Black Box: Week 8

Robert Vollman
November 30 2011 09:03AM

 

 

A tough week capped a tough first quarter for the Calgary Flames, who find themselves dead last in the Northwest Division, 3rd last in the Western Conference, and 5th last over-all at the 22-game mark. That bad start is already in the books and there's nothing that can be done about that, but what happens from here – is the season truly over?

It's easy to get swept up in the early-season hysteria and read too much into the over-all results, over which luck plays an enormous factor. If you look at the underlying numbers, Calgary has not been the worst team in the Northwest Division – that distinction belongs to 1st place Minnesota, oddly enough. The Wild is responsible for only 45.3% of all attempted shots during close games, better than only Nashville, Anaheim and the New York Rangers. Edmonton isn't much better at 47.7%, leaving the Flames in 3rd at 48.5%. If this continues then it's reasonable to expect Calgary to earn more points than these two teams in the season's remaining 60 games.

With that optimistic thought in mind, let's open up this week's black box (which are usually bright orange, incidentally) and see how things look After Eight.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7


OZQoC Charts (explanation)

Everyone who has been following along every week knows how an OZQoC chart shows each player's usage, and already has a rough idea of how everyone's being used, so instead this week let's look at how the usage has changed from week 4 to week 8.  Go here for week 4, and week 8 is below.

The biggest change is with Lee Stempniak and Roman Horak, who were trusted against the top lines early in the season, but certainly aren't being used that way anymore.

The other changes are mostly cosmetic, but quite interesting if the trends continue. For instance, Alex Tanguay and David Moss have been trusted more in their own zone, their fourth line (Jackman, Stajan, Kostopoulos) has been starting less frequently in their own zone, and the Hannan/Giordano pairing has really started to yield the top shutdown role, which they used to share with Bouwmeester/Butler rather equally.

It will be interesting to see how the OZQoC chart changes with the recent line-up changes we saw against the Minnesota Wild. As you can see, putting Iginla with Glencross and Jokinen looks completely natural so it's no surprise that it was the first one to click, but the 2nd and 3rd lines look rather eclectic now.

Even-Strength Scoring (explanation)

It was a tough week for Curtis Glencross and Olli Jokinen. Glencross dropped 1.2% in Corsi percentage (Jokinen 1.0%), 4.4% in scoring chance percentage (Jokinen 3.9%), but his actual goal percentage actually went up (no change for Jokinen).  Like Napoleon used to say, you'd rather be lucky than good.

Despite no noticeable change in his Corsi percentage, Tim Jackman had huge jumps in his scoring chance percentage and goal percentage, while Iginla's actual goal percentage surged despite none of the other metrics really budging. While some people might proclaim that Jackman and Iginla played better this week, it's more likely that their luck merely took favourable turns.

Here's how the Flames look this week, with David Moss bubbling to the top thanks to his shrewd strategy of being out the of lineup.


Forward        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
David Moss       1.9   55  49 53.0% 11 14 43.3% 1.85 1.48  55.6%
Matt Stajan      1.4   56  50 52.9% 13 14 48.6% 2.17 2.53  46.2%
Mikael Backlund  0.6   57  51 52.7% 21 15 58.7% 1.73 4.03  30.0%
Tim Jackman      1.3   47  44 51.8% 10 12 46.2% 1.64 2.30  41.6%
Lee Stempniak    2.0   54  52 50.9% 17 15 52.8% 3.12 2.68  53.8%
Brendan Morrison 0.5   50  52 49.4% 15 15 50.0% 1.49 0.50  74.9%
Tom Kostopoulos  1.5   47  49 49.1% 11 11 50.7% 2.13 1.82  53.9%
Jarome Iginla    1.0   53  56 48.5% 16 16 49.2% 1.73 2.59  40.0%
Curtis Glencross 2.4   51  55 48.0% 14 15 48.9% 3.05 3.26  48.3%
Alex Tanguay     2.2   52  57 48.0% 19 16 53.8% 2.20 3.00  42.3%
Blake Comeau     0.0   53  57 47.9% 10 12 44.4% 0.28 3.31   7.8%
Olli Jokinen     2.0   51  56 47.5% 13 16 44.9% 2.77 2.77  50.0%
Rene Bourque     0.9   44  54 44.8%  9 17 35.0% 1.91 2.55  42.8%
P-L. Leblond     0.0   46  58 43.9%  8 12 40.0% 4.16 0.00 100.0%
Roman Horak      1.8   38  34 40.9% 12 13 47.9% 2.37 1.58  60.0%
Paul Byron       2.0   30  57 34.8% 13 14 48.1% 3.92 0.00 100.0%

Rene Bourque reminds me of my stock portfolio. Based on the fundamentals it should be performing far better, and every week I think it has bottomed out, but somehow it manages to plummet still further. The Flames are more likely to get a scoring chance with Tim Jackman on the ice than Bourque, whose numbers are superior only to Pierre-Luc Leblond's. So basically he's last among legitimate NHL-caliber players.


