1st 3rd vs. last 2 3rds
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.
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.
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
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.
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: