Sunday, April 29, 2012

Free Agent Forecasting: Zach Parise

Looks good in red, no?

When Mike Babcock laments the lack of forward depth, you know it's time to make some changes. When he offers to fly around the country to recruit free agents, you know that Detroit is in dire straits. Most believe that New Jersey winger Zach Parise will be near the top of the Red Wings' list of targets when July 1st rolls around, giving Detroit the additional offensive punch they lacked during the playoffs. Is Parise worth wooing, and what might it take to land him?

Let's assume that Valterri Filppula isn't moved during the offseason. That means that Detroit's top six forwards could look something like this on opening night of the 2012-13 season:


It may be a bit of a stretch to put Nyquist on the top line, but the chemistry he had with Pavel Datsyuk is hard to deny, and it seems silly to bury him in the bottom six with the type of playmaking ability that he possesses. This leaves one spot to be filled, and Parise could be slotted in quite nicely there. The first line has a Hart trophy caliber player in the middle, and the second line has three potential all stars. Not a bad top six.

Though he may still be playing hockey with a team that's not the Detroit Red Wings, let's take a look at what Parise could bring to the organization.

Statistical Breakdown

Basic Stats

  • Parise played in all 82 games this season, scoring 31 goals and adding 38 assists for a total of 69 points. Seven of his goals came on the powerplay, and three were short handed tallies. Average time on ice was 21:29 (16:05 even strength, 3:26 powerplay, 1:57 shorthanded). 
  • Took 293 shots. Blocked 39 shots. 35 givesaways were offset by 65 takeaways. 
  • He was a -5 on the year. Weird stat of the day: 16 of his 32 penalty minutes came from tripping calls. 
Advanced Stats
  • Parise's even strength Relative Corsi Quality of Competition is 0.731. Essentially, the higher the number the better the competition faced. For context, we'll look at some of the top players (by reputation) in the league. Datsyuk (1.169) and Claude Giroux (0.805) faced tougher competition, while offensive dynamos like Steven Stamkos (0.248) and Evgeni Malkin (0.279) racked up their numbers against relatively weaker opponents. An interesting case is current teammate Ilya Kovalchuk (0.533). Though Kovalchuk had 15 more points than Parise, it was Parise who was drawing the tougher defensive assignments. The closest Red Wing is Jiri Hudler (0.789), the very player that Parise could be replacing.
  • On-ice Corsi rating isn't as kind to Parise, and this is true for all of his Devils teammates. Corsi measures the shot differential (goals+saves+blocked shots+missed shots) per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. Parise (3.22) pales in comparison to guys like Datsyuk (19.08), Malkin (17.69), Toews (17.17), and even Joe Pavelski (12.32), but then again the highest Corsi on New Jersey belongs to Alexei Ponikarovsky (7.84). This is likely more indicative of the system utilized by New Jersey instead of a flaw in every single player on the Devils' roster. 
  • Parise averages 0.99 goals, 0.71 first assists, and 0.47 second assists for 2.18 points every 60 minutes of 5v5 time he's on ice. To compare, Giroux (1.02, 1.02, 0.70 for 2.73), Datsyuk (0.82, 1.00, 0.65 for 2.47), and Malkin (1.88, 1.42, 0.36 for 3.66) all average more, but only Malkin is averaging significantly more points. For fun, let's look at the Wings' last big free agent signing, Marian Hossa. His averages (0.92, 0.92. 0.72 for 2.56) are similar to top tier players like Giroux and Datsyuk, and if Parise raised his second assist average he'd be in the same category.
  • Offensive zone start percentage isn't the be-all end-all of advanced statistical analysis, but is useful in determining how a coach views a player. If a guy's offensive zone start % is low (30-40%) then he's likely being used as a defensive specialist, while a player whose offensive zone start % is 60% or above may be viewed as a defensive liability. Parise's number (54.2%) is nothing earth-shattering. He's not being shielded from having to defend, and he's not being put on the ice solely to check. This is about what you'd expect from a good two way forward like Henrik Zetterberg (54.5%) or Datsyuk (55.5%).
  • Two statistics that I find interesting are +/- On-Ice/60 and +/- Off-Ice/60. The first looks at the average goals for per 60 minutes of even strength ice time and subtracts average goals against per 60 minutes of even strength ice time from it. The latter does the same for the team when a player is off the ice. Parise's +/-On/60 is -0.14, and his +/-Off/60 is -0.18. New Jersey allows 0.14 more goals than they score for every 60 minutes of even strength time Parise plays, while they allow 0.18 more goals than they score when he's off the ice. In other words, Parise's team is negligibly better when he's on the ice compared to when he's riding the bench. While this isn't the ringing endorsement of impact that a high +/- On/60 can provide, it isn't singularly damning either. 
  • Let's look at +/-On/60 and +/-Off/60 for Parise's powerplay numbers. His +/-On/60 is 4.75, and his +/-Off/60 is 2.68. The New Jersey offense is receiving a significant boost when Parise is on the ice with the man advantage. Keep in mind that Parise averages almost 4 minutes per game on the PP, so this is a statistic worth noting.
  • Parise also plays on the penalty kill, averaging almost 2 full minutes per game. His +/-/60 numbers, however, are brutal. A +/-On/60 of -2.64 and +/-Off/60 of -0.91 is alarming enough that I dug a little deeper. Though it looks like the Devils are much worse off with Parise on the penalty kill than if they kept him on the bench, he's actually playing the second most time of any NJ forward (1.94 minutes per 60 played; Dainius Zubrus plays 1.95). He's scored three of the six shorthanded goals he was on ice for, but was also on ice for 13 goals against. I think the ice time entrusted to Parise speaks more to his skill than the +/- stats do.
  • Hockey Analysis has a unique way to look at the offensive, defensive, and total production of players. Here's the abbreviated explanation from their website (the rest of the article can be found here):
Given a large enough sample size of ice time with and against players I believe that we should have a reliable rating system in which any HARO, HARD, or HART greater than 1 indicates the player is a better than average player and anything under 1 indicates the player is a below average player. 
  • Parise's even strength HARO+ (1.083), HARD+ (0.914), and HART+ (0.998) are all respectable and fairly close to the benchmark of 1. For comparison, we'll again look at Datsyuk (1.240, 1.404, 1.322), Zetterberg (1.366, 0.897, 1.131), Malkin (1.542, 0.898, 1.220), and Giroux (1.376, 0.920, 1.148). While all of those players have higher offensive ratings, it appears that Parise is a better even strength defender than Zetterberg and Malkin and about as good as Giroux.
  • Parise's powerplay HARO+ (1.159), HARD+ (0.601), and HART+ (0.880) are similar to Zettberg's (1.024, 0.681, 0.853). Datsyuk (1.327, 2.965, 2.146), Malkin (1.345, 0.632, 0.988), and Giroux (1.302, 0.636, 0.930) aren't favorable comparisons in this instance.
  • The penalty kill is where Parise shines. His HARO+ (2.406), HARD+ (0.913), and HART+ (1.660) are all much higher than Zetterberg (0.756, 0.677, 0.717), Datsyuk (0.000, 1.065, 0.533), Malkin (not used on PK), and Giroux's (0.720, 0.771, 0.745).
  • Perhaps the biggest strength of is the ability to look at HARO+, HARD+, and HART+ over multiple seasons. Five seasons of data (2007/08-2011/12) tells us that Parise is truly a two way star. Keeping in mind that anything over 1 is an above average player, Parise's even strength HARO+ (0.976), HARD+ (1.129), and HART+ (1.052) are impressive.
  • Five year powerplay HARO+ of 1.223, HARD+ of 0.894, and HART+ of 1.058 is great.
  • Five year peanlty kill HARO+ of 2.929, HARD+ of 1.412, and HART+ of 2.170 is especially noteworthy.


