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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 11/21/2010

Statistical analysis: No Boyd Gordon, no win for Caps

By Neil Greenberg
Statistical analysis

Hard work, not flashy stats, is why the Capitals are unbeaten in regulation when center Boyd Gordon gets a sweater.

Despite having no goals and only three assists in 12 games, it is certainly not for a lack of opportunities. When Gordon is on the ice during even strength, the team is generating more scoring chances per 15 minutes than any other Caps pivot aside from Nicklas Backstrom, despite the fact that Gordon is starting in the offensive zone less than any other skater.

The scoring chances as a whole also tilt in the Caps' favor, where six out of every 10 are directed toward the opposition's net. When Gordon is off the ice, it is less than half.

Gordon is also displaying two-way talent. In his 119 minutes of even-strength time, he has been on the ice for only 4 goals against, second best among all of Washington's forwards playing more than 10 games. Most shots against (including those that are blocked or miss the net completely) are being kept to the outside, with fewer than 20 percent coming from dangerous scoring areas - the area within the dots to the top of the circles, including the slot. Almost a third of shots directed to one of the Caps' young goalies are from the danger zone when he is off the ice.

Gordon also bolsters a penalty kill that has struggled recently, giving up less than one scoring chance per two minutes of ice time - among the team's best.

The challenge for Gordon is to just stay healthy. In each of the last four years, he has played fewer games than the year before. If he can find a way to keep his body from betraying him, Coach Bruce Boudreau will have to find a way to keep him in the lineup.

Neil Greenberg also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks. You can follow him on Twitter here.

By Neil Greenberg  | November 21, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Boyd Gordon, Statistical analysis  
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Gordon is playing well this season when healthy, but the key is will he stay healthy. So far as the title of this entry-I'm sorry but this is taking coincidence and making it out like Boyd is one of the most vital players or their lucky charm. If he was so vital to a win, then why is this "Gordon effect" limited to regulation and does not overtime or the shootout? They lost last night when they had a particular anthem singer and the lost when they had the same anthem singer. Does this mean that that singer is an unlucky charm or is it just coincidence?

Posted by: NovaCath1 | November 21, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

this is what's commonly referred to in the real world as COINCIDENCE!!!

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse


And why would the Gordon effect be limited to regulation and not affect shootouts. Because Gordon does not usually play during the OT periods so, of course, he would not make a difference there. We generally only play the guys from our top 3 lines in OT, about 4 shifts worth of them and the top guys may even take a second shift. 4th line guys aren't usually there at all.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 21, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

This is probably not a coincidence. A coincidence can only occur when the two items being compared are unrelated. For instance, if I won the lottery and a hurricane struck town (especially in November) the next day. No, me winning the lottery did not cause the hurricane. However, the Caps performance in this case is at least in part due to Gordon's hard work. Therefore it could perhaps be "partially coincidental," but by no means can we divorce the results from the player involved.

To do so would be...stupid.

And since there aren't any stupid people who post here, I would assume then that no one here would dismiss these statistics as PURELY coincidental.

Now, having said that, I'm not sure we can draw FIRM conclusions after 1/4 of a season. If the writer however were to go back and research this data for last year, then maybe we could make some conclusions. If for instance last year the results were similar to what's happened this year then, yes, maybe we can draw a conclusion; if however last year the opposite were true, you'd have to dig deeper to see if maybe Matt Bradley were the reason.

To draw any firm conclusion, either way, with only 21 games' worth of data, is illogical; joek443 has drawn a firm conclusion though; therefore joek443 is illogical. That much we know, and it's no coincidence.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 21, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I have never, ever, ever, ever had one unkind thing to say here about Boyd Gordon. Not at $800K. A lot of people complained when he was resigned. Here's everything I had to say about the signings this past summer:

Backie - fair deal (just where I had it pegged); Schultz - same; Fehr - same; Gordon - I actually thought he'd get a little more; Neuvy - very good deal by GM; Flash - fair deal based on his goals scored but overpaying for what he does for us; Poti - wtf? Hendricks - very nice move.

Gordon is fine value. Sloan isn't. The difference is Gordon is an NHL-calibre 4th liner and Sloan is an AHL-calibre defender.

Now, back to the wine.

