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Vulgar Statistics: Correlation, Overtime Wins vs. Overall Talent

12/12/10
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Sometime this past week on a Sabres message board, a fan made a comment that if a team has a high number of overtime or shootout wins, it indicates that there is a lack of talent on that particular team because they can’t close out games in regulation.  This didn’t make much sense to me as I believe that it doesn’t matter when or how a team wins a game, so long as they win it.  Thus, being me, I set out to track the percentage of extra-time wins last season for each team in the NHL.

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I thought there might at least be a small correlation since non-playoff teams obviously have fewer overall wins, thus making overtime wins more pronounced, but there was absolutely none.  The phrase “just win baby,” is as true as it’s ever been.  Even if a team is piling up the wins in OT, or even the shootout, it doesn’t mean that they’re not as talented as the rest of the league because they need to extra time to win.  In fact, I kind of like seeing my team win games in overtime because it’s a good litmus test of how the team performs under pressure, and shows who can step up to be the difference maker in a game, which is what needs to happen during every playoff game.

It doesn’t bother me that the Sabres have a ton of overtime wins.  It’s certainly not good for my blood pressure, but in terms of assessing skill, it’s clearly a moot point.  As long as they’re winning, I don’t really care how it happens.

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