This season I’ve decided to do weekly advanced stats updates which will I’ll post every Sunday. It’s a way to keep people up to date with advanced stats, and also a way to tell who is making the most improvements to his game as the season progresses. So here is the first of what I hope to be weekly installments of Advanced Stats Sundays.
I’ll briefly touch on the stat categories in this post. To read a more in-depth description go to the “Explanation of Advanced Stats” page at the top of the blog.
First, before I break down the team’s stats I want to throw out James Neal’s stat-line. He has insane numbers, and would be leading most of the categories, but since he only played just under four minutes, the numbers aren’t an accurate representation, nor have they played a part in the team’s success so far. As of now he has an on-ice Corsi of 47.16 and a Fenwick of 72.7. He also leads the team in Corsi QoC with 8.640. These are great numbers, but for the purpose of this post he will be left out when I talk about who has the best numbers.
The most commonly referred to statistics in advanced stats are On-Ice Corsi and Relative Corsi, which is also known as Fenwick. It’s a way to calculate how much offense and general zone control the team generates when a player is on the ice. So even if you’re not the one shooting the puck, if your team shoots the puck while you’re on the ice that helps your Corsi and Fenwick numbers to increase. On-Ice Corsi is calculated by the following: [SHOTS FOR + MISSED SHOTS FOR + BLOCKED SHOTS FOR] – [SHOTS AGAINST + MISSED SHOTS AGAINST + BLOCKED SHOTS AGAINST]. To clarify, in this case blocked shots against refers to when you are blocking the shot and blocked shots for refers to when you are having your shot blocked. Fenwick is a calculated the same way except it does not include blocked shots.
So which Penguins players have had the best Corsi and Fenwick numbers so far this season?
- Chris Kunitz (29.79)
- Sidney Crosby (27.26)
- Pascal Dupuis (23.22)
If you followed my posts from last season, you might have noticed that this is the same order in which they finished last year. It comes as no surprise, as this has been the best line in hockey.
- Chris Kunitz (37.3)
- Sidney Crosby (35.5)
- Pascal Dupuis (28.9)
Nothing new here. Same as they finished last season and also the same order as the On-ice Corsi standings. I doubt this order will change much. Even when it comes to Kunitz ahead of Crosby, it’s likely this order will remain the same. This is simply because of how they are used. While Dupuis and Kunitz are both capable at backchecking and playing the defensive part of the game, that’s not their main role on the team and would not play in defensive situations like a player like Brandon Sutter might. That’s not to say Crosby’s main role is different. He’s there to score goals and to produce offense, which he does better than anyone else in the league. However, Sid is also used in different situations that his linemates are not. Last year we saw Sid get used on the penalty kill to win faceoffs. This year he’s been seeing more PK time. First, I need to point out that Corsi and Fenwick are calculated as 5-on-5 play and so Sid playing on the PK doesn’t affect his stats. I bring up his PK time, though to show that Bylsma isn’t hesitant to use him in defensive situations. We’ve seen time and time again where Crosby will take critical faceoffs in his own zone while centering the third or fourth line, then go for a change once he’s won the draw. Sid could still end up with a higher Corsi and/or Fenwick than Kunitz, but it makes sense as to why he’s second in the category.
Quality of Competition
Corsi QoC and Fenwick QoC are the same as in the previous section except QoC obviously takes into consideration the opposing players who are typically on the ice against an individual. This generally causes a change in the rankings from regular On-Ice Corsi and Fenwick. Typically it helps the third and fourth lines move up in the team rankings. The Penguins often use the bottom two lines against the top lines of the competition. Similarly the Crosby and Malkin lines usually draw the opposing team’s grinders. So here are how the Penguins stack up against the competition.
