Hey guys! With the short three game slate yesterday, I’m going to change things up for today. I will recap those games in the Friday night post. I was getting a lot of feedback in the comments that people like the advanced stats included so I’m going to take a look at some stats for the first three weeks of the season, both from a team perspective and individual players. I will give definitions for the stats, show who ranks well or poorly and what that means going forward. For example, James Van Riemsdyk has the 4th best Corsi For percentage in the entire NHL at 62.1%. That means when JVR is on the ice, Toronto has 62.1% of the total shots taken. Obviously, league average is 50%. Going forward, this means that JVR is dominating the game when he is on the ice and along with the opportunity to score a ton of points, his plus-minus will probably be better than expected in the preseason. He’s an excellent trade target because Mike Babcock is putting him in a great position to succeed. Now, 10 games isn’t a great sample size to say that all of these things are going to hold but they should be a solid indicator of things to come. These stats are coming from HockeyAnalysis and War on Ice. Let’s dive in and take a further look!
PDO: PDO is a stat that measures how lucky or unlucky a team has been. PDO is defined as Shooting Percentage + Save Percentage. Average is 100. Generally, if your team has an amazing goaltender, your team will end up being around 101 or 102 because you’ll get a great save percentage but for the most part, every team regresses towards 100. Here’s the top 5 and bottom 5 teams so far:
Panthers (105.3), Rangers (104.8), Canadiens (104.2), Capitals (103.7), Arizona (103.2)
Ducks (95.8), Hurricanes (95.7), Blue Jackets (94.2), Sabres (93.5), Flames (93.0)
So what does this tell us? It’s a combination of a few things, some of which are obvious and some that aren’t. One, the goalies on the top teams have played really well. This is no shock as we are looking at two of the best goalies in the world in Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist and two that aren’t that far behind in Braden Holtby and Roberto Luongo. They are all on teams with great offensive talent as well so they will have hot streaks like this. Alex Ovechkin is going to score a bunch of goals, it’s going to happen, etc. Washington is also a great possession team (more on this next) so this team is here to stay.
On the other hand, Arizona’s PDO along with a horrible Corsi (27th in the league) shows that this team is a complete fluke so far and is surely going to regress. I’ve been saying since the beginning that Mike Smith is inevitably going to struggle and he’s showed signs in the last week. These numbers support that their team is going to be among the league’s worst once the luck runs out and you don’t want a goalie on a horrible team.
On the other side, this tells us a lot more about the bottom 5. The Ducks were one of the best teams in the league last year but are 1-6-2 so far. Why is that? Because they’re shooting 3% as a team so far this season. That number is completely unsustainable and sure to rise quickly in the very near future. This means that if owners of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry or Fredrik Andersen are panicking and looking to trade them, pounce immediately. The Ducks aren’t nearly as bad as their record indicates.
The Hurricanes were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league but are actually the 4th best team in the league possession wise so far. They don’t have many fantasy relevant players but Eric Staal and Justin Faulk are elite options going forward.
The Blue Jackets got off to one of the worst starts in NHL history. Their luck is starting to balance out having won the last two games. I’m bringing it up again but I still feel great about Sergei Bobrovsky turning it around. Columbus is also the 7th best Corsi team so far so their forwards should start to get back to last year’s points pace.
The Sabres, despite being 3-6, have been a pleasant surprise so far. They were in every game but one, have the 9th best possession team and have been getting solid goaltending from Chad Johnson. Things will balance out for the Sabres top guys so expect them to get on a tear soon. Ryan O’Reilly has started his streak, along with Cody Franson, but expect Jack Eichel and Tyler Ennis, among others, to start breaking out offensively.
The Flames were a poor possession team last year but they’ve been even worse to start this year. That said, they’ve also been horribly unlucky so far this year. I’m not panicking about any of their top guys because Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton have a history of being great possession players. They have struggled so far but expect a turn around.
Corsi For Top 5 and Bottom 5:
Kings, Blues, Leafs, Hurricanes, Capitals
Flames, Coyotes, Oilers, Red Wings, Avalanche
What does this tell us? The Kings are a Cup Contender again. They have 6 of the 20 best possession players in the league so far and they have Jonathan Quick behind them. Their PDO is actually 98.9 meaning they’ve been slightly unlikely. Much like the Kings, it’s no surprise the Blues are driving the play either. On their team fantasy wise, I expect David Backes to start producing soon. The Capitals are no surprise either. They added two great possession players in T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams and arguably have the best team they’ve had in the Ovechkin era.
