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Trends in Hat Tricks, 1987-2016 February 9, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Hockey, Sports.
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Hat tricks, 1987-2016; bubble size is the number of hat tricks by that year's leader

Hat tricks, 1987-2016; bubble size is the number of hat tricks by that year’s leader

Yesterday’s post on hat tricks raised a question – what’s the historical likelihood of a hat trick? Above is a time series of hat tricks by year, with bubble size weighted by the number of hat tricks scored by that year’s leader. The largest bubble is Mario Lemieux with 9 in 1988-89. The largest since 2000 was Jonathan Cheechoo with 5 in 2005-2006.

This looks like a significant downward trend, and it is; with each passing year, and controlling for games played, the expected number of hat tricks declines by about 1.2 (p = .0147). Meanwhile, adding another game to each team’s schedule seems to increase the number of hat tricks in a season by about .85 (p = .00005). There’s no statistical persistence of the numbers (that is, the lag of hat tricks has a coefficient not statistically different from 0). This downward trend is a bit confusing, since at first glance there hasn’t been a visible decrease in the quality of goaltending. That’s probably my next project.

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.