Long-time partners SAP and the NHL today unveiled new, significant enhancements to the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights mobile app for iPad. These upgrades stemmed from off-season workshops with all 31 NHL coaching staffs to further simplify the user experience, expand on critical metrics desired by coaches, and extend usability for deeper preparation before and after games.
The app, which is based on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) and powered by the SAP HANA Cloud database, launched in 2019 and has continued its evolution since inception. This has led to a massive four-times increase in league-wide usage, further validating its reputation as an important coaching tool throughout the league.
According to Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, “We’ve relied on technology more than ever during this pandemic to interact with players. Speaking to the app, the condensed schedule has presented an increased importance on managing our players’ workloads. Closely tracking ‘Time on Ice’ and other metrics has been critical for us.”
Now, coaching staffs for all 31 NHL teams can tap into unique new features in the app, such as:
- “Home Plate” Customization: Every team has their own perspective on where the danger zones are around the net. This feature allows coaches to select one of five different variants of high-chance scoring areas to develop strategies and compare the team versus the opponent.
- Head-to-Head Faceoff Matchup Planner: Coaches can cycle through potential matchups for each faceoff to isolate the best opportunities to win them. This functionality tracks players’ win/loss rates at different faceoff locations and against various opposition. There are even specific times during the game, such as icing, when a coach will know who the exact opponent will be; the Faceoff Matchup Planner provides coaches with real-time targeted data to assist in rapid decision-making.
- Enhanced Game Trends/Analytics: Coaches can analyze detailed shot differential from key segments of each game, allowing for game trending capabilities to unlock insights within targeted momentum shifts.
- Player Speed: NHL clubs will have insights to the total distance a player skates during the game and their top speed, so coaches can manage their player’s ice time throughout the game. Specific to speed and distance, the app can break it down into 10-second increments to help develop optimal shift lengths.
- 24/7 Access: Now, the app is empowering coaches to better strategize prior to the game, make data-driven adjustments during the game, and analyze performance after the game. Usage data tells us that this expanded access is driving the increased adoption and coaches are watching their next opponent play, through the app, to help collect information and shape the game plan — even on off days.
Once puck tracking data is fully operational in the Puck and Player Tracking system, the following future enhancements are planned for integration into the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights app for iPad:
- Puck Zone Time: Coaches will be able to display eight different variants of data, making it even more accurate to identify puck zone time. Also, coaches will be able to filter by player and periods of games.
- Virtual Replay: New animations coming next season will visually simplify how coaches can see how the puck enters specific zones, along with greater details on the Xs and Os in terms of how the players either collapsed or prevailed during these pressure moments. Every game will be available to view in real time or in full-game replay.
And when tracking-enabled pucks are brought back on to the ice, paired with the NHL’s existing player tracking system, the full data processing capabilities of the SAP HANA Cloud database will be recognized. As the processing engine, SAP HANA Cloud will house, update, and translate a tremendous amount of new, actionable data in near real time to coaching staffs. In the future, as these advanced analytics become more mainstream, it is reasonable to expect an influx of new statistics for fans to consume on broadcasts, nhl.com/stats, and social media.
I predict a large number of unsung heroes, those that have excelled at the little things, to gain exposure from success in less obvious areas like zone-time effectiveness in offensive/defensive zones, and player +/- in zone-time possessions. As these technologies continue to advance, fans can expect to enjoy deeper insights and new statistical categories to rank, compare, and debate their favorite players in new ways — not to mention, the enjoyment of watching “the fastest game on ice” become even faster.
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