Parise signed a one year, $6 million dollar deal in the summer of 2011 that helped avoid arbitration, but also allows him to test the waters of free agency once he has played out the season. He had a successful, if slightly subpar, regular season in 2011-12 (according to comparisons against five year averages of HARO+, HARD+, and HART+). Despite this, I don't expect Parise's paycheck to get any smaller.

I wouldn't be surprised if he signs a deal for around $6.5 million per season. The cap hit could be structured to be somewhat similar to Henrik Zetterberg's at slightly over $6 million per season. At this salary and cap hit, I'd sign Parise.

I don't see him as a part of the upper echelon of players in the league, and the comparisons above make this fairly obvious. At the same time, and all else being equal, he would have been the only 30 goal scorer on the Wings this season. He's a very talented player, someone I'd put in the same neighborhood as Zetterberg. It seems fair that they would then be paid accordingly; similar deals for a similar skillset.

The only disturbing thing that I saw when going through the numbers was that nothing really stood out on the advanced statistics side of things when comparing him to New Jersey's other forwards. While Parise almost had a 70 point year, he wasn't clearly and distinguishably the best player on his team in any one category. If the bidding for him gets out of hand, I'd let him sign elsewhere. At $7 million a season I think his contract turns into a burden despite his talent, especially keeping in mind that Datsyuk only makes $6.7 million per season and was better in most advanced statistical categories.

Estimated Contract: $6.5 million/yr
Estimated Value: $6-6.5 million/yr

Can Detroit Sign Him?

In short, yes.

It's possible, as long as Nick Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom are willing to take a paycut to make the team better. Let's assume the cap goes up by $3 million this offseason, which is modest compared to recent years but seems reasonable given the impending expiration of the CBA and the need to re-negotiate a deal. This hypothetical scenario leaves Quincey the odd man out, and also modestly increases Helm and Abdelkader's salaries. It also assumes the signing of another key free agent (look at the defensemen and you'll see who the next Free Agent Forecasting post is going to be about). All told, it's very fiscally possible to bring Parise into the fold.

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Stats via and Salary cap info via

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Looking Forward to Free Agents

More of this, please

It's April, and I'm thinking about starting a countdown clock to July 1st. This is a sure sign that something has gone wrong in Hockeytown.

This may be the most important offseason of Ken Holland's career, and is certainly the most important offseason since 2001. An eerily similar pattern of early round exits was quelled when the additions of Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, and Luc Robitaille helped bolster an already strong team and resulted in the 2002 Stanley Cup. Will Holland be able to make similarly impactful moves, and in what ways might he be able to do so?

One way that won't work? Trading. If this past season's trade deadline was any indication, then the irrationally high prices commanded in the trade market will deter Detroit from doing much via this avenue.

Free agency may be the best option for adding to the Red Wings roster, as the cap space Holland preserved from last summer will only increase with the possible departures of some players (i.e. Brad Stuart) and a likely raise of the salary cap. Holland may look to make a big splash in free agency this offseason, with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise as numbers 1a and 1b on the Wings' want list.

Though there will be a sizable amount of money to play with and two All Star caliber free agents available, that doesn't necessarily mean that Holland has to land the pair. Or does he? Over the next few months I'll be analyzing potential free agent targets in tremendously hockey-nerdy depth. The goal of this project is twofold; to see what certain players could add to the Wings statistically, and to see what that addition will cost financially.

Like it? Hate it? Have suggestions for who I should analyze? Let me know on Twitter @TOGBlog1 or by email at 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Road Less Traveled...Since the Cap

I couldn't write this until it felt real. Last night night Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs, but it just hadn't set in yet. It still felt like there could be a game Sunday. There may be something happening Sunday, but it's going to be a locker room clean out and not a game.

The facts are the facts, and Detroit has failed to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the past three seasons. There will be significant changes to the roster this offseason because there has to be. Detroit has the cap space to operate like they haven't in years past, and if the cap goes up once again and Nick Lidstrom (God forbid) retires, the Wings will have more money to spend on free agents than they have since the cap was instituted.

Mike Babcock said that the Wings weren't deep enough up front to win the series. From this, it isn't too hard to surmise that the Wings will make a push for a top-six forward during free agency. They'll likely attempt to sign a top-two defeneseman as well. Though Babcock stated that the depth on the back end was a strength, there's a possibility that two of Detroit's top four won't be on the roster when training camp starts (Stuart and Lidstrom).

One way to go about analyzing the offseason is to frame it through the complaints of many fans, and these complaints were nicely assembled in an article by Shark Circle. This is also a nice metaphor for how strange this postseason has been. A Sharks blog is writing and writing well about the Wings and their offseason needs.

