Black Box: Week 3



Every Monday we’ll be posting a weekly statistical update on how the Flames have fared with each of their individual players on the ice. We’ve included a dash of interpretive analysis, and links to more detailed explanations for what the stats mean, and how to avoid Don Cherry-ing their application. Raw stats, courtesy Behind the Net, minus Kent Wilson’s scoring chances.

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Week 1
Week 2

OZQoC Charts (explanation)

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(Note – the further the right, the tougher the zone start position. The further up, the harder the quality of competition)

For some reason Coach Sutter is still matching the Iginla/Tanguay/Whoever line against top opponents, even in their own zone, and reserving the softest minutes for their fastest two-way line of Stempniak/Jokinen/Glencross. In ice cream terms, it’s like Jokinen’s line is getting that soft McDonald’s-like stuff, and Iginla’s is getting the really frozen stuff out of the box that you have to dunk the scoop in warm water just to scrape off a little bit for your pie.

Amazingly, the toughest minutes are being played by rookie Roman Horak!  He has the lowest offensive zone start and the highest Quality of Competition, so prepare for some disappointing numbers this week. The other five Flame forwards facing above-average competition are (in order) David Moss, Lee Stempniak, Tim Jackman, Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, but at least the first two often get to start in the opposing zone, and the last two make more in a month than I will in my entire life.

On defense the Jay Bouwmeester/Chris Butler pair undeniably has it the toughest, so expect the Scott Hannan/Mark Giordano pairing to post better numbers.

Even-Strength Scoring (explanation)

The numbers are going to be slightly off due to losing the scoring chance data for the Montreal Canadiens victory, but the effect should slowly disappear over time.  All data is now being displayed as rates over 60 minutes, so you can see (for example) that while the Flames enjoy 65 attempted shots (aka Corsi) per 60 minutes with either of Lee Stempniak or Jay Bouwmeester on the ice, more of them get translated into scoring chances with Stempniak (19) than Jay Bo (14).  Of course, that is likely a temporary consequence of the small sample sizes. Or Kent has the hots for Stempniak.

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Player         ESP/60 CEF CEA  CE% SCF SCA SC%   GF   GA    G%
Lee Stempniak    2.0   65  47 57.7% 19 14 57.1% 3.33 3.33  50.0%
Olli Jokinen     2.5   65  48 57.7% 17 12 57.4% 3.11 3.11  50.0%
Curtis Glencross 1.9   62  47 56.8% 15 12 57.1% 2.58 3.23  44.4%
Chris Butler     0.5   62  48 56.7% 14 15 48.2% 3.13 2.61  54.5%
Jay Bouwmeester  0.5   65  50 56.5% 14 16 46.0% 2.87 1.92  59.9%
David Moss       1.5   58  46 55.9%  9 15 37.5% 1.54 1.54  50.0%
Derek Smith      0.0   54  43 55.3%  8 10 45.0% 0.86 2.59  24.9%
Matt Stajan      0.9   55  45 54.9% 11 10 52.2% 2.69 2.69  50.0%
Brendan Morrison 0.0   53  45 53.9% 14 14 50.0% 0.00 0.00   0.0%
Tim Jackman      0.0   49  42 53.8%  7 10 40.0% 0.00 3.42   0.0%
Tom Kostopoulos  0.0   50  45 52.8% 11  5 66.7% 0.00 1.31   0.0%
Scott Hannan     1.6   49  44 52.7% 12 10 52.5% 1.64 1.64  50.0%
Jarome Iginla    0.5   58  53 52.2% 12 15 44.0% 1.58 2.11  42.8%
Alex Tanguay     2.5   58  55 51.1% 13 16 45.7% 2.50 2.50  50.0%
Mark Giordano    0.5   53  51 51.0% 12 10 53.7% 2.15 1.61  57.2%
Rene Bourque     1.4   51  49 50.7% 10 11 48.3% 2.14 2.85  42.9%
Cory Sarich      0.7   45  51 47.2%  7  5 58.8% 0.66 2.66  19.9%
Niklas Hagman    1.7   46  53 46.2%  8 10 42.9% 2.53 0.00 100.0%
Roman Horak      1.2   36  60 37.7%  5  6 44.4% 1.24 1.24  50.0%
Anton Babchuk    2.1   41  78 34.4% 12 18 40.0% 2.05 2.05  50.0%
P-L. Leblond     0.0   61   0  N/A   0  0  N/A  0.00 0.00   0.0%

