# Assessing Individual Player Performance at the Halfway Point

Ryan Pike
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.

## THE TOOLS

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.

## THE BLUELINERS

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
• 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.

## THE FORWARDS

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!

Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames since 2010. He's Senior Contributing Editor at FlamesNation, a Senior Writer covering the Flames and the NHL Draft for The Hockey Writers, and a correspondent for the Fischler Report. You can see his hand or the side of his head on TV sometimes.
#51 mattyc
January 12 2016, 03:44PM

Colborne's updog/60 is good tho. Take that stat non-believers.

#52 cberg
January 12 2016, 04:00PM
crsh wrote:

Care to elaborate how Colborne has done ANYTHING to warrant the ice time he sees and situations he's deployed in?

He's a fourth liner at best who should be seeing no more than 10 mins a night, with zero PP time, and sure as hell shouldn't be on the ice in a one goal game with less than 2 mins remaining.

Well there's lots of ways to answer that, but one quick thought is he is sometimes the 6th attacker that comes out when the goalie is pulled. Great plan, a guy who is strong along the boards and can tie up the puck keeping it from the opposition. Other similar guys, like Ferland would be another choice with similar reasoning.

#53 ClayBort
January 12 2016, 04:17PM
cberg wrote:

Well there's lots of ways to answer that, but one quick thought is he is sometimes the 6th attacker that comes out when the goalie is pulled. Great plan, a guy who is strong along the boards and can tie up the puck keeping it from the opposition. Other similar guys, like Ferland would be another choice with similar reasoning.

What good is 15 seconds of puck possession on the boards if he's just going to throw it away right after?

#54 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 04:25PM
Rusev wrote:

The game has passed you by. The "eye test" you so strongly defend simply isn't enough to show the value of players. And literally 29 other teams have adopted methods OTHER than the "eye test" when they make lineup and personnel decisions. And you know what teams favour advanced stats very heavily? Teams that win cups like CHI and LA.

This isn't the 80's. This isn't the 90s. But feel free to keep living the past if you simply can't keep up with nature of the sport in 2016. It's okay. You and the rest of the folks at the retirement center can spend the next 5 years of your life discussing the "good ol days"

You're absolutely certain NHL coaches like Hartley are delving into your nerd-stats? Burke for one said he doesn't use them much and he runs the team.

Say what you want, but real hockey people still use the eye test. Go on fooling yourself though that real hockey people use your information on FN. Hilarious...

#55 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 04:28PM
ClayBort wrote:

What good is 15 seconds of puck possession on the boards if he's just going to throw it away right after?

Hold it. If Colborne has the puck for 15 seconds along the boards doesn't that improve our team possession stats? Doesn't that mean we win?

#56 ClayBort
January 12 2016, 04:36PM
KACaribou wrote:

Hold it. If Colborne has the puck for 15 seconds along the boards doesn't that improve our team possession stats? Doesn't that mean we win?

Not if a shot attempt isn't taken. Don't confuse corsi possession with time of possession. Just because you have time of possession doesn't mean you accomplished anything with it.

 technically time of possession prevents corsi events against... however I believe the last EN goal against was this exact Colborne turnover.

#57 mattyc
January 12 2016, 04:50PM

@KACaribou

He not busy being born, is busy dying

#58 DestroDertell
January 12 2016, 05:18PM

@KACaribou

"Say what you want, but real hockey people still use the eye test. Go on fooling yourself though that real hockey people use your information on FN. Hilarious..."

Before people believe this is true: "real hockey people" like Nill (GM of the Dallas Stars) have downright admitted to spending time reading stuff in the blogosphere. Teams like the leafs (cam charron), penguins (sam ventura) and the hurricanes (eric tulsky) have hired bloggers as well. Two of those guys were writing stuff on the nation network before they were hired.

#59 BJ
January 12 2016, 05:23PM

Some Colborne WOWYs might his Corsi in better perspective.

#60 Mullen7
January 12 2016, 06:05PM

I know it's nothing new but it was SO frustrating watching Colborne last night! 95% of the time he touched the puck the play died on his stick and resulted in a turnover. Even times where I didn't know it was him I would get frustrated at what happened on the ice and then find during the replay that it had been his fault. He was an absolute boat anchor to his linemates.

#61 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 06:09PM
mattyc wrote:

He not busy being born, is busy dying

I've read your uneducated writing, but this line tops everything you've done in the past.

#62 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 06:10PM
DestroDertell wrote:

"Say what you want, but real hockey people still use the eye test. Go on fooling yourself though that real hockey people use your information on FN. Hilarious..."

Before people believe this is true: "real hockey people" like Nill (GM of the Dallas Stars) have downright admitted to spending time reading stuff in the blogosphere. Teams like the leafs (cam charron), penguins (sam ventura) and the hurricanes (eric tulsky) have hired bloggers as well. Two of those guys were writing stuff on the nation network before they were hired.

