Introducing face-off percentage opponent hand splits and revealing hidden biases

jacketswings

Have you ever wondered whether certain players win more of their face-offs when a left-handed (or right-handed) opponent lines up against them? It’s a request I’ve gotten numerous times here, so I’m happy to announce that player profiles on faceoffs.net now contain split stats against left/right handed opponents. You can also view this data across the league’s top face-off takers here.

To show what you can do with this information, here are two interesting charts that may be of particular interest to Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators fans:

getzlaf_web
ribeiro_web

Ryan Getzlaf, an approximately average overall face-off taker, has consistently shown an ability to win more of his face-offs against opponents who shoot right-handed — a bias that has persisted as his performance has slightly improved each of the past four years.

On the bottom, Mike Ribeiro‘s overall face-off numbers display his struggles, but one of the key reasons behind them may have gone unnoticed until now. Ribeiro goes from merely mediocre against left-handed shooters (who take about 63% of the NHL’s face-offs, but that’s a topic for another day) to downright awful against right-handed shooters, and this spread is consistent across all four years that are currently in my database.

Most players do not display such a wide disparity in their performance, and in fact for most any bias they did have would be overwhelmed by the simple random variation that occurs in year-to-year face-off data. But there appear to be some, like Getzlaf and Ribeiro, for whom the handedness of their face-off opponents does matter, and this will help in unearthing such cases.

Below are splits (FO% vs. left-handed minus FO% vs. right-handed) for the 52 players who have taken at least 100 face-offs against both right- and left-handed opponents every season since 2011-12. I ordered them by increasing standard deviation, so the players towards the top are the ones with the most consistent splits across the four years.

Player 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 Average Std.dev.
Adam Henrique 4.0 3.8 3.9 2.6 3.6 0.7
Claude Giroux 0.5 -0.3 0.8 -1.7 -0.2 1.1
Nicklas Backstrom 5.7 2.2 3.7 3.0 3.7 1.5
Ryan Getzlaf -8.7 -9.0 -7.5 -5.6 -7.7 1.5
Antoine Vermette -2.0 -3.6 -4.8 -1.1 -2.9 1.6
Mike Ribeiro 10.2 9.3 8.9 12.6 10.3 1.7
Henrik Zetterberg 1.8 -1.0 3.5 0.6 1.2 1.9
Mike Richards 2.5 -2.4 -0.8 -0.8 -0.4 2.1
Jay McClement -2.8 -1.4 -4.7 -6.2 -3.8 2.1
Jarret Stoll 5.1 3.1 1.2 0.1 2.4 2.2
Sidney Crosby -3.7 1.0 0.0 -2.7 -1.4 2.2
Eric Staal -3.3 -4.5 0.0 -0.1 -2.0 2.3
Paul Gaustad -0.1 4.3 4.8 1.6 2.7 2.3
David Desharnais -2.8 -1.8 2.8 -0.7 -0.6 2.4
Mikko Koivu -3.1 -2.0 -2.4 2.7 -1.2 2.6
Nate Thompson 4.9 5.0 4.4 -0.8 3.4 2.8
Ryan O'Reilly 0.4 -3.4 2.0 3.2 0.6 2.9
Paul Stastny -6.6 -5.4 -12.0 -7.5 -7.9 2.9
Martin Hanzal 4.3 -0.1 -2.4 2.4 1.1 2.9
Tomas Plekanec -2.7 -1.0 -4.0 -7.9 -3.9 2.9
Sean Couturier 1.2 1.7 -4.8 -1.0 -0.7 3.0
Brandon Sutter -2.6 -5.9 1.4 -1.4 -2.1 3.0
Tyler Bozak -1.4 -2.5 -7.4 -7.0 -4.6 3.1
Sam Gagner 1.1 -4.2 -0.4 3.3 -0.1 3.2
Vernon Fiddler -2.0 0.2 4.8 3.9 1.7 3.2
Brian Boyle 2.4 -5.1 -3.3 -1.4 -1.9 3.2
Derek Stepan 0.4 0.5 7.1 5.1 3.3 3.4
Joe Pavelski -9.3 -3.6 -3.1 -9.4 -6.4 3.5
David Backes 4.1 -3.4 0.7 4.4 1.5 3.6
Patrice Bergeron -2.5 3.6 6.5 1.6 2.3 3.8
Brad Richards -5.7 -9.1 0.0 -3.3 -4.5 3.8
Jonathan Toews -3.3 -1.1 2.5 5.9 1.0 4.0
Kyle Turris 4.0 -2.9 -6.2 0.9 -1.1 4.4
Derick Brassard 8.1 0.0 -1.4 -0.8 1.5 4.5
Joe Thornton 2.6 -6.0 -2.4 3.6 -0.6 4.5
Boyd Gordon 5.0 -6.4 -0.2 0.2 -0.4 4.7
John Tavares 0.5 0.4 9.9 7.0 4.5 4.8
Bryan Little -3.8 0.3 -9.5 1.1 -3.0 4.9
Steven Stamkos 1.2 3.4 11.8 1.8 4.6 4.9
Logan Couture 5.5 0.8 8.2 12.6 6.8 4.9
Gregory Campbell -4.4 7.6 5.0 1.2 2.4 5.2
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 7.1 -5.7 -1.6 -2.2 -0.6 5.4
Henrik Sedin 6.7 1.5 -6.9 0.1 0.4 5.6
Matt Duchene 3.7 -2.3 7.0 -5.6 0.7 5.7
Pavel Datsyuk -14.0 1.4 -4.0 -3.2 -5.0 6.5
David Legwand 11.3 -2.0 2.1 -3.1 2.1 6.5
Marcus Kruger 13.8 -0.1 -1.1 4.1 4.2 6.8
Frans Nielsen 12.4 -3.9 -4.9 1.1 1.2 7.9
Anze Kopitar -11.6 4.1 6.2 2.4 0.3 8.1
Chris Kelly -18.4 -11.6 -6.1 1.4 -8.7 8.4
Valtteri Filppula 0.2 0.9 -7.0 14.8 2.2 9.1
Cody Hodgson -17.6 1.7 8.2 6.2 -0.4 11.8


Photo credit: mrlaugh@flickr

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Data is updated nightly; this page updated through games played on December 17, 2014
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