The Habs' Happy Hooker
The diff columns are just the Drawn minus the Taken. Positive is good, negative is bad.
The most importing thing here is, unlike last year, the team is in the black. Seeing how the Habs have a good PP and poor PK, that is crucial.
The item at the forefront of everyone's mind is Koivu's penalty taking tendency. Individually, he's taking 1.7 per 60 - tied with Kostopoulos for worst on the team. That's the bad news.
Taking a look at a slightly bigger picture, his individual differential is -0.8. That's pretty much par for a Habs centre. Smolinski and Lapierre are also at -0.8, while Plekanec is even.
Looking at an even bigger and more important picture, the team draws 2.4 more per 60 when Koivu is on the ice. That's just a hair behind the Plek-Kast-Kovy line's diff, despite Koivu playing tougher defensive assignments. Not bad.
If you consider that Koivu is -0.8 individually and the team is +2.4 while he's on the ice, that means his linemates and defensemen are a collective +3.2 while he's on the ice. That's a big number - by far the biggest on the team. So how are Koivu's linemates achieving the +3.2? The defensemen are pretty much all negative. He hasn't skated with Kovalev or A.Kastsitsyn. The most you get by adding up the individual numbers for Higgins and Ryder/S.Kastsitsyn is 2.4. It seems we have a paradox.
I think the answer is Koivu quite literally making his teammates better in this statistical regard. He's an aggressive player. He's hard on the puck. This means he takes more penalties, but it also means he gains possession of the puck. You take way more penalties when the other team has possession of the puck. If you are good at gaining and retaining possession, you are going to draw more penalties than you take. Koivu's aggressiveness looks bad on the surface (his individual -0.8), but it is a huge net positive for the team. That's why I think it was a bad move to bench Koivu last night. Ottawa dominated possession and it almost cost the Habs the game. That's now at least three home games in a row that they've been outshot and outchanced at EV.
In contrast to Koivu is Chipchura. During his stay in Montreal he bucked the trend for Habs centres and was a solid individual +1.1. However, his team number was -1.1. That means his linemates were a collective -2.2 while he was on the ice. That's the worst on the team (although Latendresse is close behind). When Chipchura was on the ice, the team simply didn't gain/retain possession and it cost them penalties. He's a rookie, and he'll learn the ropes. Possibly from Koivu.
Labels: working the corners