The Leafs and Hurricanes are massive surprises so far. It hasn’t turned into wins so far; the Leafs are 1-5-2 and the Hurricanes are 3-6 but it’s telling that these teams and Buffalo might not be as horrible as everyone thought they’d be.
On the opposite side, the Coyotes, Oilers and Avalanche were all expected to be horrible possession teams. I already discussed the Flames above; I don’t expect him to stay this low. The really interesting team here is Detroit. They have been an amazing possession team for years and the additions of Mike Green and Brad Richards were expected to make them even better. So what do we make of this? Is this simply a sample size issue? Do they just need Pavel Datsyuk back? Or was Mike Babcock the main reason why they were a great possession team and they’re going to fall off this year. I’d say it’s definitely a sample size issue and would like to see them play 10 more games before I make any conclusions. The top guys are still producing despite the lack of puck possession and even they aren’t doing horribly; it’s mostly that the fourth line is absolutely horrible right now than anything.
Offensive Zone and Defensive Zone Starts:
This stat is incredibly simple yet holds a ton of water for fantasy hockey. This tells us how the coach is using the player. We want to see the highest number of offensive zone starts for our players because this means they’re starting in the offensive zone more often where they can score goals (Duh!). I’ll highlight some notable players on both side of the spectrum. I’m using players who have played at least 50 minutes so far of 5 on 5 hockey. There are 547 players total who have played 50+ minutes.
Keith Yandle – 52.6% offensive zone start, 19.5% defensive zone, 27.9% neutral zone start. 52.6% is the second highest offensive zone start percentage in the league. Coach Alain Vigneault is using Yandle in the perfect manner to take advantage of his skill set. By the end of the year, I expect Yandle to push 60 points.
Ryan Strome and John Tavares – 4th and 9th in the league in offensive zone start percentage respectively. It’s great to see the top line for the Islanders being used to score more goals while the second line centered by Frans Nielsen is being used to shut down lines. Strome has started slow but I expect him to turn it around; obviously there is no concern about Tavares.
Artemi Panarin – 8th in the league in OZFO%. Coach Q is rolling him in the offensive zone positioning Panarin to maintain his current success.
Zach Parise – Parise along with his linemates of Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville are all in the top 24 of OZFO%. Last year, this number was much lower as they were used to shutdown top lines for stretches but now, Coach Mike Yeo is counting on them for their offense. Pominville has yet to score so he’s a great buy-low target.
Erik Johnson – Most of the players who are at the top of DZFO% aren’t fantasy relevant but drop down into the 30-50th range and you see some players who are. Since the Avalanche have a few defenseman who need sheltering, Johnson is stuck doing the heavy lifting. This puts him in a terrible position to put up points. Add in the fact that Colorado is the worst possession team in the league and things aren’t looking good for Johnson going forward.
Ryan Kesler – I was the lowest on Kesler in the preseason and I feel strongly about that right now. While the Ducks have been unlucky, Kesler hasn’t been used in an offensive role meaning the points are going to take a fall. I think he still has a place in 12’ers but I wouldn’t be opposed to cutting him either if your league doesn’t count faceoff wins or hits.
Ryan Johansen – I don’t get this one at all. Hopefully this will change under Torts because the Jackets need his offense going forward. Granted, they need his defensive abilities too but he should be close to an even split player playing in all zones, not used defensively first.
Thursday Streamers – It’s an 8 game slate tonight so there won’t be as much need for streaming. Here are a couple options:
Josh Bailey (6.9% owned) – Going back to the well on this one. He has a point in three straight and has a solid matchup. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
Rickard Rakell (o.3%) – I’m digging a little deep here and it’s not a great matchup. That said, he’s playing on the first line and first power play with Corey Perry while Ryan Getzlaf is out and the Ducks have been extremely unlucky so hopefully they turn things around tomorrow.
That’s all for now guys. I would really appreciate your comments below with your thoughts on this article. If this is something the masses like, I can do something like this every few weeks to see how things are developing. I think it’ll be more useful than putting up a recap on 2-3 games after a short slate. I can also explore some other statistics as well. As always, ask any questions you have below and I’ll do my best to get back to everyone in a timely manner. Take care everyone!