One of the more interesting coaching decisions by Brent Sutter thus far has been the matching of Olli Jokinen, Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman against the other team’s top lines. The season didn’t begin that way, but Sutter has settled into that routine lately.
This is interesting because it gives us an opportunity to compare Daymond Langkow to Olli Jokinen. The former played with Rene Bourque (and a rotating cast of LWers) in almost the exact same circumstances for a chunk of the season.The latter is doing it currently – as best as he’s able at least.
Right now, the Flames only have one group of regular forwards under water in terms of possession. That is, of course, the Jokinen trio. They’ve been deployed against the best more often than not and have started out in their own zone more than any other forward group. Here’s their varoius advanced stats:
Jokinen: -4.45 corsi/60, 49.4% zone start
Bourque: -10.94 corsi/60, 46.8% zone start
Hagman: -5.75 corsi/60, 45.1% zone start
Yeesh. To be fair, those are tough circumstances. Of course, this is the reason that Langkow is so well thought of in some circles:
Langkow: +7.65 corsi/60, 47.7% zone start
Bourque: +5.19 corsi/60, 52.4% zone start
Dawes: +7.80 corsi/60, 50.5% zone start
These are the results from the "second line" last year (or it’s most frequent iteration). Bourque and Langkow mostly played together when the two were healthy and they positively ran things possession-wise. This year, Bourque is playing roughly the same role, except with Jokinen instead of Langkow and the pairing is getting buried.
There’s obviously limitations to this comparison – the current season’s sample size is tiny. Knowing what we know about Jokinen though, I have serious doubts that the results for that trio will improve if Sutter continues to match them up against the big boys. We’ll see if that continues (my thinking is "no", even though the other options are less than ideal as well), but even now I think we’re seeing some of the consquences of Langkow’s absence from this club.