New York Islanders Consistency Isn’t Good Criticism

Nov 10, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano talks with his team during the game against the San Jose Sharks in the 3rd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports.
Nov 10, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano talks with his team during the game against the San Jose Sharks in the 3rd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. /

The New York Islanders are gearing up for 2016-17. The hope is that players who had a statistically sub-par season are able to bounce back. To do so they’ll need to be more consistent. Right? This is part two in our two-part series.

The New York Islanders need to have a better season in 2016-17. It’s not that last season was ‘bad’ per-se, they still made the playoffs and even won a playoff series, but the regular season was subpar considering the talent they have.

Last week in the first part of our two-part series on consistency as a critique, we argued that players should instead focus on the basics. Work on such fundamentals as positioning, passing, and shooting.

We said this because consistency is something that hockey players just aren’t. From the elite to the regular, players just aren’t consistent. To be clear, consistency for the sake of this argument is being defined by scoring points on a consistent basis. (See our first part, to get a refresher)

Related Story: Consistency Aint What You Think It Is: Part 1

In this second part, we’re going to look at some numbers. Not a lot, just a few to show why players shouldn’t be thrown under the bus for “lack of consistency”.

No Player is Actually Consistent

No player is actually consistent. It’s the basis for this entire article. No player scores or contributes consistently over the course of the year. Not even the most elite of players.

Take a look at three elite players: Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn and John Tavares. All are without argument elite. And all are inconsistent.

Patrick Kane     Jamie Benn       John Tavares 

The graph shows every game with at least one point in the bottom half (black and blue lines) and the top half (red, green, and orange lines) show the points-per-game average over the course of the season. The trend line (the straight black line) depicts each player’s regression as the season goes on.

The important part to take out of these graphs is that bottom half, the one that goes up and down pretty violently. That shows a player’s inconsistency. It highlights the number of times either player fails to register a point in a game or when he “fails” the consistency test.

The negative number in the equation marks the slope. We all remember that from high school calculus right? It’s the rate of change, in this case, it’s just depicting how quickly the PPG is regressing over the course of the season. Or how close the player was to being “consistent”.

Well see just how flawed this “consistency” argument is when we take the same approach when looking at some of the Islanders players that aren’t elite.

Isles Consistency

These three, Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelsen get the kitchen sink from Islanders fans for their level of play last season. But look at their regression and they look pretty consistent.

Look at the three following graphs for the three aforementioned players. All have a slope that’s smaller than Jamie Benn’s -0.005.

Anders Lee     Ryan Strome     Brock Nelson

It’s clear that these players are in-no-way more “consistent” than Jamie Benn right? Well, statistically they certainly are. It’s just that their consistency is scoring at a lower rate than Benn.

Saying these players need to be more consistent just doesn’t give a good account on what or where these player’s weaknesses are. “Oh. They just need to score more.” Great, that adds nothing to the discussion. Name me a player that doesn’t need to score more?

No Smoking Gun

This isn’t some smoking gun. This isn’t some earth shattering new metrics that will serve to change the way anyone looks at the sport. But what it should do is change the way players get critiqued.

Don’t just say, “Oh he needs to be more consistent”. That’s just lazy. Look at the context a bit more. It’s not that you might be wrong. These three players, Lee, Strome, and Nelson need to step it up in 2016-17. But how do they do that exactly?

Next: Queens is the Best Fit for Isles

“They need to score more!” Sure, but so does Jamie Benn. How do these players score more exactly? We’ll take a look at that in the next few weeks. How can Andres Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson actually increase their production from last season?