The Ryerson Rams men’s hockey team has started using an app to track some advanced stats for the team. Like the National Hockey League’s new statistical revolution, most of the stats the Rams are now tracking aren’t even advanced – some of them are actually standard NHL stats not tracked by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) – but they paint a better picture of how the team and players are doing.
Dave Whiffen, the team’s statistician, has shared some data with The Ryersonian to get a better look at who’s leading the Rams in various categories unavailable from the box scores, and may be more valuable in the long run.
Probably the biggest benefit of the new app is the ability to calculate time on ice, an essential stat for hockey fans not tracked by the CIS. This shows who head coach Graham Wise is leaning on the most.
Leading the way for the Rams is the first defence pairing of Alex Basso and Keevin Cutting. They play about 28 minutes per night and get ample special teams time, and for good reason. The pair currently has a positive goal differential and the Rams are generating more shots than they allow with either player on the ice.
In that regard, the pair is tops among defencemen, but a big part of that has to do with getting the most playing time with veterans, Domenic Alberga and Michael Fine. Both players are playing at a point-per-game pace, but it’s their possession game that’s making a big difference for the team. With either player on the ice, the Rams are getting 63 per cent of the shots; that number falls to 47 per cent for the team without Alberga and 50 per cent without Fine, who has only played two games so far.
It’s clear from looking at the numbers that the team goes as far as those two take it. Like Basso and Cutting, they also play on both the man advantage and the penalty kill, so the numbers aren’t being skewed based on power play time.
The biggest reason Fine and Alberga have been so effective is not because of their offence, though. The two forwards are the best defensive players on the team. When either is on the ice, the Rams allow about 19 shots per 60 minutes, which is significantly lower than anyone else on the team, who hover around the 30 mark.
As a team, the Rams are getting 51 per cent of the shots so far, which is a good sign for their long-term success. These four will be a big reason why.
- Troy Passingham has been very good with a .934 save percentage. That’s a step up from the .915 he posted last season and he’s improved in every season.
- Mitch Gallant leads the team in points. One big reason – when he’s on the ice, the Rams score on one of every five shots, and he has a point on every one of those goals. That kind of pace won’t last forever.
- Fine has been back for two games, but his goalie hasn’t been bailing him out. He’s been on the ice for three goals against on only 13 shots, good for a team-low .769 save percentage.
- Only six players have the Rams seeing a positive shot differential with them on the ice, and some depth players are going to need to step up.
- Alex Leader is among that group of six, but he hasn’t been getting as much ice-time as the rest. The first-year d-man has one of the lowest PDOs (shooting percentage plus save percentage), which suggests he’s had some bad luck in the early goings. Once that changes, he could be a force for the Rams.
*Keep in mind that these are internal metrics, so there will be some differentiation between these shot counts and those found online. There also seems to be a glitch in the app that adds all the different on-ice situations together. Whiffen controls for these in-game and has the data for ice-time during different situations, but the app isn’t separating shot and goal stats. He’s looking into fixing this.