February 6, 2010 7

Comparing NHL Forwards

By in Experiments in Info Design

I’ve been in far, far too many arguments about the relative feats of NHL players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, and Alexander Ovechkin. So, I decided to do something about it.  After a few nights in Excel and a few more in Illustrator, I think I’m satisfied with this as a first draft.  The following infographic/poster (it’s full size is 22″ x 33″) compares NHL forwards between the years 1925 and 2009. To make the comparison more fair, I created what I like to call the Fair Scoring Metric. The FSM essentially takes a player’s goals, assists, or points per game for a season and divides it by the median of all forwards for that season (those who have played at least half the season). This should account for different season lengths and different eras where the relative ease of scoring varied substantially. The upshot? It all comes down to Mario and Wayne, with Mario having the slight edge in the end. Please enjoy, and as this is a first draft of the poster, I welcome any and all suggestions/typos/inaccuracies.

An Infographic on NHL Scoring

UPDATE:  I’ve noticed that in some versions of Adobe Reader, vertical lines show up in the second bar graph.  I will try to put out an updated version as soon as I can.  Sorry about that.

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7 Responses to “Comparing NHL Forwards”

  1. I’m curious, hasn’t Sidney Crosby been in the league just as long as Ovechkin? It would be interesting to see how those two compare.

    Great work btw!

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  3. Blake McNeill says:

    You are missing what I think is the biggest factor of all when considering scoring and that is goalie equipment. The size of pads, catching glove and arm/shoulder pads have ballooned (pads are the same width, but length as changed such that the 5 hole no longer exists like it use to), toss in its lighter and scoring is down.

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  5. Matt says:

    Thanks for your comments. To your first point, Crosby has been in the league a similar time. His best seasons weren’t quite as impressive as Ovechkin’s, but he does have a Stanley Cup to his name. If I was him, I wouldn’t be worried!

    To the second point, you are absolutely right that this has made a difference. This is part of the reason I went about this exercise, because I was interested to see how a guy like Crosby might stack up against Gretzky, Lemieux, or Howe if you could normalize for all those factors.

  6. Nice graphic! I found this after you left a link on my blog (http://robbymacdonell.com/blog/visualizing-the-stanley-cup-finals-with-html5 ) and asked if I had any thoughts about how an interactive version of this might play out. Before trying to make it more interactive, I’d suggest focusing the purpose of the graph a little bit. As it stands now, it feels like it’s trying to be both an exploration of the NHL’s best forwards, AND a justification / explanation of the algorithm you came up with (which makes a lot of sense by the way, I can see how it might be better than traditional scoring). I’d probably pick one or the other, and then simplify it down to the most compelling data points. Then just figure out some simple ways to use interaction to make the strong points really pop. Maybe something that ties the info in the “dominant decades” area with the timeline info? Or, if you’re comparing scoring methods, having dynamically sorting top ten lists and toggling back and forth on the different metrics? With this much density, however, I’d be really careful not to make something that’s too complicated, interaction-wise. Good luck!

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