Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Losing Ericsson: A Numerical Look at What it Means Pt 2

Yesterday's post looked at Jonathan Ericsson's even strength stats and what his value to the Wings in 5 on 5 play. Today we narrow the focus to special teams play in an attempt to tease out what extra value Ericsson might hold. In other words, are the people that dog him correct, or is there a good reason he's become a mainstay on the back end?

Ericsson is averaging 1:54 of shorthanded ice time per game. Brad Stuart leads the Red Wings with an average of 3:10 of penalty kill time per game, while Kronwall is second with 2:53. Ericsson averages ice time similar to Nick Lidstrom's 1:55. Judging solely by ice time Ericsson is a second tier guy, but nevertheless a player worthy of utilizing on the PK.

Differences start to emerge when Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is looked at. Just like at even strength, Ericsson again faces the lowest Relative Corsi QoC among the regular d-men on the penalty kill at 2.898. Kyle Quincey's Relative Corsi QoC is the highest at 5.066, but that number doesn't mean much since most of his stats come from his time in Colorado. Kronwall, White, and Lidstrom are grouped closely together between 4.685 and 4.346. Stuart then checks in at 3.709. Whatever the rest of the stats bear out, keep in mind that it was accomplished against the weakest competition and Wings defenseman has faced on the penalty kill.

Relative Corsi provides some interesting information. This stat, which measures the number of shots a player generates when he's on the ice relative to the shots his team generates when he's off the ice, is Ericsson's most impressive. He leads the team by a mile with a relative Corsi of 17.5. Comparing this to Lidstrom's +1.6 and White, Stuart, and Kronwall's negative numbers shows how impressive this is. Somehow, Ericsson is generating more shorthanded shot attempts than powerplay shots he's facing when he gets 4 on 5 ice time.

Ericsson hasn't been on the ice for any shorthanded scoring whatsoever, but he has been on the ice for 9 powerplay goals allowed by the Wings. His average on-ice goals against per 60 minutes is a team leading 4.61, while the rest of the Wings are bunched together in the 6.2+ range and White is the outlier at 7.48. Due to the absence of shorthanded scoring, Ericsson's goal differential is -4.61. To add a bit of perspective, the goal differential for the Wings as a team was -6.58.

So what does it all mean?
Ericsson's stats pain a picture of a player who is frustratingly enigmatic. His even strength play is average, while it seems that he really shines on the penalty kill.

Offense is clearly something that isn't a part of Ericsson's game, as indicated not just by his lackluster scoring statistics but also the fact that he doesn't play on the power play. Big E does generate shot attempts when he's on the ice, but he isn't special. He generates no more shot attempts than the Wings do when he's not on the ice, despite playing against weaker competition than the rest of Detroit's D-corps. 

As Matt pointed out in the comments section of the first post, Ericsson turns the puck over far too often while not taking it away enough to compensate. This, along with a high rate of penalty taking, are perhaps Ericsson's biggest weaknesses.

The most impressive statistics for Ericsson come on the penalty kill, bar none. He's once again playing against weaker competition, but his shot attempt generation and goal differential are both surprisingly good. If there's an answer to the question of why Babcock still plays him, it can likely be found in Ericsson's penalty killing abilities.

They may not tell the entire story, but statistics suggest that Jonathan Ericsson is an average-at-best even strength player with little offensive upside whose one true skill is preventing powerplay goals while simultaneously not just taking away shots but generating shots when shorthanded.

Over the next month it looks like the Wings are losing a player who is strictly serviceable at even strength, nonexistent on the powerplay, and strong on the penalty kill. The Wings' primary concern should be finding a  quality replacement on the PK, as it won't be hard to replace Ericsson's contributions elsewhere.

Losing Ericsson: A Numerical Look at What it Means Pt. 1

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Wings did little to alter their roster aside from sending Mike Commodore to Tampa for a conditional 7th rounder. Love it or hate it, the Wings big deadline addition was Kyle Quincey. This couldn't have come at a better time, as Jonathan Ericsson will be sidelined for at least a month with a broken wrist.

We need to look no further than Ericsson's nickname (Shitbox) in some sectors of the Wings blogosphere to see how many bloggers feel about him. Call me crazy, but I'm not so ready to take a crap on his abilities. How can we tell what kind of player Ericsson is? Is he more a player worthy of his $3.25 million salary or his rectangularly fecal nickname?

