Rick Ralph Posts

Green Shots & Red Shots: How Steve Valiquette is discovering which plays are most likely to score

“Get pucks on net and things will happen” is a phrase many hockey coaches have shouted at players since the game was invented. Former NHL Goalie Steve Valiquette, is currently working on an ambitious project to challenge that theory and show that certain types of plays are more likely to score than others.

Valiquette (@Vallys_View), an analyst for the MSG Network joined Rick Ralph on the Rona Roundtable on TSN 1290 Winnipeg on Thursday and explained that the goal of the project is to show that save percentage, along with goals against average is a team stat, rather than a stat belonging to the individual goalie.

What makes one shot more likely to go in than others? Valiquette continued:

“It’s really about giving the goaltender about half of a second of clean sight before the release vs. not having half a second of clean sight before a release. If you give a goalie half a second, there’s a very little chance of scoring, about three percent chance.”

To beat a goalie now you have to move the puck across the middle of the ice. Thirty percent of the goals that have been scored this year are (off of) passes that go across the middle of the ice.

What I’ve done is I’ve created a line that separates the ice in two equal parts. That line runs from the middle of the net all the way down the length of the ice to the other goal.”

Valiquette refers to that line described above as the “Royal Road” he listed different types of criteria that can lead to a goal.

The Royal Road shown in thick red down the middle of the ice

The Royal Road shown in thick red down the middle of the ice

Operating on the basis that not all shots are equal, he has categorized shots as green or red. Green shots go in the net 76% of the time, red shots make up the other 24% of goals.

Different types of green shots are as follows:

  • Passes across the “Royal Road”
  • Players carrying the puck across the “Royal Road”
  • One timers on the same side of the “Royal Road” (either side, left or right)
  • Screens
  • Deflections
  • Broken plays

The 37-year old summarized:

“Those sequences are all qualified by the fact the goalie has less than half of a second of sight before the puck releases from the shooters stick.”

The following types of shots are when a goalie has more than half a second of clean sight of the puck. They are categorized as red shots. They are:

  • Wrap arounds
  • A player walking from the corner jamming the puck to the net
  • Net crashes
  • A player coming off the rush, where a goalie sees the puck and there’s no screen,

“The real hook, is that teams, including (the Winnipeg) Jets are taking about three times as many red shots, or bad shots, than green shots.”

While this was all very interesting, Valiquette offered a few hints that could explain reasons for the Winnipeg Jets success this season.

“Paul Maurice has done an incredible job at coaching this hockey club, they are giving up fewer green shots, probably fewer than just about anybody in the league, comparatively speaking to anybody from last season.”

In a simpler form: according to Valiquettes criteria, the Winnipeg Jets are giving up fewer high-percentage scoring chances than last season and dating back to last season they are the most improved team in the NHL at this metric.

This could explain part of the variance between Ondrej Pavelec’s save percentage this season (.914) compared to his career average of (.906).

It was certainly one of the more interesting interviews I’ve heard about a new analytical approach to measure the strength of goaltenders and am definitely looking forward to hearing more of the results.

For more insight into the project, check out the full interview at TSN1290.ca

Duguay: Today’s players have to be careful when it comes to partying

Ron Duguay played 864 games in the NHL for the Rangers, Red Wings, Penguins and Kings. In addition to being a professional hockey player, he was known for his long flowing hair, appearing in New York Gossip columns, clothing ads and dancing at Studio 54. He played 864 career NHL games and scored 620 points, he played with some of the greatest players of all time including Phil Esposito, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

Duguay was actually drafted in 1976 to the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the WHA draft, but he never made it to Winnipeg.

He appeared on the Rona Roundtable with Rick Ralph on TSN 1290 Winnipeg earlier this week and wondered what his life would be like if he had gone to Winnipeg instead of New York.

“Just to think what my life would have been if I had chosen Winnipeg instead of New York…no tall buildings, no Studio 54. It would have kept me out of trouble, my career would have lasted a lot longer if I would have played in Winnipeg”

On the ice, Duguay had some successful seasons with the Rangers. In 1981-82 he scored 40 goals as a 24 year old. As much as his name was showing up on the scoresheet, it was also showing up in the tabloids. Duguay was romantically linked to Cher, Bianca Jagger, Cheryl Tiegs, Farrah Fawcett and Patty Lupone.

