When it comes to predicting future performance, I don't think playoff performance should be weighted more heavily. But it shouldn't be irrelevant either. By including playoff performance in our analysis of the Hall-Seguin question, we increase our sample size which likely gives a slightly better indication of each player's abilities. This is especially important since we're trying to determine which player is superior based largely on one year's worth of results. When we look at Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin using just regular season results, the two are fairly close offensively with Hall at 1.86 points per game and Seguin at 1.68. Hall has a clear advantage there but Seguin is in the ballpark. However, when we include OHL playoff results and look at the combined totals, Hall remains at 1.86 and Seguin falls to 1.61. Including Hall's Memorial Cup performance in the overall results gives his number a slight bump to 1.88. That's beginning to look more and more significant.
But what about context? A lot of fans are becoming more and more aware that context is important. It's good to know things like how many of those points came at even strength, what kind of competition the players were facing, who they were playing with and where they were starting their shifts. Unfortunately, we don't have access to all of this data. What we do have access to are OHL gamesheets which can help us in getting a feel for some of the things mentioned above. In this case I'll be looking specifically at playoff results because with two teams playing each other several times in a row we can start to see how the coach was using each player and what kinds of match-ups he was getting over a longer period of time. After the jump, I'll take a detailed look at the playoff results of both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin and try to knit them together with what we already know from earlier analysis on their regular season play.
For each round of the playoffs, I'm going to give a few summary charts to help us understand the context of each player's ice time and let us know whether the points are coming on the power play, at even strength or in other situations. For each playoff series there will be two charts. The first chart will detail the even strength scoring results for the player's team both in total and isolating situations when the player in question is on the ice. EV results will include 5v5 and 4v4 results when both goalies are in the net. That will be followed by the player's scoring in all situations. The "O" columns simply refer to scoring in situations "O"ther than even strength or power play. The second chart will tell us the player's most common forward linemates and opposition based on who was on the ice during the same goal events as Hall or Seguin. I'll also include each player's team rank in both +/- and points (for forwards, this will be their team rank among forwards and for the defenders, their rank among defenders). Let's get started!
Taylor Hall - Round One v. Erie Otters
Dale Mitchell's rank looks pretty low in the chart but that's because he only played in thirty-two games. The fact is, he's twenty years old and a scoring winger so he's certainly quality at the junior level, so Hall was playing with good help. He was also playing against the best offensive players the opposition had to offer and what looks like their top defense pairing. The EV results are impressive with Windsor outscoring at a significant rate with Hall on the ice and Hall himself contributing points on almost all of the offence.
Taylor Hall - Round Two v. Plymouth Whalers
The "other" point listed in the first chart was an assist on a Game Four goal that sent the game to overtime when Windsor had their goalie on the bench. I'll give that one seven Eberles. From the Whalers, Phil McCrae's numbers are understated on the chart above because they only include his stats with Plymouth. If we include his London numbers as well, he jumps to a +/- ranking of 7th and a points ranking of 3rd which makes the Plymouth coach look a bit less insane. Hall had several events against the line of Hayes-Jenks-McRae from Game Two onwards after beating up on Seguin in Game One. Throughout the series, Hall was taking on the best defenders the opponents had to offer but for the second straight series came out on top in a big way.
Taylor Hall - Round Three v. Kitchener Rangers
This is the only series that didn't end in a Windsor sweep and, as you can see, Windsor tried some new linemates with Hall and Henrique. Kassian "Did Not Qualify" for the team rankings because he only played in five regular season games for the Spitfires after getting suspended for a goodly portion of the year after coming to the team in a trade. Glancing at the right-hand side of the second chart, this seems like the easiest match-up that Hall had in the post-season so far but I suspect that there wasn't much intentional matching going on in the series. Despite those three forwards being on the ice for the most events, there wasn't one event that saw all three forwards playing together. Instead, it was often Skinner and Landeskog with someone else or Cimadamore with two others. There were actually nine different forwards on the ice for at least four "Hall events" so I think it's fair to say he played a little bit against everybody up front. Hall was quite good against that mixed bag, outscoring his opponents and contributing a lot of offence himself at even strength. The power play was another story. Hall's one power play point in seven games is likely one of the reasons the series went the distance.
Taylor Hall - Round Four v. Barrie Colts
For the third straight series, Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique spent significant time with a new linemate and, once again, they were able to outscore their opponents, although the margin in this series isn't much. The "other" point that Hall scored in this series was an empt-net goal to make the score 6-2 (!) in the last game of the series, so that's about as low impact as they come. Hall spent most of the series playing against various top six forwards which is to be expected but the defenders look pretty poor, though I assume that they must have been Barrie's shutdown pairing throughout the year. Anything else doesn't seem to make sense. In the four series overall the Spitfires were +29 -16 at EV with Hall on the ice and +31 -23 when he was on the bench which is a pretty nice result considering Hall was usually taking on some of the opposition's best offensive players.
Tyler Seguin - Round One v. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
This is a really interesting series because when I see that goal differential at EV I think that it really isn't a very impressive showing for Seguin. Except then you add it all up and realize that he scored ten points in only five games and that's pretty damn good! The two "other" points are a goal and an assist into a pair of empty nets which, on the one hand, means they're easy points but, on the other, means Seguin was out there to protect a lead late in games. The second graph shows that he certainly wasn't taking on top forwards but the Greyhounds did make sure to get their top defenders out more often than not with Seguin on the ice. Given that context, I probably would have hoped for a bit more EV production.
Tyler Seguin - Round Two v. Windsor Spitfires
Unquestionably ugly. It's clear that Seguin was taking on the toughs with something less than adequate support but this is a pretty poor showing. Over the two series Plymouth was +20 -10 at EV with Seguin on the bench and +3 -8 when he was on the ice. I understand that people don't want to nick Seguin for playing on a poor team but, at least in the playoffs, the numbers don't show him as the strong link in a weak chain at evens. That said, he did lead his club in +/- during the regular season, so we shouldn't nick him too much.
It seems clear to me that Hall had the superior playoff results even when taking context into consideration. For the most part, it doesn't seem like Hall (or Seguin for that matter) is getting soft minutes to rack up points. Perhaps surprisingly, Hall also comes across as the better even strength scorer. I say surprisingly because one of the reasons people have been recommending Seguin over Hall is his slightly superior scoring at even strength. After the OHL season was finished, Jonathan Willis wrote a great post that broke down the situational scoring for each player over the regular season. He saw that Seguin's scoring at even strength (1.00 points per game) was slightly better than Hall's (0.95 points per game). But this wasn't the case in the playoffs. In fact, if we factor in how each player performed in the OHL playoffs, Seguin's slight lead in the overall numbers doesn't hold up. Seguin ends up with an EV points per game of 0.90 points per game while Hall remains at 0.95. The goal scoring tightens up as well as Seguin goes from 0.56 goals per game to 0.49 while Hall goes from 0.33 goals per game to 0.37. There's still a substantial gap there, but it's been narrowed quite a bit. In my opinion, the two players are about equal offensively at even strength. Seguin's superior goal scoring doesn't sway m as much as it otherwise might because of Hall's consistent goal scoring seasons over the last three years. Overall, I think Hall is a better player to the point that I feel comfortable saying that he should be the player the Oilers take first overall next weekend.