Archive for the ‘Snap Shots’ Category

The final score was certainly not indicative of how Thursday night’s game played out between the Wild and Coyotes. Phoenix ended up with the better Fenwick numbers (23 SOG + 10 MS Wild = 33; 28 SOG + 21 MS Yotes = 49) but to the eye, all their shots were coming from the blue line or the perimeter. Minnesota seemed to be possessing the puck much more than Phoenix, so I’m surprised the numbers came out the way they did. I think part of it is a score effect—to start the third period, the Wild were up 4-1 and Phoenix played very aggressively while Minnesota sat back a bit to end the game.

I tried my hand at tracking scoring chances this evening, and while it was my first effort, I checked them against the PBP after the game:

Period 1 Period 2 Period 3 TOTAL
Minnesota 8 7 2 17
Phoenix 5 3 7 15

7, Cullen–1

9, Koivu–1

10, Setoguchi–1

11, Parise–1

15, Heatley–4

16, Zucker–1

20, Suter–2

21, Brodziak–2

46, Spurgeon–1

63, Coyle–1

96, Bouchard–1

  • Mike Yeo has continued to shake up the lines, going with yet another new combo for tonight’s game: Parise-Koivu-Coyle; Zucker, Cullen, Setoguchi; Bouchard-Granlund-Heatley; Rupp-Brodziak-Mitchell. These lines seemed to work well…Cullen and Setoguchi looked better than they have in some time, and Heatley was being fed good passes in the slot the whole evening. Being able to roll out four lines will help a lot on back-to-back nights like this week, and if the rookies continue to chip in, the Wild’s depth could help them out down the stretch.
  • Nicklas Backstrom’s gave up three goals, but one was a weird redirect off Tom Gilbert’s stick on a strange hop, another was a crazy hop off a dump-in from the red line that took two funny hops, and the third came in the last minute of the game after Phoenix had pulled their goalie. I wrote a while back about watching a Quality Start melt away in front of my eyes, and tonight felt very much the same. Backs has been playing quite well as of late, and tonight’s numbers will drag his recent success down a bit but he has been doing his part to help the team along.
  • Speaking of rookies, Zucker and Brodin are making the most of their minutes. Zucker has three goals so far and Brodin has stepped up to the challenge of playing on the top pair. Only Justin Schultz is skating more minutes per night, and Jo-Bro is not making a lot of mistakes.
  • Not a rookie, but Jared Spurgeon has looked decent since returning from his injury. Pairing Suter with Spurgeon failed miserably, but he is doing alright on the second pairing with Gilbert.
  • The Fox Sports North announcers cited a stat in the first period that they called “Attempted Shots” and it was certainly higher than the shots on goal at the time, so I am curious if they don’t have someone counting Fenwick or even Corsi…I’m going to try to look into it.

I’m not a true believer in momentum, except that the team has been playing better over the last couple of weeks, and they will need to play well as a team to take on the Ducks on Friday. Anaheim is in the “due-for-a-regression” spot that the Wild were in last year, so we’ll see if that starts this week. Backstrom will probably get the night off, so we’ll see if Darcy Kuemper can continue his stellar play and keep the Wild rolling along.

Hockey is a game, and fantasy hockey is a game based around a game (though not a game within a game, that would be Inception!)

In game theory, an important distinction is whether the players have perfect information or imperfect information.

In games with perfect information (chess and checkers are good examples,) all the factors are known by all players. Each player can see all of his opponent’s pieces, and there is no ‘hidden’ information except for the plans and strategies inside the other guy’s head.

In games with imperfect information (most card games, blackjack and poker for example,) some of the factors are unknown by the players, which is where the complexity, the skill, and the intricacies of the game come into play. If everyone knew the dealer’s face down card in blackjack, or what everyone else at the poker table had as their pocket cards, those games would be a lot less fun.

