Analyzing a helpful statistic

Points on Goals For is a metric that can aid fantasy hockey owners

Updated: January 28, 2014, 1:08 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

 Jonathan ToewsMike Stobe/NHLI via Getty ImagesJonathan Toews appears to be due for an upswing in production for the remainder of 2013-14.

When a player's team scores when he is on the ice, we don't always see the spinoff in fantasy hockey. But logic can tell us that if a player is on the ice a lot when his teammates are scoring, then it probably isn't a coincidence. Sure, sometimes a player is standing around not doing anything of real consequence when his teammates manage to score a goal, but after a while, coincidences turn into a trend. If a player is on the ice a lot when his team is scoring, he is probably doing something to help make that goal happen, and will probably start picking up at least some secondary assists because of it.

Plus/minus is meant to capture this element of the game and give us an idea of a player's value in fantasy hockey for the little things on the ice. But at the end of the day, the little things on the ice don't drive your fantasy hockey team. It's points that drive your team.

The idea here is to find a benchmark similar to the batting average on balls in play measurement (BABIP) used in baseball to determine whether a player has been "lucky" or "unlucky" at the plate in terms of hitting. In analyzing fantasy baseball, we can look at a player's BABIP and see whether he is trending above or below the historical average of .300, and consider whether that player is a good target to acquire. When looking for a benchmark in hockey, we used some of the logic presented above to find a statistical average at which we could look.

Allow us to present points on goals for (PGF). That would be a simple calculation of how many points a player has been awarded as a percentage of the goals his team has scored while he is on the ice. For example: Sidney Crosby has 74 points and has been on the ice for 98 goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, therefore his PGF is 75.5 percent. Jonathan Toews has 49 points and has been on the ice for 83 Chicago Blackhawks goals this season, therefore he has a PGF of 59.0 percent.

Now, we don't have the loads of historical evidence to make a case for a league-wide average -- like .300 for BABIP in baseball -- that should be a benchmark for all players. But guess what? The top 125 forwards this season have a median PGF of 67.6 percent. Last season, the top 125 forwards had a median PGF of 70 percent and, in 2011-12 the top 125 forwards had a median PGF of 66.2 percent. Those numbers are at least indicative of a trend among the top, fantasy-relevant forwards.

The same goes for defensemen. The top 50 defensemen have a PGF this season of 40 percent. In 2013 it was 42.8 percent and in 2011-12 it was 42.3 percent.

Again, three seasons doesn't constitute the kind of data needed to back up the statistic with the kind of weight that BABIP has in baseball, but there is definitely a trend to look at among top players.

If we then take those averages and look for extreme anomalies among the players who are on the ice for the most goals, we can venture a guess as to who has been "unlucky" on the ice in terms of picking up assists. Here's a sample:

Jonathan Toews, F, Chicago Blackhawks: We gave Toews 59.0 percent PGF as an example above. Considering that only Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kyle Okposo have been on the ice for more goals this season, Toews' 49 points while on the ice for 83 goals are well below the 67 percent threshold for most top forwards. Looking at the number of goals the Blackhawks put in the net and the talent of Toews' line, we think he is due for a major upswing in scoring during the stretch run of the season, especially noting that his PGF was 72.7 percent last season and 71.2 percent in 2011-12.