The article bemoans the lack of spending on free agents Detroit has done in the past three years. The reasons that Ken Holland put away the checkbook are two-fold. First, the organization has been trying to utilize the framework it built in which prospects are left to marinate in the minors until they're very well seasoned, at which point they're brought up and given a fair shot on the big team. It's been an organizational pillar since the lockout to focus more on drafting and developing talent in house, as the days of Wild West offseasons where money and contracts flow and three future Hall of Famers are added to a roster have passed us by. Second, there just haven't been choice free agents to spend on. Last season had an especially weak crop, and Ken Holland isn't going to make a move simply to make one. He's still an efficient manager, and he made the choice to wait until the trade deadline and see what was available instead of overspend on replacement-level talent. Things fell the wrong way at the trade deadline, and now Holland looks a bit more foolish for not making moves last summer.

Many may have wondered whether Holland has gradually become afraid to trade, and there's no denying that it could appear this way due to the inactivity of the Wings in the offseason and to a lesser extent at the deadline. Shark Circle uses San Jose as an example of moving packages of players to get high quality young talent, the kind that is rarely available in free agency. The problem with making these kinds of moves is that you essentially have to mortgage your present to have a brighter future, and that's something the Wings don't have an interest in. Babcock stressed last night that Detroit wants to win and win now, not rest on their laurels and back into a playoff spot.

I would be very hesitant to say that there's a disconnect between Babcock and Holland, even if it does seem that the coach is asking for roster moves that the general manager has yet to deliver. I believe that both understand the issues the team has, and that they each want the same thing to remedy this. The Wings had some cap room that they didn't expect to have because of the suddenness of Brian Rafalski's retirement, and they did what they were able to do without being irresponsible. Detroit pushed for James Wisniewski last offseason, but he signed with Columbus during the five minute window in which they were a fashionable spot and a trendy playoff pick, having just picked up the since-traded Jeff Carter. Detroit had to settle for the next best option, which was Ian White.

Detroit also made a push for Jaromir Jagr, who appeared to be a wild card and something of a risk because of his time away from the league. The Wings were afraid to overspend on a potential bust, and it's possible that memories of how long it took for Jiri Hudler to readjust to the NHL from the KHL scared them off when Jagr's asking price went up precipitously thanks to the Flyers and their offer.

This is the most important offseason for the Wings since 2001, when they were facing a similarily uncomfortable early exit and a need to retool. That was the year Hasek, Hull, and Robitaille were added over the summer, additions that led to a Stanley Cup the next June. The salary cap makes it difficult for that much talent to be added in one offseason, but it's not impossible to add the necessary pieces to Detroit's roster.

Everyone would likely be able to embrace the addition of Zach Parise up front and Ryan Suter on the backend, one a true top-three forward and the other a top-two defensemen that has yet to peak. Typically I'd feel the need to come up with some caveat, or at the very least list a couple of players that fill similar needs but don't carry the same price tag. Not this time. Parise and Suter are two high profile free agents, and attempting to sign them should be at the absolute top of Ken Holland's to-do list. For the first time in the post-cap world, Detroit can act like the Detroit of the mid 90's and early 00's. They can once again spend wildly, and hope to lock down a couple of perennial All Stars in the process.

I would be shocked if Holland didn't look to make a couple of high impact moves this offseason. There's no need to rip this team apart; a couple of strong roster additions would put Detroit in Cup contention again. Holland being told that he isn't allowed to spend to the absolute ceiling of the cap would be a tremendous surprise, at least judging by the Tigers payroll and the revenue of Illitch Holdings in 2011 (9th paragraph). I expect that he will take advantage of this.

There's a critical point in the franchise's history fast approaching, as the retirement of Nick Lidstrom will in all likelihood be coupled with that of Tomas Holmstrom. Whether it's this offseason or next, that signals the end of an era. Whether the Wings remain a Cup contender will be determined by the strength of their roster, and the strength of that roster can be further developed this offseason. Moves must be made, changes must occur, and faith must be restored. This is an anxiety provoking time to be a Detroit fan, but there are potentially exiting additions waiting in the wings.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Optimism? Don't Lose It Just Yet

It's not impossible. Pucks do get past him

I haven't checked Twitter yet. Quite frankly, I'm scared to. I know that heading over there will just mean more exposure to the doom and gloom I'm already feeling, exacerbating the feeling of emptiness over the events that, like they have so frequently during this postseason, couldn't and wouldn't go the way any Wings fan imagined.

The plot points in this series have already been laid. There's no sense in backtracking, as that won't change the cruel reality of a 3-1 series deficit. That means the only place to turn is the future, where hope may be waning but hasn't been extinguished.

Detroit has put 138 shots on net this series, with only 8 of those 138 getting behind Pekka Rinne. The Wings have had over 40 shots in each of their home games thus far, and yet haven't won either. The uncomfortable truth is that the only game Detroit has won is the one that appeared to be their worst performance of the series, registering less than 20 shots on net in Game 2.

This series isn't and has never been about the best team. Frankly, the best team isn't winning. Nashville handily outplayed Detroit in Game 2 and didn't win. Detroit's outplayed Nashville in both games at home and has dropped both. This series hinges on luck.

Luck will be the factor that swings this series, the better team be damned. It's going to be about broken sticks and deflections, not positional play and shot quantity. And as frustrating as it can be for control freaks, or the hockey equivalent of control freaks in puck possession teams, it's something that can't be controlled.

This is the most beautiful part about the rest of the series, the dim light that has yet to be snuffed out. Luck can turn. Luck can switch sides. Right about now, it's Detroit's turn to get luck on their side. All series long Nashville has had the deflections, seeing-eye shots, and bounces go in their favor. There's nothing that says these breaks won't fall to Detroit over the next three games.

Losing to a team that we've had to learn to hate on the fly isn't the way for this series to end. This isn't the fate that this team deserves, a team that Mike Babcock admitted he thought might miss the postseason prior to the start of the year and then watched develop into a team that he said had the best chance at a Cup since the 2009 squad.

Perhaps most importantly, this isn't the way that one of the top three Red Wings in franchise history deserves to go out. Nick Lidstrom hasn't said he's retiring, but the possibility is there. If we're completely honest with ourselves, Game 4 was one of his worst in recent memory. I still think he's one of the top ten players in the NHL and will defend him past reasonable expectations (there's a strong likelihood the guy's still hurt, and one bad game is an abberation), but there's a very real chance that he may have played his last game at Joe Louis Arena. There isn't always next year. For some, the time has to be now.

