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Advanced Statistics Breakdown: Predators vs Kings – November 2nd, 2013

advancedstatsbreakdown

Nov 4, 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

If it felt like the ice was tilted heavily in favor of the Kings, you weren’t imagining it. Any game that yields a shot imbalance to the tune of 38-17 is likely going to reflect a similar disparity in terms of possession. The good news is that it’s not as bad as it first appears. In close minutes, of which there were about 28, the Predators actually matched the shot-on-goal output of the Kings, 13-13, though Los Angeles held the Corsi edge 30-21. If you compare that to the totals accumulated at 5 on 5, regardless of score gap–Kings held a 68/31 advantage in CF, or 69%, you can see the concept of score effect illustrated pretty clearly.

While it’s natural to expect the trailing team to ramp it up offensively and the leading team to go into a defensive shell, we really don’t want to see this kind of domination especially when you’re a team that’s struggled to hold leads recently. Regardless, the silver lining (in addition to coming away with two points in regulation, which is always nice) is that in 5-on-5 close minutes, the Predators did a decent job of blocking shots and forcing misses, presumably by keeping the pressure on defensively. With an average shot distance of 48 feet for the Kings, that would seem to be the case.

Make no mistake, the Kings were firing shots with little to no discrimination and essentially ragdolling the Predators in terms of overall possession, but at least Nashville did a good job of keeping the pucks off net. The worst possession cross-section of the game for the Predators can be found in the first ten minutes of the third, where the Kings, down two goals and desperate to get back into the game, outshot the Predators 7-1 and out-Corsi’d them 17-5. Again, the important distinction here is that these weren’t “close” minutes; in other words, this is the sort of thing we expect to see in such a situation.

Last time out, we spoke of the Predators’ abysmal shooting percentage, and as we suggested might happen, their luck took a positive turn on Saturday night. With four goals on only 17 shots, they turned a conversion rate of 23.5%. The .4 percentage points the Predators attained from this result in their season total may not seem much, but it helped them leap over 3 teams in shooting percentage.  5.6% is slightly better than 5.2%, but it’s still unreasonably low–which bodes well for the Predators. They are due to have more nights like this one.

INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS OF NOTE

Filip Forsberg: The young Swede has drawn some criticism from Barry Trotz recently, particularly his lack of 5-on-5 scoring, which has resulted in healthy scratches and declining icetime. However, you can only do with what you’re given.  In this case, on a night where two thirds of the team came out with a negative Corsi rating, Forsberg was actually even at 5 on 5 close, with a defensive zone deployment of 40%. He only had 5 total zone starts and a little over five minutes at 5/5 close, but again–it could have gone the other way.

Paul Gaustad: We always use Gaustad as an example of “Corsi with Caution.” In other words, his totals can be misleading if taken out context. While his traditionally heavy defensive deployment and stacked QoC can typically be used to explain away a low overall Corsi rating, it’s a pleasant surprise when he turns up as the team leader at 60%. Faceoffs are one of the key drivers of puck possession, and this should typically work in Gaustad’s favor, given his status as one of the league’s best. However, on a night where he “only” won 53%, he came by his statistics honestly. Most impressive? Of Gaustad’s 28 zone starts, a staggering 17 were in the defensive zone.

Victor Stalberg: The Predators’ “key” free agent signing has been mired in a similar “doghouse” to Forsberg’s. However, the last few games would suggest that Stalberg may be working his way out of it. While he returned back to his familiar 12 or so minutes of ice-time after an abnormal 19 minutes against Phoenix, he also made the best of it. His 56% was the third best Corsi on the team, in balanced zone deployment. While it’s evident that Stalberg is still trying to earn Trotz’s trust, it looks like he’s on the right track.

While you don’t want to make a habit of winning in spite of yourself, these games will happen from time to time. The other tenet that we preach is “sample size,” and while this feature is designed to give you an idea of how warm the water is by dipping a toe in, eventually you need to jump in to really know what the pool is like. These breakdowns, taken in a vacuum, don’t really tell us much; they’re simply telling a bigger story one chapter at a time. My intention is to periodically provide a big picture view of the team’s overall possession status, a way to aggregate all of these small chunks. These season summaries will be a better measure of where the Predators stand in relation to the rest of the league, and how it portends for the rest of the season.

Statistics Courtesy of  The Extra Skater