I've talked a bit about scoring chances on this blog and how important they are when it comes to determining how much success a team has. If you don't remember what a scoring chance is, then I'll give you a brief explanation. It's a shot directed at the opponent's net from a dangerous scoring area and it includes missed and blocked shots. The exact "scoring chance area" is debated over by several bloggers but the general idea is that it's the area in front of the net to the top of the face-off circles from inside the two face-off dots. This picture courtesy of Arctic Ice Hockey explains it better. It is similar to corsi only we use shots that were counted as scoring chances instead of shots in general so we know which players are creating offense better than others. Corsi is a great system for measuring possession numbers, but scoring chances gives you a better idea of which players are producing better than others and which ones are getting lucky or unlucky.
Most teams have statisticians who track numbers officially for their respective teams and this has slowly been gaining popularity on the blogosphere, too. Bloggers who currently track chances for their teams are Derek Zona at Litter Box Cats (Florida Panthers), Dennis King at MC79hockey.com (Edmonton Oilers), Neil Greenberg at Russian Machine Never Breaks (Washington Capitals), Kent Wilson at Flames Nation (Calgary Flames), Eric T. at Broad Street Hockey (Philadelphia Flyers), George Ays at Blueshirt Banter (New York Rangers), Oliver at En attendant les Nordiques (Montreal Canadiens), the people at Under The Helmet of Slava Duris (Toronto Maple Leafs) and I will be doing it for the Canes on this blog for this upcoming season.
Doing this for the most recent Hurricanes season was a bit difficult because I don't have all 82 games available for me to watch on demand (although that would be sweet) but what I do have is access to every game's shot charts on NHL.com and Vic Ferrari's awesome scoring chance script at Time On Ice to help me do this project. So, we are looking at scoring chance data based on shots on goal instead of shots directed at the net. It's a little rought but I think the data does give a good general idea of who was producing more than others. You have to take things like zone starts, playing time, quality of competition and a player's performance in comparison to the rest of the team into context with these numbers, too. Without further ado, are the scoring chance numbers for the Canes:
CF = chances for at even strength, CA = chances against at even strength, SC% = scoring chance percentage, CF/15 = chacnes for at even strength per 15 minutes, CA/15 = chances against at even strength per 15 minutes, CD = chance differential. PP CF = powerplay chances for, PP CF/15 = powerplay chances for per 15 minutes. PK CA = chances against on penalty kill, PK CA/15 = chances allowed on penalty kill per 15 minutes.
The fact that the team average for forwards is only 47.3% isn't good news considering the replacement-level for scoring chances is hypothesized to be around 45%. Yes, it could be a lot worse but when only one of your team's regular forwards has a scoring chance rating of above .500 for the entire year, then there's definitely room for improvement. I'll be damned if this doesn't show how great Eric Staal is, though. It shouldn't surprise anyone that he had the best scoring chance percentage on the team and was the only regular forward who got his rating above .500 even if it was only by a little bit.
- Great to see Jeff Skinner ranked so high in the pack and not too below the .500 mark in his rookie season. I was hoping that his rating would be a little higher because he played somewhat easier minutes than the rest of the team but the fact that he outperformed most of his teammates as a rookie is a very good sign. The biggest reaosn why he didn't get over .500 was probably due to the fact that he gave up almost as many chances as he created, showing that he has some work to do defensively. The silver lining here is that he's creating a lot of chances compared to the ice-time he's receiving. Over four chances per 15 minutes is pretty damn good.
- I've always been a big fan of Chad LaRose and he had some solid numbers here in comparison to the rest of the team. For someone who teetered between the second and third line on this team, recording about four chances a period isn't too shabby at all. He kind of got drilled on the penalty kill, though and was on ice for plenty of chances in his own end, too. He still puts up good numbers for someone who is usually relied upon for secondary scoring but I'd have a hard time expecting more than that from him.