Don't give up on this team. Don't quit. Think about what happens if Hudler doesn't hit the post tonight, or if the Mule's goal in Game 3 isn't 0.01 seconds too late. If these breaks start to go the other way, we've got a series. The road team has won 17 of 25 games this postseason. Two out three on the road isn't a death sentence. It's time to go to Nashville, keep putting buckets of shots on Rinne, and hope that the inches and seconds that make a difference start to align themselves in our favor.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

GBGA Round 1 Game 3: Battling the Preds, the clock, the officials, and everything in between

Another game, another opportunity for the Red Wings to prove that they're clearly better than Nashville, despite what the series record may tell you.

On display this afternoon was a third period that was wholly dictated by Detroit. It was one of the most dominating periods of hockey this team has played all year, and yet one of the four shots that Jimmy Howard faced that period ended up behind him, once again shifting the balance of power to the charmed Predators.

I'm going to pull a George here and quote the man himself from his postgame article on The Malik Report:
Yes, the Wings rallied against themselves and the Predators, but this loss is immensely dispiriting because, well…The Wings are making Pekka Rinne into Dwayne Roloson, and for whatever reason, the Predators seem to have all the “puck luck” at both ends of the ice thanks to a forecheck that’s generating turnovers in Detroit’s zone, body position in their own end and a litany of blocked empty-net shots—Detroit had not only 43 shots on Rinne (who wasn’t forced back into his net nearly enough after Drew Miller ran him over) today, but they also fired 15 wide and 19 into Nashville Predators players for a total of 34 extra pucks not hitting Rinne or the back of the net, and 77 total attempted shots, perhaps most eloquently illustrating how incredibly inefficiently the Red Wings have played throughout this series.
I don't feel the need to write anything more. Everything else I've thought about discussing is already covered in George's article, so I highly recommend heading over there and checking it out.

Really, how many times can a team have not only their own play, but seemingly the referees and most damingly "puck luck" on their side? One of those three has to change for Detroit to pull this series out.

Let's take a closer look at what transpired (with pictures, naturally).

1st Period

Detroit 0 Nashville 1; 2:48- PPG Weber from Kostitsyn & Radulov
Legwand has the puck along the boards and passes to Radulov in the middle of the faceoff circle. Defensively, Kronwall has gone to the corner and Cleary had come down as both are trying to cut off Legwand's passing lanes. This leaves Stuart the lone defender down low to pick up Radulov in front of the net. Datsyuk is near the hash marks but without a stick, and therefore without much of a chance to have an impact of any Predators who try to set up on the back door.
 Radulov dishes to Kostitsyn directly in front of Howard, who is undefended because Stuart was forced to step up on him. Datsyuk has slid down to try and do what he can, but he ends up only being able to shove Kostitsyn. The shot from Kostitsyn hits Howard, and the rebound trickles out to his right. Meanwhile, Kostitsyn decides that Datsyuk's shove means it open season on pushing in front of the net, and he throws Stuart into Howard. No one has picked up Weber on the back door, and he's able to convert the rebound opportunity past a down and out Howard.

2nd Period

Detroit 0 Nashville 2; 3:50- Klein from Erat
The Wings miss the net in the offensive zone and Nashville picks the puck up along the boards. They start a quick two man breakout through the neutral zone with Erat controlling the puck and Klein trailing. Near center ice Klein starts to surpass Erat, who passes to his right. This shouldn't be a difficult zone entry for the Wings to handle, as they have numbers. All Stuart needs to do is turn at the right time to stay with Klein.
Stuart doesn't turn at the right time and ends up lightly hooking Klein as he blows past him.
Klein is in all alone and lifts the puck over Howard's glove to take the lead. Hard to criticize Jimmy when he got hung out to dry, but this doesn't seem like a shot that he had no chance on.

Detroit 1 Nashville 2; 15:03- Datsyuk (1) unassisted
Nashville wins the draw in their own end and goes d-to-d behind the net. Seems pretty harmless at the time, right? Wrong. There's one player in the league that can make the play he's about to make, and he wears 13 for the Winged Wheelers.
Datsyuk lifts Josi's stick and swiftly swipes the puck away. Meanwhile, Rinne has decided to wait for the puck to come around the boards and is staring down Dan Cleary.
Pasha neatly tucks the puck around the post, and Rinne has one of the biggest "Oh Sh*t!" moments of all time as he realizes he just fell asleep on one of the top three players in the world behind his own net.

3rd Period

Detroit 1 Nashville 3; 16:30- Kostitsyn from Fisher & Klein
In the midst of Detrot's offensive blitz, Kronwall carries the puck in and blasts a shot from just inside the blue line. Rinne stops it, and Kronall chases his own rebound to the faceoff circle.
Nashville wins the race to the loose puck and starts a break out the other way. Three Detroit players are now stuck behind the rush, leaving Nashville with a great chance at an odd-man opportunity as the pass finds Kostitsyn at center.
Filppula goes for the poke check here and misses, which spells doomsday for Detroit. Kostitsyn flies past him and now has 2-on-1 situation unfolding in front of him.
Kostitsyn delays, judging in a split second whether he has room to pass or will have to shoot. It looks like Stuart gets in the passing lane just enough to make Kostitsyn choose the later. He drags and snaps a shot over Howard's shoulder.

Detroit 2 Nashville 3; 19:06- Zetterberg (2) from Datsyuk (2) & Kronwall (1)
Detroit mounted a flurry of offensive activity in the third period, and nothing came from it until there was less than a minute left in the game. Kronwall dishes to Zetterberg along the boards, who carries towards the net.
Nashville collapses on net and takes away any option Zetterberg has to pass. This doesn't stop him from looking into the middle of the ice the whole time he skates towards the net, perfectly selling the pass that isn't coming. Z quickly shoots and surprises Rinne, beating him blocker side and putting the game momentarily within reach.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

GBGA Round 1 Game 2: Evening Things in More Ways Than One

Every team needs an identity. It provides an M.O., something to rally around when things get rough and something to draw confidence from during those difficult times. It seems that Detroit's penalty killing has quickly provided just that.

They say that a good powerplay is the ultimate enforcer. If this is true, then a good penalty kill is the ultimate demoralizer. This is what the Wings have become; demoralizing in their ability to take an opponent's perceived strength and turn it on its head, to take something that was supposed to be the key to the series and nullify it so completely that Nashville can't help but think about tweaks on their flight to Detroit.

The Wings head home having yet to surrender a powerplay goal in the playoffs, stifling the league's best powerplay during the regular season. While even strength defense wasn't always great in this game (and was just difficult to watch in the 3rd period) it was serviceable, and I'd bet that this is more of an aberration than a downward trend in even strength defensive play.

