The following article was written by David Johnson at HockeyAnalysis.com on October 29, 2012 and can be found here. Thanks for sharing with us, David!
The other week I wrote about breaking down IPP (Individual Point Percentage, which is individual points divided by number of goals scored while the player was on the ice) into IGP (Individual Goal Percentage) and IFAP (Individual First Assist Percentage). It seems IGP does a decent job of identifying the pure goal scorers and IFAP does a decent job of identifying the pure play makers. I have always been interested in team/line makeup and how to maximize a lines performance so I decide to take a look at WOWY (With or Without You) IPP comparisons for two pairs of extremely talented players who have at times played together and at times played on separate lines the past 5 years. These are Crosby/Malkin and Thornton/Marleau. Let’s start with Crosby/Malkin.
These two players have played significantly more ice time apart than with each other but still the comparison is interesting. When separated Crosby IGP and IFP are very close together indicating he is relatively balanced between being a goal scorer and a playmaker but when he is playing with Malkin he becomes a much more prolific goal scorer as his IGP rises from 35.7% without Malkin to 41.9% with Malkin and his IFAP falls from 36.3% without Malkin to 30.2% with Malkin. Crosby got a point on 84.7% of all goals scored while he was ont he ice without Malkin which is a very high number, but it rises to 91.9% when he is playing with Malkin which is a truly extraordinary number.
Malkin, strangely, sees both his IGP and his IFAP fall when playing with Crosby which means a smaller percentage of the goal production goes through Malkin when Crosby is on the ice with him which sort of makes sense since Crosby is in on nearly every goal scored when the two are on the ice together. Interestingly, despite being in on a lower percentage of goals, Malkin did see his individual G/60 and individual FA/60 rise dramatically when playing with Crosby due to the fact that when those two are on the ice together they score goals at an exceptionally high rate.
I am not sure what to conclude here other than if you desperately need to score a goal late in the game it would be awfully smart to play these two together. But, with that said, it may not be the most prudent use of resources during the course of the game because it seems to somewhat diminish Malkin’s ability to drive the play. Now, let’s take a look at Thornton/Marleau.
This shows that Thornton and Marleau are very different players. Marleau is clearly much more of a goal scorer while Thornton is clearly much more of a play maker, and this is true regardless of whether they are playing together or apart. When playing with Marleau Thornton sees his goal production drop from 0.75 G/60 to 0.64 G/60 but his FA/60 rise from 1.07 to 1.25. For Marleau his G/60 rises significantly when playing with Thornton but his FA/60 falls a bit too and his IFAP falls to an astonishingly low 13.3%. In short, Marleau’s goal production benefits a lot from playing with Thornton, while Marleau’s benefit to Thornton is a little less significant. I believe if we continued this analysis to Thornton’s other line mates we will find that Thornton’s play making skills are easily the most significant driving force of the Sharks offense.
Having done this IPP WOWY comparison for these two pairs of players we can make some interesting observations and we can get a better idea of which player is driving the play when they are playing together (and apart). That said, I think more work needs to be done to determine whether IPP WOWY is a useful player evaluation tool in general, or just something that might be interesting to look at in certain situations. I’m curious what others think, or if you have another pair of players you want me to look at let me know (for example, Spezza/Alfredsson might be interesting).
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