So, do we have perfect information or imperfect information in fantasy hockey? Some would foolishly say it’s the former–they look at the stats for last night’s games or a guy’s production last season, and think it’s perfect information. After all, there’s the numbers right there in black and white, there’s everything that happened in the game, right in the box score. But when I think about how advanced stats like Corsi, PDO, zone starts, and qual comp contribute to fantasy, I think about how they make those boxcar stats look imperfect in an awful hurry. Sure, this guy got that many points, but he did it against really soft competition, or he got some really good puck luck, and those points may not really be an accurate reflection of his skill or a predictor of how many points he can put up going forward.

But on the other side of the coin, fantasy doesn’t care about a player’s QoC or his PDO…goals are goals. Let me clarify: if you drafted Patrick Marleau or Thomas Vanek this season, you got yourself a whole heap of goals in the first few games of the season, and you almost certainly won your first couple matchups. Whether those goals came on ridiculously high shooting percentages (they did) or came easier because of favorable zone starts (they did,) they still counted. Last April, I got myself on board the Pascal Dupuis express during my fantasy playoffs, and I enjoyed a nice little hot streak, to the tune of around a point per game over a couple weeks. Did I know that production was unsustainable? Certainly. Did I keep sending him out there night after night? You’re damn right I did! But I digress…

The point I’m trying to make is that the role of more sophisticated stats (or advanced stats, or underlying stats, or fancy stats, or whatever you want to call them, ultimately it doesn’t really matter) is to provide more *context* to a hockey player’s production. And in fantasy, that context can be supremely helpful. It can give us strong signals on whether to buy low or sell high on a team or player, and those signals (if we choose to heed them) can give us a leg up on our competition who is ignorant to even basic stuff like individual Sh%.

These stats don’t give us perfect information, by any means. No self-respecting stat guy (or gal) would tell you that. And we as a community are constantly trying to improve our methods, to develop new numbers and metrics that are meaningful and useful and not downright crazy (if you’re plugged in to the #fancystats community on Twitter, you may have heard about the paper that got accepted to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that makes that case that Alexander Steen is one of the most important players in the league. But I digress again…)

Bottom line: in fantasy hockey, we are dealing with imperfect information. But the value of Corsi and Fenwick and the usage charts and all that is that they give us slightly *less imperfect* information. One step closer to knowing when the dealer is about to flip over that suicide king, or that the guy on the button is working with deuce-seven offsuit.

I’m working on a cool feature looking at the Wild using some new “puck hog” metrics, but in the mean time I wanted to look at some team-level stats and broaden it to the Western Conference. It’s still early in the season…but with the compressed schedule the timeframes get out of whack. With around a quarter of the schedule in the books, some teams that might be outperforming their true talent might be accumulating enough points in the bank that if they do regress, they could still get a bit of home-ice advantage come playoff time. And on the other hand, with a smaller sample size than usual, the “laws” of regression may not even take effect!

Anyway, what I wanted to do tonight is look at the Western Conference standings (current as of Wednesday, 2/20) and compare them to some team-level rate stats: shots for and against at even strength, and particularly Fenwick ratio. Fenwick has been shown to be a great indicator of a team’s level of play, and accurately predicted the Wild’s demise and the Kings’ surge last season alone.

It is generally accepted that the effects of home ice are less in hockey than other sports. But I still like to look at the numbers (why do people climb mountains? because they’re there…why do I analyze home/road splits? because they’re there!) On the other hand, it’s a little dicey to take a small sample and split it into even smaller samples…I heard on #MvsW the other day that the Kings have played just like 4 home games and 9 road games so far, so appropriate grains of salt necessary here. Having said that, on with the chlorophyl!

(Friendly reminder, if you need a refresher on what Fenwick is, head to my stats glossary.)

