Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quality of competition
Evaluating where the minutes go

Jeff J. at Sisu Hockey had a good look at the Canadiens' quality of competition numbers for these playoffs, pointing out that the small sample size the postseason offers skews those figures so much as to make them useless.

But what is of use at Behind The Net is the TOICOMP figure, which measures the mean time on ice (5-on-5) for a player's opponents during games. If a skater squared off against Nick Lidstrom every game, for instance, that would bump up the number, as the Red Wings captain plays big-time minutes.

Using these figures for Detroit and Pittsburgh, here are the rankings for TOICOMP, highlighting the players who are shutting things down or being kept away from quality competition:

1 PAVEL DATSYUK C 16 14.5 14.3
2 TOMAS HOLMSTROM LW 16 12.6 14.26
3 HENRIK ZETTERBERG LW 16 14.7 14.24
4 NICKLAS LIDSTROM D 16 17 14.22
5 BRIAN RAFALSKI D 16 17.6 14.14
6 VALTTERI FILPPULA C 16 12.9 13.94
7 BRAD STUART D 15 16.6 13.84
8 MIKAEL SAMUELSSON RW 16 12.5 13.79
9 DANIEL CLEARY RW 16 11.9 13.77
10 NIKLAS KRONVALL D 16 16.2 13.74
11 JOHAN FRANZEN RW 11 12.7 13.74
12 KRIS DRAPER RW 16 11.6 13.35
13 DALLAS DRAKE RW 16 9.22 13.14
14 JIRI HUDLER C 16 8.58 12.98
15 BRETT LEBDA D 13 12 12.91
16 DARREN HELM C 12 8.01 12.72
17 CHRIS CHELIOS D 14 9.88 12.71
18 DARREN MCCARTY RW 15 6.44 12.65

Detroit's big five, unsurprisingly, show up at the top, with the supposed "shutdown" group led by Kris Draper not, in fact, playing those shutdown minutes.

The Red Wings' players that have been burned the most at even-strength in these playoffs are Hudler, Draper, Chelios (who may not play in the series), McCarty, Samuelsson and Lebda.

On the flip side, Zetterberg and Datsyuk have played nearly 240 5-on-5 minutes and had only four goals scored against. Life will be very difficult for whoever they match up against.

1 SERGEI GONCHAR D 14 16 13.95
2 BROOKS ORPIK D 14 15.8 13.94
3 JORDAN STAAL C 14 11.7 13.77
4 SIDNEY CROSBY C 14 14 13.77
5 MARIAN HOSSA RW 14 14.7 13.76
6 TYLER KENNEDY C 14 9.72 13.75
7 JARKKO RUUTU RW 14 11.6 13.72
8 PASCAL DUPUIS LW 14 13.5 13.69
9 ROB SCUDERI D 14 14.1 13.64
10 EVGENI MALKIN C 14 13.8 13.62
11 RYAN MALONE LW 14 11.8 13.61
12 HAL GILL D 14 14.8 13.57
13 PETR SYKORA RW 14 12.2 13.57
14 RYAN WHITNEY D 14 14.8 13.18
15 ADAM HALL LW 11 7.14 13.17
16 KRISTOPHER LETANG D 14 15.2 13.11
17 MAXIME TALBOT C 11 10.2 12.94
18 GEORGES LARAQUE RW 14 6.06 12.71

Orpik might surprise those who haven't had a chance to watch Pittsburgh regularly, but since mid-February, he's slid in alongside Gonchar in a shutdown role and performed admirably. What makes him so effective is what led to him being a first-rounder in 2000 (18th): He hits hard and skates incredibly well for a 220-pounder.

He's a huge key for Pittsburgh.

I do think he has the potential to be a liability in this series against Detroit's best, and that could force Gonchar to take on a new partner in the finals in some situations. (Regardless, Orpik's going to command big money as an unrestricted free agent given his turn in these playoffs. He's been impressive.)

The Penguins have juggled things a bit more than Detroit in these playoffs, which makes it more difficult to spot trends, but the perceived liabilities are at the bottom there. Hall, Laraque, Malone and Whitney have had difficulty keeping the puck out of their net.

Hossa, meanwhile, gets big minutes up front but could be a liability against top offensive players. Many of Pittsburgh's big-minute players are high-risk, high-reward; Detroit relies on skaters that are essentially low-risk, high-reward.

Unlike the Red Wings, the Penguins' most dependable defensive players have been their checkers: Kennedy, Dupuis, Talbot, Ruutu, Gill and Scuderi have rarely been scored against at even strength in these playoffs.

Coach Michel Therrien isn't big on matching forward lines, but I imagine Crosby lines up against the big five more often than not. Putting Staal out there against Zetterberg is also a possibility, but his line doesn't generate nearly as much offence and could be completely inept against the top checkers in the league.

It should be interesting.

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At 11:24 a.m., May 24, 2008, Anonymous Eric said...

So do the numbers bear out that puck possession, when Datsyuk/Zetterberg are on the ice is responsible for the "good defense" or is the opposition getting decent time in the Detroit zone, but just not scoring?

At 4:04 p.m., May 24, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

If you think shots are a good indication of puck possession, those three guys were first through third in even strength corsi numbers(shots for minus shots against) per 60 min during the regular season by a huge margin (They were 23, 23, and 22; next closest was 17.) From watching them, it's obvious they don't get pinned down much. Lidstrom and Datsyuk make so few defensive zone turnovers that once it touches either of their sticks, it's usually two safe passes and they're down the ice.

At 6:56 p.m., May 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James - Hossa a potential liability? He's been playing the toughest minutes and lighting it up with them for years now. Tough stretch in ATL this year but otherwise he's a bonafide power-outscorer. Watching the guy you can't help but notice his tremendous defensive game - if anyone in the top-6 WON'T be a liability it's Hossa


At 9:01 p.m., May 24, 2008, Blogger Jeff J said...

Mr. Desjardins updated the playoff stats shortly after my post and the QUALCOMP numbers make a lot more sense now. I'm guessing he made a change to use the regular season ratings to calculate the playoff QUALCOMP.

Behindthenet is the single greatest thing on the internet.

At 9:48 p.m., May 24, 2008, Blogger Hawerchuk said...

"Behindthenet is the single greatest thing on the internet."

Thanks Jeff. That one's going up on the website!



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