You can see the numbers starting to come closer together now – at least the Corsi events and the scoring chances, that is (goal scoring may take a while to line up).  You can also see that the Flames have really been controlling the play, only a few of them are below-water possession-wise (Sarich, Hagman, Horak and “Blub blub” Babchuk). Teams that are trailing tend to have better possession numbers because the team in the lead tends to sit back and dump it in, so you can counter-intuitively expect these possession numbers to drop as the team improves.

Despite their tough assignment, Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Butler have enjoyed the greatest territorial advantage of all Flames defensemen. Unfortunately that hasn’t translated into an edge in scoring chances, but it has with goals – Mark Giordano and Niklas Hagman are the only other Flames with a positive even-strength goal differential.

Up front the Stempniak/Jokinen/Glencross line have taken advantage of their McDonald’s ice cream assignments by dominating even-strength play by any measuring except goals, where they’re even. 

Special teams (explanation)

Anton “Blub blub” Babchuk’s poor even-strength play has kept the Flames top power play performer in the press box, which is quite unfortunate give how much their top players are struggling with the man advantage.

Player              TOI/GP PTS/60 CE/60
Anton Babchuk        1.5     0.0  139.3
Jay Bouwmeester      1.7     5.1  106.4
David Moss           1.5     0.0   96.9
Chris Butler         1.0     8.4   84.1
Brendan Morrison     1.7     0.0   82.1
Olli Jokinen         3.2     2.7   80.4
Niklas Hagman        1.6     6.4   77.3
Jarome Iginla        3.6     4.8   68.9
Lee Stempniak        2.1     0.0   68.5
Rene Bourque         3.2     2.7   61.0
Alex Tanguay         4.4     5.9   60.8
Mark Giordano        4.1     4.2   58.6
Roman Horak          0.5     0.0   46.4

Sutter’s top choices Alex Tanguay, Mark Giordano, Jarome Iginla and Rene Bourque are all failing to control the play and generate shots with the man advantage – only Olli Jokinen appears to be enjoying much success at all.   Though their better numbers might be more a consequence of playing secondary penalty killers, the Flames might want to experiment with Jay Bouwmeester, David Moss and Brendan Morrison if things don’t improve.

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They seem to have it right when killing penalties, however – the top units are definitely pulling their weight.

Player           TOI/GP CE/60
Jay Bouwmeester   3.3    98.2
Chris Butler      2.8    91.9
Scott Hannan      2.7   107.6
Mark Giordano     2.5    91.4
Curtis Glencross  2.2    72.7
Rene Bourque      2.0    88.3
Lee Stempniak     1.9   106.5
David Moss        1.8   110.4
Tom Kostopoulos   1.6   138.9
Brendan Morrison  1.3    45.6
Roman Horak       1.2    99.4
Cory Sarich       0.7   180.6
Matt Stajan       0.7   159.2

I figured a cap team like the Flames always need to have someone to help carry the bags, drive the bus and clean the dressing room, which is why they always seem to have players with names like Higgins. This year they were even more obvious by getting a guy whose name is actually Butler. However, Chris Butler has been a pleasant surprise killing penalties along side Jay Bouwmeester, which takes some of the pressure off Mark Giordano and Scott Hannan.

Up front Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross are still their top penalty killers, though it will be interesting to see how Brendan Morrison and Roman Horak fare as they take more opportunities away from David Moss and Lee Stempniak (to Kent’s potential chagrin).

Goaltending (explanation)

If Calgary is to make the play-offs then they need strong goaltending – they aren’t one of those teams that can get by with below-average netminding.  So far Kipper and the Calgary Tower (should he really be named after something that doesn’t move?) have put up just 2 Quality Starts out of 7, which could really hurt the club should it continue.

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Goalie           GS QS  QS%  ESSV%
Miikka Kiprusoff  5  2 40.0%  .913
Henrik Karlsson   2  0  0.0%  .897

In fairness, Henrik Karlsson was literally a couple of seconds away from a Quality Start, and Kipper’s had two near misses as well, so it would only take a very slight improvement to go from 2-for-7 to 5-for-7.