Table 1. Western Conference Fenwick Close with Home/Road Split

ss 2-20-13 west conf standings fen close

Table 2. Western Conference 5v5 Shots For and Shots Against per 60 minutes

ss 2-20-13 west conf standings sf sa 60

The Best

The Blackhawks and the Canucks are prettay…prettay…prettay good. Expert analysis there, good night everybody! It’s no surprise to me to see that Chicago and Vancouver have almost identical home and road Fenwick rates–great teams play just as well on the road as at home. The Anaheim Ducks are the darlings of the conference so far, and why not? Everyone likes a feel-good story, and the Ducks are loaded with them, from the Boudreau redemption story to the timelessness of Teemu Selanne to the Viktor-Fasth-as-Randy-Quaid-in-that-movie-about-the-old-rookie, there’s narratives flying all over the place. But notice that Anaheim is getting outshot at even strength, and their Fenwick rates are below 50%, and not just barely either. They’re the only team that has a better road Fen close than home…an anomaly most likely but still interesting and worth monitoring. The Nashville Predators are another team that’s rife with storylines, and they are at the league cellar for shots, but dang it all if they aren’t right there in fourth place. Shea Weber seems to be snapping out of his funk, and Pekka Rinne is doing Pekka Rinne things so we’ll see how long he can carry that team. San Jose is in that classic spot where they’re not really as good as they looked for the first two weeks of the season (hi Patty) but not as bad as they have looked for the most recent two weeks, so to be honest I’m just going to set them aside and see what they look like in a couple more weeks. For now, they’re still on top of the Pacific division and their Fenwick rates don’t show anything to panic over. I’m not a Niemi believer, though, so we’ll see where this team winds up.

The Bubble

“The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry when both your goalies get injured.” –Steinbeck. The Blues are putting up eye-popping Fenwick rates, particularly at home, but if the netminder can’t stop pucks, none of that matters. I learned last year not to dismiss the Coyotes, but they aren’t looking like a team that can get to the conference finals again. Kari Lehtonen is a great goalie…when he’s not injured. When healthy, he covers up a lot of their deficiencies, but when he’s out, the cracks in the armor start to show up real quick. Detroit still has as much firepower as any team out there but they’re not getting any younger, and if Jimmy Howard misses time, the Wings will have to work that much harder at winning those 5-4 games. What to say about the Wild…you can only watch so many games where you hear the commentator say, “Parise fires the team’s first shot on net here, twelve minutes into the period” before you start to wonder what it will take to get this thing turned around. I didn’t delude myself into thinking that the additions of two All-Stars would erase all the team’s problems but I had sort of hoped they would figure out a way to get a couple more shots per game.

The Rest

I know we’d all rather just continue to repress all our lockout memories, but I distinctly recall a team down in Oklahoma City that was ripping the AHL a new one. Ah, those were the days. The Oilers have got some great puzzle pieces, but it’s hard to score goals when you’re skating backwards. Devan Dubnyk has been inconsistent, but when he’s on his game, he has looked great. I keep saying the Kings will be fine, buy low on the Kings. But they keep losing, and sooner or later they have to string together some wins if they want to get back in this thing. They are showing great possession numbers, and their shots allowed are lowest in the league, but Quick needs to start stopping some pucks like he did last year. I’m still confident that they will be fine, but if they’re not careful they might run out of time. The Avalanche are just a mess. They had a really good thing going last year with Landeskog and the rest, and this year they’ve managed to piss it all away. Side note: have you seen some of Ryan O’Reily’s dad’s tweets? The dude is on this big crusade about how psychiatric medications are an evil plot by scientists, and schizophrenia isn’t a real thing and on and on and on. We’re talking Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah-level here. Calgary needs to admit they’re in a rebuilding phase–I’d do it like a band-aid and get it over with, but that’s just me. I think I’m actually buying into the Blue Jackets right now…they’ve got something like three first round picks next year, they’ve got a new GM and they didn’t get as much in return for Rick Nash as a lot of people thought they should have, but I think this franchise is starting to find its way out of the woods. It’s unfortunate when a team is playing for next year so early in the season, but rebuilding is a process, not an event.

To sum it all up, I think the Hawks and Nucks are for real, the Ducks are surprising everyone and while I’m not rooting for them to regress, their underlying stats might catch up with them. Nashville is in the same boat with their low number of shots, and the fifth seed through about the eleventh seed are just a few points apart, so I’ll want to see what the bubble teams do in the next month or so before guessing which of them are playoff contenders.

