Hopes and dreams are being dashed by realty in the NHL as we near the 20-game mark. Stock is being taken and changes made as assessments require (ask Ken Hitchcock).
The proof, for better or worse, is now in the scorin’.
Today’s StatNip blog is all about Team Scoring Rhythms (TSRs) as they are really beginning to show some of the wear and tear of the season even before Game 20. TSRs are done in the ‘Jim Craig’ model. (The 1980 Team USA gold medal winning goalie used to break down every period of every game into 5-Minute Blocks – our 5MBs – of time to assess his performance and ‘clear the mechanism’ ala Kevin Costner in ‘For Love Of The Game.’ Thanks for the model to harp on, Jim!)
We will discuss TSRs both in terms of the overall team and players of note. We will begin each Conference section with an overall numbers review which will be of great interest to both the casual fan and professional alike. Then we will break down teams of note in the Conference for further discussion as there is a particular note to cover.
Eastern Conference TSRs
Here are the Hi and Lo notes for TSR stats in the Eastern Conference (all stats are as of games ending 13 November):
Michalek (OTT) and Lecavalier (TBL) have scored the most goals (4) in one, 5MB of the TSR. These two players’ goals are the most dominant in both the East and NHL in terms of goal scoring in one 5MB.
Seguin (BOS) has scored in the most consecutive 5MBs of the TSR (8, over the entire 2nd and 3rd Periods of BOS play). He is the most consistent scorer across 5MBs in both the East and NHL.
PIT averages the most goals scored per player and per 5MB in both the East and NHL at +1.2778, a reflection of consistent scoring throughout a game.
MTL averages the least goals scored per player and per 5MB in both the East and NHL at +.9346, a reflection of more inconsistent scoring throughout a game.
BOS has the highest goal differential (GD) per 5MB in both the East and NHL at +1.231. There are currently seven Eastern teams with a positive GD per 5MB (BOS, BUF, FLA, NYR, PHI, PIT and WSH). Of those teams, only BOS is not currently in playoff position in the standings, an indicator they surge in some 5MBs and not others as defined further below.
WPG has the lowest GD per 5MB in the East at –1.15. The other eight Eastern teams all have a negative GD per 5MB (CAR, MTL, NJD, NYI, OTT, TBL, TOR and WPG). Of those teams, both TBL and TOR are currently in playoff position in the standings, an indicator just as with the positive GD that they surge in some 5MBs and not others as defined further below.
Eastern Teams Of Note
Having given you the Hi’s and Lo’s, we now turn to individual teams with some specific interest in 5MBs. (If your favorite team is not listed, they are playing opponents about equal across the span of the average game.)
Until the last two weeks, you could just about bank on a long break at the restroom and concession stand in the 2nd Period of a BOS game when neither the Bruins nor opponents were scoring. Now BOS has outscored opponents 7 – 3 in the opening 5MB of the second period and by a +12 GD from the last 5MB of the 2nd Period through the middle of the 3rd.
BUF outscores the opposition by a +8 through the opening 15 minutes of a game and are a +7 from the last half of the 2nd Period through the opening 5MB of the 3rd. They like drama, however, as they have given up seven goals (and a –2) to close out a game.
CAR plays games about even most of the way. And then comes the mid-point of the 3rd where in that third 5MB of the period they are a –8 in GD. It does not help either in the final five minutes they are a +1, but with 15 total goals for and against. ‘Out of gas’ may be the correct assessment here.
FLA are their opponents are about even throughout the game with two exceptions. The Panthers have eight wins, 19 points and are No. 7 in the standings because they are a +6 to close both the 1st and 3rd Periods.
Why is MTL playing .500 hockey? They open the game allowing 2, 4 and 5 goals against their 4, 0 and 2 scores in the opening three 5MBs for an overall –5. That is balanced by +3 in the middle of the 2nd and a +4 in the third 5MB of the 3rd.
NJD is playing mediocre at the moment. They are outscored 8 – 2 in the opening 10 minutes of games and form the final 5MB of the 2nd to the final 5MB of the 3rd by almost a –2 per 5MB. Of note, however, they have three 5MBs with a positive differential and the Devils have allowed the least combined goals in the East during the closing 5MB of regulation (6).
NYI’s GDs are unremarkable until the 3rd period where they are outscored by an average of three goals every five minutes in the frame.
The NYR only have three 5MBs with a negative GD (total of 5/average of 1.67 goals per). The rest of the time they are even or above their opponents with particular success in the final 15 minutes of games at a +7 GD.
OTT looks to be playing behind in GD from the 5th minute of the 1st Period until the 10th minute of the 2nd, although the 1st Period is of most concern (a –13 overall GD). Scoring is then relatively even until the final 5MB of regulation where you have to be in your seat – a total of 22 goals for and against have come at this time, the largest amount in the NHL. The Sens have eight wins off the back of many of those last-five-minute scrambles.
PHI beast you in the 1st Period where their GD is a +13.
PIT is a +5 in the opening 10 minutes of the game, and then goes –4 to close out the 1st Period before carrying a positive GD for the next 30 minutes of play. To boot, their GD is only a –2 over the final 10 minutes of the 3rd Period, so pretty much, the Crosby-less Pens own you from the 2nd Period onward.