Numbers? Numbers!

We'll start with 5 on 5 numbers. Everything below is per 60 minutes of even strength play.

Ericsson is averaging 14.40 minutes, which puts him last among defensemen who have played at least 50 games for the Wings. Ian White leads the team with 18.51 minutes, followed closely by Lidstrom at 17.49. There is then a drop off to the mid-16 minute range. Ericsson is clearly the third pair guy here, though he has played in 62 games so far this season. While he's the least used of the regular d-men, he's also shown enough skill to keep himself in the regular rotation and out of the press box.

Before looking at scoring, it makes sense to look at what kind of competition Ericsson is playing against. Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is the weighted relative Corsi number of a player's opponents. Essentially, the higher the positive number the more shots a player's opponents generate, while the lower a negative number the more shot's a player's opponents give up. Ericssion's Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is -0.792. Compared to the Relative Corsi QoC that Lidstrom faces (1.651) Ericsson should be lighting it up, because the guys he's playing against certainly aren't.

To shed some light on what type of impact Ericsson has on his team, we'll look at Relative Corsi rating. Relative Corsi indicates the number of shot attempts one can expect a certain player to generate when he is on the ice relative to the shot attempts his team generates when he is off the ice. Ericsson checks in at a 0.0. He creates no more shot attempts when he is on the ice compared to the number the Wings create when he is off the ice, per 60 minutes of even strength play.

Let's take a step back for a minute and look at Ericsson without comparing him to the rest of the team. His individual on-ice Corsi is +9.0, a respectable number. This ranks third on the team, behind only Lidstrom and White's 14.06 and 11.79, respectively. Ericsson is generating shot attempts when he's on the ice. The issue at hand is that he isn't generating any more shot attempts than the Wings can muster when he's not on the ice.

There's both good news and bad news when it comes to penalties. The good news is that Ericsson is drawing the most penalties of any defenseman at 0.6 per 60 minutes. The bad news is that he's also taking the second most penalties of any defenseman at 1.4. per. While not yet an area of concern, Ericsson could really generate some value if he cut down on taking unnecessary penalties.

As far as scoring goes, Ericsson just isn't a goal scorer. However, that doesn't mean that he can't be a point producer. He's averaging 0.07 goals, 0.27 1st assists, 0.27 2nd assists, and 0.60 points per 60. His on-ice goal differential is +1.01, while the Wings off-ice goal differential is +0.90. While he doesn't pack a huge scoring punch, he is producing at a higher clip than the Wings do when he's off the ice.

There's nothing to discuss as far as the powerplay is concerned because Ericsson really hasn't played enough on the PP to garner any useful info. This may actually be having a big impact on his stats. See this article from Behind the Net (which happens to be the site that all of the above stats are from) on how much of a difference power play time can make on stats.

Tomorrow: Penalty Kill numbers and final analysis

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Welcome (Back) to Detroit: Kyle Quincey by the Numbers

Ha, I didn't even have to Photoshop this

So we meet again. After being claimed off waivers in 2008, Kyle Quincey is back with the Red Wings. This time around more will be expected of Quincey, especially after the former 132nd overall pick and pending RFA cost a first round pick in return. I had no idea Quincey was even on the radar so there's no Trade Deadline Targets post for him, but how are we supposed to know what the Wings are really getting without some statistical analysis?

Numbers? Numbers!
How was Quincey being used in Colorado? His Relative Corsi Quality of Competition was third on the team at  0.243, while the two highest Avs were at 0.694 and 0.612. In terms of even strength time, Quincey was second on the team with 16.74 minutes per 60. The Avs were clearly using Quincey as a second pair defenseman when the team was at even strength.

Even-strength scoring wasn't exactly Quincey's strong suit, but in all fairness that really isn't a strength of Colorado's as a whole. The team leader for players who've played over 50 games was Jan Heda with 0.80 points per 60 minutes of even strength play. Quincey is averaging 0.14 goals, 0.20 1st assists, and 0.20 2nd assists for a combined average of 0.54 points per 60 minutes of even strength time.

