January 12 2016 10:00AM
We're at the half-way point of the 2015-16 Calgary Flames season and this seems like a perfectly fine time to take a look at the performance of the team's players. And since the NHL already helpfully tabulates goals, assists, points and other wonderful standard statistics, we'll be taking a different slant and assessing the club's performance through a couple advanced statistics methods.
Disclaimer: the majority of this was written prior to Monday's 5-4 loss to San Jose, though that game really didn't do anything to dispute any of the claims made here.
I'm using two tools to assess player performance: Adjusted Corsi and Player Usage Charts.
The adjusted corsi equation was developed by Oilers fan/blogger Michael Parkatti. The equation took into account quality of opponents, quality of teammates and zone starts (i.e., where the player tends to start his shift). This makes it easier to compare players on the same club across various lines and roles.
Parkatti’s equation looks like this: Expected Raw Corsi = -11.91 + QualDiff*1.00 + OffZS%*0.24
For simplicity, I'll just be presenting the differentials between the expected raw Corsi figures and the adjusted figures to showcase players that are out-performing their circumstances (or otherwise).
Player usage charts were developed by Rob Vollman, and are a good way of putting player performance into context. Vollman used time on ice of the competition that a player was out against on his Y axis (as a measure of the quality of competition; better players play more than lesser players) and a player's percentage of offensive zone starts as the X axis, with an aim of fleshing out each individual player's deployments relative to their teammates as a means of exploring their individual performance.
As shown above, Giordano and Brodie get the toughest competition and fairly buried in terms of offensive zone starts. But their fairly prominent blue bubbles indicate that relative to the rest of the team, their possession stats are pretty darn good. (Blue is good, red is bad.) Hamilton and Russell obviously have gotten middle-of-the-road deployments in terms of zone starts and competition; Russell's possession numbers have been BAD, while Hamilton's have been fairly decent actually.
The rest of the team has fairly poor numbers with varying degrees of easy deployments. The spread of deployments speaks to how Hartley basically had to throw names into a hat for the first month of the season with an injured Brodie and Hamilton trying to figure out how to play within the system.
In terms of adjusted Corsi, the numbers basically reflect what we see from the player usage chart:
- Brett Kulak +14.3
- T.J. Brodie +6.0
- Mark Giordano +5.9
- Dougie Hamilton +3.0
- Ladislav Smid -3.1
- Dennis Wideman -4.5
- Deryk Engelland -5.2
- Kris Russell -7.2
Based on these figures, want to know why the Flames are where they are? And why they've had struggles defensively? It's because they have a clear top trio of blueliners that perform well relative to their assignments, and then four guys that have under-performed.
Monahan, Gaudreau and Hudler have faced tough competition but have gotten a ton of offensive zone starts (as you'd expect Hartley to provide his best offensive talents). After that there's a distinct secondary grouping with moderate competition and variable defensive zone starts (Colborne/Stajan/Jones/Ferland/Backlund/Frolik/Bennett).
Ferland, Backlund and Frolik perform well Corsi-wise relative to the team while Stajan and Jones struggling (though in tough circumstances). And then we have the tertiary grouping, with relatively lesser competition and a mix of zone starts (Bouma/Grant/Jooris/Raymond/Granlund), with Jooris slightly out-performing the pack and Granlund and Bouma falling behind.
Finally, there's Brandon Bollig, all alone at the bottom with the easiest minutes on the team and relatively poor possession stats. Ignore Engelland - he's considered a forward and defender by stats programs because of his dual deployment in Pittsburgh.
In terms of Adjusted Corsi, again, it more or less says similar things with a few key variations:
- Micheal Ferland +9.4
- Mikael Backlund +7.6
- Michael Frolik +6.3
- Josh Jooris +3.3
- Johnny Gaudreau +1.9
- Joe Colborne +0.7
- Matt Stajan +0.5
- Mason Raymond +0.3
- Brandon Bollig -0.5
- Sam Bennett -0.8
- Jiri Hudler -1.3
- Lance Bouma -2.0
- Sean Monahan -3.5
- David Jones -4.6
- Derek Grant -5.2
- Markus Granlund -8.7
Okay, the good? Ferland, Backlund, Frolik, Jooris and Gaudreau are all doing quite well when you take into account their circumstances. And much of the middle group, including 19-Year-Old Sam Bennett, are performing as you'd expect considering that Hartley is giving them the scraps in terms of offensive zone starts.
The bad? Two-thirds of the top line (Monahan and Hudler) are under-performing relative to their circumstances. Also not great: Granlund, Jones and Bouma are leaking shot attempts even when you factor in their deployments, which isn't good for Granlund as a guy trying to crack the NHL full-time, Jones as a player on an expiring contract, or Bouma as a guy on a bridge deal trying to make a case for himself as an impact player. (Grant's numbers are bad, too, but I'm discounting them a bit due to sample size.)
SUM IT UP
Based on these evaluative tools, who's performing well on the Calgary Flames through the first half (when factoring in how they're being used by the coaching staff)? Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, Josh Jooris, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Johnny Gaudreau.
On the flip-side, players who are performing poorly (when circumstances are factored in)? Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, Ladislav Smid, Markus Granlund, David Jones, Sean Monahan, Lance Bouma and Jiri Hudler.
Are you shocked? Surprised? Do the numbers match what you've seen in the first half? Sound off in the comments!