… so I know Zus and Burish have been getting flak for their general inability to pick up points (combined 4 points in 50 games played... just in case you had forgotten, player points is like real important to scoring outcomes, like). But let’s look at some other stuff. Distractions, we need distractions. That’s key. That’s the ticket.
[THIS totally worked vs LA last night.]
[For anybody using the behindthenet.ca statistics, I recommend using the "old" site interface. As it turns out, I'm
pretty totally sure I screwed up my original table. Thus, the need for this corrective. God forbid we let errors lie. Never.]
Hmm. Yeah, but I don’t care about offense during the penalty kill. Most of the time getting a short-handed chance is either: a) somebody really fucking up a blue-line pass or b) a risk by a penalty kill player that may have reverse consequences.
Here’s an example. (This was so heart-warming, I did a breakdown here.)
So, here are the assumptions and the argument I want to offer:
1) I am placing value on the ability of PK forwards to prevent pucks from being shot toward the net.
2) Why? Teams on the PP want to get shots at the net. Power play shots (by the numbers) drives PPG. (Perhaps a post for another time.) Thus, I care about the prevention of shots toward the net.
3) We have a measurement for raw numbers of pucks toward your own net: Fenwick-. If anybody's seen others apply Corsi-/60 or Fenwick-/60 to PK, I'd love to see the links.
Caveat: Now I think that blocked shots are still an important PK ability. Indeed, there might be situations where a PK forward is goading a player to shoot so that he can block the shot. For the moment, I'm not buying that. The thought of the shooting player that precedes the blocked shot is, "hey, I can squeeze this shot through to the net." The ability to prevent the shooting player from thinking this is what I think is most important for the PK forward.
As it happens, I have a bit of evidence to support the caveat. I start here: we know that this year's Sharks PK is better than last year's PK. We know this because of the decline in PPGs allowed. If we look at shot statistics, what has happened with this decline?
I looked at last year's forward rates (GA On/60, SA-shots against-On/60, MA On/60, and BF On/60) and compared them to this year's forward rates (through 24 GP). The results:
|2011-2012 (means)||2012-2013 (means)|
|GA On/60: 6.34||GA On/60: 2.52|
|SA On/60: 43.76||SA On/60: 25.56|
|MA On/60: 16.69||MA On/60: 9.83|
|BF On/60: 34.83||BF On/60: 18.36|
Yup, table of nombres, part I. Bigger table below, you guys.
Obviously, the GA number stands out. In addition, we observe way fewer shots on goal and way fewer pucks getting through to the net (Fenwick-). Notice the corresponding decline in Goals Against with every other statistic. The 60% drop in GA On/60, corresponded with more than 40% drops in shots against, missed shots against, and blocked shots for.
Now, this is not entirely intuitive. Is it possible that a PPG drop can occur with an increase in blocked shots? Of course. But in this case, where we know the PK is better now than in 2011-2012, it looks like reducing shots actually getting off is more important than getting more blocked shots. (Yeah, obviously single case study, but it's still evidence.)
Now that I've totally justified Fenwick- as a measure of PK ability beyond the shadow of a doubt, let's check out how Shark forwards ranked last year and so far this year:
Big-ass table, yo.
Based on this, we could argue that Joe Pavelski has struggled on the PK. Opposing players are getting lots of shots off (on goal and missed), and his on-ice block rate is relatively low. Pavelski's Fenwick- last year was 64.2, which suggests this might be his normal level of PK play given that this year it was at 66.5. (See below for what I think should happen.)
Adam Burish has a high Fenwick- as well, but his on-ice block rate is relatively high, so this may account for his perhaps only seemingly positive effect on the PK. The high Fenwick-, to me, means that he has not quite jelled with his PK unit.
The same maybe can be said for Andrew Desjardins. Lots of shots, lots of blocks. Notice that Desi's absurdly low GA On/60 is really an effect of a standout Save% by Antti Niemi. The converse is true for T.J. Galiardi and Tommy Wingels, who have the best Fenwick- numbers. Gotta give Wingels huge props as he was hardly deployed as a PK forward last year and has stepped up. With the numbers here, there's a case to be made that Galiardi and Wingels may have played the best PK minutes among the forwards so far this year. (So, forget my initial conclusions!)
One other interesting thing these Fenwick- numbers can tell us is in relation to last year. With the exception of Pavelski, every single PK forward improved in terms of Fenwick-. The biggest improvement from last year to this year has been Michal Handzus (-22). I think that's right. (I mean, he was kinda awful last year.) Galiardi and Wingels also saw significant double-digit jumps. Desi's TOI also saw a significant jump and his numbers are slightly better than last year's. Clearly, the forwards are doing a better job, and the young players are stepping up in positive ways.
As a result (and maybe this is where Zus and Burish might be worth it, though other younger cheaper options have actually played better), what we are not seeing is the offensively talented Joe Thornton, or last year's Fenwick- leader Logan Couture being deployed with the regularity they were last year (check out their reduced TOIs). In doing so, these guys can focus on, you know, scoring goals (and maybe Pavs could be deployed less in PK situations as well?).