When Quincey was on the ice the Avs averaged 2.30 goals for per 60 minutes and allowed 2.64 goals per 60 minutes at even strength for a total +/- of -0.34 per 60 minutes. At first glance this is pretty ugly, but when Quincey is off the ice Colorado averaged 1.80 GF/60 and 2.48 GA/60 for a total +/-/60 of -0.67. By comparison, Quincey looks strong.

One thing to look out for is Quincey's propensity to take penalties. At even strength he's averaging 1.5 penalties per 60 minutes, while only drawing 0.3 penalties per 60 minutes.

Quincey's offensive numbers pick up on the powerplay, but he still has a bad habit of taking penalties too frequently. He's averaging 0.98 G/60, 0.00 1st assists/60, and 2.45 2nd assists/60 for a total of 3.44 pts/60. He's been on the ice for 16 powerplay goals, one behind Erik Johnson's team leading 17. All of this is done with 2.31 powerplay minutes per 60 minutes played. Quincey's on-ice goal differential +/-/60 is 7.30, which is much better than the Avs fair when Quincey is off the ice (goal differential +/-/60 of 6.71). This indicates his importance to their powerplay unit.

As for the penalties, he's averaging 1.5 penalties taken per 60 minutes, and drawing 0.5 penalties per 60 minutes. On the powerplay. Yeah. Not so good.

On the penalty kill, Quincey is averaging 2.31 minutes. His Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is 2.965, close to the 3.333 that leads the Avs. He's playing against good players, and he's playing substantial minutes on the PK.

So...is he good?
He's definitely good, and I'll admit that he's better than I thought he was. Maybe it's lingering hesitation because this was a guy that was once waived, but he's clearly improved since then. Quincey will come into Detroit and be a tremendously solid 3rd pair d-man with an offensive upside. If he works on his bad habit of taking too many penalties then this could be a great future 2nd pair guy. Detroit made another shrewd move to get back a player they wished they hadn't let go in the first place.  

As always, the statistics in this article come from behindthenet.ca

Friday, February 17, 2012

Trade Deadline Targets: Who to Add and Who's Just Bad- Selanne Pt 2

So it took a little longer than I thought it would to get this post finished, and player movement has started to pick up. Between the first Selanne post and this one I was writing a post about backup goaltenders, but Joey MacDonald closed the book on that one. I was going to write a post about Hal Gill, but then those pylon-lovin' Predators picked him up. I thought about writing a Rick Nash post but then it took about two seconds to realize that Ken Holland isn't going to move the entire Griffins roster, three first round picks, and a new skate sharpener to Columbus so I scratched that idea. This brings us back to Selanne. The first post looked at even strength numbers. In this one we'll break down powerplay numbers and (non-existent) penalty kill numbers.

Selanne plays 3.54 powerplay minutes per 60 minutes played, or almost two powerplays per game. Teammate and fellow right winger Corey Perry averages 3.58 powerplay minutes per 60 minutes played, making him perhaps the best teammate to compare Selanne against. He also happens to be the league's reigning MVP. However, Relative Corsi Quality of Competition shows that Selanne is playing against the tougher defenders, as he has a Rel Corsi QoC of 4.370 compared to Perry's -2.661.

For every 60 minutes played, Selanne is averaging 2.72 goals, 1.82 first assists, and 2.42 second assists for a total of 6.96 points. Whoa. Perry's stat line is 2.99. 2.09. 0.30 for 5.39 against weaker competition. Selanne has been on the ice for 27 powerplay goals for an average of 8.17 goals for per 60 minutes. When Selanne is off ice, the Ducks have averaged 3.36 powerplay goals per 60 minutes. The difference here is +4.81 powerplay goals per 60 minutes. Again, comparing against Perry yields a favorable result (if you're a Selanne fan) as Perry's differential is +2.9.

Moving on to the penalty kill, Selanne doesn't play on the penalty kill. Annnnd....section covered.

