Monday, 7 May 2012

The Bigger Picture

In the hockey world, people like to judge players based on what they visually see. Examples such as having a good stride, or seeing the ice well along with tough or solid are ways people describe players when they are asked what they think of them. In this article i'm going to go over a few reasons why I think people are asking the wrong questions when it comes to a player, and what are the right questions to be asking.

Some of the worlds best hockey players such as Sidney Crosby or Pavel Datsyuk are always looked at as being amazing skaters, having greater vision, and being snipers. Although all of these are definitely true judgements of these players, people don't notice other important things that make these players the all stars they are.

Let's take a look at Sidney Crosby for example. Crosby starts almost 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone, and has an on-ice corsi of around 21.68. This means that in a 60 minute game, Crosby is out chancing his lines opposition and driving the possesion north when he is on the ice. When on the ice, he is creating more scoring oppurunities and has more offensive zone time then his competition.

Now when we take a look at Datsyuk, we see that he starts 55.5% of his shifts on the offensive zone, and has an on ice corsi of 19.08. This, just like Crosby's corsi shows that when he is on the ice he is driving the possesion into the opponents end, and also just like #87, out chance his opposition.

Why Should Flames Fans Care?

Unless you aren't an advanced stats junkie, you may not. But I'm going to go over a few of the Flames on ice corsi just to show where the Flames are at.

1) Jarome Iginla- Jarome has been looked at as Calgary's "go to guy" for years now, and still today people expect him to carry the team on his back, and take us to the promise land. Jaromes on ice corsi is -11.53. He starts 49.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone, yet his opposition is driving the puck possession into the Flames zone more then Iginla is driving theirs. Although Iginla has never been known to be a defensive minded player, and his -10 on the season speaks to that, this proves that his age is catching up to him, and he can no longer be continuesly matched up against the other teams top lines. Whoever the bench boss is for Calgary will hopefully understand this, and only play Iginla in the offensive zone.

2) Mikael Backlund- Backlund had a tough go this year due to injuries, and was inable to have the season most were expecting from him due to those injuries. Although playing on the 3rd line for the better part of his 41 games played, Backlund was one of the best players on the Flames club at driving the puck north when he was on the ice. With an on ice corsi of 1.91, the puck is usually spending more time in Mikaels opposition's end, when he is on the ice. Mikael also had a PDO this year of 948. This is exceptionally unlucky. With the average PDO in the NHL at or around 1000, Mikael had it rough, and should expect a good upcoming season (if healthy). For a guy who is only starting 44.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone, Backlund is finding ways to drive the play, create scoring oppurtunities, and spend time in the right side of the rink.


The reason i'm comparing the two players is to prove a simple point. Although one would believe that the more valuable player on the ice would be Iginla, due to his 32 goal season and allstar title. It is clear that Mikael Backlund is actually a more of a reliable player, and creates more chances then Iginla does when 5v5. The Flames organization at some point needs to realize that Iginla is not the player he once was, and we need to use him and others differently if they are going to with them for years to come. Iginla needs to be starting in my eyes, around 80% of his shifts in the offesnive zone. Possibly more. He is no longer able to drive the puck forward out of his zone, and when on the ice, is now a liability. If Iginla is given the oppurtunity to succeed, and only takes draws in the offensive zone, he will still be able to put up a easy 30 goal season again.

To prove my point, you can take a look at the Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The twins start 79.6% and 78.6% respectively of their shifts in the offensive zone, which explains why they are #1 and #2 on their club for on ice corsi, with 21.09, and 18.17. Becuase they are given the oppurtunity to succeed, and are put into a position where they are comfortable, they are able to out chance their opponents.

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