The Top 200


Note: Sean Allen's top 200 players are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice for skaters, and wins, goals-against average and save percentage for goalies. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Sidney Crosby, F, Pit (1)
2. Alex Ovechkin, F, Was (2)
3. John Tavares, F, NYI (3)
4. Corey Perry, F, Ana (4)
5. Evgeni Malkin, F, Pit (5)
6. Patrick Sharp, F, Chi (7)
7. Patrick Kane, F, Chi (6)
8. P.K. Subban, D, Mon (9)
9. Ryan Getzlaf, F, Ana (10)
10. Chris Kunitz, F, Pit (11)
11. Henrik Zetterberg, F, Det (12)
12. Daniel Sedin, F, Van (13)
13. Tuukka Rask, G, Bos (8)
14. Anze Kopitar, F, LA (14)
15. Jonathan Toews, F, Chi (15)
16. Erik Karlsson, D, Ott (17)
17. Duncan Keith, D, Chi (19)
18. Ben Bishop, G, TB (26)
19. James Neal, F, Pit (20)
20. Joe Pavelski, F, SJ (28)
21. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pit (18)
22. Phil Kessel, F, Tor (22)
23. David Backes, F, StL (23)
24. Claude Giroux, F, Phi (24)
25. Henrik Sedin, F, Van (21)
26. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Wpg (25)
27. Patrick Marleau, F, SJ (27)
28. Zach Parise, F, Min (32)
29. Jonathan Quick, G, LA (33)
30. Semyon Varlamov, G, Col (35)
31. Drew Doughty, D, LA (30)
32. Alexander Steen, F, StL (29)
33. Carey Price, G, Mon (16)
34. Nicklas Backstrom, F, Was (31)
35. Martin St. Louis, F, TB (37)
36. Eric Staal, F, Car (38)
37. Tyler Seguin, F, Dal (34)
38. Marian Hossa, F, Chi (36)
39. Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR (46)
40. Shea Weber, D, Nsh (44)
41. Corey Crawford, G, Chi (40)
42. Steven Stamkos, F, TB (67)
43. Matt Duchene, F, Col (42)
44. Pavel Datsyuk, F, Det (43)
45. Thomas Vanek, F, NYI (49)
46. Joe Thornton, F, SJ (50)
47. Rick Nash, F, NYR (64)
48. Antti Niemi, G, SJ (39)
49. Evander Kane, F, Wpg (47)
50. Jonas Hiller, G, Ana (41)
51. Kris Letang, D, Pit (48)
52. Jamie Benn, F, Dal (54)
53. Roberto Luongo, G, Van (51)
54. Taylor Hall, F, Edm (52)
55. Logan Couture, F, SJ (56)
56. Kyle Turris, F, Ott (53)
57. Alex Pietrangelo, D, StL (57)
58. James van Riemsdyk, F, Tor (55)
59. Cory Schneider, G, NJ (69)
60. Kyle Okposo, F, NYI (76)
61. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, StL (60)
62. Ryan Kesler, F, Van (45)
63. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Cls (58)
64. Ryan Suter, D, Min (59)
65. Alexander Semin, F, Car (74)
66. Jeff Carter, F, LA (77)
67. Bobby Ryan, F, Ott (61)
68. Craig Anderson, G, Ott (62)
69. David Krejci, F, Bos (66)
70. Jarome Iginla, F, Bos (79)
71. Niklas Kronwall, D, Det (63)
72. Andrei Markov, D, Mon (68)
73. Johan Franzen, F, Det (87)
74. Max Pacioretty, F, Mon (65)
75. Brent Seabrook, D, Chi (70)
76. Jeff Skinner, F, Car (71)
77. Gabriel Landeskog, F, Col (72)
78. Radim Vrbata, F, Pho (75)
79. Anton Khudobin, G, Car (104)
80. Ondrej Pavelec, G, Wpg (118)
81. Jaroslav Halak, G, StL (89)
82. Jakub Voracek, F, Phi (78)
83. Keith Yandle, D, Pho (80)
84. T.J. Oshie, F, StL (82)
85. Brandon Dubinsky, F, Cls (84)
86. Bryan Little, F, Wpg (85)
87. Milan Lucic, F, Bos (88)
88. David Perron, F, Edm (90)
89. Mikko Koivu, F, Min (111)
90. Jonathan Bernier, G, Tor (81)
91. Kari Lehtonen, G, Dal (91)
92. Jaromir Jagr, F, NJ (92)
93. Jay Bouwmeester, D, StL (93)
94. Paul Stastny, F, Col (94)
95. Jordan Eberle, F, Edm (95)
96. Blake Wheeler, F, Wpg (107)
97. Jimmy Howard, G, Det (86)
98. Dion Phaneuf, D, Tor (96)
