategy when it comes to the power play, generating shots in line with prior years and scoring goals at a considerably higher rate.

Other measures that have to carry a high level of accuracy, like penalties for and against, remain right in line with historical averages. And perhaps most notably, secondary measures – like even-strength takeaways – are down at such a considerable rate (25 per cent year-over-year) that they raise more eyebrows.

It’s not clear what the root cause of this is, or why there seems to be differentiation between even-strength data (which has deviated from recent years in competing directions) and power-play data (which is in line with recent years). But there has either been a considerable shift in offensive strategy around the league, or the work product of the trackers has changed. 

In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t appear a significant issue – there is still heaps of data being captured, and our understanding of what’s going on at the player and team level through these trackers remains strong.

But it does appear that we are losing data in some capacity. To that end, I invite my readers to send over any theory they have.

Data via NHL.com, Hockey Reference, Evolving Hockey 

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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Andreescu splits with coach Bruneau after French Open exit

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World number seven Bianca Andreescu on Tuesday announced she has split with longtime coach Sylvain Bruneau, a week after falling in the first round of the French Open.

The pair had worked together for four years as Andreescu made her breakthrough with three titles in 2019, including the U.S. Open.

“It is with a heavy heart that I would like to inform my fans that my long time coach, mentor and friend, Sylvain and I, have mutually decided to end our incredible coaching relationship,” Canadian Andreescu wrote on Twitter

“Our friendship will live forever … I am very grateful for everything we accomplished together and all of our great memories.

“Sylvain was more than a coach… he is family.”

Andreescu, 20, returned to action at this year’s Australian Open, having missed 15 months due to a knee injury.

A positive COVID-19 test subsequently ruled Andreescu out of both Madrid and Rome before an abdominal injury forced her to pull out of Strasbourg at the quarter-final stage.

Her most recent appearance at Roland Garros ended with a 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 defeat by Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek.

 

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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