Sidney Crosby’s decision to become an elite NHL goal scorer not only resulted in the first Rocket Richard Trophy of his career, but it might have made him the most valuable player in the league for the second time as well.
It’s hard to imagine where the Pittsburgh Penguins would have been without Crosby’s clutch goal scoring both in games and shootouts this season. The fact that Crosby posted a career-high in goals by a mind-boggling 12 tallies, and his sudden mastery of the shootout (eight goals in 10 attempts), were the main reasons why Crosby won this year’s Campbellnomics race going away.
All right, we concede that it might not have the luster of the Rocket Richard Trophy that will now adorn Crosby’s trophy shelf, but we believe the statistic unique to THN.com is relevant because it not only places an emphasis on important situational goals, but it also gives more credit to players who put the puck into the back of the net.
Usually, stats don’t ask how, they ask how many. But with Campbellnomics, we ask how many points actually made a difference. We’re not terribly interested in the guy who scores the sixth goal in a 6-2 win or the one who tallies late in the third period to spoil a 5-0 shutout.
Here’s how it works.
Points are scored in the Campbellnomics system only on goals that matter relative to the result and the time of the game. We are interested in players who score in the following circumstances: the first goal of the game; a goal that puts a player’s team ahead in the game; a goal that pulls a player’s team into a tie; any goal that leads to a comeback; a game-winning goal; an overtime goal; and, a shootout goal.
There are, however, a couple of other wrinkles in Campbellnomics that you won’t find in the NHL’s statistics. First, we believe a goal is worth more than an assist and that’s why goals are worth one point in Campbellnomics and assists are worth a half a point. We also have a different idea of what constitutes a game-winning goal. The NHL defines a game-winner as the goal that provided the margin of victory, but we define a game-winner as the goal that put the team ahead in the game to stay.
Therefore, if a player scores the all-important first goal of the game, he automatically receives two points, one for the first goal of the game and one for putting his team ahead. If he scores the overtime winner or the deciding goal in a shootout, he receives three points – one for putting his team ahead, one for the game-winner and one for the overtime/shootout goal.
The ultimate Campbellnomics goal would be an overtime goal or shootout deciding goal in a 1-0 victory, as Todd Bertuzzi did in a 1-0 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last Friday. That would give the scorer four points – one for the first goal of the game, one for putting his team ahead, one for the game-winner and one for the overtime/shootout goal.
Obviously, there are some stark differences between Campbellnomics and the NHL scoring race. For example, Henrik Sedin won the Art Ross Trophy, but barely cracks the top 20 Campbellnomics, while Rick Nash is 37th in NHL scoring, but is tied for 15th in Campbellnomics.
Also attached below are the top 10 Campbellnomics scorers among defensemen and rookies this season. One of the most impressive names on both lists is Buffalo Sabres rookie Tyler Myers, the only rookie among the top 10 defensemen and the only defenseman among the top 10 rookies. Myers’ 48 points this season is the second highest total in the past 12 seasons, one point behind the 49 points posted by Dion Phaneuf in 2005-06.
Are there flaws to the Campbellnomics system? Of course there are. First of all, not everybody believes with our philosophy that goals are worth more than assists and there is little doubt this system favors players who score goals. To wit: Joe Thornton finished second to Henrik Sedin with 69 assists, but the fact that he had only 20 goals put him out of the Campbellnomics top 20.
And the fact Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault’s stubborn insistence on not ever using the Sedins in the shootout – neither of the twins had even a single attempt this season – hurts them. The system also favors players who play for good teams because bad teams are usually playing from behind and don’t have the opportunities to score important goals. That makes the fact that Steve Stamkos, Martin St-Louis, Brad Richards, Nash, Marian Gaborik, Jarome Iginla and Corey Perry – whose teams did not make the playoffs – cracked the top 20 all the more impressive.
But it’s also the best method we know for measuring goals that are important. And what’s more vital to the final result of a game than important goals?
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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