Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Habs Week 1 in Review

After allowing the inauspicious start of first goal allowed on first shot to national rival on the big return to hockey on national TV, the Habs have really rebounded. Barring the rest of that mostly unwatchable game, the team has been an exciting combination of speed and efficiency, of system and flair.

For posterity, I am going to provide a short review of the week and what traces it left in the subjective and objective records.

Dome of the week

A big thanks to all who have embraced our new way of picking domes. The voting has been good, and except for a few instances where game puck players were not in the voter's dome, it's providing another nice mountain of data.

Because we have this data and can tabulate votes, I have revised the system for doling out points for the LiW player of the year (aka, the Molson Cup that a non-goalie has a chance at winning). It is now based on percentage of the votes and weighted based on the number of rivals a player has to best to make a dome.

For week 1 of the 2013 season, the results look like this:
(What you see below are charts that show games played (GP), Domes, Game pucks (Pucks), the percentage vote for domes in each game (G1, G2, ...) and the points I mentioned above (Liw Pts))

Andrei Markov - D1
Player of the week

Wow. That stats line alone speaks for itself. It doesn't even mention Markov's 4 goals in 4 games, or his 3 gamewinners. Let's be honest guys, we knew this guy was good, but I think we'd properly forgotten just how good. I mean to watch this guy at the moment, I don't think it would be hyperbole to say he's the best PP QB in the league. The Habs missed him so much last season that they finished last. After 4 games, I think it's fair to ask how far they might have gone in the playoffs had he been there.

Alex Galchenyuk - F1

Hooray for the rookie. To be the top vote getter among forwards after a pretty awesome week is a notable feat. 3 points in your first 4 NHL games is no joke, and I think we've seen signs that this could just be the start. He owes a lot to his little linemate too, with whom he makes a dangerous partnership.

Rene Bourque - F2

It may surprise those that only look to the goals and assist charts that Rene Bourque would emerge from the pile to clutch a spot in this dome. But while I do believe there's a bit of pleasant surprise built into his votes, he has also done much more than his stats show. He's done it by doing more of the little things right. For example, on a Plekanec goal, he opened that pass to the trailer up by skating so hard and taking the defender with him. That is something we never saw from Bourque last year, and we hope it shows an attitude 180. He's the best playmaker on the team so far if those off the puck plays are given the credit they deserve. And that's what will make a great #1 line, good play from everyone, on the puck or not.

Brian Gionta - F3

That first game, dome and all, left me wondering about Gionta, but I was off base. He has forged a nice partnership with both Plekanec and Bourque and been part of the de facto number one line since puck drop. What benefits the Habs most is his slick instincts and pass reception that he turns into chances. Plekanec was due a winger who could do his play justice, and Gionta is coming through so far.

I have to note that I feel personally that it is harsh that Plekanec is not getting in here. After doing everything he could to prepare for this season, he has come to Montreal in outstanding form and I feel that he is the engine of the dominant line at the moment. He was pipped to the post by Gionta here, but I think we'll be getting a greater appreciation for the guy's professional preparation and attitude in the weeks to come.

Alexei Emelin - D2

This was a tight race with Raphael Diaz. I think Emelin rightly wins out in the end for the total aspect of his game. Coming to us in midseason form, without missing a beat on his hits and his positioning. It helps that he seems to have quickly built an understanding with Markov also. I think his ascendancy will prove to be one of the most important things that has happened to the Habs in a while, a late pick, brought to North America late, he is a bit of a bonus to the development system that hasn't produced anything like the defensive defender he is in years.

Carey Price - G

Price has done something to start this season that he hasn't always done: laid down four starts where there was never a question about him in the dome. It's not his spectacular saves that matter, but rather the confidence that his run-of-the-mill work gives the team in front of him. I'm impressed by his start and hope that his steadiness can continue through all the player streaks and slumps that come and go.

