Measuring how balanced a hockey team is

Does anyone attempt to measure how balanced a team is? It occurred to me while watching the Bruins/Isles game – it seems like Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand are always on the ice (I don’t remember seeing players playing even strength, short handed, and power play time as much as those three). Contrast that with the Isles who have different lines for power plays and short handed (maybe Pageau plays on both?).

When it comes to scoring, Boston’s perfection line really dominates (last night, they had 3 of 4 goals) whereas the Islanders seem to get scoring from all the lines. In terms of ice time, Boston’s top line has defenseman-level ice time, and their fourth line barely plays at all (Lazar played for 4:35 and he wasn’t injured or in the penalty box or anything). The Isles fourth line definitely has less time than their top line, but the difference isn’t nearly as stark.

Then, you look at the Oilers where McDavid and Dreiseitl basically try and carry the whole team.

So, does anyone try and track team balance – either in terms of ice time or number of different players who score goals or rack up points, or anything like that?

I would not know where to begin but I would suggest looking at the guys who handicap games for gambling. If anyone knows this inside and out it is them.

Incidently, TOI (Time on Ice) for these Boston players:

  • Bergeron - 19:33
  • Pastrnak - 19:16
  • Marchand - 20:32
  • Charlie McAvoy - 26:48
  • David Krejci - 21:25

The Islanders

  • Nick Leddy - 21:45
  • Adam Pelech - 22:08
  • Scott Mayfield - 24:13
  • Ryan Pulock - 20:23

Besides the goalies, the top players for ice time are usually the number 1 defenseman, then your first line center. The first line gets the most ice time because they are the first line for a reason. You want them matched up against the other team’s #1 line as well. If your top lines are playing well, you really don’t want to put your 3rd and 4th lines out as often.

Bottom line, if all your players were fantastic, you’d expect to have a more even distribution. But players aren’t interchangeable. If you look at the TOI stats you can probably come up with some overall measure of a team’s balance, but that may not be a good measure of their success. You could have even playing time because all your players are equally productive, or equally awful.

Maybe TOI plus depth scoring would be a good measure? Looking at the Oilers, Dreiseitl and McDavid absolutely dominate the scoring.