In a new piece at Hockey Graphs, Dom Luszczyszyn introduced a new statistic called Game Score. The full write-up is here and I recommend you read it because it shows how a stat is created from start to finish. In case you haven't had time to read the full write-up yet, the basic idea is that Dom wanted to find a way to measure how well a player performed in one individual game. In essence, this stat would be a great way to determine the three stars of the game as opposed to throwing darts or whatever the beat writers do now. For the rest of the article, keep in mind that the stat only goes back to 07-08 because that's how far back we have the raw data needed to calculate it.
Before we get into anything serious about what this stat might be able to teach us, let's use it to have some fun and answer the question in the headline. Who had the best game for the Bolts in the data set? And just because I know someone is going to ask, we can look at the worst too. But let's start with the best. According to Dom's calculation, Martin St. Louis had the best game on December 27, 2008. On that night, he had four points including one goal and three primary assists, put five shots on net and was a +4 in goals and +11 in shots. Ondrej Palat's four point game in December of 2014 scores as the second best while Vinny Lecavelier's five point hat trick in 2014 rates. At the bottom of the list, we find a Nikita Nesterov game in March of this year during which he was a -2 in goals and a -21 in shots. The chart below contains the best and worst games for Lightning players in the data set. For reference, the stats included are defined below.
GS: Game Score; TOI: time on ice: G: goals; A1: primary assists; A2: secondary assists; iSF: individual shots for; GD: goal differential; CD: corsi (shot) differential.
Now that we've answered the most obvious and most fun question, what else can we do with this data? One thing we can do is look at each players average game score throughout the season to see who performed best and get an idea of how that performance changed during the year. Below are rolling ten day average charts for Lightning forwards and defenders. The players' charts appear in the order from best to worst based on full year average game score. Each chart contains the league average for reference.
Before we go any further, we should say that Game Score passes the sniff test. It knows Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman are really good. It also knows Matt Carle and Cedric Paquette didn't have particularly good years. And it gives a pretty cool visual on Jonathan Drouin's eventful year. We can see that he started off strong, fell apart after the injury, took a well-documented hiatus, and then came back as a monster. One notable point from this data that hasn't been as prominent in other numbers I've analyzed is Ryan Callahan falling off a cliff in mid-March. Callahan's distinct downward trend is probably the most interesting thing I see in these numbers. Tampa Bay Times writer Joe Smith tweeted in June that Callahan suffered a hip injury during the second half of the season. While the actual date of the injury has not been released, it certainly looks like something happened in mid-March that caused Callahan's production to drop.
Game score is a fun stat and Dom did a great job of explaining it in an accessible way. He also shared all his work so that other people could play with it and visualize it. We have lots of cool stats for analyzing players and teams over long periods of time. But we don't have many things that allow for short term and single game analysis. This is a cool metric to add to the toolbox and I look forward to working with it more next season.