Bottom Line: I hate cliches, but one seems warranted here. Selanne is a difference maker of the highest order, and the stats back that up. He has good even strength numbers and sterling powerplay numbers, numbers that are made even more impressive when compared against Corey Perry. Selanne is playing against good competition and continuing to score on special teams. The Wings could use another top six forward who knows his way around a good powerplay. Ken Holland has let it be known that he's looking for a veteran player who's been through the grind of the playoffs. Selanne fits that bill perfectly, and though he'd only be a rental player I think he might be exactly what the Wings need to breathe life into a flat powerplay. If it only takes a draft pick or two to acquire Selanne then I'd act without hesitation. Let's see if we can corner the market on the Nordic-over-40-first-ballot-HHOFer crowd.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Restoration of Hockeytown

Home Sweet Home

This team just made history. It's trivial, true, but it's history nonetheless and that isn't easy to make when your franchise is one of the most decorated in league history. The record, however, is more than just a number. It's a declaration to the league; that catchphrase at center ice is true. This is Hockeytown. 

21 straight wins at home. That's what it took to resurrect Hockeytown. From the fans to the players and on up to ownership, the people associated with this franchise care about the city and the community and take great pride in the Hockeytown moniker. 

The last few years, though, things just haven't been the same. 21 home wins total last season and 24 the season before that, along with way too many empty seats, didn't lend credence to an entire area anointing itself Hockeytown let alone a single arena. The Joe used to be a house of horrors for opponents but seemed to have lost it's edge somewhere along the way. 

Oh, how quickly things change. When the opposing team gets off the bus now they better be ready to play, because this is Hockeytown and 91% of the time we don't give up points in that old grey barn on the river.

21 straight wins and 55 straight sellouts- the community has taken notice. People are responding to this team in a way that they haven't since The Captain was captain and our locker room was the Detroit branch of the Hockey Hall of Fame. I haven't seen this many winged wheel car flags and window decals since 2002.

These recent home wins have generated points, interest, and a psychological advantage. The points have carried the Wings to the top of the standings, which will guarantee home ice throughout the playoffs if the team continues this pace. The interest comes from a portion of the fanbase that has been asleep for too long but has awoken and found their way back to the Joe. The psychological advantage comes from an extended streak of dominance, a streak that teams are thinking about before they even set foot in the building. The league has been put on notice. This is Hockeytown, and Hockeytown is back.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Trade Deadline Targets: Who to Add and Who's Just Bad- Selanne Pt 1

If celebrations are any indication, he'd fit in well with Detroit

So word on the street (or Twitter, whatever) is that there's a chance the Ducks move Teemu Selanne to a Cup contender so that he has a chance to go out on top at what is almost assuredly the end of an illustrious career. One team that consistently comes up in these talks is our beloved Winged Wheelers. Should Detroit think about adding the Finnish Flash? 

In this post we'll look at even strength numbers. Tomorrow or Wednesday I'll post a breakdown of Selanne's powerplay and penalty kill numbers. 

Let's start with the basics. Altogether, 18 goals and 31 assists for 51 points and a +5. 

Perhaps the biggest caveat to all the other stats we'll look at comes from Relative Corsi Quality of Competition. Selanne's is 0.619. Compare this to teammate Corey Perry's 1.016, and we see that Selanne is playing against slightly above average talent. 

With that in mind, let's look at Selanne's team scoring. He's been on the ice for 43 Goals For and 32 Goals Against at even strength. Taking that number, dividing by even strength minutes played, and multiplying by 60 gives an on-ice Goals For/60 min of 3.45. Similarly, if we take Selanne's Goals Against, divide it by the number of even strength minutes played and multiply by 60 we get an on-ice Goals Against/60 min of 2.57. Selanne's on-ice +/-/60 min shines when compared to his teammates. Selanne checks in at +0.88, while fellow right wingers Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry are -0.36 and -0.81, respectively. Put simply, Selanne helps the Ducks score when he's on the ice, while his teammates are giving up more goals than they're netting.

Moving to individual scoring, Selanne still posts great numbers. For every 60 minutes of even strength time, he's averaging 0.72 goals, 1.20 first assists, and 0.32 second assists for a total of 2.24 points. Compare this to reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry's 1.29 points per 60 minutes of even strength time and you see that Selanne is still an impact player, albeit against relatively weaker competition. 

Selanne is a valuable player regardless of age, a winger with the ability to score but perhaps an even better playmaker. One look at his assists/60min provides support for his playmaking skills. These even strength numbers are truly impressive; consider that the highest Points/60 min (minimum 50 GP) is Jordan Eberle's 3.54, which was achieved against a lower Relative Corsi Quality of Competition (0.538). 