Defense        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Derek Smith      0.3   51  46 52.6% 12 11 51.9% 2.31 1.44  61.6%
Chris Butler     0.7   52  50 50.8% 15 16 48.4% 2.27 2.60  46.6%
Jay Bouwmeester  0.6   52  50 50.8% 14 16 46.4% 2.37 2.52  48.5%
Cory Sarich      0.3   49  50 49.3% 12  9 56.5% 1.68 1.68  50.0%
T.J. Brodie      1.1   43  48 47.3% 15 12 54.2% 2.79 1.12  71.4%
Mark Giordano    0.7   49  58 45.7% 14 15 48.3% 2.32 2.32  50.0%
Scott Hannan     0.8   46  58 43.9% 13 15 46.9% 2.45 2.29  51.7%
Anton Babchuk    1.4   46  64 41.8% 10 17 36.8% 2.07 2.07  50.0%

On defense it was a tough week for the Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Butler pairing, who saw noticeable drops in all three categories, which is alarming news when coupled with the on-going struggles of the 2nd pairing (Giordano, Hannan).

Special teams (explanation)

The Calgary Flames have the 5th worst Special Teams Index (sum of their power play and penalty killing percentage) in the league at 92.5% - better than only Carolina, Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus. Two of the four teams have fired their coaches. I'm just saying.


Player              TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Anton Babchuk        2.2     3.4   94.7
Chris Butler         0.5     5.7   90.9
Roman Horak          1.0     0.0   90.7
David Moss           1.3     0.0   88.7
Jay Bouwmeester      2.2     3.8   83.5
Lee Stempniak        1.9     0.0   77.1
Jarome Iginla        3.4     4.0   76.3
Blake Comeau         0.5     0.0   75.9
Brendan Morrison     1.0     0.0   75.4
Mikael Backlund      1.8     0.0   74.8
Olli Jokinen         3.1     3.5   74.6
Tim Jackman          0.8     0.0   72.3
Rene Bourque         3.0     2.7   71.3
Derek Smith          0.8     0.0   70.2
Mark Giordano        3.7     3.0   70.0
T.J. Brodie          1.2     6.2   68.2
Curtis Glencross     2.1     2.7   66.8
Alex Tanguay         3.5     3.9   63.8

Don't let a couple of goals fool you, the Flames had another bad week with the man advantage, with almost everyone slipping down in attempted shots (Corsi) per 60 minutes. As bad as he is at even-strength, they need Anton Babchuk for that power play.

Fortunately they had a great week killing penalties, with much improved shot prevention.


Player           TOI/GP CE/60
Jay Bouwmeester   2.9   105.1
Scott Hannan      2.4    94.6
Chris Butler      2.3   100.7
Mark Giordano     2.3    92.6
Curtis Glencross  2.2    95.4
Lee Stempniak     1.7    86.4
Rene Bourque      1.5    94.5
David Moss        1.5   143.1
Tom Kostopoulos   1.4   105.9
Matt Stajan       0.7   147.7
Mikael Backlund   0.7    85.9
Brendan Morrison  0.6    84.6
Alex Tanguay      0.6    77.0
Cory Sarich       0.6   180.8
Roman Horak       0.5   111.9
Blake Comeau      0.5   113.3
Olli Jokinen      0.4    72.9

The big change this week was using veterans like Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen for the first time this season, replacing more inexperience penalty killers like Mikael Backlund and Roman Horak.

Goaltending (explanation)

As tough as their start has been, imagine how much worse it would have been if Miikka Kiprusoff hadn't gotten off to such a solid start?  He's topping 93.1% of the shots at even-strength, and giving the Flames a good chance to win in 61.1% of his starts – good enough for an average team to grab the last post-season position.


Goalie           GS QS  QS%  ESSV%
Miikka Kiprusoff 18 11 61.1%  .931
Henrik Karlsson   4  1 25.0%  .910

That's how it looks after eight weeks.  19 points in 22 games, but if you're only expecting 52 points in the remaining 60, then you're probably one of those guys calling Pat Steinberg a homer – I say 65.

 

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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
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#1 loudogYYC
November 30 2011, 09:19AM
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These numbers help paint the big picture. I really hope management checks this site out every now and then.

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#2 Kent Wilson
November 30 2011, 09:23AM
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On special teams: Flames continue to be bad as you suggest. Second last in shots for on the PP and second last in terms of shots surrendered on the PK. Quality special teams would push the Flames from lower middling to maybe upper middling in west. Unfortunately it looks like their real talent level is bottom of the barrel.

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#3 T&A4Flames
November 30 2011, 09:32AM
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Can we teach our forwards how to win a face off please!!

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#4 Tach
November 30 2011, 10:10AM
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Rob (or Kent if you know),

I went back and read the explanations, but it isn't clear to me how the corsi rating for QoC is applied. Do the QoC ratings update as player's corsi's vary over the season, such that some of the variation over the weeks is as player's corsi ratings shake out? Or is is the QoC per game frozen as that player's corsi rating as of the date the game was played?

Also, I had always understood these to be cumulative graphs each week, reflecting the season up to the end of each week. Is this week 8 one different in only doing weeks 4-8?

Thanks again for this always valuable data.

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#5 SmellOfVictory
November 30 2011, 10:37AM
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Backlund still murdering bros with utmost efficiency despite getting zilch in terms of bounces.

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#10 SmellOfVictory
November 30 2011, 01:53PM
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Robert Vollman wrote:

You are correct, sir. Too bad he was demoted off the top line, and had his special teams time cut back.

Yup, and as I predicted, Iginla is looking more effective (probably primarily as a matter of coincidence) with Jokinen and Glencross, so that line seems likely to stay together.

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