Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is Danny Richmond the key to the Bears season?

Recently over at Sweetest Hockey on Earth they made an observation about Danny Richmond and how when he is in the lineup, the Bears are a better team. ShoE called it the Richmond Effect

Basically, the theory is that Hershey is a better team when Richmond is in the lineup.

At first I didn’t even want to consider it. I thought they were nuts and there was no way one player, that was barely playing (their post went up a little before Christmas), could possibly be having that large an impact.

I took a look at some simple, basic stats after that post and thought maybe there was something to it. And since the article went up, the results have continued. So, now I present it to you with some statistics to make the point.

First, let’s just break it down by record so far this season:
  • w/ Richmond – 12-2-2-1
  • w/o Richmond – 9-6-2-2
  • Overall – 21-8-4-3
Just by looking at the records you can see that there might be something to this. Sometimes records don’t tell the whole story due to the method at which the AHL (and NHL for that matter) give out points. As in, some losses are better than others and a team is rewarded with a point. (One of the dumbest rules in sports by the way.)

So, the Bears based on points percentage (percentage of points earned):
  • w/ Richmond - .794
  • w/o Richmond - .579
  • Overall - .681
Wow. So with Richmond the Bears earn about 22% MORE points in the standings. Not too bad.

Ok, but maybe the Bears have played weaker competition when Richmond has been in the lineup…

Point’s percentage of Bears opponents (as of 1/9/12):
  • In games w/ Richmond - .564
  • In games w/o Richmond - .534
  • Overall - .549
So, yet again, the Richmond Factor still holds up. The Bears have played a tougher slate of opponents with Richmond in the lineup then when he is on the bench.

Is there something else that is influencing it and making it seem like he is the missing link? Maybe per game scoring explains it…
  • w/ Richmond – 4.2 goals per game
  • w/o Richmond – 3.5 goals per game
  • Overall – 3.8 goals per game
Ok, that’s goals for; maybe they are giving up more goals against, resulting in the need to score more in order to win…
  • w/ Richmond – 2.8 goals allowed per game
  • w/o Richmond – 3.1 goals allowed per game
  • Overall – 2.9 goals allowed per game
So far it seems that the Bears are better in every important category when Richmond is in the lineup. Hmmm, maybe this really can be true.

Let’s keep looking though…there has to be something we are missing.

Maybe your argument would be, a lot of those games probably came early in the season and since the team is playing better of late, everything is evening out. This is a relatively true statement as the Bears started out good, went into hibernation through November, and have come out to feed since December 1.

But is their success of late because Richmond has been getting more opportunities?

Through the first two months of the season Richmond played in only 8 of a possible 20 games (40%). Since December 1 he has played in 9 of 16 (56%).

And the numbers are just as supporting…take a look:

Since December 1, 2011 the Bears by record:
  • w/ Richmond – 9-0-0-0
  • w/o Richmond – 3-2-1-1
  • Overall – 12-2-1-1
Point’s percentage:
  • w/ Richmond – 1.000
  • w/o Richmond - .571
  • Overall - .813
We already knew the Bears have been good since December 1, 2011, but did you realize that when Richmond doesn’t play, the Bears are barely above .500?

And the opposition over that stretch? It is pretty much the same. Overall the Bears opponents had a point’s percentage of .563 since December 1. The difference with or without Richmond is less than .010.

Scoring since December 1:
  • w/ Richmond – 4.6 goals per game
  • w/o Richmond – 4.1 goals per game
  • Overall – 4.4 goals per game
  • w/ Richmond – 1.9 goals allowed per game
  • w/o Richmond – 3.6 goals allowed per game
  • Overall – 2.6 goals allowed per game
Wow. This might be the biggest factor I have seen so far. When Richmond has played in games since December 1, the Bears gave up almost 2 fewer goals per game. That is substantial.

So, wait. You are telling me that a guy who has, so far this season, no goals, 2 assists, and a +3 rating is the key to the Bears this year?

Overall the numbers are pretty convincing. The sample size is still relatively small though. The Bears have only played 16 games since December 1 (9 with Danny, 7 without) and have only played 36 on the year. By the end of the season the sample size will be large enough for the coaching staff to have to strongly consider making roster decisions based on the information.

Danny Richmond, picture by Kyle Mace at Sweetest Hockey on Earth
 Maybe you believe the theory, maybe you don’t. Either way, the statistics at this point in the season are strongly in Richmond's favor if you want to believe it.

Personally, I am not entirely convinced....but I am getting close.


Brian said...

Glad to see you are coming around. :)

It was an interesting bit of research after a comment by Vanessa. So far it has panned out. Like you said it will be interesting to track for the rest of the season.

It seems to be one of the intangibles that doesn't necessarily show up on the score sheet. He doesn't have big numbers and maybe when he's out there they don't generate a lot of offense. Maybe it's more a factor of they don't give up many chances. That isn't something that is tracked in the AHL. It would also be interesting to see what his TOI would be too.

Vanessa Nicole said...

I'm glad that my love for the game and my favoritism towards Richmond has evolved into factual pieces. Go Richmond and GO BEARS!

banshezmom said...

My dh and I have been discussing this a lot lately too. At the beginning of the season, I was not a Richmond fan - thought he took too many stupid penalties. However, since he has returned from injury, he has played a pretty solid game. He seems to be giving the team that much needed vet presence on the blue line. They ALL play better when he's in the lineup. (Darned vet rule!)