Todd Bertuzzi answered the bell in the 1st by engaging Shea Weber in more of a wrestling match than a fight, appropriate given the disgusting move Weber chose at the end of game 1. Detroit then answered the bell as a unit and won the ultimate battle for retribution by evening the series at 1 a piece as we head back to the friendly confines of the Joe.

1st Period

Nashville 0 Detroit 1; 8:25- White (1) from Holmstrom (1) & Miller (1)
Before the screencap, Tomas Holmstrom wins a race to the puck along the boards and chips it back to White. This is the perfect example of what the Wings did right all night long. They played with more jump than I've seen all season and won more races and corner battles than any other game in recent memory. White picks up the puck and realizes he has a ton of room to shoot. There are two Wings trying to do what Babcock made explicitly clear before the game; get to the front of the net if you want to score on Rinne. Though the two aren't exactly netfront, the traffic does enough to impair Rinne's ability to track the puck. White shots and Rinne doesn't see it pass him.

Nashville 0 Detroit 2; 15:33- Emmerton (1) unassisted

Emmerton wins the race to a loose puck at center ice and starts the 2 on 1 rush. Josi has his stick out to take away the cross ice pass. Emmerton has to read Josi and Rinne simultaneously to pick his move.
Josi dives, and Emmerton's decision is basically made for him. With no passing lane he has to shoot, and he picks a spot over Rinne's shoulder blocker side. Smart move by Emmerton to keep the puck away from Rinne's glove, which has to be the best in the league. Emmerton beats Rinne cleanly for his first career playoff goal.

2nd Period

Nashville 1 Detroit 2; 9:01- Kostitsyn from Radulov & Legwand
Detroit is able pin Nashville on the boards a few times, but never able to get a stick on the puck to clear. Nashville picks it up and carries up the wall. It looks like they might try and cycle the puck, so Cleary steps towards the blue line. This leaves Kostitsyn alone in the slot, and Radulov immediately passes when he sees this.
Kostitsyn wastes no time in shooting. Howard never sees the shot thanks to two Nashville players and a Wings defender camping out in front of the net. Howard, like Rinne on the first goal, learns that stopping the puck is nearly impossible when you can't see it. Duh.

Nashville 1 Detroit 3; 9:57- Franzen (1) from Stuart (1) & Datsyuk (1)
Bertuzzi sets up Datsyuk nicely for an offensive zone entry. Datsyuk carries in and sees Stuart trailing with no defenders close to him. He passes it back to Stuie and heads for the net. 
Weber decides to let Franzen skate towards the net, instead choosing to pick up Stuart as he moves lower in the offensive one. This is costly though, as Weber can't change direction quickly enough to step up on Stuart.
 Weber drops to a knee and then slides to try and take away Stuart's shot to no avail. Stuart puts one on net that glances off of Franzen, changing directions and beating Rinne. This is another perfect example of what Babcock has been talking about for the past two days. Get traffic in front of the net and make Rinne's job hard, as it should be.

3rd Period

Nashville 2 Detroit 3; 15:16- Weber from Gaustad & Spaling
Detroit loses all of the battles for the loose puck on this play. Gaustad carries behind the net, which draws Bertuzzi back with him. Quincey was pinned in the corner shoving Weber, and he has to turn to chase as Quincey got twisted and ended up closer to the boards. 
Bertuzzi can't stop Gaustad, and neither can the unfortunately well-positioned White. Weber is open for a split second before Quincey can catch up, and it looks like Weber is in the right place at the right time. Gaustad's pass through traffic connects and Weber immediately backhands the puck over Howard.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

GBGA Round 1 Game 1: Smashville Indeed

It's hard to be encouraged by a loss, but I truly am. The Wings PK was phenomenal, and I can't think of a better overall defensive performance this year. The powerplay has room to improve, but 2-8 is a good place to start. A little more puck movement will go a long way in that regard. For coverage from the print media, head here and here. The Malik Report has too many interesting posts to link to on the front page, so just go here and enjoy.

1st Period

Nashville 1 Detroit 0; 6:59- Gaustad from Yip and Bouillon
The plays starts to develop with everyone in position. Stuart goes for a hit in the corner and Emmerton has netfront covered.
Stuart's hit erases Yip from the rest of the play, but doesn't prevent him from tipping the puck behind the net. Gaustad picks it up but has Emmerton draped all over him.
Emmerton does a nice job of getting his stick in the passing lane and taking away the more dangerous play, the cross-ice pass. This leaves him unable to stop Gaustad's spin move to the inside. Instead of moving the puck behind the net, Gaustad throws it in front and hopes for the best. The puck hits Brad Stuart's skate and is deflected past Jimmy Howard for the first goal of the series. Cue the sad trombone.

2nd Period

Nashville 1 Detroit 1; 2:29- PPG Zetterberg (1) unassisted
The Wings are in the umbrella formation on the powerplay. Lidstrom tries to pass from the sideboards to Kronwall at the point, but the puck hits a stick and flops onto the ice. Kronwall has to step up quickly and is the first to the puck.
Kronwall doesn't have time for a slap shot, and instead has to sling one towards the front. Hudler is screening in front, and he has to scrap for the puck alongside Nashville's two low defenders. One of the two Predators players gets a stick on the puck around the same time Zetterberg has come down into the slot. Zetterberg swipes the puck as the clearing attempt occurs, shooting over the very glove hand that stoned Zetterberg on a similar shot when the Preds visited Detroit on March 30th.

Nashville 2 Detroit 1; 12:29- Bourque from Halischuk
Nashville breaks out through the neutral zone on what should be a harmless, run of the mill offensive zone entry. Lidstrom steps up on Halischuk as he carries across the blue line. Franzen has to come over from center to cover Bourque as he drifts towards the outside lane. Lidstrom could potentially make a play on the puck but it would be dangerous to step that far towards the blue line and risk Halishuk beating him and the ensuing defensive coverage scramble that would follow.
Halischuk tries to simply shoot towards the front of the net and gets a once in a lifetime deflection off of Bourque's stick. The puck changes direction and beats Howard over the shoulder.