Thanks for reading, make sure to check out my fantasy hockey podcast, and shoot me an e-mail at hashtaghockey [at] gee mail [dot com and follow me on Twitter, @Hashtag_Hockey

Despite notching an assist on the Wild’s only goal of the game last night, the 20-year old Finn who was styled a Wunderkind entering this year has generally looked like he could not shoot his way out of a paper bag. Mikael Granlund has 16 shots on goal in 12 games this year, just 1.33 per game, while his CorsiOn is a capital-D Dreadful -28.60, which ranks ninth-lowest in the league among forwards with more than five games played. While he has looked better the last couple games and might finally be developing some chemistry with fellow member of the -20 corsi club, Devin Setoguchi, Granlund has just looked overmatched and overwhelmed to me this year.

Meanwhile, fellow rookie Charlie Coyle has found himself in the enviable position of skating alongside Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise beginning with just the second game of his career. Coyle has not dented the scoresheet yet and actually has less shots per game than Granlund, just 6 SOG in 5 GP (1.2 shots per game.) Coyle is one of just five Wild forwards with a positive CorsiOn this year (Koivu, Parise, Coyle, Brodziak, Clutterbuck.) Both are getting difficult minutes, with Coyle’s QoC number at a hefty 1.15 and Granlund’s at 0.80. But one thing Coyle is doing better than Granlund is drawing penalties: 3.1 drawn per 60 minutes vs 1.0 taken for Charlie, 0.4 drawn, 0.8 taken per 60 for Mikael.

Like a lot of folks, coming into this season I thought Granlund wouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the NHL game–he had played at a high level in one of the toughest European leagues for several years, and showed promise in the AHL before getting injured. Now I’m wondering what factors may be contributing to his poor start to his Minnesota career. The rinks are a different size in the SM-liiga, bigger than the NHL but smaller than Olympic size if my research is correct…but Granlund played a number of games with Houston during the lockout so that’s probably not it. I’m starting to wonder if his role as a playmaker and his lack of size and defensive skill aren’t a great match in Mike Yeo’s system. While Coyle gets to skate with All-Stars and his direction is pretty much, “hey kid, shoot the puck when they pass it to you,” Granlund is responsible for setting up guys and creating chances, and thinking three moves ahead in the NHL chess game has got to be tougher than the AHL or the liiga. Plus, Coyle has gotten his assignment and stuck with it, while Granlund has skated a few games with Cullen, a couple with Bouchard, and even one with Konopka. The constant for 64 has been Setoguchi, who has had an equally dreadful season start though he has shown signs of life lately. I don’t really want to get into a chicken v. egg argument, but Granlund and Setoguchi have been tied together for the first quarter of the season and one figures that if Yeo was going to split them up, he would have done so by now.

I feel like I’ve written a lot about line combos the last few weeks, and my reaction has been…alright yeah, I guess I like that. Sure, that could work too. At the risk of being a broken record, I do like the newest iteration of the Wild’s second line with Dany Heatley rejoining Setoguchi with Granlund as the pivot. Heatley and Gooch played together in San Jose, and again last year on the Wild’s top line. They do seem to have some good chemistry, and let’s face it, Heatley hasn’t resembled a first-liner for three years. I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that his place on the team is on the second unit for a while, so we’ll see how he reacts.

I am trying to remain patient with this team, and Setoguchi in particular, but one can only watch so many games where the team goes 10-minutes at a stretch without putting a shot on goal before wondering when it’s time to give guys like Jason Zucker a shot. We may already be seeing signs of this, as Bouchard and his expiring contract were a healthy scratch last night against the Canucks…you can only roll the dice so many times before you have to get new dice.

Shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em. Mike Yeo is playing the lineup card like Ice Cube plays craps. He put Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi on the fourth line with Zenon Konopka earlier this week at Phoenix, and while they seemed to respond to his “message,” the team still lost. Now, Yeo is moving Dany Heatley off the top line, to the second line with Bouchard and Matt Cullen, while Charlie Coyle will get time with Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise versus the Canucks. I think this is less of story than it seems to be on its face…Heatley has not played like a top-liner in years, and if Coyle is the guy they want to see next to Koivu and Parise, might as well get him started earlier. The team is floundering so there’s not a lot to lose. Between the line changes and the trade with the Rangers, I like the club’s approach that the status is definitely not quo–they signed Parise and Suter to build a playoff-worthy team and if players aren’t producing, they need to know that their lineup spot is not safe (unless your name is Matt Cullen…)

  •  Cue the sad trombone…the team’s only two players with a positive CorsiOn are Cal Clutterbuck (9.02) and Kyle Brodziak (2.56), and their on-ice Sh% are sub-4%. Womp womp. I honestly think that if Brodziak was having a better year, he may get a look at the 2C spot, but his numbers from the last half-dozen games have been capital-t Terrible.
  •  I do like what my eye has seen from Jonas Brodin so far, and he’s been playing well enough to keep his top-line assignment. Yeo trusts him enough to send him out for DZ-faceoffs (56.9% of the time he’s been deployed in the Wild zone.) He’s also been logging the sheer quantity of minutes that will help him develop, and even a couple on the man advantage.
  •  Mikael Granlund is just lost out there. I can’t really figure it out, he played against top competition in the SM-liiga and tore it up over there, and then looked fine in the AHL during the lockout. Granlund’s CorsiRelQoC is still just a shade under 1.0, so he is getting tested, but he is flunking that test. Mike Russo has written that Granlund may be the “odd man out” with the new line combos, so we might see him as a healthy scratch in the near future. Which would be a shame, but perhaps the kid just needs a little time to get himself together. But he won’t benefit from playing bottom-six minutes alongside Konopka or Rupp, and sending him back to Houston may be the wrong move too, so I sure hope he gets it figured out.
  •  I wonder if Ryan Suter and Shea Weber call each other late at night after practice, “No I miss YOU more,” …”No I miss YOU more,” “No I miss YOU more.”

//

Matt Cullen is a good ol’ Minnesota boy, the pride of Virginia MN, proud alumnus of St. Cloud State…the prodigal son returneth after playing for five teams before the Wild. He does a lot of things right, he buys into the system, he gives 110%, he skates hard, he’s a mentor to the younger guys. And at the ripe age of 36, he belongs on the third line. He’s a quality guy who plays quality minutes, but he shouldn’t be used outside of a bottom-six role. He makes memorable plays, like late in the game Tuesday at home vs Columbus when the Wild were killing one of the four penalties they took in the third period, Cullen dove for a loose puck and swatted it the length of the ice. He plays committed defense and still has a quick shot but he just doesn’t do enough on offense for me to think he belongs on the second line, where Mike Yeo had been playing him alongside Mikael Granlund until recently.

Tonight’s lines were Parise-Koivu-Heatley; Bouchard-Granlund-Setoguchi; Cullen-Brodziak-Clutterbuck; and Powe-Konopka-Mitchell. While the Bouchard-Brodziak-Clutterbuck line was an interesting experiment and sort of made for a nontraditional pairing, I like the lines that the Wild put out much better–Cullen in the bottom six and a healthy Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the top six. Bouchard showed that he can still put pucks past goalies tonight on a beautiful 200-ft play that started when Marco Scandella collected the puck behind the Wild net and made a nice breakout pass to Bouchard, who dished it off and then had it returned to him as he entered the Blue Jackets’ zone with speed and zipped a snap shot right over Chris Mason’s glove for the game winner. It was the type of play that the Wild just didn’t seem to have the ability to make last season–plus it was just nice to see some production from anyone not named Parise.

