Thursday, November 22, 2007

What players drive their team's offence?
A look at the key contributers at the quarter point

I took a look at the top defensive defencemen yesterday, something that will probably be a recurring theme, but with the new stats engine at Behind The Net, I decided today's challenge would be to see which players improve their team's offence the most when they're on the ice.

(Oilogosphere spokesman Tyler Dellow joked that I'd devised a pretty complicated way to come up with 'Sidney Crosby' as the answer.)

I've split this into defencemen and forwards, and will look at three different stats: even strength scoring, even strength shots on goal and power play scoring.

First, the defenders...

Blueliners who improve even strength scoring the most:


NAME POS TM GP GFON/60 GFOFF/60 diff
1 KAREL RACHUNEK D N.J 16 4.02 1.44 2.58
2 NICLAS HAVELID D ATL 21 3.99 1.5 2.49
3 FILIP KUBA D T.B 21 4.4 1.98 2.42
4 PAVEL KUBINA D TOR 18 4.88 2.57 2.31
5 RANDY JONES D PHI 17 4.33 2.18 2.15
6 PAUL RANGER D T.B 20 4.09 2.1 1.99
7 NICKLAS LIDSTROM D DET 21 4.02 2.08 1.94
8 TOBIAS ENSTROM D ATL 21 3.54 1.86 1.68
9 KENT HUSKINS D ANA 22 3.11 1.55 1.56
10 ZBYNEK MICHALEK D PHX 12 2.94 1.42 1.52


Blueliners who improve even strength shots on goal the most:


NAME POS TM GP SFON/60 SFOFF/60 diff
1 WADE REDDEN D OTT 20 36.7 26.9 9.8
2 MAREK ZIDLICKY D NSH 19 30 21.6 8.4
3 NICKLAS LIDSTROM D DET 21 35.5 27.8 7.7
4 ED JOVANOVSKI D PHX 19 31.7 24.4 7.3
5 PETTERI NUMMELIN D MIN 16 29.3 22.3 7
6 DION PHANEUF D CGY 21 28.4 22 6.4
7 SERGEI GONCHAR D PIT 21 27.7 21.4 6.3
8 MAGNUS JOHANSSON D CHI 13 28.5 22.5 6
9 MATTHEW CARLE D S.J 18 28.6 23 5.6
10 KURTIS FOSTER D MIN 18 26.8 21.3 5.5


Blueliners who improve power play scoring the most:


NAME POS TM GP GFON/60 GFOFF/60 diff
1 DENNIS SEIDENBERG D CAR 13 18.48 7.07 11.41
2 KURTIS FOSTER D MIN 18 12.85 4.32 8.53
3 JAROSLAV SPACEK D BUF 11 8.7 1.41 7.29
4 DENIS GREBESHKOV D EDM 16 8.39 2.09 6.3
5 TOBIAS ENSTROM D ATL 21 5.58 0 5.58
6 ANDREI MARKOV D MTL 21 11.19 5.69 5.5
7 MIKE MOTTAU D N.J 16 10.39 4.93 5.46
8 BRUNO GERVAIS D NYI 18 8.27 3.54 4.73
9 KIMMO TIMONEN D PHI 19 9.58 4.87 4.71
10 BRYAN MCCABE D TOR 15 5.97 1.47 4.5


It's certainly no surprise to see Nicklas Lidstrom in there a few times. I'll come back to these guys later.

Onto the forwards ...

Forwards who improve even strength scoring the most:


NAME POS TM GP GFON/60 GFOFF/60 diff
1 ERIK COLE RW CAR 14 5.3 2.44 2.86
2 ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY LW TOR 18 4.56 1.95 2.61
3 ILYA KOVALCHUK RW ATL 21 4.08 1.54 2.54
4 COREY PERRY RW ANA 22 3.75 1.25 2.5
5 JASON SPEZZA C OTT 14 4.44 1.98 2.46
6 VINCENT LECAVALIER C T.B 21 4.52 2.06 2.46
7 MATS SUNDIN C TOR 21 4.81 2.4 2.41
8 EVGENI MALKIN C PIT 21 3.71 1.35 2.36
9 ALEX TANGUAY LW CGY 21 4.31 1.95 2.36
10 PAUL STASTNY C COL 20 4.08 1.85 2.23


Forwards who improve even strength shots on goal the most:


NAME POS TM GP SFON/60 SFOFF/60 diff
1 HENRIK ZETTERBERG LW DET 21 39.5 26.4 13.1
2 TOMAS HOLMSTROM LW DET 21 38.9 27.4 11.5
3 DARREN HAYDAR RW ATL 10 30.6 19.5 11.1
4 EVGENI MALKIN C PIT 21 31.1 20.2 10.9
5 CHRIS KUNITZ LW ANA 22 30.4 19.6 10.8
6 BRIAN GIONTA RW N.J 21 32.3 21.6 10.7
7 ALEXANDER OVECHKIN LW WSH 21 33.3 24.1 9.2
8 PAVEL DATSYUK C DET 21 36.9 27.9 9
9 DAYMOND LANGKOW C CGY 20 30.7 21.8 8.9
10 TRAVIS ZAJAC C N.J 21 31.1 22.3 8.8