As always, the numbers in this post come from behindthenet.ca

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hypothetical Wings Alumni Game Roster- Updated and Revised

I refuse to contemplate adding him to this roster

[Ed. Note: A large portion of this was taken from my January 21st post on the same topic. I've since updated a good deal of the post, and thought it warranted re-posting]

So it's finally confirmed. The headline event of the Hockeytown Winter Fest will be the alumni game between the Wings and the Leafs on New Year's Eve at Comerica Park. With the details finally having been officially unveiled, the next step is to determine who will suit up for each team. I'll let Toronto bloggers take care of their team, while I have some suggestions for the Wings roster below.

The roster was created using the current Wings alumni team as a base, then adding players that I thought still had a reasonable chance of being able to skate. I'd love to see Mr. Hockey and Terrible Ted suit up for just one shift, but is that truly reasonable? Maybe. According to recent tweets from former Wings beat writer (and current Yahoo! sports NHL writer) Nick Cotsonika, Mark Howe mentioned after the alumni game in Philly that Mr. Hockey would like to take an alumni game shift himself. Cotsonika also tweeted that  Ted Lindsay looked great and would probably play in the alumni game.

The biggest news regarding alumni rosters today was the Detroit News article that reported that Steve Yzerman doesn't expect to play for the Detroit alums. I have a hard time believing this. Let's read between the lines here.
"At this time I don't plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the (Winter) Classic on TV."
"At this time..." leaves a lot of wiggle room for a change of heart in the future. Kris Draper is trying to convince Yzerman to play, and undoubtedly dozens of other former Wings will do so over the coming months. While I understand that Stevie Y hasn't skated since he retired, I'd be perfectly fine with him taking just one shift. The point of the alumni game is the history of the franchise, the history behind the infamous winged wheel. Seeing Yzerman in a Detroit sweater one more time is a nod to that history, and him playing in the game is more about this than any contribution in terms of goals or assists.






Also, pencil S. Kozlov in somewhere






And yes, you can expect Hasek to talk to Ken Holland about a PTO for the 2013-14 season if he plays well in his one period between the pipes. Just kidding. Except not really.

Love it? Hate it? I'd love to hear what other people are thinking. Let me know on Twitter (@TOGBlog1) on in the comments section below. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Trade Deadline Targets- Who to Add and Who's Just Bad- Goaltenders

There's been a lot of talk about the Wings making a move to get a backup netminder, someone who can give Jimmy a little more rest heading into the playoffs. By writing this article, I'm not endorsing this. I don't think it's a good idea to give up anything for a backup goalie, but maybe I'm putting too much faith in Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald. I'm not sure, but there will be an article later this week that looks at their numbers and helps in objectively assessing whether we really need to make a move in this area. Meanwhile, let's breakdown the numbers of a much-discussed trade target.

Most of what I've been hearing has surrounded acquiring Evgeni Nabokov from the Islanders, a player we tried to pick up off of waivers last year (before he was unceremoniously picked off by the aforementioned Coliseum dwellers). Nabokov has been solid this year, and adding him will likely cost more than just a draft pick. How good has he been? Let's check the numbers.

Nabokov has played in 26 games this year and allowed 44 goals at even strength. He's allowing an average of 2.26 goals per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. To add a little perspective, the Islanders are allowing an average of 6.60 goals per 60 minutes of regular strength ice time when Nabokov isn't in net.

4-on-5 play is another strength of Nabokov's, especially compared to the teammates he shares the net with. Nabokov has allowed five goals this year when opponents are on the powerplay for an average of 2.59 per 60 minutes of penalty kill time. The other three goalies the Islanders have used this year haven't fared as well, allowing an average of 12.08 goals per 60 minutes of penalty kill time. To put it simply, Nabokov's a pretty good goalie.

As I mentioned above, later this week I'll break down the numbers of Detroit's backup netminders in order to try to gain some insight into what should be done with the deadline approaching. In the meantime, check out the incomparable behindthenet.ca. All of the stats in this post (and the previous two posts) have come from there, and you won't find more in depth hockey stats on the internet. Believe it or not they aren't paying me to say any of this, I just like the site that much.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Trade Deadline Targets Pt 2- Who to Add and Who's Just Bad: Defensemen

Things change quickly in the NHL, and quicker still when we get close to the trade deadline. Earlier today Preds GM David Poile said that they're going to be buyers at the deadline. If you believe what he says then that means Suter is off the table, but I don't buy it. At the end of the day there's a huge amount of risk associated with letting a player walk for nothing in the summer, especially one that could bring in valuable prospects/draft picks in a deal like Suter would.

