Black Box: Week 11

Robert Vollman
December 19 2011 09:29AM

 

 

Last week we discussed how the Flames were the league's 3rd worst road team (based on close game shot-based metrics), and sure enough they dropped three straight on the road to Nashville, Tampa Bay and Florida - and now they are dead last!  Oh well, at least they walked away with two loser points. 

Unfortunately they're going to need a lot more loser points, because 8 of their next 10 games are being played on the road.  Folks – don't shoot the messenger, but the Flames will almost certainly be last in the Northwest by the time they host Minnesota January 7th.

Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

OZQoC Charts (explanation)

 

Even-Strength Scoring (explanation)


Forward        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Mikael Backlund  0.3   59  49 54.5% 19 16 53.6% 1.39 3.07  31.2%
Tim Jackman      1.1   52  44 54.5% 12 12 49.5% 1.32 2.85  31.7%
Matt Stajan      1.1   56  47 54.3% 14 13 52.1% 1.81 2.72  40.0%
David Moss       1.9   55  49 53.0% 11 14 43.3% 1.85 1.48  55.6%
Lee Stempniak    1.7   56  50 52.6% 16 15 51.9% 2.42 2.57  48.5%
Tom Kostopoulos  1.2   50  46 52.0% 13 12 53.3% 2.26 2.46  47.9%
Blake Comeau     0.7   56  54 51.0% 16 15 51.9% 0.86 2.75  23.8%
Brendan Morrison 1.5   50  54 47.8% 18 17 51.4% 2.46 1.23  66.7%
Alex Tanguay     1.9   50  55 47.7% 20 16 56.0% 2.65 2.80  48.6%
Jarome Iginla    1.8   53  59 47.4% 17 16 51.6% 2.56 2.81  47.7%
Curtis Glencross 2.2   50  58 46.2% 14 16 47.2% 2.64 3.26  44.7%
Olli Jokinen     2.5   50  59 46.2% 16 17 48.5% 3.41 3.00  53.2%
Rene Bourque     1.4   43  52 45.2% 12 16 42.2% 2.68 2.52  51.5%
P-L. Leblond     0.0   46  58 43.9%  8 12 40.0% 4.16 0.00 100.0%
Roman Horak      1.8   41  57 42.1% 14 14 49.3% 2.58 1.78  59.2%
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%

We're really not sure why the Flames would bench one of their best forwards, Mikael Backlund -  probably for the exact same reason that some of the most successful teams in the league fired their coaches – because of the bad luck that inevitably occurs over short samples. 

See how the team's possession numbers are practically identical when Backlund is on the ice as they are when Jackman and Stajan are on the ice – and Backlund is playing top-six minutes instead of depth lines like they are (see the OZQoC chart above).

Normally possession statistics like CE% are simply in reverse order of the toughest assignments. Judging relative to the expectations we should have based on the OZQoC chart, the players who are over-achieving are most certainly Mikael Backlund and David Moss, and to a lesser extent Lee Stempniak and Alex Tanguay. 

As we approach mid-season we're starting to get enough data for the Corsi percentages to match the scoring chance percentages, especially for those who get lots of ice-time, like Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Butler. Unfortunately that means they're in for a slide when the goal data starts to line up too.

Speaking of which, T.J. Brodie's dip in goal percentage is just his great luck starting to average out, as he actually had a decent week possession-wise. The toughest week was actually for Scott Hannan, who has slowly tumbled to the bottom without partner Mark Giordano playing alongside.


Defense        ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Brett Carson     0.0   70  41 63.4% 19 11 63.6% 0.00 5.41   0.0%
T.J. Brodie      1.0   51  45 53.0% 17 14 54.8% 2.68 2.92  47.9%
Derek Smith      0.8   52  49 51.8% 15 13 52.7% 2.15 1.66  56.4%
Chris Butler     0.6   52  52 50.2% 16 16 51.0% 2.62 2.30  53.3%
Jay Bouwmeester  0.7   52  53 49.3% 16 16 49.2% 2.63 2.22  54.2%
Cory Sarich      0.3   49  51 49.1% 12 10 55.3% 1.78 2.37  42.9%
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%
Scott Hannan     0.6   46  56 45.2% 14 17 46.3% 2.66 2.55  51.1%
Anton Babchuk    1.4   46  64 41.8% 10 17 36.8% 2.07 2.07  50.0%

Special teams (explanation)

It was a relief to finally see the Flames power play heading the right way, but it's still terrible. Without question this is the area where a significant improvement would result in the greatest positive impact on the standings.


