Monday, October 11, 2010

Forward Depth: Part II

In response to the original post on forward depth, D'ohboy on Japers' Rink suggested that perhaps a large part of the Capitals' seeming decline in forward depth performance is not only because Sergei Fedorov left, but that he left and was replaced by Tomas Fleischmann at second-line center. Fleischmann would gain time on ice, but I'm not quite sure why he would suddenly become such an issue, considering he wasn't evidently a defensive liability before. I mean, I would expect his deficiencies to be more exposed, but supposed "growth" should counteract that, right?

So then, is Fleischmann worse than in 2007-2008? In other words, is he in decline? Maybe it's crazy to ask, considering Fleischmann isn't even into UFA years yet and is in his "prime," but let's take a look at the numbers, shall we?

Fenwick statistics are via Vic Ferrari's Timeonice, and all others are via Gabriel Desjardin's

2007-2008 (Fleischmann wore #43 this season):
Corsi Rel: 0.7, middling on Caps
Zonestart: 60.5%, 2nd on team (slightly demoralizing exercise: line up the Capitals' zonestart percentages from the past three seasons. Wow, the 2007-2008 Caps under Boudreau might actually have been the best Caps team since the lockout)
Teammates: no one stands out here
Corsi Rel QoC: 0.515, 4th on Caps
Corsi Rel QoT: 0.771, 8th on Caps
PDO: 96.5%, 4th-to-last on Caps
Score Tied Fenwick%: 55.3% (Caps were 55.6% during this time)
TOI/60 at 5-on-5: 10.68, near the bottom
Penalty plus-minus/60: -0.2

Corsi Rel: 0.9, 9th on team
Zonestart: 54.9%, middling on Caps (Mike Green led the team at 62%?!?!?!)
Teammates: no one really stands out here
Corsi Rel QoC: 0.672, 2nd on Caps
Corsi Rel QoT: 1.574, 7th on Caps
PDO: 98.1%, 4th-to-last
Score Tied Fenwick%: 54.2% (Caps as a team were 55.2%)
TOI/60 at 5-on-5: 10.9 mins, near the bottom
Penalty plus-minus/60: +0.1

Corsi Rel: -10.7, 2nd-to-last
Zonestart: 50%, middling
Teammates: Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin at 23%, then more <5% combinations
Corsi Rel QoC: 0.350, 7th
Corsi Rel QoT: -0.157, middling
PDO: 103.3%, middling
Score Tied Fenwick%: 50.4% (Caps were 51.1%)
TOI/60 at 5-on-5: 11.82, mid-to-bottom
Penalty plus-minus/60: -0.5

In other words, relative to his teammates:
  • Fleischmann's Corsi Rel has gotten much worse
  • Fleischmann's score-tied Fenwick% has stayed the same
  • Fleischmann's quality of competition has increased decreased
  • Fleischmann's quality of teammates has decreased slightly
  • Fleischmann has stayed on the undisciplined side
  • Fleischmann's Zonestart has gotten much less favorable
  • Fleischmann has been getting a bit more time on ice
In a word, then, no, Tomas Fleischmann is not in decline. You could argue his Zonestart and QoT changes, both of which should lead to a worse outcome, more than compensate for his QoC change, which should lead to a better outcome. Fleischmann may have even gotten better, as his score-tied Fenwick% relative to the Caps as a team has remained more-or-less the same.

What has happened is that he's getting used in tougher situations, situations in which he's simply outmatched. My first thought is that this is due to too much time on ice when the Capitals are leading, in which case score effects indicate the Capitals would be outshot.

Fleischmann Fenwick% for 2009-2010 breakdown:
  • Caps leading: 46.5% (286 events) with team at 48.6% (1406 events)
  • Caps trailing: 63.8% (149 events) with team at 59.9% (685 events)
  • Score close: 51.8% (554 events) with team at 50.8% (2584 events)
  • Tied: 50.4% (452 events) with team at 51.1% (2072 events)
  • Overall: 49.8% (1222 events) with team at 51.5% (5562 events)
(A Fenwick "event" is a shot on goal or a missed shot by either team)

So maybe it isn't misuse in the score effects use--I guess it's simply competition and Zonestart, coupled with the team as a whole not being as dominant game-to-game.

I'm not quite sure why the event numbers don't add up. At any rate, I think giving Ovechkin and Backstrom poorer Zonestart, instead giving the offensive zone starts to Fleischmann, is a better way to go. It seems pretty clear that Fleischmann is being used in roles he's simply not well suited for. His entire TOI distribution need not be changed, but merely tinkered with. Starting with the PKTOI.

Also: that 2007-2008 Capitals team may not have been as talented as today's Capitals, but man, they got the job done at 5-on-5. Their Zonestart chart looks comparable to the 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks' chart, and their 55.2% overall Fenwick is much better than 2009-2010's 51.5%, although still a far cry from the Hawks' 58.0%. The 08-09 Caps were a 54.8% Fenwick team, 54.7% with the score tied, for sake of comparison.

I find it hard to believe losing Sergei Fedorov and giving Tomas Fleischmann a few more minutes would cause a 3% drop in Fenwick%. Maybe, as was written before, complacency really is the issue. If so...this season could get ugly.


  1. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying this, but what I see is a poor man's Alex Semin in Fleischmann's play. The same propensity for mistakes in his own zone and the same talent for finding the open man; all on a lesser scale. Complacency being an issue is a possibility, but then again a one-year deal isn't something to rest one's laurels on. 23 goals and 51 points aren't world-beating numbers, but they're certainly not anything to brush aside either. While I can understand the frustration with his play at times, I'm not sold on this idea that he should be gotten rid of at the first opportunity. I see no reason why he can't improve, but I suppose it bears worth repeating that this year will serve as a litmus test for his overall worth to the team.

  2. I don't think that assessment is too far off. I'm certainly not saying he should be sent off at the first chance, but rather that his role needs to be changed. He's not being put in a position in which he can succeed, or at least the optimal position from which he can help the Capitals as a team can succeed. His statistics are a bit misleading in that his PDO was a 103.3%, so he, like most other Caps last season, was overperforming. He shot at a ridiculous rate and he doesn't shoot from in tight all the time like Knuble, so I don't expect that to continue.

    The complacency referred more to the team as a whole. They went from 55% Fenwick to 54% to 52%. Chicago, for sake of comparison, was a ridiculous 58%. I'm worried. In the playoffs, Chicago is going to beat the Caps, if the Caps even get that far.