Editor’s Note: This post was written by Emmanuel Perry (@MannyElk) and Ryan Stimson (@RK_Stimp) to describe their crowdsourced projects. We are happy to partner with them to help join their data back to our database, not just to spare them to extra work of linking back to the standard set, but to make it easy on them so that it can all be shared publicly.
EP: While listening to a particularly riveting episode of TSN Hockey Analytics featuring one co-webmaster of the site you’re currently reading this on, I heard something that piqued my interest. Andrew Thomas stated his openness to hosting fan-sourced data on the site and went on to mention he had begun working with Ryan Stimson to try and make this happen. I was already aware of Stimson’s Passing Project and was excited at the prospect of having such unique and valuable information shared publicly on an established online platform. I myself had been involved with collecting and sharing manually-tracked data of a different type, but had not considered expanding this project until now.
I believe fan-sourced data will provide the tools we need to advance this field into a new era. Certainly, in the absence of chip-tracking technology, this new data can catalyze new ideas and take our analysis of the sport new places. Good things don’t always come easy and indeed, entire seasons worth of data require thousands of often tedious hours. Projects like Stimson’s and mine require a collective effort and I’m asking for your help. Before I go on, here’s a little bit on our respective projects:
RS: The Passing Project
As the hockey analytics community gathers more information on how goals are scored, there’s been an emphasis on pre-shot movement and passing. Steve Valiquette introduced the concept of the Royal Road. The link Manny provided in the opening paragraph discusses the fact that teams shoot at a higher percentage as the number of passes preceding the shot attempt increase. The focus of this project is on capturing what happens prior to the shot attempt in several forms: sequence (one pass, two passes?), location (offensive zone passes, transition passes, Royal Road passes?), and efficiency (which players generate shots more often than others?). As we’ve gathered data on 340 games from this season alone, I’m more confident than ever in saying that what happens before the shot is attempted matters significantly more than where the shot is taken.
If you’re curious how we do this, you can visit this page where myself and five of my trackers take you through a period and explain what we do. For more detail, you can read some of my earlier findings from the hockey analytics conference at Carnegie Mellon University here and watch my presentation here (I start around the 20:00 mark.)
EP: Between The Lines
Our goal is to collaboratively record all blue line events during the 2015-2016 NHL season. In addition to zone entries, all instances of the puck entering or exiting a zone will be recorded. Thus, the location of the puck is known at any given second, allowing us to extrapolate stats dealing with zone time or transitions. In particular, these stats bring us closer to identifying specific aspects of the game on which players can have a direct positive or negative impact. I outlined potential applications of this data in my presentation at the hockey analytics conference at Carleton University in Ottawa, which you can listen to here.
Since Ryan’s project was initially proposed, he’s received significant interest and has accrued a handful of volunteers. In the few weeks since I proposed mine, I’ve gotten similar interest for which I am very grateful. In order for these missions to come to completion, however, I regret to say we’ll need more help. If you’re interested in contributing towards what we both firmly believe is a hugely important movement in the field of hockey analytics, please contact* either of us and we’ll be happy to provide additional details.
EP&RS: In addition to recruiting volunteers, Ryan and I have opened a crowd-funding campaign that you can view here. The money we raise will be put towards GameCenter Live subscriptions for our trackers and compensating Andrew and Sam for the time and effort they will dedicate to processing and hosting this data. [Ed: We'll use it to pay for the server costs. -AT] Know that your donations will go a long way in helping this latent information travel from the ice surface to your computer screen.
Contact information: Emmanuel Perry (@MannyElk) and Ryan Stimson (@RK_Stimp)