BTW, the rack of lamb got served last night exactly when the Caps were down 3-1 and on PP. (We eat late due to west coast.) The rack was finished just as regulation time came to a close. mrstominsocal1 said, "Save some for overtime!" but was too late. Tomorrow the game will be over before we eat so I will just try and drink some wine with no food. We'll see how it works.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 21, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I know that Gordon does not play in the shootout. I just think this whole"Gordon effect" is coincidence.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | November 21, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

"how is it that our vaunted 'defensive-specialist' center, who can't skate, score or pass at the NHL level, is tied for 3rd-worst on the team in +/-"

This statement seems strange to me. Usually you use defensive specialist against offensive specialists. Further, you do not want a defensive specialist taking too many chances (even if the odds of a particular chance are in your favor). A defensive specialist is also often on the ice immediately after a penalty kill (fatigue, opposition still set up in offensive zone etc...). John Madden was -7 in three seasons where the Devils finished with over 100 points (-7 was good enough for the bottom 3 on the team in two of those seasons (05-06; 06-08; and 08-09). Must not be a very good defensive specialist.
Not saying this necessarily applies to Steckel but it does show it is not out of the ordinary to have a defensive specialist have close to the worst +/- on the team.

+/- can be indicative of something or it can be a useless stat. Context needs to be considered.

I don't mean to rag on Sloan (I like him as the caps 8th dman, not as a regular) but I feel bad for his partner's +/-.

Posted by: BorntoHula | November 21, 2010 6:59 PM

Posted by: BorntoHula | November 21, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Nothing against MJ (he has a great future) but does anybody think this team can go into the playoffs with MJ or Flash as bonafide Centers? Nothing has changed since last spring. This team needs a true veteran Center and a big tough Defenseman. BB and GMGM are kidding themselves or kidding someone if they think otherwise. I'm going back into my cave. The weather is getting too cool for Kool Aid anyway...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | November 21, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

BGordon just didn't start playing the Caps this season, he's been a regular since 2006.

Why doesn't Greenberg go back 4 years and do a real research instead of just looking at 20 games and draw this ridiculous conclusion????

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Gordon also bolsters a penalty kill that has struggled recently, giving up less than one scoring chance per two minutes of ice time - among the team's best.

AGAIN BGordon has been here for years... if you're gonna give credit to someone for the improved PK, you might as well give it to Hendricks since he was NOT here last year.

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

NONstatistical analysis:

Convert Laich to a center and we may be more "cUp ready"

At the end of the third period Semin doesn't get his shot on net when the goalie was screened. That's OK, but the hooking call in the O zone two seconds later is a typical "tear your hair out" Semin move.
Semin should have known they were calling a tight game.

Do Fehr and Flush need to get "screamed at" to perform their best ? Or, is Laich at C the difference maker ??????????????????????????????????

Team looked better without Knuble dressed.
He can't skate with Ovi and Backy at his age anymore, which is a shame.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 21, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse


I agree, Sloan is not an NHL level defenseman.

Ovi is playing like there are 60 games to go, which I can understand since we know what he can do. But, you think he would bring his "A" game against the Flyers.

Just saying!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 21, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse


Because BGordon has improved as a player. Just like it would be idiotic to look at Backstrom's play during his rookie season to see how he would perform now, it is the same for BGordon.

He showed during the playoffs last year that he is a good player. He has shown with is performance this season that he is a good player.


I think BGordon is a very good 3rd line center, when healthy. He is much better than a 4th line center. He is John Maddenesque(No, I am NOT saying he is as good as John Madden, I am ONLY comparing their styles of play).

But I think BGordon is playing like the ideal checking line center. He is very good on the forecheck, is very defensively responsible, and is great at defensive zone draws. He is also very good shorthanded.

Just because some people drew conclusions on him before the season started doesn't mean that is the truth. He is showing a lot this year. People need to give the guy the credit he deserves.

However, it is only 1/4 of the season and BGordon needs to continue to play strong throughout the entire season for it to mean anything.

I like the idea of BGordon centering a 3rd line between Chimera and Bradley. And when Knuble comes back, how about a checking line of Chimera/BGordon/Knuble. I would feel very comfortable having that as the Caps "shtutdown line". Then have Hendricks/Steckel/Bradley as the 4th line energy line.

I think those would be a bottom two lines people have been clamoring for a while here.

