Black Box: Week 6

Robert Vollman
November 14 2011 09:10AM

 

 

Week six, and the Calgary Flames are tied for 25th over-all with the Anaheim Ducks and Carolina Hurricanes, ahead of just the Winnipeg Jets, the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The main reason for having only the Jackets between  them and the Western Conference basement floor is having scored just 35 goals scored in 16 games – more than only the Ducks and Islanders.

The Flames are a cap team with the majority of their players over 30 most nights, and yet they can't score, and are being shut out by teams like the Predators and the Wild. Short of changing the schedule to play Colorado more often, what can Calgary do to turn things around? We'll try to figure that out by opening this week's Black Box.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5

OZQoC Charts (explanation)

My favourite part of the entire Black Box analysis the the first part – the OZQoC chart.  At a glance you can understand a player's usage, which often explains their performance (or lack thereof).  We knew we were on to something when Tom Awad (creator of GVT, VUKOTA, and too many other stats to mention) started tinkering with the same sort of thing.

A straight line drawn from the bottom left-hand corner to the top right-hand corner tells you who is playing the toughest minutes.

On defense, Calgary is essentially a four-man unit, with Chris Butler/Jay Bouwmeester being used more defensively and Scott Hannan/Mark Giordano being used more offensively – a brand-new experience for Hannan.  Of the others, Cory Sarich (and T.J. Brodie) is used defensively and Anton Babchuk and Derek Smith offensively, but against depth lines only.

Up front the Flames are trying to create a classic two-way shut-down line around Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen, leaving the line anchored around Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay in their own zone a lot more often than expected. 

The OZQoC chart often tells you a lot about which players the coaching staff has the most confidence in, suggesting that Brent Sutter doesn't trust Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan, Tim Jackman or Tom Kostopoulos (or Pierre-Luc Leblond and Paul Byron) against top lines, but has no hesitation using David Moss or Roman Horak (or Mikael Backlund) in their own zone against top-six forwards.

Even-Strength Scoring (explanation)

This week we decided to split up the forwards from the defensemen. 


Forward        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Mikael Backlund  0.0   58  50 54.0% 26 19 57.1% 2.16 8.65  20.0%
Matt Stajan      1.0   56  50 53.1% 12 13 48.1% 1.89 2.84  40.0%
David Moss       1.9   55  49 53.0% 11 14 43.3% 1.85 1.48  55.6%
Tim Jackman      0.9   48  43 52.8%  8 11 42.9% 0.93 2.31  28.7%
Lee Stempniak    2.1   57  54 51.5% 17 16 51.3% 2.98 2.98  50.0%
Curtis Glencross 2.1   56  55 50.5% 13 12 51.8% 2.73 3.34  45.0%
Brendan Morrison 0.0   52  53 49.7% 15 16 49.1% 1.17 0.00 100.0%
Tom Kostopoulos  1.7   47  48 49.3% 11 10 52.1% 1.71 1.29  57.0%
Olli Jokinen     1.9   54  57 48.9% 12 15 45.5% 2.40 2.93  45.0%
Jarome Iginla    0.9   53  57 48.0% 14 16 46.6% 1.39 2.56  35.2%
Niklas Hagman    1.8   46  51 47.5% 11 10 51.4% 2.38 0.00 100.0%
Alex Tanguay     2.2   52  59 46.8% 17 16 51.6% 2.43 2.70  47.4%
Rene Bourque     0.9   47  56 45.8%  7 15 32.9% 1.79 2.68  40.0%
P-L. Leblond     0.0   46  58 43.9%  8 12 40.0% 4.16 0.00 100.0%
Roman Horak      2.2   37  55 40.6% 11 13 46.2% 2.59 1.48  63.6%
Paul Byron       2.9   17  66 20.7% 12 14 44.4% 5.76 0.00 100.0% 

We don't often talk about the first column, but a few years ago it was established through various independent studies that top-six forwards need to have an even-strength scoring rate of about 1.8 points per 60 minutes, something they can proudly claim of seven or eight of their forwards, but one of which is not Jarome Iginla. In fact, the only players scoring at a lower rate is Brendan Morrison, and Pierre-Luc Leblond, both of whom are pointless (and the latter in more ways than one).

In fairness, sometimes a player is generating lots of offense, but just not having any luck. The Flames enjoy 53 attempted shots per 60 minutes with their Captain on the ice, 14 of which are scoring chances, only 10% of which have translated into goals. By contrast they've had only 46 attempted shots per 60 minutes with Niklas Hagman on the ice, 11 of which were scoring chances, 22% of which have translated into goals. Looking at goal-based numbers only, you might conclude that the Flames are better off offensively with Hagman on the ice, but the truth is that he's just been luckier than the captain.


Defense        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Chris Butler     0.4   55  51 52.0% 15 16 47.9% 2.43 2.43  50.0%
Derek Smith      0.4   51  48 51.5% 10 11 49.1% 1.88 1.51  55.5%
Jay Bouwmeester  0.6   55  52 51.2% 14 17 46.1% 2.39 2.19  52.2%
Cory Sarich      0.4   48  51 48.6% 11  9 54.0% 1.18 1.97  37.5%
Mark Giordano    0.7   50  57 46.5% 13 14 47.9% 2.05 2.27  47.5%
Scott Hannan     0.9   46  57 44.9% 12 14 46.4% 2.29 2.06  52.6%
Anton Babchuk    1.4   46  64 41.8% 10 17 36.8% 2.07 2.07  50.0%
T.J. Brodie      0.0   33  56 36.9%  9 14 40.0% 2.32 2.32  50.0%

Chris Butler has to be one of the more pleasant surprises this season, vaulting from Buffalo's depth lines to the top defensive pairing with ease. Alongside Jay Bouwmeester the Flames have enjoyed their most success despite the extremely difficulty of their assignment.

