Monday Heat Musings: If It Weren’t For Bad Luck…

If
it weren’t for bad luck, the Stockton Heat would have no luck at all. That’s
been the story of their young inaugural season so far. As frustrating as it is
to watch, it must be even more frustrating for them given their underlying
numbers.

The
Heat split the back-to-back weekend series against the San Jose Barracuda and
the San Diego Gulls. Those two games provided a perfect example of the two
different ways in which the Heat have played this season. Friday night they
sprayed the opposition with shots, yet lost the game. The next night, they
fired the same amount of shots and won handily.

It’s
those numbers that we’ll delve into this week on Monday Heat Musings.

TOUGH
LUCK

It’s
time we took a look at the numbers as an explanation for just how poor (or
unlucky) the Heat have been this season.

Let’s
start by looking at their Fenwick Close figure, which is the only possession
statistic calculated at this time by chlstats.com (which just recently shut
down because Josh Weissbock from CanucksArmy is moving on to
greener pastures). As of Saturday morning, the Heat were ninth in the league at
52.6% Fenwick Close. Not bad for the fifth worst team in the AHL.

Their
PDO and shooting percentages, on the other hand, is another story altogether; and
when placed in front of the looking glass of their Fenwick Close percentage
above, it shows us just how unlucky this team has been.

Their
shooting percentage is just 7.6% (27th in the league). For
comparison’s sake, the AHL average shooting percentage is 9.7%. Imagine if they
could pepper the opposing team with the same number of shots they’ve been
getting and shoot a couple of
percentage points higher? That might be the difference between being at the bottom
of the standings and competing for a playoff spot in the spring.

As
for their PDO, well, they’re getting a smidgen below league average goaltending
so that’s not too bad. Where their 97.6 PDO really
takes a hit is with that dreadful shooting percentage. The Heat are 25th
in the AHL in PDO, so unlucky doesn’t even begin to describe it. However, if
you’re the eternal optimist, please read below.

SHOOTING
GALLERY

With
that said, you have to think the Heat’s shooting percentage will progress to
the mean at some point (we hope), because no team is better than the Heat at
getting shots on goal each game.

They
lead the AHL in shots for per game with an average of 35. The Texas Stars are
second in that category at 33; while it may not seem like it, that’s a wide
margin in the American league where the average is 29.2 shots per game. This
isn’t a case where Stockton simply peppers the goalie with a scatter gun from
perimeter locations. I can tell you from watching them that they get an ample
amount of dangerous scoring opportunities – some players more than others, but
that’s to be expected.

Perhaps
the most staggering number is just how badly they outshoot their opponents each
game. In the last seven games (where they’ve gone 4-3), the Heat have averaged
16.7 more shots than the opposition!

Something’s
got to give.

BUILDING
RIVALRIES

We
all knew this was going to happen at some point. When you play such a sparse
schedule against the same teams over and over again, rivalries and bad blood
tend to happen. It’s part of what makes the Pacific division interesting this
season.

When
the schedule is as spread out as it is all the teams do are practice, practice
and practice some more. Naturally, they get the itch to go out there and blow
off steam in an actual game. That’s no more evident than when they play the San
Diego Gulls this weekend. Every time they play the Gulls there are scuffles
after the whistle, as well as enormous hits (Patrick Sieloff introduced himself to Max Friberg
on Saturday night). Even as there’s talk of the death to fighting in hockey,
these two teams have five fights in their four games against each other.

To
a lesser extent, which is probably an understatement on my part, the San Jose
Barracuda are an equally tough opponent that brings out the nastiness in the
Heat.

As
you’d expect, it’s always the same culprits creating dust clouds for the Heat.
Garnet Hathaway has continued to be a chief pest for Stockton. I don’t know an
exact figure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s near the top of the AHL in
penalties drawn. Then there’s Turner Elson who irritates people with his
infinite motor. The same can be said for Blair Riley on the fourth line. Add in
Sieloff’s surly mood and a dash of Hunter Smith and you’ve got all the
ingredients for increasing rivalries.

If
nothing else, it’s great entertainment for a less-than-spectacular Heat season.

THE
OTHER HAMILTON

Dougie
Hamilton has been getting a lot of attention lately for his much improved play,
and for good reason, but how his older brother Freddie is not getting his just
amount of attention is beyond me.

Freddie
Hamilton leads the Heat in scoring with 14 points in 17 games. That means he’s
currently on pace for 56 points on the season, which would be his highest
career AHL total. He’s also strung together a nice little scoring streak of
seven points in his last five games (two goals, five assists). In fact, of
those five assists, three of them were primary helpers.

At some point Treliving has got to give the 23-year-old a shot with the big club, if for nothing else than for merit’s sake. That’ll
be a little tougher with the recent play of Granlund, Bouma returning soon and
Bollig, Raymond and Jooris in a roulette wheel of healthy scratches.
Regardless, if anyone on the farm has earned a call-up, it’s Hamilton. He may
or may not impress with the Flames, but they’ve got to let him show what he’s
got before we make that assumption.

  • Slowmo

    Poirier s no longer a class A he is a B rated player this yr he is not even trying floater this yr sorry to say and floating without points another semin send to the KHL

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Reading your comment without punctuation was harder than it needed to be. You’re frustration is a bit early. Poirier is a kid and one that did very well just a season ago. Patience.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Mike,

    Speaking of Merit, what are your guesses for call ups for each of the positions. You’ve already mentioned Hamilton for RW, but what about deserving D’s, C’s and LW’s.

    • Grant needs to be the first center call-up. On defense it’s got to be Nakladal or Kulak, but Kylington’s making his case more and more each game. I would imagine he’ll get a game or two this season. At LW, I’d say probably Agostino. He’s been on fire lately, but probably last of the guys I mentioned.

  • OKG

    What’s up with Kulak’s lack of offensive production? Is he not on the power play? 3 assists in 15 assists is a huge step down from 13 in 26 last season…

    Is this a case of Kylington/Nakladal soaking up too much PP Icetime?

    • Nothing to worry about. Kyligton and Nakladal are getting a ton of PP time, followed closely by Aaron Johnson then Kulak.

      Outside of that, Kulak’s still playing extremely well. I know we all like to pick Brodie as a comparison whenever a two-way defensemen shows flashiness, but Kulak truly is showing some Brodie-esque moves out there. Most notably he’s picked up spinning off of checks like Brodie always does. He’s pretty fun to watch despite the lack of offense.

    • I’m glad he didn’t to be completely honest. He’s JUST starting to look awesome out there. He’s probably been the Heat’s best defensemen for the past two weeks outside of Nakladal.

      Flames fans should be okay that he isn’t headed to the WJC. He’s progressing nicely.

    • Nah, not really. And that’s not to take anything away from him. He’s just not a great prospect. That doesn’t mean he’s not doing well, because he is, but those injuries REALLY set him back.

      He’s actually looking like the Sieloff they drafted though. He’s playing mean, physical and a shut down role as a third pairing guy. He’s one of those D in a constant rotation, but when he does play, he does well.