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Islanders Game 51: Okposo’s Hat Trick Helps the Isles Set The Mark February 8, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Hockey, Sports.
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In Sunday’s pre-Super Bowl game, the Islanders took out the Pacific division cellar dwellers, the Oilers, in an 8-1 rout. That’s not only tied for the largest goal differential this year, it’s also the most goals scored by any team this year. Kyle Okposo assisted a Nikolai Kulemin goal at the end of the first, scored two in the second about three and a half minutes apart, and sealed the hat trick with the only goal of the third period. Cal Clutterbuck also had a goal and an assist (on Johnny Boychuk‘s game-opening goal). Connor McDavid had the only goal for Edmonton.

Okposo’s hat trick was the 43rd of the season; probably the oddest was a baffling performance by Rasmus Ristolainen in December, in which he scored all three Sabres goals in a losing effort against the terrible Calgary Flames. Mikkel Boedker, John Gaudreau, Zach Parise, and Jeff Skinner each have two hat tricks this year. No one has cracked the three-hat-trick mark this season, although Max Pacioretty and Joe Pavelski each did so in 2013-2014.hattricks

Hat tricks are interesting to model, because there are many complications in scoring them. Like John Scott‘s 2-goal performance in the All-Star game, it’s likely that hat tricks can be massaged along by teammates – feeding a player with two goals the puck in scoring situations, for example – so it’s difficult to argue that they can be poisson distributed (which would require their occurrence to be random). On the other hand, there’s clearly a reason why only 145 players have hat tricks over the last 5 seasons, why so few players have so many (Tyler Seguin with 7, two with 5, six with 4, 13 with 3, 21 with a pair, and the remainder with a single). The graph at right shows how thinly spread hat tricks tend to be over the past 5 seasons.

 

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