Student researcher finds Red Wing home streak more impressive with shoot-outs

There are those hockey fans who believe that when the Detroit Red Wings set a new record for home wins this season there should have be an asterisk beside their names because several of those 23 victories came as a result of shoot-outs.

Then again, there are some more cerebral sports analysts who believe that if an asterisk is added to the record books, it should only be to note that with the shoot-outs included, the accomplishment becomes all the more extraordinary.

That’s because the odds of winning a shoot-out on home ice are significantly lower for a team than winning the game during regulation play, according to research conducted by first-year kinesiology master’s student Matt Hoffman.

Hoffman – who presented his findings at the sixth annual kinesiology research day Wednesday – collected data on 7,386 NHL games since the shoot-out rule was implemented following the 2004-05 lock-out. According to his results, home teams won 56.6 per cent of the time during regulation, but in only 47.8 per cent of the games that went to a shoot-out. They won 53.1 per cent of the time during the five-minute regular season overtime periods.

Using a method called logistic regression analysis, Hoffman then calculated the odds of a home team winning in a shoot-out - while taking into consideration the strength of both the home and visiting team - and discovered they decreased by 36 per cent compared to their likelihood of winning during regulation play.

“It’s better for the home team to win during the first 60 minutes, because everything decreases after that,” said Hoffman, a Toronto native who calls the Maple Leafs his favourite team.

After the Red Wings set the new record a debate among sports fans ensued, with many arguing that the shoot-out wasn’t a luxury available to previous record holders. The 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers and the 1929-30 Boston Bruins previously shared the record with 20 consecutive home wins, but won those games in the pre-shoot-out era, an accomplishment which took the shine off the Wings’ new mark, according to some.

Given Hoffman’s findings, their accomplishment is special, according to professor Todd Loughead, his academic supervisor.

“It makes it all the more impressive because the odds of them winning during a shoot-out are so much lower,” said Loughead, who co-supervised Hoffman’s work with professor Jess Dixon.

Hoffman said he plans to pursue new directions with his research, but found the exercise a valuable one just because of the new analytical skills he acquired.

“The stats are quite advanced so he had to learn some pretty heavy-duty material,” said Dr. Loughead.

In all, almost 60 graduate and undergraduate students presented research findings at the event. Human Kinetics Society Research Excellence Awards in the undergraduate category were presented to:

  • Kevin Mageto and Jess Dixon for their project: Hired to be Fired: An Examination of General Manager Succession in Major League Baseball, and
  • Brittany Becker, Sarah Woodruff and Patricia Weir for their project: Barriers to Physical Activity in Adults 55+ in the Windsor-Essex Community

Graduate awards went to:

  • Candice Horton, Matthew Kane, Paul Little, and Can Wu for their project: Becoming a 'Brawler': An Exploration of Female Motivation for Participation in Flat Track Roller Derby
  • Mark Badrov, Cassandra Stiller-Moldovan, Matthew DiBartolomeo, Phil Millar, Don Clarke, Nancy McNevin, and Cheri McGowan for their project: Isometric Handgrip Training Lowers Resting Blood Pressure Independent of Training Frequency and Improves Resistance Vessel Function in Normotensive Women

Watch a video of Matt Hoffman explaining his research.

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