And that’s how it looks after two weeks.  A slow start in the standings, but definite cause for hope as their luck improves, especially with some improvements in nets and with the man advantage.

  • icedawg_42

    Well – Butter’s finally remembered to put the Joker Moss Glenx line back together – and after maybe 1 or 2 more losses, maybe he’ll remember to give Iggy and his crew the soft matchups, and that his OMG line did the heavy lifting against better comp. Then all we need is for Bork to come back from vacation and we’re off to the races.

  • xis10ce

    I still think we need to use those QoC numbers with a heaping grain of salt. Montreal’s top corsi forwards are Aaron Palushaj and Mathieu Darche. NYR’s is Artem Anisimov. Edmonton has Darcy Hordichuk in the top three. I don’t know what Nashville’s top line is but they have Stortini and MacGrattan in the 4th and 5th slots. Malkin is way down in Pittsburgh’s forward ranks.

    There is just no way with only the seven games worth of data that the QoC number is giving us a reliable measure of who is being matched up against top lines.

    (Don’t take my grousing as either thinking that a) QoC doesn’t matter because I think that QoC is the second biggest non-random factor in determining success (the first being the observed player’s talent) and b) it is measurable somehow and aside from assigning a cardinal rank to the line being matched against the observed players (1st line, 2nd line etc.) for every shift I don’t have a better way to measure and record it.)

    • Well, not going out of his way maybe, but define the high ground. If it is zone starts, it hasn’t shown up yet (although note my caveat below). But maybe his is line matching to get away from forward lines and defensive pairings to try and get easier matchups. The other coach notices, so has been putting those guys out there for more O-Zone draws (Flames D-Zone draws) leading to fewer O-Zone starts. I haven’t combed through every shift chart and game log to verify what the real story is. Last week Kent postulated that Sutter was trying to give offensive starts to lines with the Hot Hand. I would also concede that it is all totally random – zone starts play no role in the matching for the Flames whatsoever.

      I must note there is a distinct shifting from last week though. Iggie’s ZS% was 32% and now it is up to 47%. By my math, that makes his zone start over the week 68% (21 OZ, 10DZ). How much higher do you want the ground to be?

  • xis10ce

    It’s really interesting to look past some of this data to see any clues of the behind doors mind set of Sutter & Feaster. Horak just astounds me. When you think we need that quick good start, then see Brent has got a raw kid taking on the toughest starts & competition. Does that not seem odd, I know they want to see what Horak can do & are very pleased with his play, but wow, what a Russian Roullette thing to do. That & the commitment to get getting Karlsson more starts sounds like a different agenda than wanting to get a quick start. JMO.

    Another note, I see lots of Columbus/NYR rumours on that (cough cough) Eckland site. When I was at the Ranger game, I noticed the main line of Gabby, Richards & Stepan & I saw a lot of good things out of that huge Boyle kid. That might make Dubinski tradeable, would a Bourque for Dubinski deal make sense? Duby might slot nicely on that Iggy/Tangs line.

    • BobB

      No such thing happened to Horak. His ZS% numbers are mostly a holdover from games where the Flames got spanked with tons of offensive zone draws. He was only 50% ZS in the last week, but that was only 4 of his 53 total shift starts, all coming from the Nashville game. In the first 4 games of the season up to the end of week 2, the Flames team ZS% was 43%. Horak’s ZS% was almost exactly in line with that.

      His QoC is a total aberration due to third/fourth liners on other teams having jacked up Corsi rates. Look at the TOR numbers. Their first line has mostly been Kessel-Lupul-Bozak. Their CorsiRel’s are -3.1, -12.3, -27.4(!). Those CorsiRel’s are then plugged into the QoC to say these guys are crap as compared with Frattin (+12.8), Brown (+8.6) or Steckel (+7.6). But who got the harder minutes, the players out against Kessel, or those out against Frattin?

      Thinking more about this problem (third/fourth liners with high rates making for whack QoC numbers) – it would seem to me that most of the cause is the rate normalization process. The raw Corsi counts for these types of players would be decidedly lower than for the top line players on those teams. But when you normalize for TOI to come up with a rate, it compresses the range of actual possession that a player is generating. So one or two strong shifts by the third-fourth line guys ratchets up their corsi rates. Could a QoC stat be derived that used raw events instead of rates to minimize this factor?

