So, not on the Nation Network’s expense (though I wish Drance and company would have gotten me a gift), I went down to Phoenix for my birthday. Who wants to spend their birthday in cold ol’ Edmonton anyway?
With two hockey games in two days it was the most ideal way to turn 27. The only thing better than that could be if the Flames actually strung together more than two good games consecutively but such is life. Now we live in the darkest timeline with limited glimmers of hope (see: the win over Dallas).
PHOENIX, THANKS FOR THE WEEKEND
I had zero expectations of what to expect for both the Flames and Senators games but I was pleasantly surprised with everything. Gaggles of folks are going to rip this team over attendance regardless of their performance even though it wasn’t bad at either game. There were 11,495 fans at the Flames game and 12,727 at the Senators game which saw them lose their minds over the Boedker hat trick.
The evidence of success is typically minor hockey and that’s what is really driving this market. Plus it helps with the Coyotes being better than last season so far. You see a lot of young and old in the crowd, many of which have been with this team recently or since their inception. All of which were adorned in throwback jerseys of names past and present.
There were plenty of snowbirds as well, folks who came down for the weekend like I did, and fans who are just Flames fans there. It was eclectic and a great mix.
This imprint that hockey has created extends beyond Arizona, too. I met an adorable hockey team from Nevada who were in town for a peewee hockey tournament. They care and hockey is growing in Las Vegas in part thanks to the impact its had in Phoenix. Those Las Vegas Flames whom I met could very well be the future of the league one day.
If you ever get the chance I really implore anyone who has the chance to watch a game at Gila River Arena. See it for yourself, experience it, and make your own conclusion.
JOSH JOORIS, WHAT’S UP BUDDY?
Josh Jooris, like many remember, was one of the most pleasant stories of last season. He was a revelation, a breath of fresh air (to the bottom six), and an above-average secondary contributor. Be it even strength or the penalty kill, the Flames often were better with him on the ice and it shocked no one watching him.
This season he’s had some growing pains you could say. It could be the dreaded sophomore slump or it could be the dilemma like many players who were praised under rose-tinted glasses last season. The former is more likely than the latter as in virtually every statistical category, on a less than spectacular team nonetheless, he came out on top.
The biggest anomaly this season? Penalty differential. Last season a modest +5 penalty differential at 5v5 was a factor in his success and the team’s success. This season, he’s a -5 PenD through 20GP. The Flames are unfortunately falling victim to a poor penalty differential and Jooris is a big reason behind that.
Hopefully this changes soon as his impact on special teams last year was greater than others.
SCORIN’ POINTS AND JUNK
A presumable concern with Jooris’ point production is a little misconstrued currently. There is no denying 24 points last season was an added bonus, but there is more to it than counting numbers.
- Twelve of his total points on the year came between October 17th and December 4th of last season.
- In that time he shot, like many of his teammates, at an incredible rate. During that time Jooris’ overall SH% was 20%; 18.75% at 5v5.
- Currently, Jooris is on pace for 96 shots for the season in all situations. Last year he hit 72 at 5v5 and 89 overall. This season, despite being healthy scratched, he’s put up 25 shots in 20 games. Last season in 20GP he put up 18 shots at 5v5.
- Sticking with shot-based metrics, last season Jooris’ iFF (individual Fenwick For – shots missed and shots on net) totalled at 109 at 5v5. That’s good enough for eighth in forwards with 500 minutes played. This season he’s 10th with 30 iFF. Last season in 20 games between October 17th and December 4th, he had 26 iFF events.
So let’s stop on the last point for a moment because I think it’s important to address. He’s essentially producing similar shooting attempt numbers to this time period last year but the points aren’t coming.
Measured in P/60, Jooris’ rookie season had him finish at 1.3 P/60, averaging 0.5 G/60 and 0.8/A60. Through 20 games this season, he’s currently at 0.87/P60 floating around 0.58 G/60. In the 20 game sample from last year, Jooris scored at a goal per 60 minute pace.
JOJOO AND MATH ‘N STUFF
Above is last season’s first 20GP (in orange) vs this season’s 20GP (in blue) at 5v5. Like all players in the league there are ebbs and flows to their game with Jooris not being an exception to that rule.
From the perspective of underlying numbers with regards to raw CF%, Corsi Rel, FF%, Fenwick Rel, and scoring chance data you see a noticeable improvement this season from last season’s GP sample, along with his season totals:
So with all this data in front of us it shows a noticeable improvement for him and not only the team when on the ice. Despite diminished ice time this season, he’s finding a way to put that time to use when he’s not taking penalties.
So, how about his away from puck play? Using data in front of us we know that he isn’t a player who is a liability in his own end:
- He’s the best forward currently in FA60 and second-best in CA60,
- Team best for forwards in SCA60 (excluding Deryk Engelland) and in HSCA60 against.
Usage and TOI has a factor here, but it stands that on a team slowly improving their possession game he still is worth having on the ice in proper bottom-six usage.
It’s very apparent that he can be great on the forecheck, especially the forecheck on the PK. He’s sound in creating turnovers at the blueline on the penalty kill, an underrated trait. He’s capable of the dump-and-chase game as well as carried in play, two attributes that can provide meaningful impact regardless of the situation. And we know that there is some degree of production in him, a valued attribute in your bottom-six.
By no means is he a piece of the “core” but he’s capable and he should be used in the lineup. Folks around the league are noticing him and what he brings to a team, as folks rightfully should. The main takeaway is this:
If depth is a highly coveted option for teams rebuilding or teams looking to make a leap forward then appreciation (within reason) is key for the Jooris-type players. Like all players, no one is perfect but the positives often outweigh negatives when Jooris is on the ice.
Well besides the penalty differential – god that sucks.