1st 3rd vs. last 2 3rds

A few things happened with the Canadiens about 1/3 of the way through the season. The biggest thing was a changing of the guard on the top line - it was early December when Koivu/Higgins/Ryder gave way to Plekanec/AKostitsyn/Kovalev for the top role. This is also when Ryder first became familiar with the 3rd/4th lines and the press box. Lapierre and S. Kostitsyn were called up from Hamilton, while Grabovski was sent down and Chipchura soon followed.

So it's interesting to look at what happened to players' stats before and after this point. I regularly saved copies of the behindthenet stats throughout the season just for this purpose. Here are the EV numbers:

Click for an image you can actually see, and my apologies for the lack of logical sorting.

From these tables, we can spot some team wide trends:

The shooting% started out ridiculously low, then changed to ridiculously high. Part of that is the switch to the Plekanec line which definitely produces higher shot quality, but I think a lot of it is just dumb luck.

Getting outshot at EV by 4 shots per game is bad. The Habs made up for that with shot quality this season. A 12.5 team-wide shooting% is probably not sustainable. Bump it down to 10.5% and we're looking at an EV goal differential of 0. That won't win them the Conference next year, and thet's why Gainey needs to look at solid EV free agents.

Now onto some individual players.

Tough minutes
First 1/3rd
QUALCOMP for D, toughest to easiest: Komisarek, Markov, Hamrlik, Streit, Brisebois, Bouillon, Gorges.
QUALCOMP for F, toughest to easiest: Smolinski, Koivu, Dandenault, Higgins, Ryder, Begin, Plekanec, Latendresse, A. Kostitsyn, Kovalev, Chipchura, Kostopoulos.

Last 2/3rds
QUALCOMP for D, toughest to easiest: Markov, Komisarek, Hamrlik, Gorges, Bouillon, O'Byrne, Brisebois.
QUALCOMP for F, toughest to easiest: Begin, Kostopoulos, Plekanec, Kovalev, A. Kostitsyn, Higgins, Koivu, Ryder, Smolinski, Streit, S. Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Latendresse, Dandenault.

On D, the only major change was the leap in minutes and quality by Josh Gorges.

Among forwards, the Plekanec line started to face good opponents and shutdown defensemen. Dandenault went from toughest to easiest minutes, and rightly so. Begin and Kostopoulos gained responibility. Smolinski lost the #1 checking role for awhile, I think due to some hard luck. He had the 2nd worst save% behind him, giving him more minuses than he deserved.

Shooting and Scoring
First 1/3rd
Dandenault was being eaten alive. The Plekanec line was doing well against weak opposition, and the Koivu line was holding it's own against tough opp. The goals for/against numbers were ugly due to a team-wide scoring slump. Hamrlik quickly made us forget 'ol whatsisname.

Plekanec was clearly the teams top EV forward.

Last 2/3rds
Dandenault was still losing the battle against 4th line opposition. Facing tougher opposition after game #26, the Plekanec line was outshot but definitely not outchanced. Koivu and Higgins were outshot despite playing softer opposition, partly due to their ever changing parade of weaker linemates. Looking at the numbers this way is not kind to Ryder, who was outshot by 11 per 60 minutes. Ouch. He was still facing moderate opposition, so I still think he would have been a better option than Dandenault, Latendresse and maybe even Sergei in the playoffs. Later in the season Kostopoulos earned Guy's trust and performed well.

The team's best EV forward was either Plekanec or A. Kostitsyn. I lean toward the latter. He got better upon the arrival of his little bro and continued to improve as the season progressed. His 2.6 EVP/60 would place him in the top 40 in the league, amid the likes of Lecavalier, Horcoff, Havlat and Arnott. Plekanec put up 2.4 EVP/60 and Kovalev 2.0. We should scale back our expectations for next year because of the unsustainable 15.5 shooting%.

In his 52 games played, Sergei enjoyed a team shooting% of 14% while he was on. He's not really a 2.0 EVP/60 player - yet. Ryder made a pretty good comeback from his early slump, putting up a team high 1.3 goals/60 and 1.9 EVP/60. I must admit I'm surprised by Streit's 2.2 EVP/60. Most of that was done whle playing forward, I'm sure.


Since I worked out the EV shooting% for and against for everyone in the league, I reviewed the players in the UFA list. If players are awarded contracts based on their 2007-08 numbers, the following players look like potential good values:


And these guys look like potential poor values:



Anonymous olibou said...

Overall, on 82 games, we stand at, what, 10,5-10,7% spct? The 26 games mark is a nice choice and a good way of showing how that team somewhat turned things around. But the overall S% isn't just a matter of luck; there is the question of talent, execution, abilities and strategy. I mean, they really tried to shoehorn Latendresse on the Pleks line at the beginning of the season. What I'd like to see (still haven't found a way) is a chart of the location of the shootersfor/against at EV, and how it evolved as the year progressed.

Oh well

5/08/2008 10:15 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

On the year the team shot 9.2% in 5 on 5 play, according to behindthenet (opp sv% of .908).

Pittsburgh and Dallas were the best in the league at 9.5%. Phoenix was the worst at 6.8%. There is definitely some inherent ability to better percentages (see all the stuff about shot quality). Detroit has some pretty skilled players but shot only 8.1% because they shoot from anywhere and everywhere - they go for quantity over quality. But if the best in the league is 9.5%, I have serious doubts that Mtl will be able to pull off 12% over the course of next year.

Looking more closely at the team numbers, I think I made a mistake with the calculation of the 12.5% over the final 56 games. It should be closer to 11%. Still, I think that is unsustainably high.

It should be possible to get the charts you're looking for. Gabe Desjardins put up ones for Ovechkin and Ryder early in the season. There's no reason it couldn't be broken down by ranges of games. But I can't do it :)

5/08/2008 11:56 p.m.  
Anonymous Mikado said...

Thank you Mr Gillett!!!!!


I just wanted to publicly thank Mr George Gillett for bringing back the pride in being a Habs fans that was lacking for so many years. Like many Canadiens fans, I was horrified when an American bought the team, fearful that the NHL might lose it's jewel-in-the-crown Canadian franchise to some southern US town somewhere; however, Mr Gillett made a commitment to the city of Montreal and to the team.......AND KEPT TO HIS WORD!!!

THANK YOU MR. GILLETT, BOB GAINEY, GUY CARBONEAU (AKA Carbo) and to the entire Canadiens Hockey Club org. and the players for a fantastic 2007-08 season (if maybe not the playoff run we'd hoped for) and here's to an even better 2008-09 season)
I was hoping to put this on some sort of after season wrap up post, I guess this is as close as it will get; nice meeting you all, see you next season!

5/09/2008 3:22 a.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

I was hoping to put this on some sort of after season wrap up post...

At Sisu Hockey, we have eight months of winter and four months of bad skating. There is no offseason :)

5/09/2008 11:43 a.m.  

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