3rd Period

Nashville 3 Detroit 1; 11:35- Bourque from Spaling & Hornqvist
Howard plays the puck off the boards for Stuart on the other side of the net. Nashville's Nick Spaling cuts off the puck and pins Stuart to the boards.
Zetterberg comes down to help. Kronwall reads this and reacts by moving down low as well, getting into position for a pass behind the net from Zetterberg. 
Zetterberg gets cut off and run into by Hornqvist, which leaves a loose puck up for grabs. Kronwall is now in no mans land, having moved into the corner for a pass that isn't coming. He's going to race to the front of the net but Bourque is already there, completely alone. Spaling pinning Stuart behind him is key here, as it allows Spaling to have the positioning needed to get the loose puck and pass it out in front to Bourque. If Stuart hadn't gotten twisted and pinned behind Spaling, he likely makes the play on the puck. The reality of the situation is that Bourque is untouched in front of the net and one-times a puck past Howard, who had stretched out to try and poke check the pass away.

Nashville 3 Detroit 2; 17:53- PPG Holmstrom (1) from Quincey (1) & Filppula (1)
Quincey carries the puck through the neutral zone and drops it for Filppula at the blue line. Filppula sees public enemy no. 1 step up on him and saucer passes the puck to a streaking Quincey.
Quincey can't cut towards the middle of the ice but he does have a lot of room to shoot. He puts a low shot on goal that Rinne kicks out in front. This is exactly what Mike Babcock is talking about. You can't score on Rinne on the first shot, but he is indeed mortal and can be scored on given second chance opportunities. 
Holmstrom and Hudler are both in front, and Holmstrom cleans up the rebound.

I'd be remiss to not mention the deplorable incident at the end of last night's game involving Shea Weber and Henrik Zetterberg. I'm not upset about the lack of suspension for Weber; what I'm more upset about is the complete disregard for the tone the league worked 82+ games to cultivate this season. A league that take hits to the head seriously can not stand by and watch a player's head slammed into the boards and do nothing because the player wasn't injured. Gary Bettman said today on his NHL Hour show on Sirius XM radio that he talked to Brendan Shanahan and the people in hockey operations, and that they decided no suspension was needed because Zetterberg's head was close to the glass and the hit wasn't forecful. News previously came out during the Red Wings practice this afternoon that the hit cracked Zetterberg's helmet. Not forceful enough? A cracked helmet seems to indicate a forceful hit to me. It really feels like the league did the same thing as Weber: they both reacted without thinking.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This time it's personal: My fiancee's playoff picks

March Madness recently concluded, and with it came the paying out of the office pool to countless winners who made their picks based on where their aunt lives, which mascot looks the cutest, which colors look the best together, etc.

My fiancee won my family's tournament pool. How? She was a huge Backstreet Boys fan growing up and remembered that Brian Littrel, her favorite member of the boy band, loved Kentucky. Pair that with the fact that they were a 1 seed and boom, natty champs. Then that actually happened, and she's won the pool for the second time in five years.

I thought it would be fun to have her look over all the first round matchups and pick a winner, provided that she could explain to me her rationale. What follows is verbatim.

Western Conference
#1 Vancouver v. #8 Los Angeles
Winner: Vancouver
"What's that team with the blue and green and silver uniforms I like? Oh, that's Vancouver? Those are the best jerseys in the league. They'll win."

#2 St. Louis v. #7 San Jose
Winner: St. Louis
"Oh God, San Jose has those hideous teal uniforms, don't they? They'll lose. Those are the worst."

#3 Phoenix v. #6 Chicago
Winner: Phoenix
"Well, I think the Blackhawks' name is offensive to my heritage, so  I can't pick them."

#4 Detroit v. #5 Nashville
Winner: Detroit via sympathy vote
"Ugh this is tough. Carrie Underwood's man is on Nashville, isn't he? But your blog is about Detroit. I guess I'll pick Detroit though. I really don't like the way they're playing, and I don't think you'll go very far. At least I'll get to see my girl Carrie on tv. She'll go to the games, right?"

Eastern Conference
#1 New York v. #8 Ottawa
Winner: New York
Her: "I didn't even know New York was good, and I don't know where Ottawa is."
Me: "Yeah, New York got a lot better this year. They've got the best goaltender in the league."
Her: "Really? Then I'm gonna have to look at goalie masks for this one."
Google image both goalie's masks
Her, in reference to Craig Anderson's mask: "Eww what is that? It's horrible! Ugh, ok New York."

#2 Boston v. #7 Washington
Winner: Boston
Her: "Well, obviously Boston because my cousins live there."
Me: "That, and they're the defending Stanley Cup champions."
Her: "They are? I thought the Penguins won last year. What year did they win?"
Me: "2009..."

#3 Florida v. #6 New Jersey
Winner: New Jersey
"Hmmm. One of our friends lives in New Jersey but your Grandma lives in Florida. Tough one. I'm gonna have to see their costumes. Haha, jerseys! I meant jerseys!"
Google image both teams
"Well I guess I'll pick the Devils, but I don't really want to because the name reminds me of a slutty girl in a Halloween costume.

#4 Pittsburgh v. #5 Philadelphia
Winner: Philadelphia
Note: This pick is the only one not done according to team seeding. This was her second pick
Her: "Oh, who's that goalie that has his kid's drawings on his mask?"
Me: "Ilya Bryzgalov. He doesn't have his kid's pictures on there anymore though."
Her: "I don't care, I'm picking whatever team he's on. I like him."

There you have it. The picks and rationale from a two-time winner of an NCAA Tournament pool, as they apply to this year's postseason. Look forward to the second round, where we'll do this again. What will she use to choose next time? Sock color? Team logos? The only certainty is if Philadelphia's there, they're getting picked.
Winner: Philadelphia

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Playoff Preview: Special Teams Edition

I knew this weekend that I was going to write a series of two playoff preview posts. What I didn't know until yesterday was that Winging it in Motown and Predators blog On the Forecheck had a similar idea. I wanted to break down the powerplay of both teams, as this was the one area I identified in my last post as a potential problem for Detroit (at least, compared to the 07/08 Wings).

First, check out the great article from On the Forecheck to see why Nashville's special teams is important in this series, and why their even strength play isn't on par with Detroit. Then head over to Winging it in Motown and read JJ's article about penalties taken and drawn in relation to our lines.

After reading the article at On the Forecheck my opinion has changed. No longer do I think that the powerplay will be the one factor we can point to when the series is over and say "That was the difference." Instead, it looks like it will be one of two key areas in the series. If the Wings powerplay falters, they will have to hope that their even strength play against a Nashville team that looks relatively weaker at 5 on 5 will pick up the slack. If the powerplay succeeds, then there's a good chance Detroit makes it to the second round.

