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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Jim Nill on Stars and Analytics

Not much to say about last night. The Sharks scored three goals without having to work too hard for them, and the Stars scratched and clawed as hard as they could and got two. It’s like Wes said on the podcast: it’s a lot easier to go from terrible to okay (goals allowed) than it is to go from great (at scoring) to incredible. Time to stop hemorrhaging goals against the teams you need to pass, boys.


We know the Stars love advanced analysis. Jim Nill has consistently said that he and the coaching staff keep their own numbers regarding the team’s play and its individual performances, and that’s been reiterated time and time again when Lindy Ruff refers in a postgame interview to the scoring chances he and his staff tracked during a game.

We also know, again, from Josh’s piece a little while back, that the team is cagey about precisely what it tracks. Jim Nill had a couple of quotes yesterday in a USA today piece that explored how secretive most (all) teams are with the internal metrics they use for their players:

Not everyone analyzes the game the same way. Some couple what they see on the ice with traditional measurements. Others are more reliant on the numbers.

The Dallas Stars have “dabbled,” said GM Jim Nill. They look at the numbers regularly but are cautious about taking them at face value because of the lack of consistent information.

“Stats are kept by people in every rink around the league,” Nill said. “What you might think is a hit, I might not think is a hit. That changes the consistency of it.”

He and his staff realize the game goes beyond the numbers.

“A little bit of it is the game, the way it’s played doesn’t always add up to stats,” Nill said. “There’s things that happen in the game that just happen because you’re dealing with a puck and ice.” [USA Today]

As the NHL moves its stats page into the modern era, the Stars are doing a lot of work on their own to ensure that they have the numbers they want. Player tracking is coming soon, but as Jim Nill indicates, there’s always going to be a place for the human element as well.

What Jim Nill doesn’t mention there, of course, is just how much work the Stars put in to make sure that they have the data they need to make key decisions. Scoring chances are likely just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to in-house numbers. Yes, the NHL is making a lot of numbers public and “official,” but rest assured that the Stars won’t rest when it comes to looking for an extra tidbit of knowledge about their (and other teams’) players.

There is still a very pervasive mindset in the NHL that the “real” decisions need to be made by those who have played the game, and that those same people need to base those decisions on nothing but what they see and how they judge it. There is immense value in the professional opinion, of course; but given what we know about human biases, it’s always reassuring to know that the Stars are doing everything they can to arm themselves with every number they can get.

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Don’t miss the Venus/Mars/moon conjunction tonight!

Last night, you saw score effects in action for an extended period of time. This was the result. [Stars]

Jason Demers “knows they’re coming” after the booboonanny on his lip. [SJ Mercury News]

Seriously, it sucks that Seguin isn’t in the Art Ross race anymore. [The Score]

Jason Spezza is now a premium fantasy hockey pickup. [Dobber Hockey]

Nashville is a legitimate cup contender this year, in case you thought they were this year’s Colorado. Of course, Dallas hasn’t been able to beat either team this year, so. [THN]

Eric Nystrom reflected on Long Island hockey in general and the Nassau Coliseum in particular. [Puck Daddy]

Devan Dubnyk credits “Head Trajectory” with his goaltending renaissance. Is this just a fancy way of saying “keep your eye on the ball”? Click this link to find out that it is much more than that. [NHL]

The Capitals are good and Ondrej Pavelec is not. Thankfully, those facts reflected the results last night in Winnipeg’s loss. [NHL]

Sidney Crosby decided to go full Connor McDavid and drop the gloves, to everyone’s surprise. [Puck Daddy]

Joffrey Lupul is here to remind everyone that a complete rebuild, much like any decent sort of physical therapy, is a very painful process. [TSN]

Darren Dreger suspects that the Bruins‘ front office (and Claude Julien) is on thin ice. Come on, Panthers! [The Score]

The NHL, as you can now see, does not sport “Corsi” or “Fenwick” on phase one of its redesigned stats page. I’m okay with that. Guess what, though? There’s a whole lot more coming. [Puck Daddy]

Jere Lehtinen was one of the few wingers to win a Selke Trophy. It usually goes to a center (due in part to the emphasis on faceoff numbers). This crop of potential Selke winners excludes Marian Hossa, which is a criminal offense in my book. [NHL Numbers]

Hoo boy, I just loved this: a look at every major NHL theme song from around the television world. Fun fact: I was in an improv group last year that used the ESPN NHL theme as our intro music. It got me so psyched up, every time. [The Hockey Writers]

Why not watch Radio Shack’s ongoing self-immolation through the eyes of a current store manager? Jon Bois reports. [SB Nation]

Finally, if you are as weak as I am when it comes to turning down girl scouts’ pleas for cookie sales, you’ll love this darling video of Jonathan Toews:

Talking Points