- Very rough year for Brandon Sutter even if he was pegged with a lot of defensive zone draws. He put up numbers that were way below the team average and slightly below replacement level last season and it's disappointing that he had a showing like that after a strong 2008-09 campaign. Although, it should be noted that he played a lot on the third line last season and it's kind of hard to do much when your two wingers are Pat Dwyer and Jiri Tlusty. You would hope that Sutter would be the type of player who could make his linemates better, though if he wanted to be more than just a third-line center. Here's hoping he can regain his 2009 form.
- Would you look at that, Erik Cole finished just below the team forward average despite his most frequent linemates (Staal, Stillman, Skinner) finishing above that marker and a lot higher than him. The only line mate who he out-performed was Tuomo Ruutu and that was only by less than a hundredth of a percent. Like I said, I'm not picking on him but the underlying numbers continue to show that he is a replaceable player.
- Anyone need a winger? Cory Stillman's run with Carolina shows that he's got something left in the tank at the age of 37 and anyone looking for a winger should at least consider him on a cheap contract for one year. Hell, if Patrick O'Sullivan can find work then I don't see why Stillman can't either. He was quite solid on the powerplay, too.
- Not sure if I can say the same for Sergei Samsonov but he played about level to the team average before he was traded to Florida.
- It's nice that some of the AHL call-ups from Charlotte played well with the low amount of ice time they were given here but I want to see how they do with more ice-time before I jump to any conclusions. I would not be against giving guys like Jerome Samson and Drayson Bowman more of a look next season because their numbers are decent here but it's hard to say if they are good or not when they were given less than 10 minutes of ice time per game.
- Speaking of AHL call-ups, I really hope that Dalpe and Boychuk play better next season, especially Dalpe. Yikes.
- I would be lying if I didn't say that I'm slightly disappointed in Ruutu's numbers, mainly with the fact that he gave up a ton of chances in his own end but I'm going to assume that was due to him switching positions.
Not a pretty picture for the Canes defense when you see that only one defenseman on the roster for next year (Joslin) had a percentage of over .500. The team average being close to replacement level is also pretty concerning but I'm hoping that changes when we factor in missed and blocked shots for next season when I track chances live. Most of the guys who finished with a near-replacement level percentage had a lot of starts in their own zone (Harrison, Allen, Gleason) but them putting up these kind of numbers is scary when two of them could be playing top-4 minutes for Carolina next season. Hey, at least Jamie McBain played well.
- I might have to jump off the Bryan Allen bandwagon for a moment. I have been advocating that he should be playing top-4 minutes because he did in Florida and appeared to play well by the eyes in Carolina but he got plastered at even strength as a Hurricane. I am hoping his numbers only look this bad because of a small sample size, though. I'm going to wait and see how he does next season before I jump to conclusions about him.
- Derek Joslin should be starting on the third pairing on opening night, he's earned it. I know he also has a small sample size but he did pretty damn well with the ice-time he was given. He also didn't get assigned tough competition at all so that's worth noting but if he's only going to be playing 3rd pairing minutes, then it won't be a problem. Would be nice to see what he can do with more ice-time, though.
- We need someone than Tim Gleason to be our "shut-down" guy. He was constantly given the toughest assignments and the fact that he gave up over 451 chances and had a percentage that is barely above the replacement level marker tells me that he struggled and can't constantly rely on him to do all of the heavy-lifting. Our other option is Bryan Allen....and he's not exactly as promising of an option as I thought he would be.
- Who got the second toughest assignments? Joe Corvo. He was also udnerwater in terms of scoring chances but created a lot of opportunities on the powerplay. If Kaberle can do the latter next season then I will be happy.
- Decent numbers for McBain in his rookie season and he got more ice-time than I expected that he would to start the year. He may keep a spot in the top-4 next season after all. Really did not expect him to have better numbers than Joni Pitkanen, though but the latter played a lot more minutes so I'd imagine that their numbers would be pretty equal if they had the same amount of ice time.
So there you have it. Remember that these numbers are kind of rough because I didn't track these chances live and they will probably look slightly different after you factor in missed shots and blocked shots. However, I feel that these numbers give you the general idea of which players were better at creating offense than others and when comparing them to their corsi and fenwick numbers, most seem in line with them. Excited to see what these numbers look like when I start tracking chances live.