Two years after scoring 40 goals, the Sudbury, Ontario native was traded to the Red Wings. It was the first time in his career he had to change teams. To some, being traded would come as a surprise but the forward was not as his lifestyle clashed with expectations set by Head Coach Herb Brooks.

“I wasn’t surprised because Herb Brooks was the coach at the time and he didn’t appreciate my lifestyle. I had just come off scoring 40 goals in my first season playing him. You would think that the year after he would like me as a player. I think he did, but he didn’t like reading about my social life (in the tabloids). It was a gradual thing where I ended up on the 3rd line in that second year with him. That summer he found a way to trade me. I don’t think he disliked me personally, he just didn’t like who I was.

I sensed that might happen so I wasn’t shocked. I was just shocked that I was going to Detroit. From New York to Detroit, that’s a big difference. A part of me felt like I need to stay focused and be a hockey player. That kept me in a different place where I would go to Detroit and there was an opportunity to play on the top line with Steve Yzerman and John Ogrodnick. I felt like I’ve had some fun in New York, let’s just be a player. And for three years I became a pretty good player in Detroit.”

While Duguay lived the life in the 70s and 80s, it is much different for players today. He says NHLers right now have to be very careful in every way they act.

“You have a lot of eyes on you; you have to be very very careful in what you do. Because it is big business now, it’s just not acceptable anymore for Coaches, Managers and Owners and guys to be out partying. Back then the whole league did it, we all did it. The Coaches did it, the Managers did it. Everyone was out, we were on the road and we partied. It was all acceptable.

Now, it’s big business, there’s a lot of money involved and you just can’t get caught partying. You may do some, but you have to be so careful. You can’t do what we used to do at all.”

Listen to the full interview at TSN1290.ca

Hnidy: Adam Lowry has earned a spot on the Jets roster

Coming into training camp Adam Lowry was a player that had to impress in training camp to make a roster spot. Drafted in the 3rd round in the 2011 NHL Draft; Lowry spent last year (his first full season as a pro) with the St. John’s IceCaps where he put up 33 points in 64 games.


TSN Winnipeg Jets Analyst Shane Hnidy joined Rick Ralph on the Rona Roundtable for his daily segment at 12:15pm CT and said that Lowry has done enough to start the season with the Winnipeg Jets.

“Training camp is about trying to make the team. You have to go out and do something that is going to get you noticed to get there. Adam Lowry has done exactly that. He’s been on centre, been on left wing, played every position and every situation they put him in he’s made the most of it. In my eyes this is a guy who starts with the Winnipeg Jets.”

Listed at 6 foot 5, Lowry is one of the bigger players in the NHL and has shown this preseason that he can use his size to his advantage.

“The thing about Adam Lowry is he has the size, but also the way he uses it. He uses his size to his advantage. Last night (vs. Edmonton) was a perfect example the way he shielded and protected the puck. This was against the top pairing of Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin, both guys are 6 foot 4 with big bodies. He was able to handle them by shielding the puck, protecting the puck, and (he) was real strong in the corners and along the boards.”

Now 21, Lowry has improved his game since being drafted as an 18 year old in 2011.

“Adam Lowry has taken a lot of steps (forward), I’ve been able to watch him (since he was drafted in 2011); his skating has come along and he’s such a smart hockey player. Lowry has played his way onto the team, and that is what you want to see from a young player. That they have worked their way (through the AHL up to the NHL), made the most of the opportunity and he has certainly done that. Lowry will be a good fit (on the Jets roster) as he is versatile, he’ll probably start on the wing but eventually you can see him being a big centremen.”

One element that sets the young Jet apart from his peers is his ability to play on the Penalty Kill.

“He’s a good penalty killer because of that reach that he has. Being 6 foot 5, he’s easily able to get his stick in the passing lane, poke pucks free, be strong on the boards. Lowry doesn’t have to move as much because he covers so much space on the penalty kill, gets in the right position and angles guys into the boards. The ability to play a big role on the penalty kill is one detail of his game that gives him an advantage (over other players vying for a roster spot.

The Winnipeg Jets season gets underway on October 9th in Phoenix at 9pm CT, listen to the game on TSN 1290 or watch it on TSN 3.

Paul Maurice on the Winnipeg Jets use of analytics

Analytics are currently a hot topic in the hockey community. Back in March Rick Ralph asked Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice on the types of metrics the team uses.

