Since this has been going for a few weeks now, I’m starting to get some really good feedback about this whole blogging thing. It’s been helpful and constructive with comments like, “Wow, you fucking suck.” Or, “You’re not funny.” Or, “Gutless.” So taking all of my mom’s critiques into account, I’m going full bore into the numbers game this week. You think I was dry and uninspiring before? Well suck on this week’s write up in video form:
It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen that logo and the number 1 paired together:
That’s right, we’re number 1. Of course, SI.com is heavy on recency bias, so really, they’re just saying we had the best Last 10 during that ranking period. Which we did. Up until this week.
More accurately, out of all water-themed teams in the NHL, the Sharks currently sit in 3rd:
More numbers: The Sharks are 4th in the NHL in Points per 60 Minutes. Which means we pass the puck around a lot instead of skating it in, because we’re averaging 4.83 Assists/60 minutes on 2.85 Goals/60 minutes. Or something.
Speaking of assists, Mr. Joe Thornton is closing in on some pretty historic stuff as long as he stops scoring goals ( 2 goals in the last 2 games):
Anyway, let’s get even more advanced with our statistics because I accidentally clicked on those instead of the “Close Window” button.
Looking at SPSv% (Save percentage + shot conversion into goals. The average should be at 100.0%, represented as 1000 on nhl.com/stats/), you find some things that are pretty obvious when looking at the Sharks’ bottom lines. Guys like Tommy Wingels, Chris Tierney, and Matt Nieto are sitting at 941, 957, and 961, respectively. Which means that they are effectively producing negatively for the Sharks. Goals are being scored on them at a faster rate than they can score. While this looks a lot like the +/- category, the important thing to note here is the focus on percentages, which does a much better job of describing the on-ice play and production than a raw numbers results system like +/-.
Surprisingly, Patrick Marleau is not far off from our lower level forwards and sits at an SPSv% of 966. However, when the Sharks are behind and Marleau is on the ice, the Sharks do have a majority (53.75%) of all shots taken during the game under those parameters. Given that Marleau is sitting at a -17 in point production and is at a -34 in Team Shot Attempts over the course of the season (despite being included in those shot-dominant late-game “Hero” lines and Power Play units), it’s pretty obvious that most of his time during 5 on 5 is being spent in the defensive third of the ice.
Which lead me to a philosophical question: Is it still considered a slump if a player’s defensive responsibilities diminish his capacity to score goals? Is it really one guy’s fault if he’s left with nothing to work with? Now I get that most of the numbers don’t mean anything if the production isn’t there, since there are a lot of factors to consider. In fact, the numbers mean even less if production is there. And, to be fair, Patty is on pace for 25 goals this season. But, this being my first time looking at any sort of advanced analytics in depth has caused me to question my understanding of standard production measures. People are too quick to call out a player without looking at the other circumstances surrounding why that player is playing the way they are. And just by a very quick check of Marleau’s numbers (because they don’t pay me enough to figure everything out) I’m currently erring on the side of the players around him aren’t doing him many favors, which could be a result of playing with new acquisitions (Joel Ward) or young guys (Donskoi, Hertl, etc.) which could cause a lack of chemistry and prevent consistent, meaningful offensive pressure, leading to less shots and more defensive zone time. Or is it that Coach DeBoer’s system doesn’t fit Patty’s style. Or is Patty himself the liability? Further investigation is definitely warranted.
On the flip side, when Joe Thornton is on the ice, the team is shooting at +164, no doubt due to:
1. Being on the first line.
2. His shot creation ability.
3. Tons of PP time.
Thornton has spent some time with newer, younger guys like Donskoi (from time to time), but his GOAT passing ability and consistent pairing with Pavelski would far outweigh any drop in production caused by a lack of line chemistry with a 3rd Forward.
Oh hey, I mentioned power plays: did you know the Sharks are 3rd in the league at 22.1%? They’ve scored 37 goals with man advantages, which accounts for 25% of their goals this year. And how!
I didn’t go to school for math, so I’m going to stop with the numbers before I look even more stupid. I also didn’t go to school for writing, so we’ll consider this week’s article finished. This past week, the Sharks lost to the Ducks (barely), destroyed the Blues, and then didn’t even bother showing up for a game against the Predators. Seriously, that game was over after the first period even though they were down by 1. Hopefully a few days of rest gets their heads back on straight. This week the Sharks continue their tour of the Central division by playing the Blackhawks in Chicago before returning home to take on the Flames and #DesertDogs.