Forwards who improve power play scoring the most:

NAME POS TM GP GFON/60 GFOFF/60 diff
1 ALES KOTALIK RW BUF 17 10.15 0.94 9.21
2 JAROME IGINLA RW CGY 21 8.59 0 8.59
3 TIM CONNOLLY C BUF 14 10.34 2.55 7.79
4 JOE PAVELSKI LW S.J 21 10.55 2.81 7.74
5 LEE STEMPNIAK LW STL 19 9.21 1.54 7.67
6 RYANE CLOWE LW S.J 11 11.04 3.8 7.24
7 MIKE RICHARDS C PHI 19 10.64 3.88 6.76
8 JERE LEHTINEN RW DAL 21 12.55 5.85 6.7
9 JONATHAN TOEWS C CHI 18 10.58 3.89 6.69
10 HENRIK SEDIN C VAN 21 9.97 3.42 6.55


Okay, that's all kinds of numbers. But it does give you an idea of the type of players we're talking about here (with a few niggling exceptions, something influenced by the fact we're not very far into the season).

For most of these players, they are the engines of their team's offence, and the game's just not played the same way when they're not on the ice. Tampa Bay is scoring goals at even strength when Filip Kuba and Paul Ranger are on the ice, Detroit is generating shots on goal with Nick Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg out there. Tobias Enstrom and Andrei Markov drive the power plays of their respective teams. Calgary hasn't scored 5-on-4 without Jarome Iginla on the ice.

If I take the above three metrics and weight them equally, it comes up with a pretty solid list of some of the most important offence-first players in the league:


Defencemen TM



Forwards TM
1 DION PHANEUF CGY


1 RYAN GETZLAF ANA
2 SERGEI GONCHAR PIT


2 EVGENI MALKIN PIT
3 TOBIAS ENSTROM ATL


3 JAROME IGINLA CGY
4 NICKLAS LIDSTROM DET


4 CHRIS KUNITZ ANA
5 BRUNO GERVAIS NYI


5 JASON SPEZZA OTT
6 ED JOVANOVSKI PHX


6 ZACH PARISE N.J
7 DENNIS SEIDENBERG CAR


7 ALEX TANGUAY CGY
8 PAUL MARTIN N.J


8 PATRICK KANE CHI
9 SERGEI ZUBOV DAL


9 JERE LEHTINEN DAL
10 BRIAN POTHIER WSH


10 PAVEL DATSYUK DET
11 TOM GILBERT EDM


11 TOMAS HOLMSTROM DET
12 BRIAN CAMPBELL BUF


12 DAYMOND LANGKOW CGY
13 ANDERS ERIKSSON CGY


13 MARC SAVARD BOS
14 MAGNUS JOHANSSON CHI


14 COREY PERRY ANA
15 ZDENO CHARA BOS


15 HENRIK ZETTERBERG DET
16 CHRIS CAMPOLI NYI


16 SIDNEY CROSBY PIT
17 MATTHEW CARLE S.J


17 JONATHAN TOEWS CHI
18 VILLE KOISTINEN NSH


18 MIKE RIBEIRO DAL
19 KURTIS FOSTER MIN


19 TIM CONNOLLY BUF
20 LUKAS KRAJICEK VAN


20 MICHAEL NYLANDER WSH

Certainly a lot of this has to do with how evenly weighted a team's offence is: Teams like Carolina or Toronto, who score a lot of goals, share the load more than Anaheim, Calgary or Chicago, whose offences could in theory be decimated by one key injury.

Imagine the Blackhawks without, say, Jon Toews, for example.

But what's interesting also is the players not on these lists. Where, for instance, are Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin and Vincent Lecavalier?

Well, Kovalchuk and Lecavalier don't generate a ton of shots, surprisingly, compared to their teammates. And Ovechkin's rates on the power play have been ordinary this season, despite the fact he's playing nearly 80 per cent of the Capitals' man advantage situations.

This post is already horribly long, so I'm going to end here, leaving it up to others to explain what Bruno Gervais is doing here (other than exposing a fatal flaw in my lists).

Labels:

9 Comments:

At 9:07 AM, November 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I did a quick comparison of your lists with my ratings (at stats.hockeyanalysis.com) and you do a pretty hood job picking out some of the better offensive forwards, the offensive defensemen is a little lacking.