Hopefully Flash/Laich/Fehr can continue to play as they did last night and be a very good 2nd line.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 21, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

joek443: You really need to read the article again. Really. Read it again. Carefully. Word for word. Then come back and tell me the writer drew firm conclusions.

No, the only firm conclusions were you and NovaCath1 who declared (DECLARED) the data to be a "coincidence."

Please, joek443, NovaCath1, read it again. Slowly. S-L-O-W-L-Y. Word for word. Except for the statement that Gordon "bolsters the PK," a subjective (look up the word) statement that can be disagreed with but not 100% disputed, there is nothing in the article in the way of conclusion. Everything else is the writer presenting information that LEADS the reader to a conclusion IF THE READER SO DESIRES TO MAKE ONE.

What you and NovaCath1 are doing is arguing against said conclusion that wasn't even made because you both have a prejudicial opinion on Gordon and therefore are willing to make an argument against an argument that doesn't exist.

I'll admit, the writer should add a line such as, "Of course, this is only 21 games worth of data and it's too soon to annoint Gordon a Selke candidate," something to that effect. Also, I would think it incumbent on the writer to at least run the data set for last year and see what turns up. As I pointed out, with such a small data set, it could be Bradley (or Hendricks) who is the "magic elixir."

HOWEVER, any conclusion, on either side (and, again, the writer alluded to but did not draw one) is a MISAPPROPRIATION OF STATISTICS.

(Something you folks in DC should be used to.)

One day joek443 you will defeat me in debate. On that day, pigs will fly, hell will have frozen over and the Detroit Lions under Matt Millen will win the Lombardi Trophy.

Good day to you too joek443.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 21, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

On last night's game, I looked at the stats and noticed that Bradley was only on the ice for 7:32, with no special teams duty of any sort. While the number of PK's messed up the ability to roll out lines, that time was extremely low TOI for him.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 21, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

sgm: My God, take your lines and then replace Flash with a true, hard-hitting second line C (Umberger? I've made no secret of my man-crush for him AND his opinion - we need it) and you have something!

Then sign Niedermeyer out of retirement $3M for half the season, send Sloan to Hershey and sign Bergeron or Exelby as the then 8th defenseman...voila!...the Cup is ours! (I hope.)

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 21, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Statistical analysis: No Boyd Gordon, no win for Caps

This is all you need to read, maybe next week Greenberg will come up with another great analysis such as "when I have a chicken dinner on the game night, the Caps are undefeated!!!!!!"

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3 & tominsocal1

Good analysis of our line situation. B. Gordon appears to have found a home as our third line center. Or that's what it seemed.

Would Columbus be willing to trade Umberger to us for Flash, to make Tom's suggestion happen?

There is one question -- where does MarJo fit in that scheme?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 21, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse


Boy, If GMGM had the brass B's to pull those two moves off, my opinion of our chances on a 16 game run come spring, would change. Big Time! 2 Big time battlers !!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 21, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Say what you want about Gordon, but the author has no sense at all. How can you have a valid statistical analysis on a team with so few losses this early in the season? Claiming that there is a correlation between Gordon in the lineup and the Caps winning is the mathematical equivalent of saying I have a defective quarter because I flipped it twice, and both times it came up heads.

Posted by: elis_coming | November 21, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

joek443: I will grant you this: your point above is well taken. The title of the article is misleading and wrong, as I'm sure the Caps have won at least one game this year where Gordon was out of the lineup. That said, your declaration that Gordon's effect is purely coincidental is just as bad. I suggest both you and Mr. Greenberg enroll in the "tominsocal1 school of debate" for some remedial sessions. You will be wise to know I've never lost a debate, simply because I retreat the minute someone presents better data. You sir have presented nothing except a statement that the article title is wrong. And it is.

Huntsy: Glad you are onboard the tominsocal1 express. Next stop: the Stanley Cup! First, you can't get Umberger with Flash alone.

CF75: Last I checked, Umberger had this year and next on his contract. Flash alone doesn't come close. Flash and a #1? Maybe. Flash and Johansson? There's a deal they might take (but everyone here would poo-pah).