Yesterday I looked at the even strength statistics for Nick Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, and Ryan Suter. Today I'll break down 5-on-4 stats in order to find out how each player fits into their team's powerplay.

A simple but important stat is ice time. On average, Lidstrom spends 3.51 minutes per game on the PP, Stuart spends 0.37 minutes per game on the PP, and Suter spends 3.87 minutes per game on the PP. Clearly Lidstrom and Suter are on the top units, while Stuart is on the second unit. Stuart is going to be at a disadvantage for most of the other stats explored here because he simply doesn't get much powerplay time.

Going forward, I think it makes sense to not analyze Stuart's offensive statistics as they're heavily skewed by his lack of ice time. He's been on the ice for one powerplay goal and one shorthanded goal. That's it. If the Wings lose Stuart in the offseason they aren't losing a huge part of their powerplay, and it makes more sense to look at even strength stats that reveal something about defense in order to fairly evaluate Stuart.

Lidstrom has been on the ice for 22 powerplay goals and 3 shorthanded goals. His on-ice goals for per 60 minutes of powerplay time is 7.22, while his on-ice goals against per 60 minutes is 0.99. This makes his on-ice +/- per 60 minutes 6.24. The team goals for per 60 minutes is 5.36, and the team goals against per 60 minutes is 1.61, which makes the team +/- per 60 minutes 3.75. The Wings' +/- per 60 minutes is 3.75 higher with Lidstrom on the ice, a clear indicator that he is one of the key cogs on the powerplay.

Suter has been on the ice for 27 powerplay goals and 1 shorthanded goal. His on-ice goals for per 60 minutes of powerplay time is 8.37, while his on-ice goals against per 60 minutes is 0.31. This makes his on-ice +/- per 60 minutes 8.06. The team goals for per 60 minutes is 5.23, and the team goals against per 60 minutes is 0.87, which makes the team +/- per 60 minutes 4.36. Suter's powerplay numbers are amazing. He's playing a ton of time on the powerplay, and he's seen high offensive production as a result.

Though he's going to cost a hefty sum (both in terms of assets given up to acquire via trade or in terms of money via free agency), it's hard not to love the impact Suter has had on Nashville's powerplay. He could be the piece that finally makes Detroit's powerplay go. As I pointed out in my statistical breakdown of the team at the All Star break, this is the main area they need to improve upon if they want to lift the Cup in June.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Trade Deadline Targets: Who to Add and Who's Just Bad- Defensemen

It's no secret that Ken Holland will be looking to add at the trade deadline. For the first time in a number of years Holland has salary cap space to work with, and the Wings could use a defesemen and a forward. Who should be added? Who's all hype? Over the next few weeks I'll be looking at potential targets and trying to use statistics to help find some answers.

Defense seemed like a natural place to start as this may be the biggest area of need, especially when looking past the end of the season and into next year. I have a bad feeling that this is Nick Lidstrom's last season, and we might as well just resign ourselves to the fact that he can't and won't be replaced. Not now, and maybe not ever. Generational talents only come along once in a generation, after all. That doesn't mean that the sting can't be lessened by adding a top tier d-man. This will become even more important if Brad Stuart decides to leave via free agency. As time goes on I'm less and less sure about Stuart and his contract situation, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he re-joins his family on the west coast and signs with a new team on July 1st.

There's an uncomfortably high probability that the Wings will have to replace two of their top four defensemen before next September. One intriguing name floating around the rumor mill that would fill one of those spots is Nashville's Ryan Suter. Suter made it clear that he intends to test the market on July 1st. This may force David Poile to move him before the trade deadline, lest he risk getting nothing in return when Suter hits the open market.

 Is Suter worth trading for? Is he someone who would fit on the top pair or just in the top four? Today I'll look at 5-on-5 statistics for Lidstrom, Stuart, and Suter in the hopes of finding some objective answers.

