Every team needs scoring balance in their forward corps. It's how teams like Washington, Detroit, San Jose, Vancouver, etc. manage to do so well during the regular season and it's why a lot of Canes fans want to keep Carolina's second line of Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Skinner in-tact for at least next season. However, one thing the teams mentioned above have that the Canes don't is a top-six full of forwards capable of scoring at least 20 goals. This is why I am very tempted to make the case for placing Skinner and possibly Jokinen or Ruutu on the top line with Eric Staal because it gives the Canes that one big line that teams fear to go up against. There are A LOT of reasons why this shouldn't happen, though. Which is why we are going to weigh the pros and cons of placing Skinner on the first line in this post.no comments
I have already said a lot about Carolina's special teams and how they weren't good at all last season and I've focused a lot on the powerplay, mostly the acquisition of Tomas Kaberle but what about the penalty kill? You know, the one that was arguably the second worst in the NHL. I took a look at how the Canes PK unit did last year in terms of scoring chances and determined that a big problem was them relying on two defensemen to do about 35% of the penalty killing by themselves and putting too much of a workload on them. Chad LaRose and Eric Staal also did not have good seasons when it came to penalty killing, and Staal has never really been that great of a penalty killer anyway so there's another problem. What's been done to fix this, though? I said in my post on Southeast Division forwards that Carolina brought in a couple defensive minded players up front to help out but how much is that going to improve the Canes penalty kill? What about the defense? There's a few adjustments that can be made to hopefully fix Carolina's PK unit.
More after the jump...no comments
Whenever there's a way to judge and analyze defensemen, I'm always eager to test it and see how valid it is or how a certain team's defense corps looks through it. So, when I saw Japers Rink post an article on "defensemen save percentages," I naturally had to check it out and test it for Carolina's players. For this project, we're going to take a look at each defenseman's on-ice save percentage. Why are we looking at save percentages? Because if a defenseman is constantly put up against an opponent's first line and imanages to prevent goals, it speaks high of his abilities...that or he's getting very lucky. Or possibly a little of both. I'll explain things further after the jumpno comments
Last summer, the Oilers signed Kurtis Foster to a two-year contract in an attempt to spark what was an awful powerplay. The year before, Foster had a career high 26 points on the powerplay as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, which made up half of his 42 total points. Oilers fans were disappointed with his production this season as he only had 14 points with the man advantage and Edmonton's powerplay finished in the bottom-five with a success rate of 14.4% and dead last in terms of shots. Foster clearly did not live up to his reputation as a "power-play" specialist but when you look at his career stats, Foster has never been that deadly on the powerplay and he had such a good season in Tampa Bay because his most common PP linemates were Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. Compare that to who he played with in Edmonton and their powerplay woes, and it's easy to see why he had such a drop-off in powerplay production. He was not the one driving the play in Tampa and Edmonton found that out the hard way.
Why is this relevant? Because the Hurricanes made a similar move by signing Tomas Kaberle to help give their powerplay (which was ranked 24th in terms of success and 26th in term of shots last year) some life. Kaberle has always had a reputation of being an "elite" offensive defenseman but that is mostly because he had a great season in 2005-06 and has been able to put up points from the blue-line for his entire career. The thing is that Kaberle has never been someone who can single-handedly rejuvenate a powerplay on his own and the Leafs powerplay numbers in recent years along with the Bruins miserable PP performance during most of the playoffs show that. Despite that, I don't think he will have a downturn like Foster did last season because Kaberle has at least been able to put up around 20 points on the powerplay even if the team's powerplay numbers aren't that good.
Carolina's powerplay has been pretty bad for the past two seasons and Toronto's was actually worse if we're going by shots for and Boston's wasn't exactly anything to write home about either so that's another reason why I don't think we have a situation similar to Foster's on our hands but those expecting Kaberle to single-handily fix our PP have another thing coming, especially since Joe Corvo and Erik Cole are both gone. However, something else to wonder is if Kaberle's production with the man advantage is superior to Corvo's. The answer is yes but not by a lot.
