Eastern Edge: Six important facts from this season

by Brennan Des on November 12, 2019
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Edge: Six important facts from this season

 

In this week’s Eastern Edge, I’ll be discussing six surprising stats that I noticed while messing around with our Report Generator tool.

I can’t understate the importance of these reports as it allows you to see a whole bunch of stats that aren’t as easy to find in other places. Let me give you a quick example: you know how most players tend to breakout in their fourth NHL season? Well you can check out the performance of all fourth-year NHLers here as you attempt to discover whether a player’s sudden spike in production can be explained. Before we begin, keep in mind that these stats only consider players from the Eastern Conference, so don’t be surprised that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl don’t top the ice-time leaderboard. Without further ado, let’s get into observations!

 

1.  Jake Guentzel leads forwards in ice time. (Report Link)

Rank

Player

Team

Games Played

Average Ice Time

1

Jake Guentzel

PIT

17

21:21

2

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

19

21:13

3

Dylan Larkin

DET

19

21:09

4

Jack Eichel

BUF

17

21:05

5

Mika Zibanejad

NYR

9

20:35

6

Connor Brown

OTT

16

20:35

7

Sidney Crosby

PIT

17

20:32

8

Artemi Panarin

NYR

15

20:17

9

Sam Reinhart

BUF

17

20:03

10

Auston Matthews

TOR

19

19:59

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t own Jake Guentzel in your fantasy league, it’s a great time to talk to the manager that does. Guentzel’s value is lower than it should be because he has just one point in his last four games and will be without his superstar center on Tuesday night as Sidney Crosby is dealing with a lower-body injury. Since the beginning of last season, Guentzel has spent more than 80 percent of his ice-time with Crosby (1600 minutes with, 300 minutes without), so it’ll be interesting to see how Guentzel fares if Crosby is actually out for a significant period of time. Pittsburgh hasn’t released any substantial updates on Crosby’s status, which you can use to your advantage in trade negotiations. I personally believe that Guentzel is a star in his own right and will continue to produce in Crosby’s absence but I’m sure you can convince a GM in your fantasy league that Guentzel is a product of Crosby. Don’t forget that Evgeni Malkin is still in the lineup and has stepped up in the past when Pittsburgh’s captain has gone down with injury. Guentzel tallied 76 points last season and appears to have taken a step forward this year as he’s taking more shots and seeing more ice-time at both even-strength and on the power-play.

 

2. Washington’s top power-play unit has every opportunity to Capitalize. (Report Link)

 

Rank

Player

Team

Games Played

Average PP Ice Time

% of Team’s PP Time

1

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

19

5:06

88.2

2

John Carlson

WSH

19

4:29

77.6

3

Torey Krug

BOS

17

3:59

75.6

4

Kris Letang

PIT

15

3:37

75.4

5

Keith Yandle

FLA

17

3:43

72.0

6

Thomas Chabot

OTT

16

4:28

71.6

7

Jack Eichel

BUF

17

4:02

71.5

8

T.J. Oshie

WSH

19

4:03

70.1

9

Nicklas Backstrom

WSH

19

4:02

69.9

10

Sidney Crosby

PIT

17

3:22

69.8

 

Power-play production is hard to come by in Washington unless you’re able to crack the top unit. Alex Ovechkin, John Carslon, T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov have produced very well together so it’ll be difficult for anyone (ahem Jakub Vrana) to take one of their spots. You’ll notice that Kuznetsov isn’t listed in the table above, but that’s because he missed the team’s first few games as he was suspended. While Washington’s top unit sees the greatest portion of their team’s power-play time, they haven’t been the most productive group in the Eastern Conference. The top units in Boston, Buffalo and Florida have all scored more.

When you’re seeing how much opportunity a skater gets on the power play, it’s important to look at percentage of total power-play time rather than actual minutes. A player might have a larger role on his team’s PP unit but see less ice-time because their team hasn’t had as many opportunities with the man advantage. In the table above, you’ll notice that power-play quarterbacks like Torey Krug and Kris Letang are integral to the success rate of their team’s PP, but both players have recently suffered injuries. Keep an eye on the power-play success rates of Pittsburgh (who’s also missing Crosby) and Boston during these next few games.