The Wild got off the schneid tonight after going 0-2-1 the three previous games. They should have beaten St. Louis but I guess just to hang with one of the top teams in the conference is something to hang your hat on. Though the Wild got just 11 5v5 shots while the Blues had 25, so perhaps the score was deceiving in the first place. Minnesota was able to hang with Detroit for a little while, but that game quickly unraveled.

We might have seen our first glimpse of the top defensive pairing of the future tonight, as Ryan Suter looked a lot better and young Jonas Brodin was impressive as well. A lot has been made about the Wild’s thin blue line, but I am hopeful Scandella and Clayton Stoner can prove themselves to be at least serviceable on defense.

While some may not consider it a “real” rivalry, the Minnesota-Chicago games are always entertaining, and despite the technicality that the franchise moved to Dallas, the two teams always dial it up a notch. The Wild will be undermatched on Wednesday but perhaps they’ll find a way to hand the Blackhawks their first loss of the season.

Updated team-level fancy stats:

Fenwick (all-inclusive): 0.494

PDO (5v5): 0.995

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my weekly fantasy hockey podcast, and follow me on Twitter, @Hashtag_Hockey!

Backstrom misplays puck, Erat scores NSH @ MIN 1-22-13

^^Having trouble embedding NHL videos into my blog so here’s the link.

Just a few thoughts on the first three games of the Minnesota Wild season so far–plus the start of a recurring column looking at Wild team possession stats.

  • How much time does it take to turn a Quality Start into a non-Quality Start? For Niklas Backstrom on Tuesday night, it took about seven minutes. Backs played a great game though two periods and change, and then Martin Erat was the beneficiary of a botched 4-on-4 pass from Parise intended for Spurgeon, and Erat was off to the races. Backstrom skated waaaayyy out to the top of the circles and Erat mercifully decided not to go full-Lucic, but Backs mishandled the puck and it turned into a goal. Crappy play but honestly I’m just glad there was no collision and no injury. Backstrom is not the most durable goalie in the world and I’m not quite sure what he was trying to accomplish there. But at that point it was 2-1 against and the Quality Start was preserved even though the team found themselves behind late in the game. I normally try not to target guys from my hometown team on my fantasy squads, but Backstrom was there in like the 18th round so I picked him up. Of course I wanted the Wild to come back and win but I was also aware of Backstrom’s stats, so real late in the game I knew they would give him the hook and he would get tagged with just over a 2 GAA. But then good ol’ Pierre-Marc Bouchard gets called with a questionable slashing call and Mike Yeo has to put Backstrom back in for the PK, and he promptly gave up his third goal of the night with like 17 seconds on the clock. His final line was 0-1, .885 Sv% and 3.03 GAA. I’m not sure I would call it a choke job by Backs because that was just a weird fluky play that never should have happened, but as a proponent of Quality Starts, I feel like his final line wasn’t reflective of how well he played for 53 minutes, but that’s why they play 60.
  • So this Zach Parise guy is prettay, pretttaayy good. I’m sure I’ll examine the Koivu-Parise-Heatley line in the near future, but for now I want to mention the club’s second- and third-lines, though they don’t really look like a clear no. 2 and no. 3 but sort of a hodge podge, with Granlund centering Cullen and Setoguchi on the “second” and Brodziak (YOU’RE MY BOY BLUE) playing the pivot between Bouchard and Clutterbuck on the third. Granlund is looking sharp, he’s a fantastic puck mover and at least so far, he knows how to avoid contact so hopefully he won’t get lit up. I see the value of putting him on a line with Cullen–Granlund could learn a lot from a vet like that but I don’t really think Cullen belongs on that second line. Setoguchi looks great, too. I heard a story about how he got hit by a truck before last season so I’m really liking how he’s played coming in to this year fresh. And the Brodziak-Bouchard-Clutterbuck line is definitely interesting to watch–three guys with three different skill sets but they seem to have good chemistry. Hopefully that line is something that will work out and stay together to do some damage. Brodziak and Clutterbuck are really good two-way players and they have the ability to turn defense into quick offense.
  • Obviously, it’s WAAAY too early to put any meaning into these figures, but I’ll be tracking the Wild’s Fenwick and PDO in this space. As of now, the Wild have played three games with a Fenwick in their favor (.556 vs COL, .526 vs DAL, .513 vs NSH) for a total Fenwick of .533 which is promising. Yeah, Parise is good, I think I mentioned that. I just pulled these numbers myself from game reports and that figure is all-game Fen, not 5v5.
  • PDO, on the other hand, is limited to even-strength, and the club has been playing well but you can’t say they’ve been lucky. Their PDO is right at a normal level, (1.003 vs COL, 1.036 vs DAL, 0.955 vs NSH) for a total PDO of 0.992. I’ll chart these numbers probably starting next week, with just three games a visual look wouldn’t really be anything to look at.
  • I am proud to say I started a fantasy hockey podcast last week, and while I’ll get more into analysis for this season, for the very first few pods I wanted to share some tools that the savvy fantasy player should have in his/her toolbox for smart analysis of players. Episode 1 covers goalie stats, specifically even-strength Sv% as a better indicator of goalie play, and why Quality Starts are better than just W-L record. Check it out!

