Monday, August 22, 2011

Figures Don't Lie, but Liars Figure - The Defense

Fedor Tyutin at practice last year
Owwwooooooooooo!  Good Golly Miss Molly!  What was that!!??  Oh yeah.  The dog days of summer.  When hockey news is slow, slower, and slowest.

Contrary to popular belief, that was not me in the dentist chair this morning.  The girl knows how to ply her numbing agents.  Nonetheless, I decided to stay home with my numb face, and later aching jaw.  So since I wasn't at work, and needed something to do, I figured I should start crunching some numbers.  

Since the addition of Jeff Carter seems a sure fire boost to the offense, I decided to take a hard look at the defense.  With only four players returning from last year, this unit is getting a big overhaul.  The burning question is, did it get any better??  With that degree of change, how would one tell?
I decided I'd better stick to the standard statistics, as CORSI statistics  remain beyond my comprehension in a practical sense.  I don't think I could translate that to something on the ice.  The downside is that other than offensive performance, the standard statistics don't measure defensemen particularly well.  But they were all that were reasonably available.  The numbers come from the CBJ website or  

The obvious frame of reference is last years team.  Did we get any better?  We brought in Wiz, Martinek, and Bubba, and we got rid of Hejda and Klesla, as well as Commodore.  So first I started summing the statistics from the defense.  I added up the number of games played, Goals, Assists, Points, +/-, Penalty minutes, etc from the 2010-11 CBJ.  Then I did the same thing with the new group of players. I also separated out the remaining core of the defense, Marc Methot, Kris Russell, Fedor Tyutin, and Grant Clitsome.  I felt it would be interesting to compare that remaining core to last year's team.  Did we really keep the better players?

The problem I had, was that the number of games played for each group was so different.  So in order to make direct comparisons between my three groups (2010-11, the remaining core, 2011-12 as currently constituted), I ended up dividing the totals by the total number of games played.  For instance, in 2010-11, I divided total goals by the defense (28) by the number of man games played by the defense (494) and I came up with a very small number (0.05668).  Since such a small number was so meaningless, I multiplied it by 100 to give it some relevance.  The resulting Relative Total Goals for the 2010-11 team is 5.7 after rounding.  These are the numbers I used to compare, and this number represents the number of goals scored per 100 man games, which is about one fifth of the season.

My conclusion?  Even though we do not have a complete unit yet for 2011-12, they are a better unit than last year's unit.  On the other hand, most of those statistics are offensive, so it wouldn't be bad to fill in the remaining spots with someone who can defend.  So here are the numbers that prove I'm not crazy. (ha, ha, ha.  Bite your tongue.  Don't say it!)

Relative Total Goals

2010-11 Team - 5.7      The Remaining Core - 6.2    2011-12 Players - 7.7

This means that in terms of goals scored, weighted by number of games played, that we kept the players who tended to score at a higher pace.  The good news is that when you add in the newly acquired players, the goal scoring pace is even better.  In this area, we can expect this year's squad to do better.

Relative Assists

2010-11 Team - 23.5    The Remaining Core - 26.4    2011-12 Players - 28.7

Again, the players assembled for next years team generate assists at a higher pace than either last years team, or the remaining core of players.  This is a good thing and bodes well for next year.  Since the points total is comprised of goals plus assists, the Relative Points numbers follow the same trends.

Relative +/-

2010-11 Team -  -7.9    The Remaining Core -  -6.6    2011-12 Players - -10.1

Ruh Roh!!  So while next years team appears to have better offensive upside, there are some questions about the ability to defend.  Wiz's -18 with the Islanders has a lot to do with this trend.  And since he was plus 4 with Montreal, it is to be hoped that this is not truly indicative of his ability to defend.  Of course if you had to compare defense's between the CBJ, and the Isles or Habs, the CBJ defense is probably closer to the Isles.

Relative Penalties in Minutes

2010-11 Team -  61.9   The Remaining Core - 55.4     2011-12 Players - 59.9

This number reflects dumb penalties as well as penalties taken for hard, aggressive plays.  I don't really think you can tell a whole lot from these numbers.

Relative Power Play Goals

2010-11 Team -  1.0    The Remaining Core - 1.6   2011-12 Players - 2.8

Yeeehaw!!  Now we're talkin'!  Even though the remaining core was half again as better than last years team, this years team is a full 1.2 goals per 100 man games better than that!!  This just says we have more offensive firepower.  Will it be enough to overcome the +/-??

Relative Shots

2010-11 Team -  122.7    The Remaining Core - 125.6   2011-12 Players - 121.5

I felt this was kind of interesting.  The remaining core of players had a higher rate of shooting.  These things should balance out with  a full team roster.  During power play work, players are going to tend to take more shots.  In the Remaining Core, 3 of the 4 players saw significant power play time at one point in the season or another.  So that likely inflates that numbers for that group, which doesn't include peripheral players who won't get much power play time like the other two groups.

Relative Shooting Percentage

2010-11 Team -  4.6%     The Remaining Core - 4.9%    2011-12 Players - 6.3%

So even if the 2011-12 CBJ may not take shots at a vastly different pace then the 2010-11 Jackets, they should score at a much faster pace.  That is a pretty good shooting percentage for a defensive group!  In fact, in the NHL in 2010-11 only the top 25 INDIVIDUAL defensemen in the league shot at 6.3% or better so this is a really good group statistic.  Please note I calculated this differently.  You can't go around summing percentages.  This is Relative Total Goals divided by Relative Shots, times 100.


It is the post lock-out NHL, that emphasizes offense.  By that measuring stick, the 2011-12 CBJ ought to be one of the best groups that the franchise has ever had, judging by their past performance.

C'mon man!  Drop the Puck!!!!


1 comment:

  1. I think Russell will have his most productive year. There is less pressure on him, than last year.


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