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B1G Hockey: A Deeper Look Into Conference Play

Let's take a closer look at what happened in conference play.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Throughout the season, I have been keeping track of more detailed data than what I show in my weekly roundups.  I'll start with the usual points earned table and go from there.

Points Earned and Comparison to Last Season

The rest of the conference made up ground on Minnesota this year but it wasn't enough.  Penn State and Michigan State vastly improved their records while Michigan's modest increase didn't change their final standing.  I have no explanation for Wisconsin's dumpster fire of a season.

KRACH Expected and Difference From Actual

Michigan State was the only team to outperform its KRACH rating.  This is mostly due to Jake Hildebrand but also because MSU didn't hit it's stride until the last 2 months of the season.  A poor non-conference showing really hurt MSU's KRACH rating and its RPI (which hurt its PairWise Ranking).  It will be interesting to see if MSU will outperform it's KRACH rating by such a wide margin next year.

Goals Scored and Pythagorean Expectations

Goal differential, per game, and goal for percentage

Expected Points = 12 *GF^gamma/(GF^gamma+GA^gamma)

I used a gamma of 2.15 for the Pythagorean Expectation since that was the average value found for 3 NHL seasons by Kevin Dayaratna and Steven Miller.  Michigan State, Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all out performed their Pythagorean expectations: MSU due to Hildebrand and shootout wins, Penn State due to winning close games and losing blowouts, OSU by taking 9 from Penn State instead of 6 or 7, and Wisconsin thanks to shootout wins.  Minnesota losing 2 OT games and 3 shootouts contributed to not meeting their Pythagorean expectation.  Michigan losing the series to Penn State despite out-scoring them explains their deficiency as well as lack of hardware.

According to KRACH and Pythagorean wins, Minnesota and Michigan should have ran away with the byes like Minnesota and Wisconsin did last year.  Minnesota's lackadaisical January and Michigan's inconsistencies in net opened the door for MSU to steal a bye and Penn State to hang around until the last weekend.

Goals Per Game Tables

Goals Per Game-Comparison to Conference Average

Goals For Compared to Own Offense

Goals For Compared to Other Offenses

These tables show how consistent Minnesota was from opponent to opponent.  It sure didn't feel like it so I'm guessing they made up for poor series with dominant results over the final month and a half.  MSU's offense was consistently terrible while their defense and goaltending was consistently great.  If MSU could find even half a goal more per game, they are likely B1G champs and in contention for an At-Large bid to the NCAA's.  Michigan's offense was incredible against the bottom half of the B1G but pedestrian against the top 2.  That combined with average goaltending prevented Michigan from capturing the regular season crown.  Wisconsin's offense only showed up against Minnesota likely thanks to a boost in intensity for their rival.  Ohio State's success against Penn State prevented the Nittany Lions from having a special season.  Penn State's rapid improvement came mostly from their mastery of Wisconsin and Michigan.  I still don't understand how Penn State has gone 6-3-0 in 9 contests against Michigan over the last 2 years.

Next year, I'll try to subtract out empty net goals from these tables as they skew goal differentials more than I think is fair.  An even better way to do this would be to only look at even strength goals in close situations but I don't know if I'll have the time and energy to track that closely!