Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tomas Vokoun's 2010-2011 Goals Against

As I was going through Tomas Vokoun's goals allowed with the Florida Panthers last season, I realized there could be very good reasons for his bit of a "down year" last season. Not all fill me with optimism.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Ducks' Super Line

While perusing, sometimes I come across what I like to call "super lines." They are groups of 3-5 players who play together extremely often, and, like with defense partners who almost always play together, these players are extremely effective together, but it's difficult to ascertain who is driving the play and who is just along for the ride (if anyone). The Bruins had Krejci-Horton-Lucic and Bergeron-Recchi-Marchand. The Canucks had Sedin-Sedin-Burrows (the latter of whom can certainly carry his weight in his own end). The Red Wings used to have Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Holmstrom-Lidstrom-Rafalski. The Capitals often have Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin-Green. The Maple Leafs have Kulemin-MacArthur-Grabovski.The most prominent example I've ever seen, though, is on this season's Anaheim Ducks: Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry-Visnovsky-Lydman.

Making this "super line" realization relevant were Visnovsky's and Perry's candidacies for major awards. Just like with the 07-08 Red Wings (Lidstrom taking the Norris, Datsyuk winning the Selke and Byng, Zetterberg 3rd in the Selke voting and the Conn Smythe), it's tough to know who's really pulling the weight when the players in question play so much together. Over the years, we've found out that all three of those Red Wings are the top two-way talents at their respective positions. With the Ducks, though, the situation is a bit different. Visnovsky has the reputation of a Mike Green, but without the generational offensive talent. Meanwhile, Perry has a reputation of a Matt Cooke, but with all-star ability at both ends of the ice, just not superstar ability. "Breakout seasons" at Perry's (nearly 27) and especially Visnovsky's age (nearly 35) suggest that luck was a huge factor. Looking at how they needed the other members of their "super line," I think that's the right conclusion for Perry, but maybe not for Visnovsky.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The 11-12 Caps, like the 11-12 Flyers

The shower is really a great place to come up with ideas for posts.

Semin: Best a Stopper?

Even if playing Semin in a defensive role sacrifices his even strength offense, he's one of the best two-way players on the team. Reduced offense should, furthermore, lower his cost, which could mean he could stay with the team past 2011-2012 for much less than the $6.7 million hit he'll put on the cap. Moreover, style aside for a moment, using Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Backstrom as the statistical examples of Semin's ideal linemates, Laich better matches Fedorov's ability to "tilt the ice" (good relative Corsi with not-so-easy minutes) and put up points at 5v5 (a little under 2 pts/60) than Marcus Johansson, who would presumably center Semin if not Laich.

This all made me think of whether Semin is best suited to be a "heavy lifter." Playing him for offense may lead to some issues. For one, playing him on the 2nd line means the team has two lines for offense without enough offensive ice time to go around (one of the two will have to take mediocre or poor zone starts, one of the two will have to take moderately difficult ice time thanks to time-on-ice distribution patterns--opposing poorer, lower-TOI players won't be out there enough for both Ovechkin and Semin's lines) to use their abilities to the fullest. With Laich the next best forward on the team, then, it makes sense to play Laich and Semin together. Since Laich (and any other option to play with Semin) lacks that high offensive production ability, and since Semin's game translates better between offense and defense than for other Caps forwards (except for Backstrom, I'd say), why not play them in a role that forces them to play both offense and defense? And if your third forward is probably going to bring much more defense than offense, why not skew their usage to favor defense? It will also free up the top line to get ice time more like the Sedin twins than like Ryan Kesler.

I'm not sure I'd do it, but that sort of split would definitely be on my radar if I were coaching the team. Then again, if I knew anything about the game I'd be in it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Goal Scorers Are Not Created Equal

Goal scorers are not all the same. Many fans I've come across don't realize this (what I see as obvious) fact.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ovechkin: Three Seasons

Again, "Team" is without Ovechkin on the ice. We see Ovechkin (and Backstrom) with a pretty bad stretch about a quarter of the way through the season, then his Corsi% (along with the team's) pick up during the losing streak, to stay high for the rest of the year. Ovechkin seems to have had a good start to the year, a bad stretch, and then a good stretch from game 50 onward, at 5v5 at least.

