Feb 112013
 

When I updated stats.hockeyanalysis.com this season I added new metrics for Quality of Teammates (QoT) and Quality of Competition (Q0C). The QoC metrics are essentially the average Hockey Analysis Rating (HARO for offense, HARD for defense and HART for overall) of the opponents that the player plays against. What is interesting about these ratings, as compared to those found elsewhere, is that I split the QoC rating up into offensive and defensive metrics. Thus, there is a QoC HARO rating for measuring the offensive quality of competition, a QoC HARD for measuring the defensive quality of competition, and a QoC HART for overall quality of compentition (basically the average of QoC HARO + QoC HARD). The resulting metrics give a result that is above 1.00 for above average competition and below 1.00 for below average competition and 1.00 would be average competition.

Let’s take a look at defensemen first and take a look at the defensemen who have the highest QoC HARO during 5v5close situations over the previous 2 seasons. This should identify the defensemen who have face the best offensive players and her are the top 15.

Player Name HARO QOC
GIRARDI, DAN 1.036
CHARA, ZDENO 1.036
GARRISON, JASON 1.035
MCDONAGH, RYAN 1.034
WEAVER, MIKE 1.033
GORGES, JOSH 1.031
ALZNER, KARL 1.029
GLEASON, TIM 1.026
SEABROOK, BRENT 1.025
BOYCHUK, JOHNNY 1.025
SUBBAN, P.K. 1.025
PHANEUF, DION 1.025
CARLSON, JOHN 1.022
HAMONIC, TRAVIS 1.021
LIDSTROM, NICKLAS 1.021

That’s actually a pretty decent representation of defensive defensemen though there is a bias towards the eastern conference in large part because the eastern conference has more offense (the top 4 teams in goals for last year were eastern conference teams while 9 of the 11 lowest scoring teams were from the western conference).

Now, lets take a look at the forwards with the toughest offensive competition.

Player Name HARO QOC
SUTTER, BRANDON 1.032
PERRON, DAVID 1.032
CALLAHAN, RYAN 1.031
FISHER, MIKE 1.03
SYKORA, PETR 1.029
BOLLAND, DAVE 1.028
ZAJAC, TRAVIS 1.028
ELIAS, PATRIK 1.028
BERGERON, PATRICE 1.027
HAGELIN, CARL 1.027
ZUBRUS, DAINIUS 1.027
PLEKANEC, TOMAS 1.027
WEISS, STEPHEN 1.026
RECCHI, MARK 1.026
ERAT, MARTIN 1.025

Not a lot of surprises there.  They are mostly third line defense first players (IMO Brandon Suter is the best defensive center in the NHL and this is just more evidence of why) or quality 2-way players though as you go further down the list you start to see more offensive players showing up like Alfredsson and Spezza which is probably evidence of a coach wanting to line match top line against top line instead of a checking line against top line.

Where things get interesting is looking at who is 300th on the list of forwards in HARO QoC. It’s none other than Manny Malhotra of massive defensive zone start bias fame. Malhotra’s HARO QoC is just 0.980 while the Canucks center who is assigned mostly offensive zone starts, Henrick Sedin, has a HARO QoC 0.994, which isn’t real difficult but is somewhat higher than Malhotra’s. So, despite all those defensive zone starts by Malhotra (presumably because he is considered a better defensive player), Henrik Sedin plays against tougher offensive opponents. How can this be? Despite Malhotra’s significant defensive zone start bias his five most frequent 5v5close opponent forwards over the previous 2 seasons are David Jones, Matt Stajan, Tim Jackman, Joran Eberle, Matt Cullen. Aside from Eberle those guys don’t really scare you much. It seems Malhotra was facing Edmonton’s top line but not Calgary’s, Minnesota’s or Colorado’s. Henrik Sedin’s top 5 opposition forwards are Dave Bolland, Dany Heatley, Curtis Glencross, Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla. Beyond that you have Backes, O’Reilly, Bickell, Thornton, Zetterberg, and Getzlaf. Despite the massive offensive zone start bias, it seems the majority of teams are still line matching power vs power with the Sedins. The conclusion is defensive zone starts does not immediately imply playing against quality offensive players. It can be argued that despite the defensive zone starts Manny Malhotra plays relatively easy minutes.

Using a rigid zone start system like the Vancouver Canucks do actually makes it easier for opposing teams to line match on the road as they know who you are likely to be putting on the ice depending on where the face off is. If the San Jose Sharks want to avoid a Thornton against Malhotra matchup, just don’t start Thornton in the offensive zone. Here are all the forwards with >750 5v5close minutes and at least 40% of the face offs they were on the ice for being in the defensive zone along with their HARO QoC.

Player Name HARO QOC
Manny Malhotra 0.980
Jerred Smithson 0.977
Max Lapierre 0.970
Adam Burish 0.982
Steve Ott 0.993
Jay McClement 0.983
Sammy Pahlsson 1.014
Brian Boyle 1.010
Dave Bolland 1.028
Kyle Brodziak 1.002
Matt Cullen 0.998
Paul Gaustad 0.993

Only 4 of the 12 heavy defensive zone start forwards faced opposition that was above average in terms of quality while the majority of them rank quite poorly.