Player              TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Anton Babchuk        2.2     3.4   94.7
Roman Horak          0.7     0.0   90.7
David Moss           1.3     0.0   88.7
Jay Bouwmeester      2.5     2.3   83.9
Jarome Iginla        3.5     3.7   80.2
Olli Jokinen         3.3     4.0   79.5
Rene Bourque         3.1     3.1   77.1
Lee Stempniak        2.0     2.9   74.2
Alex Tanguay         3.4     4.5   72.6
Mikael Backlund      1.5     4.8   71.9
Chris Butler         0.6     6.1   70.5
Mark Giordano        3.5     3.0   70.0
Curtis Glencross     1.9     3.2   69.7
Tim Jackman          0.6     0.0   68.7
T.J. Brodie          1.8     1.9   67.1
Derek Smith          1.4     5.0   67.0
Blake Comeau         0.9     0.0   62.8
Brendan Morrison     1.3     5.9   61.7

The turning point for the Flames PK was definitely when they started using veterans like Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen more often, as they've slowly improved from the league's worst penalty kill to something somewhat closer to respectable, which is particularly impressive given the absence of Mark Giordano.


Player           TOI/GP CE/60
Jay Bouwmeester   3.6    91.7
Scott Hannan      2.8    79.3
Chris Butler      2.4    95.7
Curtis Glencross  2.3    88.3
Mark Giordano     2.2    92.6
Lee Stempniak     1.8    82.0
Rene Bourque      1.6    83.8
David Moss        1.5   143.1
Tom Kostopoulos   1.4    84.0
Blake Comeau      0.9    82.6
Alex Tanguay      0.9    74.8
Mikael Backlund   0.8    85.0
Matt Stajan       0.6   140.6
Olli Jokinen      0.6    72.3
Cory Sarich       0.5   163.3
Derek Smith       0.4    45.2
Brendan Morrison  0.4    83.5
Roman Horak       0.4   111.9
Brett Carson      0.3   109.1

Goaltending (explanation)

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 43 of 45 against Nashville, but his only point came when he stopped just 29 of 34 in Tampa Bay.  Leland Irving stopped 39 of 41 but the Flames were on the road so he was really just wasting his time. Rookie mistake!


Goalie           GS QS   QS%  ESSV%
Leland Irving     1  1 100.0%  .943
Miikka Kiprusoff 26 15  58.3%  .924
Henrik Karlsson   5  1  20.0%  .904

That's it for this week, and while it's been a struggle watching the Flames up until this point of the season, we're warning you now that the next few weeks are going to even worse, so brace yourself. And whatever you do, don't drink too much egg nog and get sucked into wagers by your out-of-town relatives!

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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 19 2011, 10:16AM
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I am going to supplement Rob's work here with a post specifically on the Flames road trip. I looked at the numbers today and man were they, uh, illuminating.

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#2 xis10ce
December 19 2011, 10:36AM
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@Kent Wilson

Can you elaborate? Or did you intend to post a article about this?

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#4 Kent Wilson
December 19 2011, 11:26AM
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@Robert Vollman

Ding, ding - article above.

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#5 Mangotanker
December 19 2011, 07:38PM
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I cannot understand why they made Backlund sit a game. His possession numbers are good, and his quality of competition is almost as high as Iginlas. Also, how come the Flames have given Brett Carson such a sheltered role? I thought last year they thought he was a legit NHL defenseman, so why is he getting even easier minutes than Babchuk, Piskula, and Sarich? He's a better option than any of those guys, he even played some top 4 minutes last year. So what gives?

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