Do the numbers agree? I headed over to and took a look at the numbers to see how the Detroit and Nashville special teams units compare.

           Det         Nsh
5v4 TOI Tot 466.4 390.2
5v4 GF 45 50
5v4 GA 11 4
5v4 GF/60 5.8 7.7
5v4 SF/60 50.3 45.7
5v4 Sh% 885 832
5v4 GA/60 1.4 0.6
5v4 SA/60 8.1 7.2
5v4 Sv% 825 915
5v4 +-per60 4.4 7.1

Nashville's success on the powerplay this season (they're ranked 1st in the league according to doesn't appear to be a fluke. They've scored more goals and allowed fewer shorthanded goals than Detroit in fewer powerplay minutes.

Detroit would outshoot Nashville if a full 60 minute game was played with the man advantage (50.3 vs 45.7, respectively), but the opponent save percentage explains why the Wings wouldn't score more. Detroit's opponents are saving 88.5% of their shots, while Nashville's opponents are only saving 83.2%. The Wings are likely taking worse shots than Nashville. My observations lead me to believe that it's because Detroit has tended to take a lot of shots from the outside, and puck movement hasn't created enough odd man opportunities on the powerplay. On the other side, Nashville has Shea Weber and his murderific point shot. If I was a goaltender I'd step out of the way of that as well, save percentage be damned.

           Det          Nsh
4v5 TOI Tot 427 373.1
4v5 GF 2 5
4v5 GA 47 38
4v5 GF/60 0.3 0.8
4v5 SF/60 8 6.6
4v5 Sh% 965 878
4v5 GA/60 6.6 6.1
4v5 SA/60 46.8 52.8
4v5 Sv% 859 884
4v5 +-per60 -6.3 -5.3

Detroit's penalty kill, though middling statistically, has been the lone strength for Detroit down the stretch. They've killed off something like 25 straight penalties and have been significantly benefited by Jonathan Ericsson's return to the lineup. That last part of the statement may make your brain contort, but it's true.

There's no denying that Detroit's shorthanded offense has been nonexistent, so there's no need to break down that portion of the 4v5 stats. It impacts the 4v5 +/- per 60, and that's about it.

What's worth looking at is GA/60 and SA/60. Detroit is allowing 0.5 more goals than Nashville per 60 minutes played on the penalty kill. Detroit is limiting opponent's shots better than Nashville, allowing 46.8 per 60 as opposed to 52.8 per 60. Overall, Nashville has allowed 40 goals over 244 times shorthanded, while Detroit has allowed 50 goals over 274 times shorthanded. What has been a strength for Detroit of late is still statistically bested by Nashville.

If Detroit is going to win this series, they're going to have to play better 5 on 5 hockey than Nashville. The Predators will have the advantage on special teams if things play out as they did over the regular season, making it important for the Wings to stay out of the box and hope to draw as many penalties as they can. For more on this, go check out JJ's aforementioned article.

The Wings are going to have to get second chance opportunities to beat Pekka Rinne and advance to the second round. They discussed this today with the Free Press' Helen St. James, and the article is worth reading for Datsyuk's quote alone. My initial impression from seeing the Wings play Nashville at the Joe on March 30th was that they didn't get set themselves up for any rebound opportunities, instead opting to take low percentage outside shots. Detroit could never get traffic in front of the net and lost the game 4-1. I fully expect the series to play out the same way if Detroit can't get second or third chances on Rinne, whether it be at even strength or on the powerplay.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Playoff Preview: Comparing this season's squad to the 08 Cup champs

This is the first in a series of two posts; the first will look at the Wings and the second the Predators. For the Detroit portion of the playoff preview, I expanded on a post from the All Star break in which I compared this year's team to the 07-08 Stanley Cup Champions. With a full regular season's worth of data, it's worth taking a second look at what's working and what's going to make us head to Twitter and write angry things in all caps.

We'll start with even strength data. This seems to be the bright spot for this year's team, the thing that you can point to when asked how a team that was so streaky on special teams can still rack up over 100 points. Both this year's team and the 07/08 team finished with +/- per 60 minutes of +0.80, which means they scored 0.8 more goals than they allowed per 60 even strength minutes played. 

A note on reading the graphs: the 07/08 team is on the left, the 11/12 team on the right. Read straight up and down the graphs to get the data points corresponding to the teams. For example, the 07/08 team scored 160 goals and allowed 110. The 11/12 team scored 184 goals and allowed 131. The graphs help show whether there's been an increase or decrease in an area between the two teams. In this instance, the current Wings both scored more and allowed more goals at even strength.

If you look at shots for and against as a metric for puck possession, this year's team isn't playing the way the 07/08 team did. That team had 32.8 shots for per 60 minutes and allowed 23.2, while this year's team averaged 31.8 shots for and allowed 26.2 per 60 even strength minutes. 
The power play will be the key to this season's playoff run. The most critical difference between the 07/08 team and this year's team is the number of powerplay goals scored. The Cup champs scored 64 powerplay goals, while this year's team scored only 45 times with the man advantage. This graph provides the most visibly striking decline, and that's a terrible thing on a graph where you'd want to see a straight or upward sloping line.
Context is given to the chart above by looking at powerplay shots for per 60 minutes. If a full game with the man advantage was played, the 07/08 Wings would average 61.9 shots while the 11/12 Wings would average only 50.3 shots. There's been a significant drop off in the production of the powerplay, a drop that is inexcusable considering four of the five from the top unit in 07/08 are still on the top unit for 11/12.
The penalty kill has been the saving grace of the 11/12 Red Wings, and that's not a bad thing to have going well. They've allowed 3 less goals than the 07/08 team (47 vs 50, respectively) despite allowing more shots on average. If a full 60 minute game was played on the penalty kill, the Wings would expect to face an average of 46.8 shots this year and 39.9 shots in 07/08. Less goals on more shots is especially impressive in its reflection on Jimmy Howard and his strong performance this season.
I know what this team has looked like and recently, and I also know what they should be capable of. They have an excellent balance of veteran know-how and youthful energy. They have a captain who may be lacing up the skates for his last postseason as a Winged Wheeler. They have a spark plug of a third liner who's about to return from injury, and a goaltender who's starting to look like he's regained form after his. They have a true difference maker who only seems to engage when something's on the line, and has shown every indication over the past three games that he's reached the point of engagement. The pieces are here, and the time is now. There's no guarantee that Mike Babcock will be able to write in the name of the second best defesenman of all time on his lineup card next season. Does there need to be more of a reason to get motivated than that? This is the best team in the league at even strength, and a team with a strong penalty kill.  Improve the powerplay and get past Nashville in the first round and I like our chances of hanging another banner from the rafters of Joe Louis Arena. Remember, 12 is better than 11.