Scoring analysis

(Many apologies, there were some transposed cells in my time on ice Excel sheet and a few players were having their values divided by the wrong TOI values. It's sorted now, and I've replaced the charts for posterity. Some of the comments should be changed, but I'm not going that far)

As you know we've been keeping lots of data on goals created and involvement in goals, extra assist and the like for years.The data so far this season is presented below.

What you see in the charts below is a breakdown of the goals for per 60 minutes that each player has been on the ice for. The full line represents the GFON/60 for each player (so Gallagher has been on the ice for about 8 GF/60 of playing time at ES so far, Ryan White about 2 GF/60). The blue section represents the players share of goals created per 60 minutes. The red section represents the goals that the player was involved in, minus the proportion for creation. And the green section represents goals the player was on the ice for but had no involvement in (Hey Colby Armstrong!)..

Even strength scoring (per 60 minutes)
Blue = Goals created per 60; Red = Involved per 60; Green = On ice per 60

Early season numbers. Lots of outliers here (Gallagher), but they give some idea of who the best offensive players have been. I think there's more worth noting at the bottom this time, where Desharnais and Cole have been pretty light on contribution, and Pacioretty didn't make a single contribution to an even strength goalscoring play (late votes on GC bring his credit up).

Powerplay scoring (per 60 minutes)
Blue = Goals created per 60; Red = Involved per 60; Green = On ice per 60

 The PP has been hot, hot, hot; so these numbers are due for a reality check too. Note the ES laggards were the PP motors. Rene Bourque being the big forward he was always meant to be has been a big factor in the goals that have happened as well.

One question, well worth asking, is who is going to replace Max Pacioretty in the Markov pass-buddy role, which he was filling with glorious result. I think this choice should be made carefully: someone who can pass, but has the shot that needs to be respected.

Scoring Chances

(Apologies here again. An innocuous little #56 instead of #55 in one of my pivot table collectors was causing Bouillon to be the defensive superstar of the century. Bouillon whackers were right. Sorry to delude you for a week. It's corrected now)

With many thanks to the people who actually take the time to do this work (mostly Olivier Bouchard)  from a mere compiler, I'd like to share some of the stats we sometimes never get to see in aggregate.

Because of some changes to the realities of tracking these events, the records have changed quite a bit this season. Olivier is giving us more raw data than before but not in the old format tied to the game summary, so I have added a bit of work on my own to compile dangerous shots (shots from within the home plate area).

What you see below is chances for and against at ES (5v5 ChONF/A -- by Olivier Bouchard's count), dangerous shots for and against at ES (5v5 DShONF/A -- by my count), the percentage of dangerous shots for and against from the total attempts including misses and blocks (5v5 ChF/A % -- by calculation), and the difference between controlled zone entries for and against (5v5 ZoneE -- by Olivier Bouchard's count). The colours are a gradation from high to low, which I'm sure you all gathered.

I could try to tell you what they all mean, but the answer is basically that each gives us more information about each player. None of these stats is a panacea that tells us all there is to know about hockey. But each tells us something we didn't know based on the old stats record. I am particularly interested in the percentages of dangerous shots, as I think this stat has some potential if it is tracked long enough. Also, Olivier's new zone entry stst is an intrigue, as it tells us more than we ever knew about how players get into the zone. Scott Gomez, you left too soon...

As with the other stats and figures, I'm sure the trends we see emerging here will be more meaningful as the season goes on too, but I thought there were a few nice things to note about play not recorded in goalscoring moments.

For instance, take a look at Francis Bouillon. The guys has not been on the ice for a dangerous shot against, yet is there when his teammates are doing OK at the other end. Quite a nice positive impact. And he's the zone entry king (whether by making it hard for others to get cleanly into the Habs zone or by making the nice plays that make it easier for his forwards.

Plekanec, as I suggested stands above his forward peers as well, making dangerous chances happen more often at the other end than his own.

Hope you enjoy the stats. Look forward to discussing.

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