Delusional... that's okay dude. Hold on to what you believe. Gets you through the day in the basement.

#63 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 06:11PM
mattyc wrote:

He not busy being born, is busy dying

Do you want to find out? I mean really find out whose dying?

#64 hulkingloooooob
January 12 2016, 06:15PM

I'd love to hear someones impressions of each player without using ANY stats. just the real deal, who can play hockey with all it's "un-stat-able" realities. when the first 15 games of the season were so different then the rest, i'd say this renders advanced stats fairly useless. at least at this point in the season. who's playing well now? who's over achieving, who's not. etc.....these stat workouts bore me and i just see incongruencies rather then telling data.

#65 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 06:27PM
hulkingloooooob wrote:

I'd love to hear someones impressions of each player without using ANY stats. just the real deal, who can play hockey with all it's "un-stat-able" realities. when the first 15 games of the season were so different then the rest, i'd say this renders advanced stats fairly useless. at least at this point in the season. who's playing well now? who's over achieving, who's not. etc.....these stat workouts bore me and i just see incongruencies rather then telling data.

Guessing most couldn't analyze a game without statistics telling them what they saw. You are so bloody right though my friend. What did you think of last night's game from a fan perspective who actually goes to the game to watch it?

#66 Tomas Oppolzer
January 12 2016, 06:36PM
KACaribou wrote:

Delusional... that's okay dude. Hold on to what you believe. Gets you through the day in the basement.

...It's not delusional. Destro posted fact. Cold, hard facts. And you post back with "hold onto what you believe". Come on. I understand you don't agree with the advanced stats. But don't be stubborn about it. Those people s/he listed (Cam, Sam, and Eric) were hired by NHL teams. There's also Dubas, an advanced stats wizard, working as a Leafs assistant GM. But keep on spewing your garbage rhetoric about how the stats are meaningless, just try to respond to fact with fact from now on. Not being unnecessarily rude.

#67 DestroDertell
January 12 2016, 06:37PM
KACaribou wrote:

Delusional... that's okay dude. Hold on to what you believe. Gets you through the day in the basement.

*facepalm*

On Jim Nill:

http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2014-07-24/jim-nill-dallas-stars-sportvu-nhl-kyle-dubas-maple-leafs

On Sam Ventura:

http://www.pensburgh.com/2015/7/22/9014891/penguins-hire-sam-ventura-war-on-ice

On Cam Charron:

On Eric Tulsky:

http://hurricanes.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=777355

#68 Tomas Oppolzer
January 12 2016, 06:44PM
DestroDertell wrote:

*facepalm*

On Jim Nill:

http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/story/2014-07-24/jim-nill-dallas-stars-sportvu-nhl-kyle-dubas-maple-leafs

On Sam Ventura:

http://www.pensburgh.com/2015/7/22/9014891/penguins-hire-sam-ventura-war-on-ice

On Cam Charron:

On Eric Tulsky:

http://hurricanes.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=777355

You can't use facts and evidence with KACaribou. they confuse him and he'll resort to calling you delusional or any other host of rude, but not too terribly rude, things.

#69 Graeme
January 12 2016, 06:46PM
cjc wrote:

From game reports I had the impression that Granlund was doing pretty well, but the shot metrics make it look like he's getting crushed 5v5. Any thoughts on the discrepancy?

P.S. I promise not to bring up Monahan again :-) He had a good game last night.

Monny was good last night but he missed some grade A chances in front of the net gift wrapped by Johnny. The team deserved a better fate... A little bit of bad luck and old Ramos. My biggest concern is we have not been able to secure any points in 2 Of the biggest games of the year. I think playoffs without an insertion of some new talent is going to be tough.

#70 Tomas Oppolzer
January 12 2016, 06:50PM
KACaribou wrote:

Guessing most couldn't analyze a game without statistics telling them what they saw. You are so bloody right though my friend. What did you think of last night's game from a fan perspective who actually goes to the game to watch it?

Most of us can. It's been said many times by many different people, these stats (corsi, fenwick...) aren't to be used by themselves, but are intended to be used as a tool to help you evaluate what you're watching. It's not the only evaluation tool one uses. But you don't want to acknowledge that. It would ruin your narrative that all adavanced-stats people only have their heads buried in stat sheets.

#71 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 07:10PM
Tomas Oppolzer wrote:

You can't use facts and evidence with KACaribou. they confuse him and he'll resort to calling you delusional or any other host of rude, but not too terribly rude, things.

I've tried to be nice to you Tom, but you keep s#\$t up like this. So I must treat you as you are. If you look back you will see the little dweebs who have made ignorant comments about me just because I don't agree with your stat ideas. Now you just did the same. This isn't a religion, quit treating it like one.