Like it? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter @TOGBlog1 or by email at

Saturday, April 7, 2012

And so it begins...

For the 21st consecutive season, the Detroit Red Wings will be playing in the postseason. If you don't feel ready, watch the video below. It's playoff time, Detroit.
This next video serves as a pillar of confidence should anything go poorly in the series. I've watched it over and over and over again since finding it to post. Just pure perfection.
See you Wednesday in the Music City. And remember, 12 is better than 11.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tape to Tape Pass: Playoff fate (or fatality) determined tomorrow

The Red Wings continued their gut-wrenching, stomach churning trend Thursday night, a trend in which they look alternately like world-beaters and beaten by the world. Last night's loss to the Devils took away the Wings' ability to grab fate by the reins, instead having to rely on either a win and a Nashville loss to clinch fourth or a loss and a Nashville win to fall to sixth and draw what might be an easier matchup than being the fifth seed and starting against the Predators on the road.

Red Wings head into season finale vs. Chicago with four potential first-round opponents via MLive
Khan (!) breaks down all the scenarios for the Winged Wheelers in a straightforward and easy to comprehend fashion.

Sports Club Stats - Red Wings playoff probabilities
Computer simulations run millions of times and predict different scenarios and percentage possibilities. Takes a few minutes to look it over and digest the information, but definitely worth the time.

Danny Cleary to miss Red Wings finale, will play Game 1 via Detroit Free Press
Surprised this hasn't happened sooner, as we all know he's been in constant pain for quite a while. The article describes how Cleary's role has been changing on the team of late and what's expected of him during the playoff run.

So Now What? Red Wing Playoff Scenarios via Winging It In Motown
An even more in-depth look at the Wings possible playoff matchups from the boys at WIIM

Expect a Playoff preview post on Sunday, something along the lines of the mid-season check in I did with more graphs and whatnot. Also, GBGA will be back next week. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @TOGBlog1. I promise to post original content and not just re-tweet things I find humorous/true. Though I'll still probably retweet it if it's both. Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email me at

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tape to Tape Pass: Afternoon practice

First, a programming note. Goal by Goal Analysis is coming back for the playoffs. It's always been my plan to bring it back for something more meaningful, and the playoffs seemed like the right time. Also, I miss finding a picture and coming up with a painfully stupid caption to go with it.

The Wings headed to St. Louis earlier than they normally would thanks to the Tigers, who needed Red Bird III to get the team to Detroit for opening day on Thursday. This gave the Wings an opportunity to practice on St. Louis' ice this afternoon, and like the travel arrangements the practice was anything but routine. Drew Miller hit the boards hard and was slow to get up, while Ian White got clipped in the face by Pavel Datsyuk's stick. Need any more evidence that the injury bug is dying out? There it is. If this was February then Miller would have separated his shoulder and White would have fractured his orbital bone. I'm glad those days are behind us.

Eventful Red Wings practice: On planes, Blues, injuries, and Pavel Datsyuk's high stick via Free Press
Great quip from Datsyuk at the end of the article, lines for tomorrow's game, and a recap of the aforementioned practice activities
Found this site while reading Winging it in Motown this morning. Did you know it's been almost a month since someone's been Kronwalled? Yep, this site has a clock counting up since the last Kronwalling, along with video of all the previous times someone's been Kronwalled.

A side note, but worth mentioning none the less. If you're looking for line combinations from practice as soon as they're available, follow @freepwings and @AnsarKhanMLive. Then go over to @TOGBlog1 and follow me. Please and thank you. If you follow me I promise to stop retweeting stuff and start actually tweeting.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Offensive Zone Faceoffs: What they're worth and who should taken them

Last week, I wrote about the importance of defensive zone faceoffs and which players on the Wings are most valuable in this department. This week, we'll look at what an offensive zone faceoff really means and which players on the Wings are most adept at the o-zone draw.

The impetus for this post comes from an article by Gabriel Desjardins about the dangers of defensive zone faceoffs. I highly recommend reading it. What I culled from the article is summarized here:

If you didn't read the article listed above (and really, you should) you need to know that average opponent shot rate increases to about that of a 5-on-3 powerplay during the first few seconds after a lost defensive zone draw. That means a defensive zone faceoff specialist, or at least someone halfway decent at d-zone draws, plays a critical role in reducing shots faced. 
We can see why offensive zone faceoffs matter too by taking that logic of defensive zone faceoffs and flipping it on its head. If a defensive zone specialist plays a critical role in reducing shots faced, then an offensive zone specialist should play a critical role in increasing shots for. First we'll take a look at offensive zone faceoff totals and the players that have been on the ice for them.

Defensemen are naturally going to show up the most because they typically take longer shifts and play more minutes. The chart above gives an idea of what numbers to put the most stock in on the chart below. While Emmerton is included on the graph, I would caution that the sample size is too low for his numbers to hold true over time.
Two things immediately stick out. The first is Pavel Datsyuk's dominance in the circle, and the second is Valtteri Filppula's low winning percentage.

Datsyuk's success isn't much of a surprise, but it does lend credence to his reputation as one of the best two way players in the world. Filppula's winning percentage is far and away the lowest of the centers or wingers who have been on the ice for over 300 draws. The numbers here only tell us so much, however, as I wasn't able to find actual offensive zone faceoffs won or lost. Instead, the numbers represent every faceoff the player has been on the ice for, whether he was taking the faceoff or just on ice during it. Filppula moving to the wing means that he's taken far less faceoffs than past season, but this doens't explain everything. His winning percentage is 10% higher in the defensive zone, which is surprising for a player whose offensive numbers have exploded this season but whose defense is seldom mentioned.

The same conclusion drawn from the analysis of defensive zone faceoffs can be drawn here. Datsyuk and Zetterberg live up the their reputation as superstars, and there's a dropoff after them. If there's an offensive zone faceoff you want Hank or Pav to take it, as they give you the best chance to create the 5-on-3 like increase in shots.