Corsi QoC – Forwards
- Chuck Kobasew (.354)
- Jussi Jokinen (.095)
- Evgeni Malkin (-.647)
Corsi QoC – Defensemen
- Rob Scuderi (-.857)
- Matt Niskenen (-.884)
- Deryk Engelland (-1.309)
Fenwick QoC – Forwards
- Chuck Kobasew (1.586)
- Jussi Jokinen (1.065)
- Evgeni Malkin (.622)
Fenwick QoC – Defensemen
- Rob Scuderi (.669)
- Matt Niskenen (.654)
- Deryk Engelland (.618)
As you’ve probably noticed, these are some pretty dismal numbers. First, I’d like to point out that the Pens typically have poor QoC numbers. This is because they are one of the elite teams in the league. The better you are, the better chance you have playing someone weaker than you. Look at last year’s Blackhawks. Niklas Hjalmarsson led the team in Fenwick QoC with a 1.782. The majority of their team had negative QoC numbers in both Corsi and Fenwick categories. At the other end of the spectrum, the last place Florida Panthers only had a few players with negative QoC numbers. None of their numbers were high QoC numbers, but the vast majority were able to stay out of the negatives.
Another reason for the Pens’ low QoC numbers has been the easy schedule so far. Vancouver was the first real test for the Penguins this year. They should have beaten all the other teams they faced, and with exception of the Florida game, they did. As the schedule picks up and they play some better opponents their numbers may improve a bit. Although judging from the play of the other Metropolitan teams, tough competition may come few and far between.
One of my favorite advanced stats categories is PDO. I like it because it can help you predict who will start producing soon and who may taper off. PDO is an individual’s on-ice save percentage plus his on-ice shooting percentage. So if your on-ice save percentage is .950 and your on-ice shooting percentage is 8.7 your PDO is [950 + 87 = 1037]. This is a good PDO. The baseline is 1000 and it is expected that players will drift towards this mean. So if a player has a PDO in the 800s it is expected that the player will get hot and put up some points. On the other hand, players with extremely high PDOs are expected to taper off. The Penguins currently have some really good PDO numbers. Only three players are below 1000.
- Matt Niskenen (1125)
- Craig Adams (1105)
- Chuck Kobasew (1091)
Makes sense considering how solid the bottom six has been both offensively and defensively, something that was questionable going into the season. Like, I said players with very high PDOs are expected to taper off. It then said the Pens have very good PDOs. So yes, statistically we can expect the Pens to have some rough games coming up. This isn’t a guarantee that it will happen, but it’s practical. It also doesn’t mean they’re going to lose a bunch. It just means they might have a bad game or two.
I don’t really consider offensive zone start and finish percentages to be advanced stats since no math is required. However, it can help explain a player’s production or lack-thereof. The Pens have pretty good examples of both. The first is Jussi Jokinen. He’s having a great year so far, with four goals and two assists, including a hat trick against his former team, Carolina. (Moment to reflect on how the Hurricanes are paying Jokinen $900,000 to play against them and he got a hat trick #LOLCarolina). Anyway, Jokinen starts more shifts 5-on-5 in the offensive zone than anyone besides Beau Bennett who is currently out of the lineup. Not to take anything away from Jussi because he’s been great, but when you’re starting 68.0% of your shifts in the offensive zone it makes it a lot easier to score than someone who only starts 40% of their shifts there.
On the other end of the spectrum we have a guy like Brandon Sutter. Sutter’s played some very solid games this season. Most of the time I notice him for strong defensive plays. He hasn’t been bad offensively either, but has yet to notch a goal. He currently has three points, all assists. I feel like some people are underwhelmed with his performance so far, even though I think he’s been solid. About the only thing he hasn’t done is score. Let’s look why that is. Sutter is only starting 40.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone. To Sutter’s credit, he has managed to finish 65.7% of his shifts there. So while you can be upset that he’s not scoring, he’s getting the puck out of the Pens’ zone and into the zone of the opposition. In fact, he does that more than anyone else on the team. Looking at zone start and finish percentages, it’s nice that Craig Adams has three goals. He starts only 31.4% of his shifts in the offensive zone, which is last on the team. He finished 46.7% of his shifts there, third to last on the team. So he doesn’t start in the offensive zone, doesn’t finish there, but still managed to score three times. That’s pretty cool.
A couple weeks into the season and the Pens have some pretty impressive advanced stats lines, almost as impressive as their points in the standings. We’ll see next week if the PDO norm kicks in and the Pend drop a game. Who knows, maybe they’ll just keep rolling. I certainly hope so. Check back next Sunday to see how the players rank after another week of hockey action.