Thanks for reading, and make sure to follow me on Twitter, @Hashtag_Hockey. Until next time!

//

Edward “Teddy” Purcell was resigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday to a three-year extension. He played in 81 games in 2011, setting career highs in goals (24,) assists (41,) and points (65,) while leading the team with a +9 rating. A third of his goals came with the man advantage (8).

Teddy was the beneficiary of an unsustainable 15.8% shooting–he fired just 152 shots to get his 24 goals. In 2010, however, he netted 17 goals on nearly 200 shots (8.7% shooting) so we can probably guess that his 2012 results will fall somewhere between those two marks.

Purcell was somewhat sheltered, with an Offensive Zone Start% of 56.6, and faced moderate competition (Corsi Rel QoC .385). Thanks to those usage numbers, he managed a Corsi Rel of 8.3, showing he could be a part of a potent Tampa Bay Lightning offense. Thanks to skating with some very talented teammates and his own inflated Sh%, his on-ice Sh% was 11.87.

Per Behind the Net, his number one linemate was some guy named Steven Stamkos. Purcell may be poised to grab some more minutes this year, and as long as he keeps skating with such talent around him, he could continue to post some good numbers. Last year he was drafted in the teen rounds (ADP 124.9 ESPN, 178.3 Y!) and I would expect him to go about the same this year. I don’t think his ceiling is too much higher than last year so I wouldn’t exactly call him a sleeper, but compared with the other players that get drafted in those rounds, he could provide some nice value.

Jonathan Quick’s numbers this NHL postseason are staggering: 15-2 with a 1.36 GAA and a .950 Sv%, to go along with 3 shutouts and 14 Quality Starts, good for 82.4% (brush up on your QS chops here). He has not allowed more than 3 goals in any game, and only twice has he allowed a trio of pucks into his net.

Against the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals, Quick owns a .972 overall Sv% with a .968 at even-strength. He has not allowed a Power Play goal in the finals, nor did he in Round 2 against the Blues.

Watching the games, you almost get the sense that Quick is inside the Devils’ heads, as they seem to be passing up good shooting opportunities to try to make the extra pass. In Game 1, they fired just 8 pucks on net in the first two periods combined. They will have to find a way to solve Quick, something the top three-seeded teams in the West could not do.

I can only imagine most of the Devils fans I know channeling their inner-Puddy this week. Also did you catch the Hockey Pron?

While we have some time before the Finals start on Wednesday let’s look at the Kings and Coyotes numbers in their respective Conference Finals, plus their performances put end-to-end. First the West:

LA vs PHO Fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

LA vs PHO Fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

The Kings continued to tilt the ice in their favor, never allowing the Coyotes to as much as pull even with them in the SMS numbers. Perhaps for some of the Finals games I will try to get my hands on per-period stats or break them down per-game. Gamewide stats are interesting but they don’t really tell the story of the game, so with fewer and fewer games I’ll change the way I analyze the numbers.

