Ramblings: Crosby; MacKinnon; Defencemen Scoring Goals – November 29

Michael Clifford

2018-11-29

 

The long-awaited return of Auston Matthews came Wednesday night. He was just waiting to be cleared medically, which he was, and he was in the Toronto lineup for the first time in 17 games.

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Kevan Miller took a puck to the throat in the team’s game Monday night. Official word came down Wednesday morning that he had suffered torn cartilage in his larynx and will be out more than a month. He had just returned from injury, too. It’s been a tough year for Miller, and the Boston defence as a whole.

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Ryan Donato was recalled by the Bruins and was slotted, at times, on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk in practice. Whether or not that’s where he slots remains to be seen. We should get a more definitive answer sometime Thursday.

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Staying with the Bruins, word is that the team is close to agreeing to a deal with Jan Kovar. You’ll remember Kovar signed a two-year deal to come from the KHL and play with the Islanders but never cracked the roster and the team released him (check this). Close enough that Kovar was practicing with Boston on Wednesday. There could be some fantasy value in deeper leagues if he lines up with talented wingers on the third line but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there

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Evgeny Kuznetsov skated with his teammates on Wednesday but was in a non-contact jersey. All the same, he’s taking the steps necessary to return so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him on the ice for next week. Those in weekly leagues keep an eye out.

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Florida coach Bob Boughner said there’s a chance that Roberto Luongo could return this weekend. He had suffered a knee injury in his most recent appearance but it doesn’t appear that it’ll be a long-term issue. Good news for fantasy owners.

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The long-awaited return of Auston Matthews came Wednesday night. He was just waiting to be cleared medically, which he was, and he was in the Toronto lineup for the first time in 17 games.

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One thing playing daily fantasy hockey does is help keep you on top of hot/cold streaks, lineup changes, and matchups, the latter two being the most important. One other thing playing DFS every day does is help spot emerging trends.

Watching the games over the last week or so, it seemed like there had been an abundance of goals from defencemen. Even more than usual, given the rise in scoring by defencemen in recent seasons. Were my eyes deceiving me? Let’s dig in.

Keep in mind here that we’ve only played about eight weeks of the season, less than one-third of the total schedule. This is what I found. (Data from Natural Stat Trick)

To clear up some of the parameters, I looked at every player who skated at least 1 minutes in the date cut-offs, and the ice time is at all strengths. I tried to use dates that would give us a somewhat similar sample size, so I used from the start of the season to November 28th for 2018-19, the start of the season to November 27th for 2017-18, and from the start of the season until December 2nd for 2016-17 (remember the season started a bit later because of the World Cup of Hockey). That gave us a sample of 13 536 total games (forwards and defence) for this season, 13 176 total games for last season, and 13 571 two years ago.

 

2016-17

For the campaign two seasons prior, we have the game sample listed above. Those games produced 1981 total goals among forwards and defencemen. Among defencemen alone, we had 303 total goals scored. That means defencemen, in the sample for 2016-17, scored 15.30% of all goals. Those 303 goals were scored on 6701 shots, for a shooting percentage of 4.52 percent. Using goals by defencemen and our sample of games, blue liners scored a goal every 44.79 contests. 

 

2017-18

The games in our sample for last year produced 2129 goals among both forwards and defencemen. For the blue liners alone, there were 314 goals tallied. So, for the 2017-18 season, defencemen accounted for 14.75 percent of all goals scored. Those 314 goals tallied came on 6854 shots, giving us a shooting percentage of 4.58 percent. Using goals by defencemen and our sample of games, defencemen scored a goal every 41.96 games.

 

2018-19

To date this season, the sample of games provided 2286 goals for forwards and defencemen combined. Counting just the rear guards, there were 333 goals scored, meaning that defencemen have accounted for 14.57 percent of all goals scored at all strengths. Those 333 markers by the blue line have come on 7001 total shots, giving us a shooting percentage of 4.76 percent. Using goals by defencemen and our sample of games, defencemen are scoring a goal for every 40.11 games played by blue liners.

 

This is what it’s important to test the eye test. Above, I described that it had appeared to me that defencemen were scoring more goals. Defencemen are scoring more frequently on a per-game basis, and they’re getting more efficient at it, too, as shooting percentage by defencemen at all strengths in our sample of games provided, as risen each of the last two seasons.

However, goals from rear guards is declining. It’s no secret that goals are up in the NHL so it would only be natural to see more goals from defencemen. But as a share of the goal totals, the slice of the pie for defencemen is getting smaller. 

This will be something to track over the balance of the season. This has implication for both season-long and daily fantasy. If goal scoring goes up but defencemen are scoring fewer of those goals, scarcity becomes a factor. Having those guys who can score reliably from the blue line becomes more important than before. Peripherals play a factor, but just plugging in a defenceman who you think can score 5 or 6 goals might not cut it anymore. Again, this will be something to track for the rest of the year and adjust for next season.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

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