I like that Ovechkin's final half of the season was pretty strong here (aside from that blip in the 60s, which coincides with when Backstrom was hurt), but not how that seems to have come at the expense of the rest of the team. I suppose Ovechkin getting the prime offensive ice time is better than, say, Jason Chimera, but I'd like to see the rest of the team at least break even consistently (see "Corsi Off" on behind the net) as they have in previous years.

WOWY, all scores:

Wow (-y). Only four players show up with negative Delta1s (how much better their Corsi% is with Ovechkin than without Ovechkin), and only one has a positive Delta1 under 5%. Seven of the 20 players here have a Delta1 of at least 10%. The "w/Ovechkin" looks pretty stellar across the board, except for Schultz (~50%, "only"). That's odd, considering the next chart.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

On Tom Wandell

I'd noted way back at the deadline that this dude on the Stars, Tom Wandell, looked very, very good by his Behind the net profile. To recap:

Middling competition. Best relative Corsi rating. Middling zone start. Cheap and young. Will get better as he gets better at faceoffs.

Looking at his WOWY, nothing stands out until the columns 15, 16, 17, and 29--Jamie Langenbrunner, Adam Burish, Toby Petersen, and Steve Ott, respectively, with ~20% Delta1s in their columns (Wandell was ~50% with each of them, ~43% without each of them). Either when these checkers played together they got some easier minutes, or they just played decent, break-even territorial hockey, which happened to be well above the normal caliber of play Dallas was getting last season.

Green Carries Himself

A quick look at Behind the Net leads to an interesting observation regarding Mike Green. The only Capitals defenseman within earshot is John Carlson, and all his most frequent defensive partners are well below him, three in the negative relative Corsi range. He must have been some sort of stellar, right?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Growth of Nicklas Backstrom

Here are some of his important "underlying" numbers:

At first glance, I see increasing defensive responsibility for the young Swede, coupled with superior possession play. Backstrom may have topped out his offense, more-or-less, but with his ever-improving defensive play I think he may age like Saku Koivu (who, this last year at 36, was still taking tough assignments, along with Selanne), but with a bit more offense. If Backstrom and Ovechkin age like that, I'll be ecstatic.

It is a little troublesome to see how he seems at the mercy of his teammates and the percentages on the power play. I guess Jacques Martin had it right--the Caps' PP does truly revolve around Ovechkin.

And rolling Corsi segments, 10 games each in length:

Apologies on the messed-up x-axis scale. They are the segment-ending game numbers, 1 to 81 (the game sheet for the shutout win over Carolina early in the season for whatever reason wasn't published online).

We can see that in the middle of the season and towards the end were when Backstrom was strongest. In the middle of the season, though, we likely have score effects inflating Backstrom's ratio--he'd see a lot of ice time with the Caps trailing, which would be often when you lose 8 in a row--whereas score effects have the opposite effect at the end, deflating Backstrom's numbers. He fell off a bit around Game 70, which is around the time of his thumb injury.

Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, the Caps as a team had their strongest possession weeks before the system change, and despite Backstrom (and likely Ovechkin as well) not exactly dominating territorially (I think much of the Caps' success can be attributed to their newer defensive look, which teams were not prepared for, and more favorable percentages). The aggressive "run-and-gun" seemed to deteriorate over time, on the other season Boudreau will truly test Boudreau's mettle in terms of making adjustments, as other teams have now had the time to prepare for every look he's given them.

On a side note, the Caps' Fenwick and scoring chance ratios look stronger than Corsi ratios. The Caps went on a tear post-deadline in Fenwick. I just opted for the larger-sample Corsi metric.

Corsi Rankings

Just a data dump. You can access the lists here as well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More on Hamrlik and Halpern

En Attendant Les Nordiques was kind enough to publish scoring chances (top left, link to a Google Doc spreadsheet), though at this point it's only updated through ~60 games.