The first stat we'll look at is on-ice Corsi rating. This is the on-ice shot differential (goals+saves+missed shots+blocked shots) per 60 minutes of even strength time. Essentially, it's looking at how a player impacts the team and the number of shots they get towards the net. Nick Lidstrom leads the league at 16.27. Brad Stuart checks in at 6.36, and Ryan Suter at -3.59. Lidstrom obviously helps the Wings put a lot of shots on net, while Stuart helps to a lesser degree. In Suter's case, the Preds are allowing more shots than they're taking with him on the ice. That's not great, but Detroit's style of play lends itself nicely to holding on to the puck and shooting as much as possible, while Nashville doesn't have the offensive talent that Detroit.

Could the Corsi ratings be accounted for by the quality of competition each player is facing? Relative Corsi Quality of Competition tries to account for this. The higher the positive number, the better the competition a player faces on a nightly basis. More explanation can be found here. Lidstrom's Relative Corsi QoC is 1.481, while Stuart's is 0.252 and Suter's is 1.180. Lidstrom is playing against the best of the best and still getting shots on net, while Suter is likely playing against first liners as well but doesn't have the same offensive impact as Lidstrom (at least, not in terms of shots). Stuart's lower QoC is accounted for by the fact that he is playing more against third and fourth line players relative to the others, a byproduct of his playing on the second pair.

No breakdown would be complete without an analysis of goals and assists. Lidstrom's on-ice goals for per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play is 3.56 while his on-ice goals against per 60 is 1.75. His on-ice plus-minus per 60 minutes of even strength play is 1.81, which means that the Wings score almost two more goals than they allow for every 60 minutes of even strength ice time that Lidstrom logs.

Stuart's on-ice goals for per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play is 2.94 and his on-ice goals against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play is 2.24. His on-ice plus-minus per 60 minutes of even strength play is 0.70.

Suter's on-ice goals for per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play is 2.45 and his on-ice goals against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play is 2.08. His on-ice plus-minus per 60 minutes of even strength play is 0.38.

Lidstrom is clearly the best defensemen of the trio. Stuart's +/- is better than Suter's, but Suter's team is allowing less goals for every 60 minutes of even strength time he plays.

Suter is playing against better players than Stuart and his team is allowing less even strength goals with him on the ice for every 60 minutes he logs. Plugging Suter into the Wings' system would likely result in an increase in his offensive statistics, while we can expect him to continue to play well in the defensive zone. While not in the same stratosphere as Lidstrom, Suter looks like he could fit on the first pair. At least, that's what even strength statistics tell us.

Tomorrow: 5-on-4 statistics

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Regular Season Game 52: How to Dominate Without Dominating

Hudler reacts to a goal in his typical reserved fashion

I apologize for how long it took to get this post up. I've been really busy the last couple of days and had to work on this piecemeal. Hopefully it won't take this long to get the Edmonton post up, but in all honesty I might scrap that one altogether. I've got an idea for an article that I think would be exponentially more entertaining than the awful awfulness that is the Edmonton game (so far; I'm writing this after the 1st period). Anyways, the Wings dominated Vancouver in every facet of the game you can think of except goals, especially through the first two periods. In a game that looked like it might slip away at the end, the Wings were able to hold on and win what has been something of a strength this year, the shootout.

1st Period

Vancouver 0 Detroit 1; 5:27- Cleary (11) from Helm (11)
Darren Helm intercepts a pass at center ice and proceeds to turn it into an offensive zone opportunity. He passes to Cleary on the wing. Cleary drives outside, while Helm establishes position in the slot.
Cleary makes a great power move and drives around his defender, then cuts to the middle of the ice. Helm has set up a great screen in front of Luongo that allows Cleary an opportunity. Cleary shoots and there's no way Luongo sees this one get past him.

Vancouver 1 Detroit 1; 16:13- Kesler from Booth & Bieksa
A defensive breakdown allows Kesler an opportunity in front of the net. Datsyuk follows his man into the corner, which means that Kronwall needs to shadow Kesler.
Kronwall goes to the corner, so...yeah. Breakdown.
Booth tries a wraparound that Howard stops, but a rebound pops out in front. Kronwall pancackes Booth but there's no one to defend Kesler. The puck is sitting at the top of the crease, ripe for a put-back. Kesler doesn't miss this opportunity and lifts it past Jimmy.