#72 Phillip
January 12 2016, 07:32PM

I haven't said anything before about this, but if any of us want to be treated with respect promoting our advanced stats theories, we have to also be respectful to people who disagree with us.

#73 The Last Big Bear
January 12 2016, 08:17PM
ClayBort wrote:

Those that tend to use the D ice time argument are often the same ones that cheered the day Bouwmeester was dealt (an ice time machine)

Jay Bouwmeester was a reigning NHL ironman, multi-time Canadian Olympian, Olympic gold medalist, NHL All-Star, top pairing defenceman.

A lot of the people who cheered the day he left were idiots.

#74 ClayBort
January 12 2016, 08:41PM
KACaribou wrote:

I've read your uneducated writing, but this line tops everything you've done in the past.

Don't pick on Matty's education. It's not his fault he only has a Masters degree.

#75 Johnny Goooooooaldreau
January 12 2016, 08:43PM
SmellOfVictory wrote:

Alex Steen's sh% year-to-year, from 09/10-12/13:

12.7, 9.2, 11.2, 6.2

Jarome Iginla (one of the most consistent goal scorers in NHL history) sh% year-to-year, from 09/10-12/13:

12.4, 14.9, 12.8, 10.4

And that's over an entire season. Shooting percentage is obviously highly variable, even with good/elite shooters; you don't think that qualifies as luck? Do you honestly think that, when a skater lets the puck go, he has complete control over it, whether it hits someone in front, if the goalie happens to be having a hot game, whether his stick catches on a rut in the ice, what the temperature in the rink is? You don't think those kinds of factors can cluster over the course of multiple games?

Spoken like a true "plug".

The kind of player who when he is on a breakaway, his teammates are all yelling at him to pass.

#76 Johnny Goooooooaldreau
January 12 2016, 08:50PM
ultrathinzigzags wrote:

So I guess Backlund with his career shooting % of 7.8 means he's just unlucky all EVERY DAMN YEAR

Last night encapsulates Backlund for me.

Did some good things, did some bad things.

Gets the puck with 1/2 the net open and waits for the goalie to come across before he gets his shot away. He is either a match fixer like the Pakistani Cricketers, or he doesn't even have the wrist strength to just snap the puck into the net like most of those so called "lucky " shooters would.

#77 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 08:51PM
ClayBort wrote:

Don't pick on Matty's education. It's not his fault he only has a Masters degree.

Well you're smart enough to have two accounts, so it looks like someone is speaking for you. Bravo.

#78 ClayBort
January 12 2016, 08:55PM
KACaribou wrote:

Well you're smart enough to have two accounts, so it looks like someone is speaking for you. Bravo.

Nice try, Matty and I follow one another on Twitter. He also has a slick website.

#79 Johnny Goooooooaldreau
January 12 2016, 09:00PM
flamesburn89 wrote:

Or how Hudler's scored 5 goals in 35 games this year after potting 31 last year. Did he forget how to shoot over the summer?

I don't know if he "forgot how to shoot over the summer", but he has definitely forgotten TO shoot this winter.

#80 Johnny Goooooooaldreau
January 12 2016, 09:06PM
Tomas Oppolzer wrote:

...It's not delusional. Destro posted fact. Cold, hard facts. And you post back with "hold onto what you believe". Come on. I understand you don't agree with the advanced stats. But don't be stubborn about it. Those people s/he listed (Cam, Sam, and Eric) were hired by NHL teams. There's also Dubas, an advanced stats wizard, working as a Leafs assistant GM. But keep on spewing your garbage rhetoric about how the stats are meaningless, just try to respond to fact with fact from now on. Not being unnecessarily rude.

Those people are giving supplementary information to the decision makers who use their eyes and then seek some context for what their eyes tell them.

I watched Moneyball the other night, and guess what, the A's didn't win the World Series in the movie or in the time since then.

Because it is real life!

#81 ClayBort
January 12 2016, 09:12PM
Johnny Goooooooaldreau wrote:

Those people are giving supplementary information to the decision makers who use their eyes and then seek some context for what their eyes tell them.

I watched Moneyball the other night, and guess what, the A's didn't win the World Series in the movie or in the time since then.

Because it is real life!

Because other teams, with larger budgets, adopted their techniques. They won World Series championships (Red Sox are the notable example). On base pct (OBP) is now one of the stats that leads to the most expensive contracts in free agency. Because the A's don't have a big budget, they had to find other things that were undervalued, and have since focused on defence.

Stats won in baseball.

#82 the-wolf
January 12 2016, 09:33PM
KACaribou wrote:

I've tried to be nice to you Tom, but you keep s#\$t up like this. So I must treat you as you are. If you look back you will see the little dweebs who have made ignorant comments about me just because I don't agree with your stat ideas. Now you just did the same. This isn't a religion, quit treating it like one.

