In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussion about advanced stats. We talk about PDO, Fenwick and Corsi as ways of determining how teams and individuals are playing, who’s driving play and basically trying to find handy ways of evaluating hockey players – which, as we’ve discussed a lot here, can be hard.
Since last season, though, I’ve begun to think that one stat has been overlooked – icing differential.
WHAT IT TELLS YOU
Icings often occur because a team has gotten themselves so hopelessly hemmed into their own zone that they have no other choice but get scored on or throw the puck donw the ice. The Flames iced the puck a lot last year. They also got killed possession-wise. These two things may be connected.
ON A TEAM LEVEL
Through three games this year, the common perception is that the Flames generally carried the play against their opposition. How did they stack up in terms of icings?
Washington 4, Calgary 4: Most of Calgary’s icings happened in the second period, while Washington iced the puck throughout the first and third.
Columbus 5, Calgary 0: In a rare icing shutout, the Flames went the entire game without getting flustered enough to ice the puck. Columbus iced the puck fairly evenly throughout the evening.
Vancouver 8, Calgary 2: Outside of a single shift where Calgary iced the puck twice in succession, the Flames generally dominated possession and icings.
ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
The team’s leaders in icing plus/minus are probably the players you’d expect. Dennis Wideman, who’s been strong to start off the year, is +7 – meaning he’s produced seven more icings than he’s been on for.
Wideman’s defense partner Kris Russell is among four tied at +6, along with T.J. Brodie, David Jones and Ben Street. Street’s performance is the most impressive when you factor in that he’s played significantly less (36:33) than the other three (between 54:42 and 74:13).
Shane O’Brien is the only player in the red for icings (-2), although Matt Stajan (who only played one game) and Chris Butler, O’Brien’s partner, are even for icings.
The Flames, summarized: Wideman (+7), Street (+6), Jones (+6), Russell (+6), Brodie (+6), Glencross (+5), Giordano (+5), Galiardi (+3), Bouma (+2), Monahan (+2), Stempniak (+2), Backlund (+2), Hudler (+2), McGrattan (+1), Colborne (+1), Baertschi (+1), Stajan (E), Butler (E), O’Brien (-2).
So what do you think? Are icings a decent metric? Does this measure need to be tweaked to account for ice-time or quality of competition? I like the metric because it’s a counting stat that doesn’t rely on scoring. Can it be improved?
Fire away in the comments.