One of the features on this blog is the weekly rundown of the Hurricanes performance and at the beginning I present a graph called an "OZ Coke Chart" which is a graph that shows how each player on the team is being used. It plots a player's offensive zone starts on the x-axis agianst his corsi relative to quality of competition (corsi rel QoC) on the y-axis to show how tough his assignments are. A player with a high corsi rel. QoC and low percentage of offensive zone starts are usually shutdown defensemen or defensive forwards capable of playing well against the opposition's top players. On the other end, players that are given a higher percentage of offensive zone starts and are placed against average to bad competition are those who coaches do not trust defensively and shelter them as a result. The idea comes from Rob Vollman at Hockey Prospectus and is being used by many different team bloggers including the Flyers, Flames, Stars, Capitals and Blue Jackets.
I've been monitoring this for the Hurricanes all season and figured it would be a cool idea to see how other Southeast coaches are using their players. I did make one extra addition with this, though. To show how each player is performing, I used a bubble graph and color coded the bubbles to show if a player has a positive (blue) or negative (red) corsi relative rating. This will help display how well a player is driving possession in his role. The bubbles also increase or decrease in size depending on what his corsi relative rating is. If he's positive and has a big bubble, then he's killing it territorially. If he's negative and has a big bubble, then he's getting dominated. Have I lost you yet? Hopefully not, because we haven't gotten to the good stuff yet. That comes after the jump.
Obviously, we're going to begin things with the Canes and we'll start by looking at their forwards.
You might wanna on that picture to enlarge it, so it's more legible.
This is the same data that I've been presenting on a weekly basis, only now we get an idea of how each player is performing right in the graph. Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer are getting the toughest assignments here but Sutter's been outperforming Dwyer by quite a bit. That isn't too surprising because Sutter's been a machine territorially the past month while Dwyer's stayed pretty consistent the whole year and he's either a .500 or negative player territorially.
Alexei Ponikarovsky's been getting a lot of praise from me and this is why. He is starting so many draws in his own end and is moving the puck in the right direction despite that. His offensive upside is low but as a third liner or possession driver, he is great in his role. Also, the amount of tough minutes Jussi Jokinen is playing is getting overlooked. Still a net positive player despite that. Oh, and speaking of players driving possession with tough zone starts, Chad LaRose's quality of competition was so high that he didn't even fit on this graph. He's a 11.7 corsi relative, too so his bubble was pretty big. Shows how good he's been this season.
Eric Staal's seen his role change this year as he's usually getting tougher zone starts but it's been the opposite this year as he's been one of the team's more protected forwards territorially. Despite that, Staal is still used against tough competition which helps take some pressure off Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu (when they aren't playing on his line) and that is illustrated in this graph.
Players getting shelled at even strength are Tim Brent, Anthony Stewart, Jiri Tlusty and Andreas Nodl. The latter is probably skewed because of his data in Philly, though. Brent's seen his role change a lot this year and is how being used in more tough minute situations, but he was being heavily sheltered earlier and was dominated. Stewart is also being sheltered and can't seem to generate any offense. Tlusty's been slightly better with tougher minutes but he's still giving up more than he's creating.
Boychuk's been the most sheltered player on the team and has at least turned those soft minutes into offense. Wonder when he gets another call-up.
I wouldn't put too much though into Jaroslav Spacek's bubble because he's played only one game with the Hurricanes, but it's worth noting that he was a soft minute player in Montreal this season. Tim Gleason and Bryan Allen are still carrying the bulk on defense as they are getting the toughest assignments among defensemen by far and are positive in corsi despite that. That's a huge accomplishment on a team that gets outshot as badly as the Canes do. The only other defenseman to have a positive corsi relative is Joni Pitkanen who is playing about the same quality of competition as Allen but with easier zone starts. This shows how big of a loss Pitkanen is because the rest of the defense isn't quite getting it done.
Jamie McBain is playing some difficult minutes and is underwater with them. I keep reiterating this point, but he's more of a puck-mover than a shutdown defenseman and I think the team is misusing him right now. Then again, the coaching staff had to feed most of the offensive zone starts to Tomas Kaberle for most of the year so maybe he had no other choice? Let's hope that changes. Justin Faulk was also playing tougher minutes for awhiel but he's seen his zone starts get easier lately. Still has a negative corsi relative but his rating is not nearly as bad as the rest of the defense corps.
