I enjoyed being part of the scoring chance project so much this season that I decided to take the liberty to track a few playoff series. While most of the teams in the playoffs have people tracking for them already, there are still many who are not tracked and two of them are the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators. To fill that void, I will be tracking chances for this series and possibly a few more if I have time. The Predators are one of the teams this year that has managed to stay near the top of their conference despite being a weak team by standard puck possession metrics like Corsi & Fenwick. Tracking scoring chances will help us find out how much "shot quality" comes into play for them and if it's one of the reasons why they have been so successful this season.
Unfortunately, tonight's game didn't really explain much at all because of how unorthodox it was. A little under 40% of the game was played at special teams because the refs were calling pretty much anything that resembled a penalty and it led to special teams dictating the pace of play. Whichever team had the most powerplays in a given period had the advantage in chances and there isn't much that can be said about either team's play at even strength because not many chances were recording during five-on-five play.
What I can tell you is that 15 of the 34 the scoring chances that were recorded tonight were at even strength, so this was basically a special teams battle for most of the game. To make things even stranger, the Preds ended up winning 3-2, outscored the Wings 3-0 at even strength, two of which were very fluky goals, and weren't very efficient on the powerplay despite having 10 minutes with the man advantage.
Like I said, it was an odd game so there's not much that can be determined from this other than Pekka Rinne was probably the best player on the ice tonight and that the Preds did a nice job of preventing the Wings from doing much of anything on their last minute rush.
After the jump, we'll take a look at some of the raw numbers from this game.
First, let me explain a few things. A scoring chance is a shot that is directed at the net from a dangerous scoring area, which is defined by the "home plate" like area in front of the net. Here's a diagram that explains things more clearly. Shots on goal and missed shots are counted while blocked shots are not. The idea behind this is to find out which players are creating the most prime scoring opportunities while spending time in the offensive zone. Scoring chances are often stressed by coaches and we can see which players are the most effective at creating chances thanks to Oilers blogger Vic Ferrari and his scoring chance scripts.
Detroit's chances are in red, Nashville's are in blue
The fact that there was only one even strength scoring chance in the first period should tell you how odd this game was. I mentioned earlier that whichever team had the most powerplay opportunities during a given time was controlling the play and that was Nashville in the first period. They didn't score on any of their powerplays but they created plenty of good scoring chances.
Detroit eventually got more powerplays in the latter two periods and definitely made the most of them as they scored both of their goals with the man advantage and created 10 scoring chances with a little under 11 minutes of powerplay time. Detroit won the special teams battle and slightly outchanced Nashville at even strength, they just had a few bounces that didn't go their way (see Nashville's first two goals) and Pekka Rinne was his usual self. I would not be surprised to see them take Game Two.
Red Wings Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Johan Franzen +2
Worst EV Forward: Todd Bertuzzi -2
Best EV Defensemen: Nick Lidstrom, Ian White & Jonathan Ericsson +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Brad Stuart -3
Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk were Detriot's best forwards overall tonight as they both led forwards in scoring chances with four and Datsyuk played well in all three areas. The loss of Darren Helm in the first period definitely hurts since he is one of their better penatly killers but Detroit seems to have a lot of guys that are capable of killing penalties so it may not hurt as much.
Todd Bertuzzi was bumped off the first line for a little bit in favor of Danny Cleary and it appears that Datsyuk & Franzen did better without him defensively as they gave up fewer chances when Bertuzzi was not on the ice. Holmstrom also got a couple shifts on the top line and I just have to laugh at how little he was used at even strength. He was very effective on the powerplay, at least.
Lidstrom didn't play at all on the penalty kill but he had an effective game at even strength and so did Ian White. Ericsson was also very impressive tonight as he was matched up with Lidstrom against Mike Fisher's line and they kept them quiet for most of the night at even strength. Ericsson was also one of the Wings' better penalty killers.
Stuart had a very rough game. Paul Gaustad's goal was an indirect result of him beating out Stuart to negate and icing call and the play ended with the puck glancing off his shin and into the net. Tough break for him, but at the same time, I can't say that there wasn't anything he could have done to prevent that goal. He also lost a puck-battle on Gabriel Bourque's second goal and was on ice for over half of the Predators even strength scoring chances.
Predators Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forwards: Gabriel Bourque, Nick Spaling & Patric Hornqvist +3
Worst EV Forwards: Andrei Kostitsyn & Alexander Radulov -3
Best EV Defenseman: Francis Bouillon +2
Worst EV Defenseman: Ryan Suter -2
The Preds top-six couldn't seem to get much of anything going at even strength tonight, but their third line certainly was clicking. Bourque, Spaling & Hornqvist's strength is their forechecking ability and that's basically what they did tonight to be effective. Bourque's speed makes him very effective in this role and he was arguably Nashville's best forward tonight. He created all four of the scoring chances he was on ice for, two of which were goals. Spaling was also very strong on the forecheck as he forced a key turnover that set up the third Nashville goal.
Kostitsyn & Radulov were very good on the powerplay but they didn't do much of anything at even strength or anywhere else. Not that the rest of Nashville's top skaters were much better. Neither Weber or Suter played well at even strength and both were torched on the penalty kill, as well. I don't know why, but both of them looked very off after the first period while the rest of the defense corps actually played pretty well.
I was very impressed with what I saw out of Roman Josi and Francis Bouillon tonight as they were two of Nashville's better d-men. Bouillon wasn't counted on to do much heavy lifting but he played his role well and Josi had a solid game on the penatly kill.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Detroit's top-six won the overall battle at even strength as they were creating chances when they were on-ice against their main matchups. The Datsyuk line's main matchup being Weber & Suter, of course.
- Ian White won all but one of his matchups and was one of the only defensemen who could contain the Hornqvist-Spaling-Bourque line.
- Speaking of which, that line's main matchup was the Stuart/Kronwall defense pairing and they won that battle hands down.
- Roman Josi & Francis Bouillon were the only defensemen to outchance the Datsyuk line, but I'm assuming that's with a small sample size.
|DET||2||17:31||Zetterberg - GOAL||5||26||35||40||51||55||8||12||13||35||38||5v4|
|WES||2||7:32||Bourque - GOAL||5||13||23||35||44||93||13||24||35||51||57||59||5v5|
|WES||3||8:25||Bourque - GOAL||23||26||35||40||51||55||8||13||27||35||57||59||5v5|
|DET||3||2:08||Holmstrom - GOAL||18||26||27||35||51||96||6||8||12||35||74||5v4|