I looked at MTL's scoring chances with either on the ice at 5v4, 5v5, and 4v5. Like the data at, this includes empty-net situations (e.g. 6v5 is counted as 5v5).

Link to my spreadsheet. For the 5v5 scoring chance WOWYs, I included only players with at least 50 chances with Hamrlik/Halpern. The dataset for scoring chances is unfortunately about only half as big as that of Corsi.

I'll assume that the Habs' TOI distribution on special teams stayed constant throughout the season, since I only have data until the end of winter.

Per the data, the Canadiens had 171 5-on-4 scoring chances for, 212 4-on-5 scoring chances against. Hamrlik was +79, -73, while Halpern was +2, -80. Per BtN, the Habs spent 443.7 mins at 5v4, meaning they averaged a scoring chance every 2.59 minutes. They spent 518.7 mins at 4v5 (the most in the league), which means a scoring chance against every 2.45 minutes. Again, this is full-season: it's not the Habs' true rate (which was higher, as they gave up that many chances over 3/4 of the season), but the comparison between Hamrlik's rate and the team rate should hold true if my assumption is correct.

Hamrlik clocks in with 201.45 minutes played at 5v4 (roughly), meaning the Canadiens with old #44 on the ice were creating chances at one every 2.55 minutes: a hair above average on that team. Halpern played only 9.36 minutes at 5v4, 4.68 minutes per chance, below average in small sample. He also played 165.6 minutes at 4v5, giving us 2.07 minutes per chance against. Competition and zone start don't exactly give him an excuse for such poor numbers compared to his team (though in a small sample they aren't that reliable; aside: Gionta with a 4v5 zone finish above 50% is spectacular). Hamrlik played 143.78 minutes at 4v5, at 1.97 minutes per chance. Above average. Looks like he'll be a legitimate option on the power play and can eat minutes on the Caps PK, given the team's rotation. I'm not so sure Halpern can take minutes on special teams, which means more PK time for the rest of the group in order to make up Gordon's PK time.

One more note on the PK--winning the draw may not be that important. If the coaches and management realize that, the PK shouldn't miss a beat without Gordon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Alzner vs Carlson

I had a feeling that Carlson would get more ice time when the Caps are trailing, skewing his numbers positively. I did an Alzner WOWY, but limited my dataset to score-tied Corsi events only.

Link. I removed all players with whom Alzner did not have at least 100 Corsi events with. That got rid of every defenseman except for Carlson. Yeah, you could say they played together a lot.

Looking at their numbers breakdown (which I linked to above), with the two separated, Alzner probably faced tougher competition than Carlson, and with worse zone starts than Carlson. Yet, the only Corsi% advantage Carlson could muster (with a small sample size caveat) was only 2.2%.

Even if I bought it earlier, it's fair to say Carlson was not carrying Alzner. In fact, I'm not even so sure Carlson is a better even strength defenseman anymore. He has more scoring ability, but Alzner looks just as capable of tilting the ice in the Caps' favor.

Note how much better Bradley, Hendricks, Gordon, and Steckel were (with the score tied) with Alzner on the ice. Wow. Granted, they probably faced harder zone starts, but also lesser competition. I hope Green/Wideman-Hamrlik can provide similar support to their forwards.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Capitals Cap Construction

Looking ahead to 2011-12

Those who've read here before know that I like to use the chart below as a cap space guideline... Here's the chart:

Top 3 Forwards - 27.5% or 17.68M
Middle 6 Forwards - 20.0% or 12.86M
Top 4 Defenders - 27.5% or 17.68M
Goaltending - 10.0% or 6.43M
Bottom 8 Players - 15.0% or 9.65M

--Scott Reynolds of the Copper and Blue

These rough guidelines sound good to me.

Each team, obviously, will be slightly different--a team like Philadelphia last season would have had four top forwards, for example, and teams like the Caps and Vancouver have a top-6 instead of a top-4. Still, let's see how this shakes out. As a bonus, I'll add the cap structure of the dominant 09-11 Chicago Blackhawks for comparison.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Caps Make Moves

I can't say I expected moves today. I was surprised. I think McPhee made out pretty well.