PPG PPA PPP Def. Rank PPTOI/60 PPSF/60
Kaberle 0 25 25 9 3.86 48.3
Corvo 5 18 23 15 3.86 43.0
It is a given that Kaberle is going to put up points, which is all well and fine but how much of an improvement on the powerplay is he over someone like Joe Corvo? Most of the stats say he's only a slight improvement at best. Of course, there are some other things to consider here. Maybe having a guy like Staal up front will help out a little bit? Maybe Joni Pitkanen will have a bounce-back season? Who knows? The point here is that the chances of Kaberle completely rejuvenating the team's powerplay are slim, and guys like Pitkanen, Jokinen, Ruutu and others will need to do their share as well if we don't want our powerplay to end up in the bottom of the league again. Kaberle will likely put up 20-25 points (was going to be optimistic and say 30 but that seems like a stretch), but all that really does is give the team similar production to Corvo's last year if not a little better. The keyword there is "little."no comments
When you have all of your team's scoring chances tracked, there's a lot of neat things you can do with them. One of them is looking at how a certain line performed in terms of generating and preventing chances. The idea was thrown around by Neil of Russian Machine Never Breaks and experimented with by Derek Zona of Copper and Blue. Since the Hurricanes had so many different line combinations last year, it would be a good idea to see which ones were the most effective at generating chances. If anything it should give us some clue on where to start for next season since the lines appear to be up in the air right now.
Acquiring all of this data was made possible by Vic Ferrari's Time On Ice scoring chance script.
click for full-size picture
Note: Data sorted by total scoring chances from greatest to least.
These were the Canes top lines last season in terms of total scoring chances. The green means they had a chance percentage of above .500 and the red means they were below .500.no comments
I've done some analysis on the Hurricanes defense this off-season by looking at things like goal-causing errors and the type of competition they have received but another thing I have been planning on doing is looking at how much each defenseman was used throughout the season and what impact the trades for Bryan Allen, Ian White and Derek Joslin had in terms of ice-time and other things. The quality of competition and zone start data is nice, but the biggest issue I have with that is the data is shown for the entire season instead of just the time they spend with one team. For instance, the data on Behind The Net for Ian White counts for his time in Calgary, Carolina AND San Jose, and it's kind of hard to judge his usage or performance that way. To fix that, I looked at every Hurricanes' defenseman's even strength, powerplay and shorthanded ice-time and graphed it by game to show how their roles may have changed over-time and what kind of impact some of the newcomers had this season. Ben from Arctic Ice Hockey did this project with a few teams during the summer and I though it would be a good idea to do it with the Hurricanes. I pretty much did the same method as him where I graphed each player's ice-time using polynomial trendlines and I divided their time on ice by 24 to make it easier to read on the graph. Also to make the graph's more legible, I broke down the defensemen groups into two different parts: Mainstays and Movers. Mainstays are players whose ice-time stayed consistent throughout the season (think Joni Pitkanen or Joe Corvo) while movers are ones whose ice-time changed over-time or were traded before the end of the season (Babchuk, White). Let's get the ball rolling here, shall we?no comments
Going back to my post on the Canes Adjusted Corsi Numbers, you'll remember that I said something at the end of the article about "Balanced Corsi" which also corrects a players corsi value judging by their zone starts. The difference with balanced corsi is that it's judged based on how other players with similar offensive zone starts performed in their situations. How it's done is pretty simple, we look at one player, compare his corsi and relative corsi number with 100 players who had similar zone starts to him and determine an average which we call an "expected corsi number." The difference between his regular corsi and expected corsi number is what his balanced corsi would be. Eric from Broad Street Hockey looked at this with the Flyers.
This system has the same idea as adjusting corsi numbers for zone starts but we are basing this on player performance instead of a pre-determined formula. The adjusted corsi formula would reward players who had low zone starts even if they did not perform well and players who had high offensive zone starts were punished severely even if they had good seasons. This graph illustrates that point. Henrik Sedin's -216.2 adjusted corsi rating shows that. Now, with balanced corsi, his rating is more like 6.24 because while he played great with cushy zone starts, players who also started most of their draws in the offensive zone did slightly better. He played well but not as dominant as his point total and corsi indicate.
