Black Box: Week 10

Robert Vollman
December 12 2011 09:10AM

 

 

The Calgary Flames are making the very most of the soft part of their schedule, and their .517 points percentage now includes them in a gigantic tie for 18th overall, just two points out of the final post-season position to which Nashville is hanging on like Chris Chelios to his NHL career.

Should their current .517 point percentage continue for the rest of the season they'd have their worst finish since 2002-03 when Darryl Sutter first joined the club as coach. If they want to qualify for the play-offs they'll probably need 67 points in the remaining 53 games, which is a .632 pace – something only Pittsburgh and nine other NHL teams are doing right now, and something they couldn't even do at their peak in 2005-06.

Instead you might want to bet on them playing just well enough at the trade deadline to trade away picks and prospects for overpriced, washed-up veterans, because everyone knows that's what works. (What? Too soon?)

Previous weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

OZQoC Charts (explanation)

Though we just introduced them this summer, our OZQoC charts are becoming increasingly popular -  I've already counted a dozen team fan sites like this who are using them. And it's not just fan sites, I spent the early part of this week showing an NHL front office how to create them (and no sorry, not the Flames). They had some great ideas, one of which I'm including: colour-coding the forwards and the defensemen!

Even-Strength Scoring (explanation)

An interesting week from the top line, with Jarome Iginla's even strength scoring rate vaulting from 1.2 to 1.8, which finally puts it at the top-six level, and Olli Jokinen's from 2.1 to 2.4.  Iginla's goal percentage jumped from 43.4% to dead even, and Jokinen's from 51.6% to 56.1%, but since none of the other numbers budged much we can just assume their luck is starting to return to normal.


Forward        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Mikael Backlund  0.3   58  49 54.6% 18 15 54.7% 1.55 3.11  33.3%
Tim Jackman      1.0   51  43 54.4% 12 12 50.0% 1.23 2.94  29.5%
Matt Stajan      1.1   54  47 53.4% 13 13 51.0% 1.84 2.90  38.8%
David Moss       1.9   55  49 53.0% 11 14 43.3% 1.85 1.48  55.6%
Lee Stempniak    1.9   55  50 52.3% 16 14 53.0% 2.69 2.69  50.0%
Tom Kostopoulos  1.2   49  47 51.0% 12 11 52.9% 2.29 2.52  47.6%
Blake Comeau     0.8   54  53 50.6% 15 12 56.0% 0.98 2.93  25.1%
Brendan Morrison 2.0   51  53 48.8% 18 16 53.4% 2.75 1.57  63.7%
Jarome Iginla    1.8   53  57 47.8% 18 16 53.3% 2.57 2.57  50.0%
Alex Tanguay     2.1   51  56 47.6% 20 15 56.8% 2.43 3.08  44.1%
Curtis Glencross 2.1   50  56 47.1% 15 15 49.7% 2.60 2.95  46.8%
Olli Jokinen     2.4   50  57 46.7% 16 15 50.7% 3.46 2.71  56.1%
Rene Bourque     1.3   44  53 45.5% 12 16 41.9% 2.51 2.67  48.5%
P-L. Leblond     0.0   46  58 43.9%  8 12 40.0% 4.16 0.00 100.0%
Roman Horak      1.9   41  56 42.5% 14 13 51.9% 2.55 1.91  57.2%
Paul Byron       2.0   30  57 34.8% 13 14 48.1% 3.92 0.00 100.0%
Greg Nemisz      0.0   28  65 30.0%  0 19  0.0% 0.00 0.00   0.0%

Calgary went from only five forwards who enjoyed scoring chance supremracy two weeks ago to ten, with another tied (Tim Jackman).  Unfortunately Brendan Morrison, Olli Jokinen and Roman Horak are the only one of those ten (eleven if you include Jackman) who have enjoyed a goal differential above zero (though Lee Stempniak and Jarome Iginla are even).

On the blue line we finally got a good week for Jay Bouwmeester, but unfortunately it was a tough week for everybody else. It seems like either the first line does well and everyone else struggles, or vice versa. The Flames will really be something when all three lines work at once.


Defense        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Derek Smith      0.6   52  48 52.2% 14 11 56.0% 2.32 1.93  54.6%
T.J. Brodie      1.2   48  45 51.7% 16 13 54.5% 3.22 2.34  57.9%
Chris Butler     0.6   52  51 50.6% 16 15 52.7% 2.56 2.32  52.5%
Jay Bouwmeester  0.7   52  52 49.9% 16 15 50.9% 2.60 2.26  53.5%
Cory Sarich      0.3   49  50 49.7% 12 10 55.1% 1.89 2.20  46.2%
Scott Hannan     0.6   47  55 46.1% 15 16 48.8% 2.71 2.71  50.0%
Joe Piskula      0.0   50  59 45.9% 19 14 56.7% 0.00 5.54   0.0%
Mark Giordano    0.7   48  58 45.7% 14 15 48.3% 2.29 2.29  50.0%
Anton Babchuk    1.4   46  64 41.8% 10 17 36.8% 2.07 2.07  50.0%

Special teams (explanation)

There was lots of power play time to go around this week, but not a lot of real improvement.  The Calgary Flames currently sit 22nd in power play percentage, which might flatter them, actually.


