The [ppm] eyrie

September 16, 2009

Tactics and home ice advantage

Filed under: powerplay manager hockey, PPM.statistics — glanvalleyeaglets @ 10:41 am

In the first season I was first and foremost interested in finding out the basic relations of the tactics and countertactics, so I only recorded the tactics and the score of the match. As the spread in the teams’ strength increases, the grand total tables make less sense, so I decided to create a more serious databasis for the second season. So for each game under consideration I store the tactics, game importance, team strength estimates (the “stars” for goaltending, defensive, offensive and shooting), shots, penalties and the final score. I find this is a much better tool for studying how this game works!

I hope this is the first post in a series of articles. Today I want to address a simple question: is there a home ice advantage in regular season games and what does it have to do with the tactics?

Let us start with the grand total table using all the games I’ve gone through. All are from the regular tournament of the second season, match days 1-16 (games with participation of inactive teams were excluded, but it was done with care in order not to lose games like this one 🙂 ). In total 48,770 games of powerplay manager ice-hockey. For those interested: the most popular pairing of tactics is Normal vs Normal with 5083 games; the most exotic is Defensive (home team) vs Breaking up (road team) with 416 games. Here the rows represent tactics of the home team, the columns – the tactics of the road team. The numbers are percentage of home wins, games with overtime and away wins.

Normal Offensive Defensive Counteratt Breaking Forecheck
Normal 48.1-11.4-40.3 42.3-11.8-45.8 63.1-10.4-26.4 47.1-13.5-39.2 37.8-10.1-52.0 45.8-10.8-43.2
Offensive 54.4-11.5-34.0 48.9-12.1-38.8 37.5-13.0-49.3 48.0-13.3-38.5 52.8-10.3-36.8 62.7-12.0-25.1
Defensive 37.8-12.5-49.6 59.6-12.4-27.9 48.0-12.3-39.6 51.0-11.6-37.2 47.8-11.7-40.3 43.6-13.2-43.0
Counteratt 49.3-12.0-38.6 48.1-12.6-39.2 47.6-11.3-40.9 48.0-13.2-38.6 58.1-11.8-30.0 37.0-9.0-53.8
Breaking 61.9-8.9-29.0 46.7-12.5-40.6 42.3-12.6-44.9 34.5-12.5-52.8 45.0-11.8-43.1 45.3-9.8-44.8
Forecheck 51.4-11.6-36.8 35.0-12.1-52.7 44.5-11.2-44.2 61.1-12.8-26.0 51.1-12.2-36.6 47.8-13.0-39.1

The home teams win approximately 48% of the games and lose some 40%, so there is a measurable home ice advantage in this game.

The average team in this study has goaltending rated at 16.1 stars, defense 16.0, offense 15.4 and shooting 14.1. No wonder that, for instance, offensive tactics overall does slightly better than defensive tactics (it is worth paying more attention to the weakest part of the team). For offensive teams, the opposite is the case!

On the top of this we clearly see the famous ring of countertactics in action!

Of course, games of equally rated teams are more interesting to us. Taking the sum of goaltending, defense, offense and shooting “stars” as a measure of team strength and filtering out all games where the difference exceeds 5, I was left with mere 18,508 games. Here is the resulting table:

Normal Offensive Defensive Counteratt Breaking Forecheck
Normal 49.5-14.5-35.9 46.8-15.7-37.4 65.9-12.0-22.0 50.4-15.4-34.1 38.7-12.0-49.1 47.5-12.9-39.5
Offensive 48.8-15.2-35.8 46.7-16.2-37.0 36.1-17.6-46.2 48.6-16.2-35.1 51.9-13.7-34.2 60.6-15.1-24.1
Defensive 34.5-16.5-48.8 63.3-14.3-22.2 45.9-14.2-39.8 45.8-16.2-37.9 49.4-11.7-38.8 43.4-17.3-39.1
Counteratt 51.4-13.7-34.8 52.0-15.2-32.7 48.2-14.5-37.1 47.7-16.5-35.7 60.0-12.8-27.2 36.3-12.1-51.5
Breaking 62.0-11.5-26.4 50.1-13.5-36.2 45.9-13.1-40.9 31.5-16.3-52.1 45.6-12.8-41.5 49.5-11.6-38.8
Forecheck 52.0-15.0-32.8 37.4-16.7-45.7 43.4-15.6-40.9 63.2-15.8-20.8 49.3-13.8-36.7 50.7-16.2-32.9

We see that in this case the draw margin is way bigger and that it is harder for the visiting team to win the game; home wins ~ 48%, away wins ~37% of the “equal” games.

I must stress that these tables are not there to suggest that “some tactics are better than others”. It is true that the tactics should suit your team and tactics that one team uses with great success may miserably fail for another team with different skill distribution.

So we have seen the importance of home ice in games of the regular season. It is claimed that there is no such thing in cup games or friendlies. In the next article I plan to go deeper into the overall team strength – performance relation. It will turn out that the team strength may be more important than the tactics 🙂


1 Comment »

  1. Hi, I did a similar research in Beta but I did it in a much much simpler way:
    At the end of the season, I took the league table for all home matches. And then I simply summed all goals for and all goals against. It turns out that there is about 8-10% higher chance to score if you play home.

    But your research is much more valuable, because it also shows that choosing good counter-tactics is has bigger influence than having a home advantage.

    Thanks again! Fantastic job as always.

    Comment by radowan — September 17, 2009 @ 6:54 pm

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