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Advanced Statistics Breakdown: Predators vs Wild – October 23rd, 2013

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Oct 23, 2013


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Need to understand any of the terms in the article below? Check out our Introductory Guide to Advanced Hockey Analysis

You can’t always take the final score at face value; there’s usually more to the game than meets the eye. Tuesday’s tilt between the Wild and the Predators is no exception to this wisdom.

The 2-0 final score is very generous to the Predators, in terms of the actual game they played. The Wild came into the game with the league’s best possession numbers, but only a 3-3-3 record to show for it, a testament to their own scoring woes (tied for 25th with our own Predators, as of last night). Those struggles, combined with a banner effort from Pekka Rinne, may be the only thing that kept this one from getting out of hand.

At 5-on-5, the Wild took the Corsi battle by a 61/39% margin and Fenwick by an even greater margin, 65/35%. The Wild’s Corsi events for the night were comprised of 24 shots, 19 blocks, and 17 misses. In short, Minnesota was firing pucks from everywhere indiscriminately. On the Predators side, their 39 shot attempts included 14 shots, 16 blocks, 9 misses. All night, the Predators struggled to establish a sustained offensive presence and these totals pretty well reflect that.

While these numbers are certainly lopsided, I was a little surprised that they weren’t even more imbalanced. I guess this one looked even worse than it actually was. As a result of this game, the Predators fell from 12th overall in the league in CF% down to 16th, while the Wild obviously retained their league-leading spot.

INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS/LINES OF NOTE

Gabriel Bourque/Matt Cullen/Craig Smith:  Night in and night out, this line somehow get it done, even when the rest of the team posts a stinker. Cullen lead the team with a 60% Corsi rating, 12 CF, 8 CA. Victor Stalberg was the only other forward with a positive Corsi, which may be a good sign since this was the first night he was given an opportunity on a scoring line. Zone starts for this line were balanced, so no offensive zone preferential treatment skewing their results.

Ryan Ellis/Victor Bartley: Ellis and Bartley were the only defensemen with positive Corsi percentages last night. Let this be an exercise in contextual deployment. The Predators’ third pair played only around 12 minutes at even strength, with eighty percent of their zone starts coming in the offensive zone. Taking that into consideration takes a little bit of the sheen off of their result.

Matt Hendricks: Hendricks is really struggling this season in terms of his overall possession numbers. Against the Wild, he was a team-worst 22% in CF% and similarly at the bottom of CF-Rel%, -26%. Deployment numbers don’t begin to help him out with 50% of his zone starts coming in the offensive end.

Rich Clune: Clune posted a respectable 46.2 CF%, which was middle-of-the-pack compared to the rest of the team. Granted, Clune played 3 minutes less than Hendricks at even strength, but his zone starts were comparable and the numbers suggest he made more efficient use of his time on ice.

 A little side note: Dirk Hoag offered some feedback on my last post, in which I spoke of a possession rebound for the Klein/Ekholm pairing. He cautioned against using an individual game to judge the possession efficacy of a player or pairing. I want to clarify this section of the feature, because he makes a good point. I’ve said that “sample size” is one of the fundamental keystones of advanced statistics analysis. My intention in noting the positivity of Klein and Ekholm against Winnipeg was simply to note that they had broken a mediocre streak and would beg further attention to see if this was the beginning of a better stretch. As always, the bigger the sample, the better the conclusion.

In a long season, every team is going to lay the occasional “egg.” For the sake of our discussion in this feature, we tend to focus on the advanced statistics. Bad possession numbers may come in a game the team wins; great possession numbers can show up in a game the team loses. In the case of last night, poor stats accompanied a poor loss. Remember, sample size is key. For most of the season, Nashville has shown great improvement in their overall possession game, and one bad showing against a very good possession team doesn’t change that.