  • Just to put that number for Iginla’s ZS% for the week into context, Glencross-Jokinen-Stempniak were 58%-61%-60% respectively. Iginla-Moss-Tanguay were 68%-74%-70%. Bourque-Morrison-Hagman were 66%-67%-63%. Iginla’s line got the highest ground out of the legitimate forward units.

    More interesting? Bouwmeester-Butler were 45%-43%. Giordano-Hannan were 77%-76%. Maybe someone should ask Butler again how that 28 might fit now.

  • Yeah, it should be noted we’re talking very small sample here still. The QoC is probably not truly indicative and one game can really swing things for just about any measure. The true value here is to view the first few weeks as a starting point and then take note of how it shapes up over the long haul.

    For instance, the NSH probably really skewed things as far as ZS and QoC. The Flames were chasing almost the entire contest and they were playing the very worst possession/outshooting club in the league so far this season. That’s probably why The first line’s ZS% jumped up so drastically.

  • To say that Jokinen’s line is getting the soft minutes is just false. Hard matched against Edmonton’s top line, hard matched against Richards and against Nashville, well, there’s not much to match up against.

    Advanced analytics are great and I love them, but in this case, they aren’t telling the whole story.

    • Rad

      In terms of oppo sure… that would be the vertical axis where Joker is pretty comparable with Iggy & Tangs. But the gulf between the two on the horizontal access is way more pronounced. That would seem to indicate that while Joker is facing tough competition Butter is giving him more of the better half of the ice.

      That ought to be reversed. Optimally I think you`d want to see Iggy, Tangs and whomever gets put between them occupying the spot that Joker, GlenX, and Stempniak have now.

  • BobB

    If Tom Awad has identified three main goaltending factors that contribute to a Goal Against:

    1.Skill, 2. Shot Quality and 3. Luck (which I can agree with, although would like to see team teased out so that we can compare Boston to the Senators)

    and he has the “influence” 5v5 as:
    58% luck, 37% skill and 5.5% shot quality

    and “4v5″influence:
    70% luck, 10% skill and 20% shot quality

    (numbers which I think are close, but too “luck” heavy and not enough “shot quality” heavy, but that’s likely semantics). Again, there is no “Team” aspect in these, although I think they’re likely buried in the “Luck/ShQ” equations.

    Then how can we make this conclusion from an analysis as coarse as Quality Starts (especially when not comparing against the Quality of Team in front?

    “So far Kipper and the Calgary Tower have put up just 2 Quality Starts out of 7, which could really hurt the club should it continue.”

    Especially when contrasted with this:
    “In fairness, Henrik Karlsson was literally a couple of seconds (kid, you were pretty good for 64min, 50secs, too bad about that 10 seconds) away from a Quality Start, and Kipper’s had two near misses as well, so it would only take a very slight improvement [in LUCK my words] to go from 2-for-7 to 5-for-7.”

    It seems to me that the more we dig in this drill hole with this tool the less we see. I know I’m beating this horse to death…but the conclusions are misleading.

    At 29% QS out of 7 games. The Flames problems are goaltending. I don’t think anyone who’s watched these games would say that it’s not the team and “luck” that haven’t mostly contributed to that.

    So then what are we tracking? (Small sample understood, but this isn’t a cumulative measure through games…. it’s fairly binary)

    You know what’s “bad luck” for a goalie?, being stuck on teams like Columbus, Ottawa and Calgary and what’s “good luck”?.. being on the Boston’s, Detroit’s and Vancouver’s

  • xis10ce

    I didn’t realize the data was cummulative, makes for more sense then, my mistake.

    EDIT: Come to think of it we are comparing a all home game week to two prior mostly road games ones. Given the cummulative nature of these stats I’ll be interesting to see how it pans out come December or so.

  • Rad

    Crap. I’m happy for Langkow, but watched him score against the Jets (setup by Doan) with a pit in my stomach. Always loved him as a player, and even in his 3-game return last year felt so good about having him back. It’ll take a ‘whole lotta great’ from Mr. Backlund (not to mention some solid contribution from Stempniak) to make that move stop hurting.