Maurice on analytics:

 “We have fairly detailed analytics on synergies; people playing together, who they play against, and minutes played. (This is) so we have an idea of what our group is facing as a line, or as a defense pairing. (Some things we look at are) what they’re generating in terms of shots from different parts of the ice and what they give up in terms of shots. You can tell who a line is playing against and what that line is getting for and against through the course of a game.

(Of) all the analytics that you look at, the best thing I’ve always found is you just go through the game. You look at it shift by shift, who you’re playing against, chances for, chances against. You keep a log of all your information and build a database that way on what’s happening over the course of a game. Some of it is in game, (but) a lot of it, the stuff that I trust the most is stuff that we’ll do in between games.”

Maurice continued

“Some of the stuff just can’t be used as fact. You can say that someone is giving up more shots, but at the end of the day they aren’t giving up any goals so there is a value to what they’re doing.

(For example) I would know Mark Scheifele. We would rate the quality of his chances, the quality of shots, where the shots are coming from. I would know that he was at the high end of both ranges. When he was on the ice there was far more things happening in the offensive zone and far less happening in the defensive zone. I would know that by the stats. But you wouldn’t need to look at the stats to know that. I think at the end of the day, there hasn’t been too many times where a stat was right on and was the opposite of what we would think.”

While the Jets do use some advanced metrics, Coach Maurice says they are only part of the decision making process.

 “It’s a piece of a decision. I would say that 90-95% of what you see is what the stats are telling you anyway. Yeah I knew that already just from watching the game. Then there’s some aberrations, you’ll see some synergies where these two guys are supposed to be really good together or they look like they’re playing great together, but the other team seems to be shooting the puck at your goaltender alot more than you’re shooting it at theirs when they’re on the ice together.”

Do the players ever look at the stat sheet? Rick asked Blake Wheeler was asked if he used statistics to help his game.

 “Not really, it’s a feel. You know when you’re going good, when the team’s going good or when you’re not.”

But Wheeler says that video is a tool that he uses to help his game

 “It helps to see it; they say the big eye don’t lie. But as players you know when you’re on your game or not on your game. It’s pretty cut and dry, there’s not a lot of grey area there.”

Rick Ralph discusses the analytics used by the Winnipeg Jets

The Rona Roundtable hosted by Rick Ralph airs weekdays from 11am-1pm on TSN 1290 Winnipeg.

Goalie Analytics with Coach Steve McKichan

Goalie Analytics with Coach Steve McKichan

Steve McKichan a former Goaltending Coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs is currently the President and CEO of Future Pro Goalie School and has been “turning goalies into future pros for over 20 years”. He joined Rick Ralph on the Rona Roundtable on TSN 1290 Winnipeg on July 17th and provided this insight on goalie analytics.

“…the best puck handling goalies maintain puck possession. The one thing we tracked with the Maple Leafs was every time a goalie touched the puck in a puck handling environment we maintained a percentage of how often their team kept possession of the puck. This is because of the earth shattering secret; if your team has possession of the puck the other team can’t score.

You have two guys with .930 save percentages and one guy that actually has an 85% puckhandling percentage. (That goalie) will win more games because his team always has the puck opposed to the alternative”

On goaltending analytics aside from save percentage:

“I’ve got a couple key metrics that I use. One is save percentage of a goaltender when the team is shorthanded, because that’s where games are won and lost. I would also look at the save percentage of a goalie in the bounce back game after he was pulled. The other metric that I use is rebound control efficiency calculation, where the types of rebounds a goalie is leaving are quantified.

An analysis is done and a number given, like a goals against average where rebound control efficiency is generated for every game which allows you to see the difference between two goalies on how they manage their rebounds.”

While with the Maple Leafs, McKichon realized that shootouts are something that NHL Head Coaches should pay more attention to:

“We were struggling so bad with shootouts in Toronto (with the Maple Leafs), I said (to Head Coach Paul Maurice) let me do a presentation on how to score goals and how we can be better at that, and he said “ah don’t worry about it”. We ended up missing the playoffs by three or four points. The shootouts could  have been a factor, but (Paul Maurice) is probably one of best coaches in the NHL and just loves to let the guys play and use their natural innate abilities.”

Rona Roundtable – Interview with Steve McKichan – July 17, 2014

Listen to the Rona Roundtable with Rick Ralph weekdays from 11am-1pm CT on TSN Radio 1290, your home of the Winnipeg Jets.