Each to their own, but here's what I don't get: Do you come on here to troll or to torment yourself? Because you know this site is all about advanced stats. Are you on a crusade to change the site? I really don't get it.

#83 KACaribou
January 12 2016, 09:42PM

If you look at my earlier comments, they are very reasonable. Then some dick comes on and starts with the ignorant comments that my thinking is dinosaur-like and the "new way" is the right way. I don't mean to torment anyone, but they need to be open to other points of view. We have free speech here. ON isn't only advance stats nerds. There are real hockey comments. Some here too. Not all nerd-stat people here, some like to talk about hockey too.

#84 FlamesRule
January 12 2016, 11:31PM
crsh wrote:

Care to elaborate how Colborne has done ANYTHING to warrant the ice time he sees and situations he's deployed in?

He's a fourth liner at best who should be seeing no more than 10 mins a night, with zero PP time, and sure as hell shouldn't be on the ice in a one goal game with less than 2 mins remaining.

Hopefully he's being played to be traded in the future.

#85 hulkingloooooob
January 13 2016, 01:58AM
Tomas Oppolzer wrote:

...It's not delusional. Destro posted fact. Cold, hard facts. And you post back with "hold onto what you believe". Come on. I understand you don't agree with the advanced stats. But don't be stubborn about it. Those people s/he listed (Cam, Sam, and Eric) were hired by NHL teams. There's also Dubas, an advanced stats wizard, working as a Leafs assistant GM. But keep on spewing your garbage rhetoric about how the stats are meaningless, just try to respond to fact with fact from now on. Not being unnecessarily rude.

I personally don't think advanced stats are meaningless, just a portion of the picture, and with such small sample sizes, the part of the picture it does represent is sometimes fuzzy at best and the flames "down and up" season serves as a perfect example of this.

#86 hulkingloooooob
January 13 2016, 02:05AM
Tomas Oppolzer wrote:

Most of us can. It's been said many times by many different people, these stats (corsi, fenwick...) aren't to be used by themselves, but are intended to be used as a tool to help you evaluate what you're watching. It's not the only evaluation tool one uses. But you don't want to acknowledge that. It would ruin your narrative that all adavanced-stats people only have their heads buried in stat sheets.

you get to my point exactly....so why not present the cold hard "advanced" data as well as impressions and discussion of those elements of the game that are intangible or don't represent well in said data. these articles are often a simple cut and paste presentation of the "cold hard facts" with a nice intro anyone including eric francis could write with little or no analysis beyond " as you can see, so and so scored high here and so and so scored low there" yes we can see that.....but wait....there's more? I think there should be...

#87 Avalain
January 13 2016, 07:44AM
hulkingloooooob wrote:

you get to my point exactly....so why not present the cold hard "advanced" data as well as impressions and discussion of those elements of the game that are intangible or don't represent well in said data. these articles are often a simple cut and paste presentation of the "cold hard facts" with a nice intro anyone including eric francis could write with little or no analysis beyond " as you can see, so and so scored high here and so and so scored low there" yes we can see that.....but wait....there's more? I think there should be...

I understand where you're coming from, but don't we get stuff like that in the post game threads? I don't really need a separate article to tell me that Colborne gave the puck away or Gaudreau made a nice pass. The advanced stats threads are good in that this is information that I don't personally have on hand.

#88 cjc
January 13 2016, 11:02AM

@Graeme

@Graeme

Okay, since you brought Monahan up... Better to have chances and fail to bury them then not have them at all. Even Ovechkin fails to bury a good chunk of his chances. It's just going to happen. The next time he scores 2 in a game we'll forget all about it. I'm happy to give credit where it's due, and that game improved my opinion of Monahan.

We can say bad luck, but the defense on some of the early goals was *blech*. Even if you are outshooting by a large margin, those things matter, particularly early in the game.

I'd say they deserved the loss on the whole, even if they did a lot of things right.

#89 hulkingloooooob
January 13 2016, 01:43PM
Avalain wrote:

I understand where you're coming from, but don't we get stuff like that in the post game threads? I don't really need a separate article to tell me that Colborne gave the puck away or Gaudreau made a nice pass. The advanced stats threads are good in that this is information that I don't personally have on hand.

I guess i just feel like some of those writers who heavily endorse advanced stats are reticent to expose the areas of weakness within advanced stats. For me, this is where the true interest lies. Yes we have advanced stats and they are here to stay, and yes they can offer us lots of useful data and illuminations, but at some point more people are going to have to start talking about where they go wrong, or at least where they don't tell the whole picture. i guess i want advanced stats to continue to advance and become increasingly nuanced. to me this is where to true value lies, especially to the teams who are indeed starting to make use of them.