2nd Period

Vancouver 1 Detroit 2; 13:51- Hudler (17) from Filppula (26) & Stuart (6)
Filppula takes a pass at the blueline and the Wings instantly have a developing 3-on-2. Flip carries in a bit and hits the trailing Hudler with a pass on the opposite side of the ice. Look at Luongo right now; he's playing pretty aggressively to his right.
Hudler settles the puck and puts a snapshot on net that goes over Luongo and in. This is a perfectly executed 3-on-2. Zetterberg charging the net makes the left D play conservatively, as he has to account for both Z and Hudler. This allows Hudler the space he needs to get the shot he wants on net.

3rd Period

Vancouver 2 Detroit 2; 10:10- Burrows from Lapierre
Drew Miller is trying to carry the puck out of the zone when he makes an unwise choice to hold the puck as two defenders converge on him. He coughs up the puck to Lapierre.
Lapierre tees the puck up and Burrows unleashes a nasty slapshot. Jimmy sees the play developing but can't stop it high glove side.

Vancouver 2 Detroit 3; 12:05- Miller (9) from Cleary (14) & Stuart (7)
Vancouver has an opportunity to clear after a shot from Cleary, but Drew Miller gets a stick on it and keeps the play alive for Detroit.
Cleary gets back in front of the net and backhands a shot that Luongo makes a great kick save on. The rebound squirts out to the side of the net, and Miller redeems his earlier mistake with a smooth shot over an outstretched Luongo

Vancouver 3 Detroit 3; 15:36- Raymond from Salo & Sedin
Raymond takes a shot from the boards that's statistically a low percentage shot, but Jimmy is being screened so well that it gets past him. He's standing, so you know he's having trouble seeing through the screen. Not much else to say, as I'd directly attribute this to the screen.



Alexander EdlerVANSave
Pavel DatsyukDETGoal
Mason RaymondVANMiss
Jiri HudlerDETGoal

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Regular Season Game 51: Vitamin D

Thank Cory Emmerton if bottles of Vitamin D supplements show up in a bunch of stalls in the Wings' dressing room

1st Period

Calgary 0 Detroit 1; 5:57- Emmerton (5) from Abdelkader (8) & Mursak (2) 
Lidstrom ends up with the puck on his stick because Mursak won the race to a dumped puck in the corner. A perfect outlet pass from Lidstrom (at this point, do we expect anything else?) is right on the tape for Mursak, who has turned and is streaking up the right wing.
Mursak leaves the puck for Abdelkader near the blue line. The speed of Mursak causes the Calgary D to sink, which opens up space for Abdelkader to shoot. Abby's shot is stopped by Kiprusoff, but Kipper kicks a rebound out to his right.
Mursak is in perfect position to clean up the rebound and he doesn't miss a beat here. The shot beats Kiprusoff, who can't recover from the first shot in time to stop Emmerton.

2nd Period

Calgary 1 Detroit 1; 1:59- PPG Cammalleri from Tanguary & Jokinen
The Wings penalty kill breaks down in this frame. Cleary is supposed to have the low coverage here, but he steps out too far towards the blue line. Everything else is just an attempt to catch up from here.
Cleary comes off the boards to try and take away the shooting lane from Tanguay. He doesn't, and the shot gets on net. Jimmy stops it but gives up a rebound.
The PK box is moving around like crazy, and any time a box moves this much there's bound to be trouble. No one noticed Cammalleri sneak in back door, and he backhands the rebound over Howard to put the Flames on the board.

3rd Period

Calgary 1 Detroit 2; 11:29- Hudler (16) from Filppula (25) 
Filppula moves towards the middle of the ice, then pulls puck back. The defender loses an edge and falls over, and Flip takes advantage by driving around him to the outside. 
Flip carries behind the net and throws a shot in front. It hits the post and is deflected right to Jiri Hudler, who taps it in.

Calgary 1 Detroit 3; 15:58- Miller (8) from Cleary (12) & Helm (10) 
Helm carries in and sees the defense collapse near him. He passes to Cleary, who has drawn the attention of the one low defender. This allows Miller to skate down low without being covered.
Cleary patiently waits for the defenseman to commit to him before he backhands a pass through the slot to a wide open Drew Miller in front. Miller simply has to redirect it for the goal.