It is also interesting to see who plays against the best defensive forwards.  One might assume it is elite offensive first line players but as we saw above, teams seemed to want to avoid matching up top offensive players against Manny Malhotra. So, let’s take a look.

Player Name HARD QOC
FRASER, COLIN 1.044
BOLL, JARED 1.043
MAYERS, JAMAL 1.037
JACKMAN, TIM 1.035
MACKENZIE, DEREK 1.032
ABDELKADER, JUSTIN 1.031
CLIFFORD, KYLE 1.031
EAGER, BEN 1.029
BELESKEY, MATT 1.028
MILLER, DREW 1.028
KOSTOPOULOS, TOM 1.027
MCLEOD, CODY 1.025
NICHOL, SCOTT 1.024
WINCHESTER, BRAD 1.023
PAILLE, DANIEL 1.021

Pretty much only tough guys and 3rd/4th liners on that list. Teams are deliberately using the above players in situations that avoid them facing top offensive players and as a result are facing other teams third and fourth lines and thus are facing more defensive type players.

The one conclusion we can draw from this analysis is that quality of competition is driven by line matching techniques more so than zone starts.

 

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 NHL  Comments Off
Jun 192009
 

I have written a lot about the Phoenix Coyote situation the past several weeks so let me get back to addressing some hockey issues.

Dany Heatley

Wow, this guy is getting lambasted here in Ottawa for asking for a trade. Two years ago at this time he was a hero in Ottawa coming off back to back 50 goal seasons and a run to the Stanley Cup finals but now he is being compared to Alexei Yashin. If I were a Sens fan I might actually consider this trade request a good thing as it will give GM Bryan Murray an opportunity to change a top heavy team with no real second line and an average defence into a more balanced team. But he has to make the right deal which may or may not be out there, and certainly may not be available prior to Heatley getting a $4 million bonus on July 1st. There are two routes that I could see Bryan Murray going. The first, which is probably the better route to go in my opinion, is to trade Heatley for prospects and draft picks and then use the freed up salary cap space to sign 2-3 useful free agents to plug holes on the current roster. The second route would be to trade Heatley for current NHL players. It was speculated that the Edmonton Oilers might be willing to trade defenseman Tom Gilbert and forward Patrick O’Sullivan but if that is the best you can get in return I’d definitely suggest Murray go the prospect and draft pick route. While Gilbert is a pretty good defenseman and would fill a need for the Senators, O’Sullivan hasn’t impressed me much at all early in his career and it would makes Ottawa’s offense even shallower than last year. Plus the salaries of those two players wouldn’t add much extra salary cap space to sign a quality offensive forward as a free agent. It’ll be interesting how this pans out but.

The Sedin Twins

We learned yesterday that the Sedin Twins have each asked for a 12 year, $63 million contract which works out to a $5.25 million salary cap hit per year. There seems to be a general negativity towards the Sedins asking for this much for this long but is it deserved? Henrik Zetterberg recently signed a 12 year contract with the Red Wings at $6.08 million and Johan Franzen signed an 11 year contract at just under $4 million per season. A couple years ago the Philadelphia Flyers signed Mike Richards to a 12 year contract at a $5.75 million cap hit. Here are each players 2-year averages:

Zetterberg: 76gp, 37g, 82.5pts
Franzen: 71.5gp, 30.5g, 48.5pts
Richards: 75gp, 29g, 77.5pts
D. Sedin: 82gp, 30g, 78pts
H. Sedin: 82gp, 18.5g, 78pts

In terms of point goal and point production, Daniel Sedin is almost identical to Mike Richards despite Richards playing on a more offensive oriented team. The Sedin’s have been remarkably consistent over the past 4 seasons (post lockout) as well. Henrik has had 75, 81, 76 and 82 point seasons and Daniel has had 71, 84, 74 and 82 point seasons and combined they have missed just one game (Daniel in 2006-07). Additionally, both players have been + players ever year of their careers except their rookie seasons. Considering all of this, I honestly don’t think that the Sedin’s request is all that out of line. Steve has more on the Sedin’s request while Jason seems a little outraged.

NHL Awards

I didn’t watch the awards and am not going to comment on them other than to say I think they should be handed out in a location where at least a small percentage of the citizens know who Zdeno Chara is let alone know what the Norris Trophy is for.

Steve Simmons on Balsillie

Ok, so I can’t completely ignore the Coyotes situation in this but consider this more of a Steve Simmons bash than a Coyotes discussion. In today’s article Simmons wrote:

In the online letter to Bettman, that Canadian fans were asked to click on and send, it read: “It is clear Hamilton remains the best location for the Coyotes versus letting it wither in the desert.”

This may well be true, but it’s no way of conducting business.

You just have to love Steve Simmons, the often nonsensical and seemingly always bitter hockey journalist, handing out business advice to the multi-billionaire businessman who built one of the most successful telecom companies in the world.