In my system a rating of >1.00 is better than average and <1.00 less than average. Of the players in your list, Tom Gilbert has a 0.93 rating, Jovanovski a 1.00 rating, Foster a 1.03 rating, Carle a 1.04 rating and Martin a 1.04 rating. Everyone else is 1.15 or above. But when it comes to forwards Nylander is 1.10 while everyone else is 1.27 or above.

I think the reason for this is more often than not it is the forwards that drive the offense not the defensemen and defensemen offense is much more influenced by who they are on the ice with. In my rating system I look at both their line mates and their opposition. Should Gilbert get credit for Edmonton's PP or Horcoff and Hemsky?

My top 20 offensive players are:

Douglas Murray, SJ
Erik Cole, CAR
Vernon Fiddler, NSH
Vincent Lecavalier, TB
Mats Sundin, TOR
Pavel Kubina, TOR
Tim Connolly, BUF
Dennis Seidenberg, CAR
Filip Kuba, TB
Martin St. Louis, TB
Jarome Iginla, CAL
Evgeni Malkin, PIT
Mike Ribeiro, DAL
Nikolai Antropov, TOR
Cory Stillman, CAR
Niclas Havelid, ATL
Alex Tanguay, CAL
Dany Heatley, OTT
Vaclav Prospal, TB
Jason Spezza, OTT

Maybe not surprisingly the above lists highlights the flaw in your system that you pointed out. Players on teams with balanced offense don't show up. When I factor in linemates and opposition the Toronto and Carolina players (and Tampa players too) now show up on the top offensive player list.

 
At 10:48 AM, November 23, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Wow. You actually found a stat that confirms Kent Huskins plays in the NHL. That's impressive.

 
At 12:08 PM, November 23, 2007, Anonymous Karina said...

Who is Douglas Murray, and why is he suddenly at the top of all of these lists??

I was impressed to see Ponikarovsky so high on the list. He doesn't get much love in TO.

 
At 12:13 PM, November 23, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I’m being naïve, but it seems to me that both lists are not quite describing the reality of offensive impact. The list above describes, for example, Vernon Fiddler as Nashville's most potent offensive weapon. Is this a factor of sample size? It also seems strange that Sidney Crosby would trail Fiddler (and some of the other players listed) in a metric that measures offensive impact. It seems that we need to find a way to balance shots with shot quality, as well as factor in the difficulty of opposition. Any list that measures the top twenty offensive forwards/players that doesn’t include the league’s leading goal-scorer (Kovalchuk) almost certainly still needs tweaking.

Scott.

 
At 1:16 PM, November 23, 2007, Blogger Menzies said...

I'm missing out on why Getzlaf is the most important offence-first player in the league?

He doesn't appear in your top tens for shots, power play, or even strength goals, then bam! Number 1. How's that?

 
At 1:17 PM, November 23, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Scott,

The way mine works is I look at players produce and who makes the players around them better. Now I believe Douglas Murray is an anomaly but lets look at him in more detail. http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/200708players/player0362.php looks at who Murray has played with and against and how many goals for and against were allowed when playing with and against those players. For example, Murray has played 78:18 even strength minutes with Vlasic and when the two of them were on the ice together the team produced 0.766 goals for per 20 minutes. When Vlasic was on the cie but not playing with Murray the Sharks produced at a rate of 0.306 goals/20 minute. In other words, Vlasic produced more offense when with Murray than without.

The same goes for Kyle McLaren (2.642 with, 0.701 without), Marleau (1.905 with, .450 without), Grier (1.648 with, .576 without), Mitchell (2.232 with, 0.356 without), etc. Go down the list (Rissmiller, Thornton, Cheechoo, Bernier, Roenick, Michalek, Brown, Setoguchi, Clowe, Carle, Rivet, etc.) the story is the same.

So what does Douglas Murray do that makes the players around him produce more when he only has 3 assists? Who knows. He is probably pretty lucky but maybe being a reliable defensive defenseman allows his linemates to take chances offensively. He is a +15 so he is doing something right and it probably isn't all luck.

A similar story, though less dramatic can be written about Vernon Fiddler (http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/200708players/player0276.php). For other players look at http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/200708players/index.php and click on the players name.

 
At 1:20 PM, November 23, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Getzlaf is 11th in two measures and in the low 20s in another; that's the best of all players across the board.

 
At 1:44 PM, November 23, 2007, Blogger Hawerchuk said...

Murray is definitely a sample-size fluke - 16 GF and 1 GA - but performance like that will always be at the top of the league, regardless of how it was achieved. It's also something that's incredibly likely to regress to zero!

At even strength, Murray is San Jose's 8th defenseman. He spent half of last season in the press box. But against the Ducks last Saturday, Murray was out there with Ozolinsh, presumably to keep Sandis out of trouble...

 
At 11:40 AM, November 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever I read through any of these analyses, I'm always left with the feeling that they're missing some important component. For some reason, baseball's advanced metrics inspire more confidence.

 

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