99. Derek Stepan, F, NYR (108)
100. Brad Marchand, F, Bos (133)
101. Brent Burns, F, SJ (97)
102. Ryan Miller, G, Buf (98)
103. Patrice Bergeron, F, Bos (116)
104. Cam Fowler, D, Ana (100)
105. Matt Niskanen, D, Pit (109)
106. Jiri Hudler, F, Cgy (124)
107. Brad Richards, F, NYR (101)
108. Andrew Ladd, F, Wpg (102)
109. Brian Elliott, G, StL (99)
110. James Wisniewski, D, Cls (103)
111. Nazem Kadri, F, Tor (115)
112. Clarke MacArthur, F, Ott (105)
113. Zdeno Chara, D, Bos (117)
114. Steve Mason, G, Phi (73)
115. O. Ekman-Larsson, D, Pho (106)
116. Chris Kreider, F, NYR (110)
117. Jaden Schwartz, F, StL (114)
118. Wayne Simmonds, F, Phi (120)
119. Jason Garrison, D, Van (112)
120. Justin Williams, F, LA (113)
121. Victor Hedman, D, TB (148)
122. Mike Green, D, Was (119)
123. Josh Harding, G, Min (83)
124. Ryan Johansen, F, Cls (121)
125. Marek Zidlicky, D, NJ (136)
126. Nathan MacKinnon, F, Col (159)
127. Torey Krug, D, Bos (141)
128. Scott Hartnell, F, Phi (122)
129. Martin Hanzal, F, Pho (123)
130. Jason Spezza, F, Ott (125)
131. Mats Zuccarello, F, NYR (146)
132. Shane Doan, F, Pho (126)
133. Dustin Penner, F, Ana (127)
134. Brandon Saad, F, Chi (128)
135. Tomas Plekanec, F, Mon (129)
136. R. Nugent-Hopkins, F, Edm (130)
137. Nick Bonino, F, Ana (140)
138. Valtteri Filppula, F, TB (131)
139. Radko Gudas, D, TB (132)
140. Daniel Alfredsson, F, Det (134)
141. Mike Richards, F, LA (135)
142. Kevin Bieksa, D, Van (162)
143. Joffrey Lupul, F, Tor (137)
144. Dustin Brown, F, LA (138)
145. Erik Johnson, D, Col (139)
146. Andrej Sekera, D, Car (168)
147. Lubomir Visnovsky, D, NYI (NR)
148. Matt Moulson, F, Buf (142)
149. Reilly Smith, F, Bos (143)
150. Dan Boyle, D, SJ (144)
151. Evgeni Nabokov, G, NYI (NR)
152. Ryan Callahan, F, NYR (147)
153. Mike Smith, G, Pho (149)
154. Tyler Bozak, F, Tor (150)
155. Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR (173)
156. Braden Holtby, G, Was (NR)
157. Jason Pominville, F, Min (151)
158. Mark Giordano, D, Cgy (152)
159. Jussi Jokinen, F, Pit (153)
160. Ryan O'Reilly, F, Col (154)
161. Matt Carle, D, TB (155)
162. Mike Ribeiro, F, Pho (156)
163. Mark Streit, D, Phi (157)
164. Mike Fisher, F, Nsh (158)
165. Jacob Trouba, D, Wpg (160)
166. Mikhail Grabovski, F, Was (145)
167. Teddy Purcell, F, TB (195)
168. Cam Ward, G, Car (163)
169. John Carlson, D, Was (164)
170. Martin Brodeur, G, NJ (165)
171. Brendan Gallagher, F, Mon (166)
172. Alex Goligoski, D, Dal (NR)
173. Tyson Barrie, D, Col (167)
174. Jack Johnson, D, Cls (NR)
175. P.A. Parenteau, F, Col (169)
176. Devan Dubnyk, G, Nsh (170)
177. Vladimir Tarasenko, F, StL (192)
178. Mark Scheifele, F, Wpg (171)
179. Brian Campbell, D, Fla (172)
180. Nathan Horton, F, Cls (174)
181. Cody Franson, D, Tor (175)
182. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (NR)
183. Frederik Andersen, G, Ana (NR)
184. Alex Stalock, G, SJ (NR)
185. Frans Nielsen, F, NYI (176)
186. F. Beauchemin, D, Ana (177)
187. Hampus Lindholm, D, Ana (178)
188. Patric Hornqvist, F, Nsh (179)
189. Andy Greene, D, NJ (180)
190. Tyler Johnson, F, TB (189)
191. Justin Faulk, D, Car (183)
192. Troy Brouwer, F, Was (184)
193. Ondrej Palat, F, TB (193)
194. Ben Scrivens, G, Edm (NR)
195. David Desharnais, F, Mon (186)
196. Cody Hodgson, F, Buf (187)
197. Derek Roy, F, StL (190)
198. Alexander Edler, D, Van (NR)
199. Chris Stewart, F, StL (191)
200. Adam Henrique, F, NJ (194)

