Earlier, I introduced on The Nations Network a new way of looking at a player’s plus/minus rating, specifically to do with on-ice shot differential, in an effort to learn more about teams and players.
|NAME||TEAM||AdjFen||Events F||Events A||Type|
|James Van Riemsdyk||PHI||0.03||1.00||-0.93||FO|
Some other notables include Jeff Carter, Mikhail Grabovski, Alexander Ovechkin and Vincent Lecavalier. For the most part, familiar names that you’d associate with scoring goals. The teams that fit the description are Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston and Montreal, who were 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 22nd respectively in goal scoring this season. Of those, their defenses held up and they made the playoffs in part because of some pretty good goaltending; yes, even Philadelphia.
What makes Philadelphia’s moves interesting this summer is that they seem primed to become one of the top-scoring teams in the National Hockey League, despite losing all those goals, they’re losing some defensive competence in Nik Zherdev, Mike Richards and Darroll Powe and making up for it with guys with large offensive pedigrees in Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek (who counted as an offensive forward last season) and Brayden Schenn, mind you, Max Talbot and Wayne Simmonds are both low events guys. With Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk expected to earn more sheltered minutes this season on Philly’s top line, I see no reason why they can’t both be excellent hockey pool pickups.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, all 14 forwards with over 40 games were above league average in shots for, which showcases that team’s scoring depth. A number of them show up in this list. Meanwhile, you might recall former Carolina Hurricane Erik Cole was the league “leader” in being a defensive liability. Then-teammate Eric Staal is right up there as well, showing off a run-and-gun style used by the Hurricanes which is sure to make goaltender Cam Ward’s agent happy. Montreal dipped on shooting percentages this season, but Cole should give Scott Gomez a little bit of space and I think he’s due for a bounce-back season.
You may see Sidney Crosby and Andrew Ladd with a similar defensive number, but Ladd ends up with more shots for. Disregard that as me interpreting that Andrew Ladd is a better offensive player than Sidney Crosby. We know that’s not true. As this analysis gets more evolved, we will be able to adjust for other factors we can consider such as powerplay scoring rate and individual shooting ability, all of which would probably make Sidney Crosby the best player in the NHL statistically, with his overwhelming offensive numbers atoning for his under-average defensive play.
So, what have we learned? With many of the top scorers in the NHL also generally being unable to break average defensively, we should stop worrying about their defensive capabilities and focus on whether or not they can score, and how much. In the later conclusion to the series, I will discuss what we can do with this sort of analysis, and how we can determine which player types will allow a hockey organization the most success.