By the numbers: Sabres secondary scoring

By Rob Zima

Secondary scoring:

What is it? One of the frustrating characteristics of different statistical measures is the general ambiguity associated with them. When someone says, “we need more secondary scoring,” what exactly are they saying?

From my perspective (and this may differ among others), secondary scoring means non-first line players. How do you know which players are first line players? How I determine this is purely ES (Even Strength) TOI%. Here’s how the calculation works… (Time on Ice) / (The Teams Total Time on Ice). So, here’s how the top 6 forwards on the Sabres are represented in terms of ES TOI%:

Jack Eichel : 30.01%

Jeff Skinner : 29.69%

Sam Reinhart : 29.42%

Vladimir Sobotka (WOW) : 24.99%

Conor Sheary : 24.95%

Evan Rodrigues : 24.19%

I think, realistically speaking, primary scoring is first line production. Secondary scoring is everything behind the first line. So, statistically speaking, here’s what we have in terms of even strength production:

Jack Eichel – Jeff Skinner – Sam Reinhart : 37 goals, 52 assists, 89 points

Everyone Else : 41 goals, 58 assists, 99 points

First Line Point Percentage = 89/(99+89) = 47.34% of all points on the team.

Now, NEWSFLASH! I was under the assumption that more secondary scoring is inherently better. This is not necessarily true, in fact. I’ve attached an image of data I have compiled regarding the above assumptions for EVERY TEAM in the NHL.

Needless to say, I won’t get into the detailed breakdown of the regression, but let’s just say there’s little, if any correlation between an increase of secondary scoring and the overall teams place in the standings. For example, NJ is perfectly balanced between their 1st line production and every other line, but they’re 30th in the standings. Winnipeg is right behind them in terms of secondary scoring, and they’re 3rd in the standings.

Why do I bring this up? Buffalo media has been hounding the Sabres for their lack of secondary scoring. I myself have made statements in the past about it, but from the analysis, it appears there’s no significant correlation between a high rate of secondary scoring and success of a team in the standings. Ultimately, there are better indicators for success of a team.

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