Kyle Turris, F, Ottawa Senators: Turris has only 40 points, but has been on the ice for 68 goals this season. That's a PGF of 58.8 percent, and leaves quite a few points on the table that could have taken him from having a breakout season to being truly elite. But there is an outlying circumstance with the Senators that could explain Turris, Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan all falling below the expected threshold. And that outlier is named Erik Karlsson. Remember that the average PGF for defensemen is 40 percent, and for forwards it is 67.6 percent. Well, Karlsson has a PGF of 65.3 percent, making him -- essentially -- a forward. Karlsson's involvement in the play in the offensive zone likely has an impact on the Sens' top forwards' ability to collect points. In other words: Don't expect Turris, MacArthur and Ryan to start collecting those extra assists with a fourth forward on the ice in the form of Karlsson.

Dion Phaneuf, D, Toronto Maple Leafs: We hate to say it because it's always just easier to pick on the Leafs' captain, but Phaneuf is owed some points. Considering that he is both a top pairing and top power-play unit defenseman, his PGF of only 28.8 percent is well below what we could expect from him. Only eight defensemen in the NHL have been on the ice for more goals this season, yet Phaneuf is outside the top 40 defensemen for points. Phaneuf is certainly due improved numbers over the remainder of the season.

Jarome Iginla, F, Boston Bruins: That's right. We are going to tell you that the guy who exploded for five points in the past two games deserves even more points. Even after putting up big numbers this week, Iginla's PGF is still just 56.7 percent. Being on the ice for 60 goals this season, his 34 points indicates that he is probably due for a strong finish to the season. And yes, that is accounting for the fact Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are also going to have a big finish.

Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer, F, Washington Capitals: Do you think Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom could let someone else play with the puck once in a while? The PGF numbers for the two forwards who share the ice with the Caps' dynamic duo are probably worse than you even imagined. Johansson, who has been Ovechkin's and Backstrom's winger for most of the season at even strength and on the power play, has a PGF of 57.1 while being on the ice for 56 goals. Brouwer, who lines up on the power play with Ovechkin and Backstrom, has a -- get this -- PGF of just 37.5 percent on 56 goals. That's right, despite being on the ice for 56 Capitals goals, Brouwer has just 21 points. Considering his personal PGF was 56.9 percent last season, Brouwer is due for an improvement.

John-Michael Liles, D, Carolina Hurricanes: First, let's discuss the other Hurricanes defensemen. It's surprising that Justin Faulk is getting the raw end of the deal for points when compared to his defense partner, Andrej Sekera. Faulk has been on the ice for 65 goals and Sekera has been on the ice for 63. Sekera has 30 points and a PGF of 47.6 percent, while Faulk has 20 points and a PGF of 30.8 percent. Faulk, if anything, is a little more offensively gifted than Sekera and with everything else, including ice time, being pretty equal, we should expect a correction during the coming weeks. Of course, John-Michael Liles throws a monkey wrench in those plans, as he has usurped power-play time from both defensemen. In fact, Liles has one of the lowest PGFs in the entire league at 9.1 percent, while being on the ice for 22 goals this season. That's a smaller sample size, but indicative of the fact he is probably due for an increase in production very soon.

Here's a link to the list of top forwards and defensemen and their PGF for this season. Statistics are through games played on Jan. 27.

Forwards rising and falling

Nathan MacKinnon, F, Colorado Avalanche (up 33 spots to No. 126): The return of Alex Tanguay slightly complicates things for MacKinnon at even strength, but one thing became very clear over the past month: MacKinnon is arguably the team's most dynamic goal scorer. While placed on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny for much of the past month, MacKinnon led the Avalanche with 10 goals. While he is relegated to the third line with everyone healthy, MacKinnon will remain a staple on the top power-play unit, where he scored five of those 10 goals.

