CONSISTENCY OF NHL TEAMS
Photo: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire
“If we could only play to our full potential every night, we’d be just fine.”
How many times have we heard this comment after a subpar effort?
Team’s strive to realize their full potential every game but the reality is that teams are made up of players and players perform at various levels from game to game. Over the course of the NHL season, if a player is fortunate to play all 82 regular season games, he will write 82 stories. One of those scripts will be his best performance, one his worst, and the remaining will be scattered somewhere in the middle. The distribution of these performances form a player’s performance range, which is part of his performance profile. Put together 20 player performance ranges and they form a team performance range, along with a team performance profile.
If a team has many players that perform in a narrow range team performance should be relatively consistent, while a wide range of performance can produce a stomach-turning season for a team and its fans.
The significance of this range is that a few exceptional performances do not necessarily indicate the true level of team, but rather reflect the collective ability to reach that elevated level. Unfortunately the same team may also have the capacity to be plain bad on many nights. Both extremes of the performance range are equally important, particularly in creating momentum. Player and team development should be as much about bringing the worst performances up as matching and pushing beyond the best performances. Team architects are also wise to consider player performance ranges when assembling a roster. A few players can significantly affect team consistency, especially if they play high minutes and in key situations.
The other obvious component of a team’s performance range is the roll of the coaching staff. The more engaged and capable the staff, the better chance of coaxing out a consistently high performance. Motivation, accountability and a strong system are keys but coaching is about managing people and an overly aggressive approach can reverse progress as well as shorten the shelf life of a coach. Assembling a group of players that perform consistently high, and minimize the lows, can significantly reduce the burden on a coaching staff and allow success to flow much easier.
CROSBY and GAUDREAU
Sidney Crosby and Johnny Gaudreau rated 1 and 2 respectfully in World Cup per minute, play-by-play contributions. On reduced minutes from his normal time-on-ice with the Penguins, Crosby outperformed second place Gaudreau by a huge 24.7%, and outperformed himself in defensive play by 73% as compared to his 15/16 regular season with the Pens. Both players missed the start of the 16/17 season but Crosby has maintained that World Cup momentum to lead the NHL in points per game at 1.38 through his first 8 games. Gaudreau’s current per game point total of .67 lags behind last year’s pace of .99, but his play-by-play contributions are only 7.6% behind last season’s pace, which suggests he is playing better than many may think.
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