Monday, February 04, 2013

Habs Week 2 in Review

One good week is nice, a couple in a row in this shortened season is a serious head start for the playoffs.

I have to own up to being more negative than positive about this season, but factors which I could not understand (Bourque morphing into a player to be held as an example to all, Gallagher and Galchenyuk outmatching some serious competition by such a wide margin, Markov not only reviving the PP, but making it better than ever before) have conspired to make the team I was analyzing into another proposition altogether.

This is the review of the second week in which more players had multiple goals games, the PP kept ticking and the start goalie didn't lose.

Dome of the week

A big thanks again to all who continue to vote. I am enjoying seeing what the readers see and getting an insight into the minds of other Habs fans.

Of course, there are moments where I am in near complete disagreement, but in democracy, one must deal with these moments the way one deals with agreements and move on. I think over a season this will produce a pretty rich subjective picture of how the season went that should be something of value to hold against the few "objective" stats that we have.

For week 2 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))

Tomas Plekanec - F1
Player of the week

A strong score for Plekanec on the week. As usual, he picked up a dome when his team lost, because Mr. Consistent just always looks good when enough players have a bad night. And his other big moment came in yesterday's game with 80% of your votes for the hotly contested forward dome spots.

I must note, however, that if you were to investigate all elements of his games, I would be surprised if you came to the conclusion that Tomas Plekanec was significantly better in week 2 than in week 1. At even strength, for example, he was on the ice for a mere 1 goal for and 2 against this week. Last week was 2 GF and 1 GA. His PP contribution doubled (4 GF vs. 2 GF), and his contributions were more spectacular.

Rene Bourque - F2

I'll just say this. Rene Bourque never played a single minute last season that looked anything like a single minute from this season. He is no longer a cliche power forward, but is illustrating what a big player with speed can do. He is constantly drawing defenders to himself and on a better line, he has the freedom to show what a shot he had hidden for half a season. This is a well deserved nod for the winger who needs to prove his contract.

Alex Galchenyuk - F3

The boy has some talent. Not only that, he has some nerve. To watch Galchenyuk play right now is to watch an exuberant youth who didn't realize he was supposed to take time to adapt. He is taking on defenders that some have considered for trophies and winning his space and time. He is a big reason that the Habs are a better team -- they no longer need to expect the lesser lines to suck scoreless minutes from the life of a game. He and Gallagher step on to surprise the opposition more often than not. The quality of the chances they created to make their goals and chances that went asking this week belie all the shot-based stats you'll find. Will he crash to earth? Not if he keeps finding ways to turn defenders inside out the way he has been.

Alexei Emelin - D1

Another 15 hits to add to his league leading total (few of which are of the generously scored variety). While that's the headline, it's naive to look at this player that way. Hitting for him is not even the most important weapon in the arsenal, merely one he chooses to deploy when the time is right. His primary skill is poise in the zone and though he's had some shaky moments at times, I find that for the most part he seems to find the simple play and regain the control and momentum for the team. Thankfully someone in Gainey's team had to foresight to select this guy as cover for Mike Komisarek, whose hits were never more than a liability for his own team.

Andrei Markov - D2

The General turned in a quiet week. yet his team won another 3 of 4 and has a powerplay to fear. His pass to open the account against Buffalo was among the top plays of the week, and shows that even in a quiet week, he's only one look away from changing a game and his team's fortunes. It will be interesting to see how the world will change now that two big stars are back there in the defensive lineup. I sincerely hope that Therrien can see what I see and keep Markov's PP time as the first priority. As good as Subban may be, he can simply not orchestrate goalscoring the way this guy can.

Carey Price - G

3 starts, 3 domes and a game puck. It was a solid week for Price. It was a week capped by a couple of very good efforts on the weekend. The Ottawa game in particular, in which he held the fort under pressure from the second minute on. Like Emelin, it would be naive to treat Price's highlight plays as his most important. As was witnessed in the two latest wins and the game in which Budaj started, Carey's value to his team stems primarily from the understanding that has been built between the part of the defence and the way in which he finds his positioning so quickly.

Two notes. First, Price actually got more votes for the dome then Budaj in the Ottawa loss, but I don't count games in which one doesn't even play towards the totals. Second, I am curious to see what level of play it would take for this audience to actually vote against the stalwart netminder. The Winnipeg game is one that would have caused the former selectors of the dome to debate inclusion, though we cannot see the process behind individual votes, he was a near unanimous choice.

Scoring analysis

The stats from week two show some continuation from week one, with the streaks and slumps that began before this week continuing in many cases.

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

First things first, let's throw Pacioretty out of the discussion for the moment. While we're all duly impressed he recovered so much faster than anticipated (yet again), his stats are out of whack for low ice time.

Galchenyuk and Gallagher. Wow, a really dynamic duo. Both players so dangerous on the surprise attack. I don't think it's a knock to Brandon Prust to say, this is probably the first time he has been dragged to the 3 GF/60 territory on his regular line.

Desharnais and Cole. They started a bit slower on the even strength stats than their teammates, but the season seems to be swinging a bit in their favour now. With Pacioretty back, look for the top line of 2012 to be the top line of 2013 again on some nights.

The top line: I noted it in Plekanec's summary, but this line was not the big threat that we might think at ES this past week. Note Gionta made 0 contributions to an even strength goal. Note also that when your team is winning -- this matters little.

Finally, Tomas Kaberle. It's all this guy can do not to be involved in goals for his team. He was hot in this area last year, and seems to be starting this way again. No we can't explain why, but goals sometimes happen when he's on the ice.He was on for 3 ESGF and 1 ESGA this week (in 29 minutes of ice time). Quality of competition, blah, blah, blah, at a certain point you have to give the guy some credit. Ditto Bouillon.

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

The Habs PP is just plain good. If I was an opposing coach, I'd be a lot harder on my players taking loose penalties as they have been against the Canadiens. This week, Plekanec was on for 4 PP goals in 14 minutes of PP ice time. This is lethal efficiency, which has become par for the course for the unit that employs the top marksmen on the team with Markov.

The surprise of the cart has got to be Eller. But this is the trouble of these per ice time charts for players who play 4 minutes in a week. That's a goal for #81. While he had a better week, I don't think we're pulling Pacioretty for him just yet.

Scoring Chances

This week, I opted to publish before Olivier got his stats up, so please forgive me for that. If he does publish the scoring chances from the last 2 games, I'll update the chart in the week and share it later.

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.

Witness in a different way here the dominance of the Galchenyuk/Gallagher combo. 40% of their attempts have been dangerous shots, they've doubled, tripled, quadrupled the opposition's dangerous chances. Playing that line at even strength has so far been a trump card for Michel Therrien every single game.

The other end of the spectrum is the line of Plekanec, Bourque and Gionta. With relatively few of their own shots being dangerous and plenty of dangerous chances against, the top line was at times lucky to get off unscathed by goals against.

Travis Moen. Once someone alleged to me he was the more talented Brandon Prust. Well, perhaps we must wait for his season legs to come in after couch surfing a lockout, but so far, he's been the worst parts of his game in most examples.

Hope you enjoy the stats. Look forward to discussing.

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