TBL tends to get spanked in the middle 10 minutes of the 2nd Period (–8) and comes roaring back to close the 2nd Period (+6) and in the middle of the 3rd Period (+8). Inconsistently, they have both scored and given up six goals (12 total) in the final five minutes of game play. So more consistency could see them move up from the 8th seed more toward the middle of the Eastern playoff pack.
TOR began the season as a house on fire and is now cooling off. Their only negative GD issues, however, are in closing out the 2nd and 3rd Periods where they are a –5 and –6 respectively. The latter is in special need of attention to get more back upon the winning track.
WSH catches teams napping to close the 1st and 2nd Periods and open the 2nd and 3rd. Over those 20 minutes, they are a +17 in GD and are on the (slim) positive side over the last 10 minutes of games and in OT.
WPG loses games in GD beginning at the 10-minute mark of the 2nd Period. From there to the final 5MB of regulation, they are in consistent negative GD territory with an overall –16 in that 25-minute span. They attempt a closing surge for respectability in the last five minutes of games but are only a +1 for six goals scored.
Here are the Hi and Lo notes for TSR stats in the Western Conference:
Six players have scored the most Western goals (3) in one, 5MB of the TSR (Jokinen, Sharp, Duchene, Nystrom, Heatley and Pavelski). By comparison, there are 11 players in the East with three goals in one 5MB.
Seven players have scored in four, consecutive 5MBs, the most in the West (Glencross, Hossa, Eriksson, Kopitar, Cullen, Marleau and Hansen). Again contrasting with the Eastern Conference, four players have done the same or better. So overall, there is more scoring in the East, but it is done more consistently in the West.
SJS averages the most goals scored per player and per 5MB in the West at +1.248, just a bit behind PIT in the East.
CBJ averages the least goals scored per player and per 5MB in the West at +.975, just a bit ahead of MTL.
Representing the most parity (least goals scored and best Goalie save percentages) in the NHL, the highest GD per 5MB in the West belongs to CHI at only +.769. Of key note here is that the West is successfully playing more 5MBs with 11 teams holding an overall GD above 0 (CHI, DAL, DET, EDM, LAK, MIN, NSH, PHX, SJS, STL and VAN).
Predictably, CBJ has the lowest GD per 5MB in both the West and NHL at –1.77. The remaining three Western teams with a negative GD per 5MB are ANA, CGY and COL. Not too surprisingly these four teams are at the bottom of the Western standings.
Western Teams Of Note
ANA’s woes start early with a –6 GD in the first five minutes of games. (The opening goal of last night’s game came at 6:09 of the 1st.) They’re also outscored in the middle 10 minutes of the 2nd Period and again at the 10-minute mark of the 3rd for the next 5MB. While they tend to shut down the final five minutes of the game, they are not scoring either as they are a 0 GD with four total goals for and against, the lowest in the NHL.
CGY takes a hit at 10 minutes of the 2nd through the first five minutes of the 3rd with an overall –9 GD. Where their GD is positive, the average in those 20, spread out minutes is only a +1.75 which is why they are toward the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
CHI plays 40 minutes total either even or at a positive GD with the final 5MB of the 1st Period at a +7. The open and close of the 2nd Period has been their biggest headache with a combined –7 GD. But their final five minutes’ +3 has assisted when the 1st Period push has not been enough.
COL began really hot this season, particularly to close games out over the final five minutes of games. Now the first 10 minutes of the second period (with a –8 GD) and the ‘only +2’ GD at the end of the 3rd Period are beginning to take their toll and make this team look more ordinary.
Simply put, CBJ has nine 5MBs with a combined –26 GD and only three regulation 5MBs on the positive side of things (+6 GD). They are consistently not scoring and letting the rubber into the twine at their end of the rink.
Other than the seven-goal spike for (10:00 – 15:00 of the 1st, goal time) and eight goal spike against (5:00 – 10:00 of the 3rd), Coach Gulutzan has DAL playing a rather steady and consistent scoring rhythm of an average of 3.5 goals every five minutes.
DET is playing catch up from their six-game losing streak. That said, they have 7-of-12 5MBs with a positive GD and all but the final five minutes of the game where they are a –2 or less.
EDM goes –5 in the first 10 minutes of a game, –5 to open the 2nd Period, and –4 in the final 10 minutes of contests. If they can fix the bookends and maintain the middle, they will be a playoff team this season.
After going a –5 in GD at 10:00 – 15:00 of the 1st Period, SJS holds a positive GD for the next 25 minutes of games (a +13). If they can contain the three negative GD spikes at mid-1st Period and in the 3rd, they can continue down the current winning path they are on right into the Playoffs.
STL’s main issue is the –5 GD at the 10-minute mark of the 2nd Period. After that, they need to increase the GD positively across the board where they are mostly even or just below opponents to win more consistently.
VAN can score through the 1st Period (+8), lets a lot in during the 2nd (–10) and has a problem in the 3rd Period. While not letting too many pucks pop the twine in the 3rd Period, they have a total of three goals scored in the final 10 minutes of play. Only one of those three is an empty net goal and stands as the only marker in the final five minutes of play. It is as if the gym bags are packed up when they come out for the final stanza. This has to be rectified soon.
And that is it for this week’s addition of StatNips. Next week we hit on the 13 teams who reach their Game 20 Playoff Qualifying Curve calls as well as TSRs/5MBs/GDs and other acronyms we might coin…