Rick Nash, F, New York Rangers (up 17 spots to No. 47): There's Rick Nash! We've been looking for him all season, and he hasn't been spotted anywhere on the ice for the Rangers until the past three weeks. In all seriousness, Nash has collected 11 of his 18 goals since Jan. 6. He is back in the groove now, and is going to score 30 goals despite missing almost 20 games. If someone in your league is looking too much at the big picture with Nash, they might still think he isn't a top target.

Defensemen rising and falling

Lubomir Visnovsky, D, New York Islanders (enters ranks at No. 147): In his return from a concussion on Monday, Visnovsky skated 22 minutes and led all Islanders players (that includes forwards) with 7:23 of power-play ice time. Don't think for a second that his puck-moving skills won't be welcomed back on a power-play unit that has been clipping along quite nicely without him. Andrew MacDonald, Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic filled in as best they could, but none of them possesses the passing acumen of Visnovsky. He should be a high-priority target in the 77 percent of ESPN leagues in which he is available.

Alex Goligoski, D, Dallas Stars (enters ranks at No. 172): Up until Jan. 14, Goligoski was a waste of fantasy space. Since Jan. 14, he has 10 assists in 10 games and is looking like a fantasy darling. What changed? Goligoski switched defense partners to Trevor Daley. That's what happened. The switch was made on Jan. 9, and following three warm-up games with Daley, Goligoski started his run of points. Six of his 10 points during the run have come on the power play -- when he doesn't play with Daley -- but obviously there has been something keyed in Goligoski's game since making the switch.

Goaltenders rising and falling

Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens (down 17 spots to No. 33): Whoa! Pump the brakes a bit there, Carey. Price sports a 3.74 goals-against average and .877 save percentage in January. Only seven of the 34 goals he has allowed have come while the Canadiens were shorthanded, which isn't a terrible crime against the special teams. Shots on goal have been a tad higher, but not significantly. No, this is just a cold spell for Price and owners will have to suffer through it. He has been one of the more reliable netminders on the whole this season, so park him on your bench and wait for better days ahead. The Habs have shown an ability to play defensive hockey with their current roster, things will settle down.

Alex Stalock, G, San Jose Sharks (enters ranks at No. 184): It's not that Antti Niemi has done anything wrong -- because he hasn't -- but Stalock is making a statement as San Jose's backup. Certainly, a 0.87 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage in four and a half January games is very significant. Through nine starts and four relief appearances this season, Stalock's totals are a 1.57 GAA and .943 save percentage. Of all his appearances, only one could be considered subpar: a Dec. 6 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes (four goals allowed on 34 shots). Niemi's numbers are great, as well, and he is at no risk of being supplanted right now. But here's betting we start to see a lot more of Stalock. Daily fantasy owners can certainly take advantage.

Quick hits

Tyler Johnson was the first player we pointed to when Steven Stamkos was injured as a high-upside replacement for his fantasy owners. The run has been magical, but let us point out that Stamkos is edging closer and closer to his projected return before the Olympic break. Johnson's time as the top-line centerman is coming to a close. Sell!

• We hyped Gustav Nyquist when he made the move up from the AHL earlier this season. We were a bit early, but the sentiment was valid. Nyquist now has points in five straight games and is a catalyst for the Detroit Red Wings' offense while Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk struggle to stay healthy.

Ryane Clowe continues to impress and has the most all-around fantasy value of the line featuring himself, Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. On the whole, Clowe's numbers aren't too impressive. But he has 11 points in the past 10 games, with 22 of his 31 shots on goal for the season during that span.

Cody Hodgson has made the Buffalo Sabres' top line fantasy-relevant again. The spin-off value belongs to Steve Ott, who has six points in eight games since Hodgson's return. For leagues that count hits, Ott just became awesome again with Hodgson at his side.

Jiri Tlusty is available in 66 percent of ESPN leagues. He has six points in the past eight games playing on the top line again with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin. You know what to do.

Braden Holtby. That's this week's answer for which Washington Capitals goaltender appears to be the most fantasy-relevant. Stay tuned for next week's response.

• It looks like Evgeni Nabokov is ready to come back and tend goal for the red-hot Islanders. While the ratios might not be the prettiest you will find in the league, here's betting Nabokov keeps them respectable and wins a ton of games. He's kind of like a poor man's Marc-Andre Fleury.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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