Player              TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Anton Babchuk        2.2     3.4   94.7
Roman Horak          0.8     0.0   90.7
David Moss           1.3     0.0   88.7
Jay Bouwmeester      2.5     2.5   79.1
Jarome Iginla        3.6     4.0   76.5
Olli Jokinen         3.3     3.1   75.4
Lee Stempniak        2.1     3.0   72.7
Rene Bourque         3.1     2.7   72.4
Chris Butler         0.7     6.1   70.5
Mark Giordano        3.5     3.0   70.0
Curtis Glencross     2.0     3.4   68.7
Tim Jackman          0.6     0.0   68.7
Alex Tanguay         3.5     3.7   67.9
Mikael Backlund      1.6     5.0   67.1
Derek Smith          1.4     3.7   65.8
T.J. Brodie          2.0     2.0   64.0
Brendan Morrison     1.5     6.3   62.6
Blake Comeau         0.9     0.0   57.6

Right now the greatest concern is on the point, where only Jay Bouwmeester is able to play effectively. Chris Butler may be getting a few points, but he's struggling almost as badly as Derek Smith and T.J. Brodie when it comes to controlling the play and getting shots on net. As bad as he is at even-strength it may be time to bring back Anton Babchuk, who can't possibly be a worse line-up choice than Joe Piskula.

Fortunately the penalty kill is headed the right way, only a whisker better than league average over-all, which still involves some luck at this point given how many attempted shots they're allowing.


Player           TOI/GP CE/60
Jay Bouwmeester   3.6    94.8
Scott Hannan      2.7    83.2
Chris Butler      2.5    94.1
Curtis Glencross  2.3    92.3
Mark Giordano     2.2    92.6
Lee Stempniak     1.8    84.3
Rene Bourque      1.7    85.8
David Moss        1.5   143.1
Tom Kostopoulos   1.5    86.0
Alex Tanguay      0.8    69.4
Mikael Backlund   0.8    85.0
Blake Comeau      0.8    79.5
Matt Stajan       0.7   140.6
Olli Jokinen      0.6    76.3
Cory Sarich       0.6   166.6
Brendan Morrison  0.5    84.6
Roman Horak       0.4   111.9
Derek Smith       0.4    35.8

The turnaround began weeks ago when veterans Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen were added to the penalty-killing team, and Blake Comeau has done well too. Let's hope it continues.

Goaltending (explanation)

Henrik Karlsson was handed a vicious loss, and got hurt (but obviously not from a puck hitting him), so now Leland Irving will be keeping his hair nice and opening the door for Kipper. 

Mikka Kiprusoff threw up a shut-out against Edmonton, but still had a tough week – his even-strength save percentage dropping from .929 to .923.  He played well enough for the Flames to beat Colorado, but struggled against Carolina, especially in the closing minutes, bringing his Quality Start percentage to a strong 58.3%.


Goalie           GS QS  QS%  ESSV%
Miikka Kiprusoff 24 14 58.3%  .923
Henrik Karlsson   5  1 20.0%  .904

One last thing before we close – close game Fenwick. "Fenwick" is just a fancy name for all attempted shots (aka Corsi) except blocked shots  Like Corsi, it's a great way to see who is controlling the play. By only looking at Fenwick events when the score is close you avoid skewing the results because a team is either sitting on a lead or chasing one, so it's an excellent measurement of which team is doing the best job in terms of puck possession.

Unfortunately the Calgary Flames are sitting in 19th, just a tick above the Oilers, but that's not the really bad news. Calgary has a mighty 55.9% close game Fenwick at home (4th best!), but a terrible 40.8% on the road (3rd worst!).  Needless to say, that's the biggest swing in the entire league, and by a wide margin. 

Since the home team gets the final line change, generally such a swing is an indication that opposing teams are able to exploit considerable defensive liabilities that you can protect at home – think back to the Vancouver/Boston Stanley Cup finals for a recent example of that. Generally you can find them by seeing who is doing well at home and struggling on the road, like Olli Jokinen for example, but in my view the culprit could be the blue line, which will only get worse with the absence of Mark Giordano.

That's it for this week, keep watching the Flames and don't make friendly wagers with your friends when they're on the road.

 

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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 Kent Wilson
December 12 2011, 09:24AM
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The difference in fenwick may be as simple as a tougher schedule on the road than at home so far. They have played the Red Wings (X2), Canucks, Blues, Blackhawks and Canadiens on the road. At home, Flames have seen a lot of non-possession clubs: Oilers, Predators, Rangers, Senators, Hurricanes.

My guess is we'll see the spits converge closer to .500 eventually.

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#2 kittensandcookies
December 12 2011, 09:50AM
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Well, the team is now mediocre. Let's see if they can keep ramping it up. They'll need to play better than they did last year at this time, and for the rest of the season.

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#3 Redd3vi
December 12 2011, 04:47PM
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yes we are 18th... up next, we might make the playoffs...

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#4 ChinookArch
December 13 2011, 06:47AM
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Really good stuff here Robert. Bret Carson is back in the fold, he reminds me of a younger Adam Pardy, so I don't see our possession stats improving with him in the back ground, but if he's steady in the back end it may give his D-partner an opportunity to move up ice. Well that's my hop anyway.

Question: do you know if Chris Snow is utilizing QZQoC charts already? I don't know anything about the Pucks system he uses, and I wonder if it's a part of his analysis. If not the Flames need to get on board, this analysis is really informative and at times counter-intuitive. Let's hope your right and we can showcase a bunch of expiring contracted player before the deadline, plus some boat anchors and get some great returns.

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