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Halifax mathematician creates "sadness graph" for Canadian hockey fans

sadnessgraphA Halifax mathematician has produced a “sadness” graph, visualizing how sad hockey fans are as of February 19, as their favourite teams’ chances of making the playoffs disappear during the season’s home stretch, becoming particularly sad when combined with their chances of not tanking low enough to qualify for a top draft pick.
Micah Blake McCurdy has developed Oscar, a single-game prediction model for predicting outcomes and visualizing the results in an appealing graph.
Or not so appealing if you’re a fan of a Canadian hockey team right now, with “probability of sadness” levels reaching an epic 75% if you’re a fan of the Montreal Canadiens.
McCurdy’s other visualizations are less whimsical and more useful for putting actual hockey data into graph form, including five-on-five matchups, shot pressure, team overviews, shift visualizations, and a metric called WOWY (With Or Without You), which measures individual players’ effectiveness in five-on-five play.
“I find working in this way to be immensely satisfying and I do not aspire to a team position, especially not if it requires removing my public work from the internet, as we have seen in a number of prominent cases,” he says.
McCurdy just presented a data visualization called “Ice Position Lost and Gained Doesn’t Matter” at the Ottawa Hockey Analytics Conference, which answers the question “Can players affect their team results by gaining or losing territory?”
“Not really,” says McCurdy.
These kind of measurements are invaluable for testing the effectiveness of ephemeral sports terminology like “momentum” or “home advantage”, which likely exist more in the minds of sportscasters than on the ice.
Montreal fans have good reason to be “sad” at the moment, if now downright angry.
The Habs have been a schizophrenic team this year, starting the season with a nine-game winning streak that produced the image of an almost untouchably great team.
Since the end of that winning streak, the Canadiens have been very touchable indeed, finding a way to lose nearly every game they’ve been involved in and producing an almost unprecedented level of Angst in the city.
By contrast, the probability of sadness for Toronto Maple Leafs fans stands at a mere 46%, likely because low expectations for team success and outcomes are easier to reconcile for Torontonians.
McCurdy donates any revenue generated through the site to Halifax women’s shelter Bryony House.
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