I would honestly give them, and make them take it, Flash, Poti and our #1 next year and also throw in if need be a prospect. Umberger brings back like 3.75. Moving Flash and Poti takes off 6.1. This gives you plenty of geld to sign Niedermeyer and also some extra for a snarling third pair guy to play alongside Erskine.

And why do I say I would "make them take it?" Because you make an offer they can't refuse by giving them another pick or prospect.

Jesu-peets, if we would have only signed Saku Koivu.

elis_coming: Ok, so where is eli now? Anyway, your argument holds no water. You stated, "the author has no sense at all." Read the article again. Is English your first language? For God's sake, what argument did the author make besides the title of the article? OK, the title was bad. Maybe not "Brett Favre's bahavior" kinda bad, but bad. But how does that rate a complete diss on the objective evidence that the Caps stats ARE BETTER THIS YEAR WITH GORDON ON THE ICE THAN WITH HIM NOT? You can't prove "the author has no sense." You can speculate he drove you to a partially-misleading conclusion, but to claim "no sense" when there was in fact "some sense" if not a "fair amount of sense" is absurd. Sorry, you fail.

Actually, no one can argue with the point above in all caps. Not God, Jesus, Abraham, Mohammed, Nancy Pelosi, Rush Limbaugh or even Gloria Allred. No, not even the world's most obnoxious person, Rachel Maddow, can argue with it.

So why argue?

The Caps have played better this year when Gordon is on the ice than when he is not. This statement is indisputable. Draw your own conclusion on how or why (and, please, provide eveidence) but don't dispute the facts.

And to think I'm not even finished my first bottle of wine. 2006 Agua Dulce Chardonnay to go with the baked cod if you must know. And the green beans were superb too. Not superb in a Ray Bourque slapshot kind of way but really good.

Anyone wants to argue with me, pick at my point. If you can find it. He-he.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 21, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

i'll go with tominsocal1 on this one (i didn't even know what a debate team was when i was in school).
maybe i should add - at this point it looks like boyd only needs to be healthy (and dressed) for 16 playoffs games to secure a cup.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 21, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

maybe it's time for football and hockey to consider some hybrid form of the hans device that all racecar drivers are required to wear..

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

and Jimmie Johnson has won his fifth consecutive title today so NASCAR is officially dead!!!

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

maybe it's time for football and hockey to consider some hybrid form of the hans device that all racecar drivers are required to wear..

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

and Jimmie Johnson has won his fifth consecutive title today so NASCAR is officially dead!!!

Posted by: joek443 | November 21, 2010 10:34 PM

joek443: Just wtf are you talking about? Neil Greenberg puts up some data on Boyd Gordon vis-a-vis the rest of the Caps and overall performance. I do research on the Magna Carta, the Rights of Man and the Constitution of the United States of America and you come back with NASCAR?

For the love of God I thought we had a serious debate going here and instead it looks like the cockroaches dispersed the minute I threw on the lights.

Do I want hockey players to wear NASCAR helmets?

No. F no. Who FKN cares no. Why even ask the FKN question no.

Sometimes it isn't BB's leadership of the Caps that comes into question so much as the prognosis for humanity. It seems sometimes like the earth is filled with nothing but fourth line muckers.

Somewhere out there closeby is a planet filled with intelligent creatures and I hope, I pray, when they observe us, that they at least feel a little pity. Maybe, really, more than just a little. Please.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 21, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

sgm: My God, take your lines and then replace Flash with a true, hard-hitting second line C (Umberger? I've made no secret of my man-crush for him AND his opinion - we need it) and you have something!


Remember, in those lines(Flash/Laich/Fehr) Laich is the 2nd line center and Flash is the 2nd line LW. So the 2nd line center is a little more physical. Just saying.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 22, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Since wins are what matters and the team always wins when Gordon is on the ice. Have Gordon on the Ice the entire game. He could just stand between the blue lines and watch the game. This would insure an undefeated season. A Gordon just standing around would be less likely to be injured. How could such a great plan go wrong.

Posted by: fish4 | November 22, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

So, this was a statistical analysis that used no statistics? Ah, very cleaver.
But worthless drivel.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | November 22, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I see statistics, NotVeryWiley: can you not read, or must there be a table for there to be "statistics?"

Or do you simply not know what the word statistics means?

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | November 22, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

After Monday's night game, the Caps win when Gordon plays theory is now thankfully put to rest.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | November 22, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

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