Ennis vs. Afinogenov: Dispelling The Myth
There is a perception amongst many Sabres fans that comparisons of Tyler Ennis to Maxim Afinogenov are both appropriate and justifiable. While I haven’t been a fan long enough to speak to Afinogenov’s play on the ice, I can speak as to what the statistics from both of their Sabres’ careers show me. Is my suspicion that those comparisons are statistically invalid itself invalid? This is the question that I intend to answer for you.
First, I’ll discuss the nomenclature you will see in my charts and how I calculated certain statistics. I should note, however, that some of the statistics for Afinogenov have the fortunate, or unfortunate, problem of being slightly off. There were a few years where no statistics for hits, blocked shots, giveaways, and takeaways are available. Some are obviously going to work in his favour, and others will work against him; although the effect would likely not influence the results greatly. Most of my nomenclature should be obvious, but there are a few things that could be confusing. The yellow that you see in the charts indicates that they were the leader in a particular category.
- GA: Giveaway
- TA: Takeaway
- TA/GA: Ratio of Takeaways to giveaways
- % Diff: Ratio of the difference between takeaways and giveaways multiplied by 100. 100 X ((GA-TA)/TA)
- GA/G: Giveaways Per Game
- TA/G: Takeaways Per Game
- P: Points
- PPG: Points Per Game
- G: Goals
- GPG: Goals Per Game
- A: Assists
- APG: Assists Per Game
- HPG: Hits Per Game
- BS: Blocked Shots
- BSPG: Blocked Shots Per Game
- FO%: Faceoff percentage
- TOI: Time on Ice
- TTOI: Total TOI
- TTPG: Total TOI Per Game
- SH; Short Handed TOI
- SHPG: Short Handed TOI Per Game
- PP: Power Play TOI
- PPPG: Power Play TOI Per Game
Since their careers are of different lengths most categories are normalised by the number of games played. Also note that Ennis’ statistics are based on a small sample size, so they are in all likelihood less than definitive. All of the statistics that I’ve utilised have been extracted from the NHL website. So without further ado, I present my four “myths” that one would likely draw their statistical comparisons from.
Myth 1: Ennis is a giveaway machine.
We’ve all heard the Ennis is a giveaway machine arguments; frankly I’m tired of hearing them. Is there are basis to these claims? I decided to look into this myth first since it seems to be the most prevalent justification for the comparison that people use.
Well folks, there you have it. It seems that thus far in his career Ennis isn’t the giveaway machine that people seem to see him as. In fact, for the seasons for which data is available, Afinogenov has no season for the Sabres where he did not have at least twice as many giveaways than takeaways. In his first 10 call-ups alone Ennis had more takeaways than giveaways. Myth 1: Busted.
Myth 2: They have similar point production.
While this really isn’t much of a myth, I thought that it would be a good idea to compare their production to see if they were similar in those aspects. After all, if people claim they are essentially one in the same one would expect their production to be about equal.
There might actually be some credibility to this particular myth. As you can see, they do have similar career point production, although Ennis’ is slightly higher. Ennis. I promise that I did not fudge Ennis’ statistics so that he would be at 0.63 PPG; it’s merely a shiny coincidence. Ennis’ point production in his rookie season was also 15 points higher than that of Afinogenov’s. Myth 2: Plausible.
Myth 3: They are both similar defensively.
Again, this one isn’t so much a myth as it is a curiosity of mine. It’s been said by many that one of the major differences between the two is that, unlike Afinogenov, Ennis isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. While I cannot speak to the validity of that argument from an intangible aspect, I can compare their defensive numbers. This is one of those areas where Afinogenov’s numbers would likely be higher if the data were available. Again, it’s unlikely that the number would be significantly effected.
It looks like there might be some truth to the claim that Afinogenov didn’t like to get to the dirty areas. His 52 blocked shots in 569 games with the Sabres is fairly indicative of that claim, in addition to a mere 115 hits. In comparison, Ennis’ hits and blocked shots came in just 92 games. Their +/- values aren’t even comparable. Afinogenov had 3 seasons in which he was a positive player. He had a career high of +19 in the ’06-’07 season when he had 61 points. For comparison, despite his career high 71 points in the previous season he finished as a +6. Ouch. Not exactly an exact comparison, but it certainly doesn’t help his case. Myth 3: Busted.
Myth 4: Similar time on ice.
My third myth that isn’t actually a myth. When I looked at their defensive statistics, Afinogenov’s terrible -26 rating had me perplexed. I thought that perhaps his TOI would contribute in some manner to that number; one could reasonably claim that more TOI could be the actual reason. Note: all TOI values are in minutes.
As it turns out, my suspicion regarding Afinogenov’s TOI was incorrect. While both players averaged about 0.04 minutes of short handed time per game, Ennis averaged slightly less than a minute more total TOI than Afinogenov per game. There are obviously many reasons that could account for Afinogenov’s terrible plus-minus rating, but it appears that TOI isn’t likely one of them. Myth 4: Busted (mostly).
I think the results of my analysis support my suspicion that the comparison of Ennis to Afinogenov is unjustified. I know that I won’t likely convince the crazy fans out there, but any logical fan can clearly see that the comparison is in no way statistically justified. Ennis is the clear winner in every category above (with the exception of the PPPG and SHPG statistics). Again, there is a much smaller statistical database for Ennis than there is for Afinogenov, so the results are likely skewed. Only time will tell what will happen to Ennis’ performance, but for the time being the argument that he is comparable to Afinogenov is nothing but incorrect. Haters gonna hate.