LA vs PHO SMS (c) Hashtag Hockey

LA vs PHO SMS (c) Hashtag Hockey

The Coyotes decided to turn up the heat in Game 5, but not until their backs were against the wall. In the first four games they served up a mediocre-but-steady diet of shots and missed in the mid-thirties, while the Kings had three games over sixty and only one game under fifty. I think about score effects often when I post these type of charts, but is at least a little remarkable how consistent the Yotes were in games 1-4.

LA vs PHO sh rate (c) Hashtag Hockey

LA vs PHO sh rate (c) Hashtag Hockey

Recently, I examined a new way of looking at Sh + MSh, and while that piece was on the player-level, since I had the data anyway I thought I’d look at teamwide Sh-Rates. If you haven’t read that article, the figures above are basically the proportion of Shots + Missed Shots that hit the net, or (Sh / Sh+MSh). Something I have noticed is that the numbers seem to vary together–in Game 2 we see a discrepancy of +.09 for the Kings, but every other game is within just a few percentage points.

NJ vs NYR fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

NJ vs NYR fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

We see a different picture in the East, with the Devils managing to outshoot the Rangers in games 2 and 3 (winning one and losing one,) but in the other games the Rangers were throwing more pucks at the Devils–by design one would think.

NJD vs NYR SMS (c) Hashtag Hockey

NJD vs NYR SMS (c) Hashtag Hockey

NJ vs NYR sh rate (c) Hashtag Hockey

NJ vs NYR sh rate (c) Hashtag Hockey

Here we see a Rangers team that did not pull the trigger much in Game 3 (just 22 Sh but only 4 MS) and was quite selective in Game 5 as well (35 Sh to 8 MS). The Devils won the last three games of the series while potting 4 goals on 16 shots in Game 4 (excluding the EN goal).

Now that we have a good sample of games played, I thought it might be cool to stack up each team’s games end to end to look at their respective runs through the tournament. Note that SMS are adjusted per 60 mins here.

LA vs OPP fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

LA vs OPP fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

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LA vs OPP sms 60 (c) Hashtag Hockey

LA vs OPP sms 60 (c) Hashtag Hockey

While the Coyotes started to look like they wanted to make it a series after shutting out the Kings in Game 4 and taking a lead midway through Game 5, these numbers suggest the Kings manhandled Phoenix more consistently than the Canucks or Blues. Their Fenwick rate was consistently near-.600 throughout and they topped 60 SMS/60 twice, after not getting to that mark in any game since the start of the Playoffs.

NJ vs OPP fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

NJ vs OPP fenwick (c) Hashtag Hockey

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NJ vs OPP sms 60 (c) Hashtag Hockey

NJ vs OPP sms 60 (c) Hashtag Hockey

The Devils have certainly played a different brand of hockey than the Kings–where Los Angeles has played 4 games out of 14 with a SMS/60 rate less than 40 (28.6%), New Jersey has played 10 of their 18 games under 40 SMS/60 (55.6%). You don’t have to read the tea leaves too much to wonder how the Devils will try to play the high-octane Kings…will they try to run with them or sit back and weather the storm?

Finally, let’s look at how the two goalies have stacked up. Their even-strength Sv% are near-identical, but Quick owns the Ov Sv% advantage, as Brodeur and the Devils have allowed 15 PPG on 77 Sh (.805) plus another 1 in 4 for Hedberg. Each netminder has notched 11 Quality Starts, but the Devils have played four more games than the Kings, which brings Brodeur’s QS% to just .611 and Quick’s to .786.

Brodeur vs Quick 2012 NHL PLayoffs (c) Hashtag Hockey

Brodeur vs Quick 2012 NHL PLayoffs (c) Hashtag Hockey

Of course, these stats are more descriptive than predictive, but hopefully they are enlightening. While I would guess that a lot of the talking heads will have the Kings, New Jersey fans can still dream of bringing Lord Stanley’s hardware back home…