There's definitely room for improvement in Mark Giordano and Scott Hannan's game, and Anton Babchuk's been nothing short of a disaster at even-strength – it's a good thing Derek Smith and Cory Sarich have played reasonably well as their third unit.

Special teams (explanation)

Though Jarome Iginla and Rene Bourque each have two power play markers, but along with Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay and Mark Giordano, the lack of attempted shots by their top unit should be seen as a warning flag. The Flames barely average an attempted shot per minutes with them on the ice – WAY less than last year, and not nearly enough to result in long-term success. 


Player              TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
T.J. Brodie          0.3     0.0   94.7
Anton Babchuk        2.2     3.4   94.7
David Moss           1.3     0.0   88.7
Jay Bouwmeester      2.2     3.4   87.5
Olli Jokinen         3.2     3.5   77.5
Brendan Morrison     1.2     0.0   77.5
Roman Horak          1.1     0.0   76.7
Niklas Hagman        1.2     6.4   76.1
Chris Butler         0.6     6.3   75.3
Lee Stempniak        1.7     0.0   74.8
Derek Smith          0.7     0.0   74.1
Jarome Iginla        3.4     5.6   71.0
Rene Bourque         3.0     2.5   69.5
Mark Giordano        3.7     3.1   64.7
Curtis Glencross     2.2     3.6   63.6
Alex Tanguay         3.6     4.2   58.0
Tim Jackman          0.7     0.0   52.4
Mikael Backlund      2.2     0.0   27.1

At the very least the Flames could experiment with using Jay Bouwmeester and Anton Babchuk on defense more often (yes, he's good for something). Right now, Calgary's power play is bad and relying solely on luck, their futility against the Minnesota Wild shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone following these weekly reports. 

Unfortunately their penalty killing isn't a whole lot better, but to be fair that's partly because they're the only team in the league that doesn't get to play against the Calgary Flames.


Player           TOI/GP CE/60
Jay Bouwmeester   2.7   109.9
Mark Giordano     2.5    96.2
Scott Hannan      2.5   103.5
Chris Butler      2.2    93.7
Curtis Glencross  2.2    91.9
Rene Bourque      1.7    96.2
Lee Stempniak     1.6    88.2
David Moss        1.5   143.1
Tom Kostopoulos   1.4   109.6
Brendan Morrison  0.8    84.6
Matt Stajan       0.8   138.2
Mikael Backlund   0.7   125.6
Roman Horak       0.7   111.9
Cory Sarich       0.6   180.8

Those who have been on Rene Bourque's case for his terrible even-strength play can take at least some comfort in his penalty killing contributions – though perhaps Lee Stempniak should join Curtis Glencross on the top pairing. David Moss is getting destroyed out there, potentially opening up the door to someone else stealing the #4 slot.

Goaltending (explanation)

Miikka Kiprusoff is quietly off to a solid start (or at least I assume he's being quiet – the Saddledome can get awfully noisy).  Kipper currently has the 8th-best even-strength save percentage among the league's 30 primary starting goalies.  He's playing quite consistently as well, giving the Flames a chance to win in 61.5% of his starts.


Goalie           GS QS  QS%  ESSV%
Miikka Kiprusoff 13  8 61.5%  .932
Henrik Karlsson   3  1 33.3%  .909

It's a shame that Kiprusoff's consistent and solid (if unspectacular) goaltending is going to waste at a time when the Flames just can't generate offense.  Just a little bit of extra punch at even-strength and the power play and things would look completely different right now.

That's it for this week – keep watching and we'll dissect the Flames further as the season progresses.

781445e1560a4e1d0d641bc270a7eedc
Rob Vollman of www.HockeyAbstract.com is a regular feature writer on ESPN Insider, co-author of Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 and 2011-12, and regular contributor to NHL Numbers, Flames Nation and Arctic Ice Hockey. Innovator of Player Usage Charts, Quality Starts, GVS (Goals Versus Salary), the Snepsts Projection System, and known for work in League Equivalencies (NHLE). Twitter: @robvollmanNHL
Avatar
#1 mslepp
November 14 2011, 09:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I look forward to this post every week. Very informative stuff.

Not surprised to see Backlund make an immediate impact ES.

Would it kill Sutter to sit Rene Bourque? How about some accountability. What a joke.

Avatar
#2 Kent Wilson
November 14 2011, 09:42AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@mslepp

Yeah...he's down below 40% scoring chance percentage. Unless you're getting the Malhotra treatment, that's really ugly.

Avatar
#3 Kevin R
November 14 2011, 10:29AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Kent Wilson wrote:

Yeah...he's down below 40% scoring chance percentage. Unless you're getting the Malhotra treatment, that's really ugly.

Kent any takers on Hagman on the re-entry?

Avatar
#5 ChinookArch
November 14 2011, 05:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Robert,

I'm really liking these Black box articles. Really good work, and surprisingly easy to read - given the content. I have to say that I like the injection of humor as well:

" In fact, the only players scoring at a lower rate is Brendan Morrison, and Pierre-Luc Leblond, both of whom are pointless (and the latter in more ways than one)."

And,

"Unfortunately their penalty killing isn't a whole lot better, but to be fair that's partly because they're the only team in the league that doesn't get to play against the Calgary Flames."

Comments are closed for this article.