An emailer asks:
Curious to know if you have checked into goal differential with and without Jonathon Toews? I know differential is a primitive stat, but I think it might be interesting.
Thanks for the question.
I wouldn’t call goal differential primitive. In the end, the name of the game is goals for vs goals against. The only problem is that goals are a rare event. A quick look at Chicago’s 5v5 team stats last season makes this point evident.
- Goals For 134
- Goals Against 141
- Total Goal Events 275
- Shots For 3,682
- Shots Against 3,588
- Total Shot Events 7,270
So when analyzing the 2015-16 season, one can look at 275 events or 7,270 events. The larger sample being the shot data.
Now looking at goal based stats is good when looking at multiple years. When examining a three year window, there is usually enough of a sample size where goal based stats such as goal differential become extremely valid. Therefore, the career Goals For % of Jonathan Toews is a stat that is useful. We will examine that stat in this post.
First we must look at what Goal For % is, in case someone reading this needs a refresher.
On The Ice
Let’s take a look at Jonathan Toews’ career, season-by-season goals for percentage .
2012-13 was a magical season where Toews recorded a ridiculous 73% Goals For %. Thats 3 Chicago goals for every one goal the opponent scored.
Lately, we have seen a drop off from Toews. This is to be expected as he has gone from playing with a low 30’s Hossa plus players like Brandon Saad and Dustin Byfuglien to lower level talent. Now that the roster isn’t as skilled, one can’t expect Toews to keep up his great goal based numbers.
His career 58% average is very impressive though and easily puts him in the top-50 among forwards over the past 10 years.
Off The Ice
Now lets look at the Blackhawks Goals For % when Toews WAS NOT ON THE ICE. When Toews was on the bench, Chicago’s numbers looked like this:
The Blackhawks are closer to an average team with Toews off the ice.
I have presented two sets of numbers. If we take the difference between Toews on ice numbers vs off ice numbers, we receive his Team Relative Goals For %.
To make this easier for some to understand, I will show you the math.
If we take the numbers from chart one minus the numbers from chart two, we get the Team Relative Goals For % of Toews presented in the third chart. This numbers shows how many percentage points better or worse Toews was on the ice vs off the ice. Positive numbers are desired here.
We see that in most years, the Blackhawks were much better with Toews on the ice vs him off. This is essentially what team relative stats are, a with or without you stat. This season is the first season in which the Blackhawks have been better when Toews has been on the bench.
I used goals for % in this post as goal differential can be misleading over several seasons. For example, the total games played or time on ice can affect how great or minimal the goal differential can be. Obviously if Toews has lets say a +30 in every full season, he won’t be able to hit that in the lockout shortened season of 2012-13. He also might not hit that if he misses 10 games of the season with an injury. That is why I used Goals For %. It takes the variable of time completely out of the equation.