Jay Harrison was also getting tougher zone starts but he's facing average competition and still underwater against that. His offensive contributions have been a nice addition but I still think he isn't much more than a bottom-pairing defenseman.
Derek Joslin has been the most sheltered d-man with Kaberle gone and he's been outplayed significantly according to this. We still have a very small sample size with him, though so we can't come to any conclusions yet. My thought is that he's like Harrison where he's not much more than a 5th/6th defenseman.
This is pretty similar to what Guy Boucher did last year. Dominic Moore, Adam Hall, Nate Thompson, and Tom Pyatt are taking the tough draws while their top-six players are freed up for easier minutes. Although the loss of Sean Bergenheim stings a bit since none of their tough minute forwards are a positive in corsi relative. Ryan Shannon was sheltered in Ottawa and Pyatt isn't the possession driver that Bergey is.
Victor Hedman has been ridiculous this year as a shutdown defenseman. He's getting a ton of defensive zone draws and is still a postive player in terms of corsi. Eric Brewer is also taking on a heavy workload this year but Hedman has outperformed him a bit. On the other end of the spectrum, Marc-Andre Bergeron is getting a ridiculous amount of protection and at the very least we can say that he's making the most of it. You have to do that when you have a that kind of defenseman on your team. I do wonder why they aren't doing the same thing with Matt Gilroy, though.
Tim Stapleton should be the guy at the bottom right.
Claude Noel doesn't seem to care about player matchups as much as he does zone starts. Jim Slater, Tanner Glass and Chris Thorburn are receiving almsot all of their draws in the defense zone while their more offensively gifted players like Evander Kane, Kyle Wellwood (i'm not joking) and Nik Antropov get the easier starts in their opponent's zone. I can't say that it hasn't worked so far as Kane and Wellwood have been producing.
Oduya and Bogosian are the shutdown pair and are slightly being outplayed with those tough minutes. However, Dustin Byfuglien has taken on some more defensive responsibilities this season and he's playing well according to this. Definitely did not see that coming at all. Randy Jones, Mark Flood and to a lesser extent, Tobias Enstrom are the protected defensemen and Enstrom is clearly the top guy out of those three. Having him back in the lineup will be a huge boost to the Jets.
The return of Marcel Goc is going to help this team a lot as he's been getting a truck load of defensive zone starts, is a positive possession player and has freed up some easier minutes for their top-line. Among their first line, Kris Versteeg is the only player with a positive corsi relative and that's a little shocking because I thought Stephen Weiss and Tomas Fleischmann were playing better territorially. They are getting easier minutes now, after all. All three are shooting the lights out right now so there's a lot of luck playing into their success but it appears that Versteeg might be on-pace for a fantastic season.
Mike Weaver is still Florida's heavy-lifter on defense but he hasn't performed as well as he did last year. I wonder if changing Jason Garrison's role had anything to do with that? He and Brian Campbell are blowing away their competition, regardless. Dimitry Kulikov has been assuming his Garrison's role and he certainly could be playing better. Ed Jovanovski's contract is still awful. Just thought I would throw that in, too.
Much of the hype in Washington has been centered around their third line with Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward and while two out of those three are playing well, I was expecting them to have more of an effect on this team. They have a perfect set of forwards to give their top line "the Sedin treatment" and yet, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Bacstrom and Troy Brouwer aren't getting that many offensive zone starts compared to some of their other forwards. Backstrom's defensive ability makes it a little hard to justify that but I still think Ovechkin could benefit from that kind of sheltering.
Roman Hamrlik is the only Caps defenseman with a positive corsi relative and he's also getting some of the toughest assignments. The most baffling thing on this graph is how the team is using rookie Dimitri Orlov in a tough defensive role instead of sheltering him like most coaches would. I could see their graph looking very different by the end of the year with the coaching change, though.
We aren't even half-way into the season yet so I expect there to be a lot of changes in these team's graphs the next time I look at them. This is still a pretty interesting way to judge a player's performance because the graph shows you what kind of role he's playing and how he is performing compared to others on the team. There's a lot of different things you can do with them, too so I'm going to be playing around with the settings over the year and see what I can come up with.
Does anyone have any input or suggestions on the graphs at all?