Broad Street Hockey also included a link to the spread sheet which includes balanced corsi and balanced corsi relative data for every player who played in 40 games over the last four seasons so we can look at how players performed over time. Big thanks to them for that.no comments
A couple weeks ago, I made a post with a couple graphs showing how the players on the Hurricanes were used last season in terms of zone starts and quality of competition. Charts like that are excellent for seeing how coaches use their players but they don't give you the best idea of how they performed against them because raw corsi and corsi relative numbers do not take context into the situation. Hockey statisticians all over the Internet are looking for ways to fix this and one system that has been introduced is Adjusted Corsi or "Corsi corrected for shift location."
I believe that I stated this in a few of my articles, but where a player starts his shifts will have a huge impact on his corsi number because if a player starts most of his shifts in his own zone, he's likely to be on ice for more shots and his corsi number will suffer from it even if he plays well defensively. To correct this, the writer at Objective NHL determined that one offensive zone start is worth 0.8 in corsi based on Vic Ferrari's study that an offensive zone start is equal to 0.6 in Fenwick and Fenwick is just Corsi without blocked shots factored into it.* If you look at the graphs that I made for the Hurricanes, you'll notice that there were a lot of players who had mostly defensive zone starts and I attempted to show their performance by color coding the bubbles, but corsi relative numbers alone doesn't reflect how well they performed here so I thought this project would be good to do. I used the formula in the Objective NHL article posted above to determine these numbers and found their zone start percentages and corsi numbers at Behind The Net's stat site.
*I prefer to use Corsi because I feel that blocked shots should be accounted for here. If a player in his own zone allows the opposing team to get a shot away then he should be penalized for it. However, shot blocking as a skill should be taken into account when signing players.no comments
The Hurricanes were the second worst face-off team in the league last season with a success rate of 44.6%, only .4% higher than the Edmonton Oilers. I saw this is a big problem when I was tracking the team's defensive errors because there were many opposing goals that resulted from the Canes losing a face-off in their own zone. Then I read a post over at Flames Nation which addresses the point that winning a face-off is overrated in the grand scheme of things and shows evidence that where a player's shift location began is more important than winning the face-off. He also brings up the point that the difference between the best and worst regular face-off men in the league is about 20 percent with most players having a face-off rate between 40-60%. David Steckel and Manny Malhotra's being the only ones with a success rate of over 60%
How much does winning the draw contribute to team success? Last year, some of the best face-off teams were also the best territorially:
Vancouver and San Jose were the two best face-off teams in the league by nearly 2 percent and they also had the two best team corsi percentages with the score tied. After those two, it gets jumbled a bit and you'll have good face-off teams like Florida play poor territorially while bad face-off teams like Calgary and Buffalo outplayed their opponents 5v5. So there is some correlation but you have to be either a really good or really bad team at taking draws for it to make a distance. That brings up another question; is it worth it to spend money on "face-off specialists" in the off-season to make your team better? It is if said player can do more for the team than just win draws.no comments
About a week ago, I made a post addressing an article on Pro Sports Talk where they came up with system for ranking a team's powerplay going by how many goals they scored instead of using conversion rates. The Canes powerplay looked better through this because they scored 55 goals with the man advantage. I don't think this is a bad system to go by but I was very skeptical of how much validity there was to a system like this because of how much it rewarded teams who could draw penalties. Teams who have more opportunities on the powerplay are obviously going to score more goals and Carolina drew more penalties than any other team in the league last year. They converted at a low rate of 15.3%, good for 25th in the league and they had only 46.2 shots per 60 minutes when they were 5-on-4 and that was also in the bottom-five of the NHL. So, Carolina apparently had a "good" powerplay because they scored over 50 goals on a lot of opportunities despite not getting the puck on net that much or creating much pressure. Makes sense. I did a little more investigating to see just how good "or in this case bad" our powerplay was last season.
Let's just say we could do a lot better....no comments