 

 3. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott” – Alex Ovechkin? (Report Link)

 

Rank

Player

Team

Shots Per Game

1

Alex Ovechkin

WSH

5.1

2

Auston Matthews

TOR

4.1

T3

Anthony Mantha

DET

3.8

T3

Cam Atkinson

CBJ

3.8

T5

Taylor Hall

MTL

3.7

T5

Kris Letang

BOS

3.7

T7

David Pastrnak

DET

3.6

T7

Brendan Gallagher

NJ

3.6

T7

Jeff Skinner

BUF

3.6

10

Patrice Bergeron

BOS

3.5

 

You’re never too old to take shots. At the tender age of 34, Ovechkin has shown no signs of slowing down as he leads the league with 97 shots.

Anthony Mantha’s high shot-volume should reinforce confidence that the 11 goals he’s scored through 19 games are no fluke. He’s the real deal. He began his breakout at the end of last season when he tallied 33 points in the final 38 games of the campaign and that momentum has carried through to this year.

Cam Atkinson and Taylor Hall are taking a lot of shots but don’t have many goals to show for it. Their shooting percentages are considerably lower than we’d expect based on career averages, so they make for good buy-low candidates in fantasy leagues. Hall is obviously the more appealing option as he’s the better player and is surrounded by more offensive talent in New Jersey.

 

4. You might want to bail on Bailey before regression sets in. (Source)

 

Rank

Player

Team

Games Played

Shooting %

1

Josh Bailey

NYI

16

31.6

2

Jesper Bratt

NJ

13

30.8

3

Robby Fabbri

DET

11

30.0

4

Marcus Johansson

BUF

17

28.6

5

T.J. Oshie

WSH

19

26.5

6

Nic Dowd

WSH

13

25.0

7

Brad Marchand

BOS

17

25.0

8

Michal Kempny

WSH

11

25.0

9

Erik Haula

CAR

14

25.0

10

David Pastrnak

BOS

17

24.6

 

Josh Bailey is currently scoring a goal on one of every three shots he takes. Certain players are capable of maintaining high shooting percentages, but I wouldn’t consider Bailey one of them. Based on his career numbers, you’d expect him to score on around 12% of his shots – so the numbers suggest he won’t score at such a high rate going forward. Through 10 NHL seasons, he’s never reached the 20-goal mark, so I’m a little skeptical of his current 30-goal pace (six goals in 16 games so far).

Fabbri’s move to Detroit has come with much more ice time – at both even strength and on the power play. While his new surroundings will provide him with more opportunities to produce, it’s important to set realistic expectations. He has three points in two games as a Red Wing and has scored two goals on three shots – that’s not going to last. With that being said, he’s capable of being a 60-point player in the NHL if he stays healthy.

 

5. A greater offensive role for Barkov. (Report Link)

 

Rank

Player

Team

Games Played

Offensive Zone Start %

1

Jack Hughes

NJ

16

80.0

2

Evgenii Dadonov

FLA

17

76.6

3

Denis Malgin

FLA

15

75.0

4

Jonathan Huberdeau

FLA

17

73.7

T5

Aleksander Barkov

FLA

17

72.7

T5

Torey Krug

BOS

17

72.7

7

Frank Vatrano

FLA

17

71.8

8

Evgeni Malkin

PIT

6

70.3

9

Luke Witkowski

TB

12

69.7

10

William Nylander

TOR

19

69.6

 

Last season, Aleksander Barkov took more faceoffs in the defensive zone than in the offensive zone as he has started just 42.4 percent of his shifts in the attacking zone. This year, it appears that coach Joel Quenneville is using Barkov in a role that focuses more on scoring as the 24-year-old forward is seeing 72.7 percent of his starts in the offensive zone. The Huberdeau-Barkov-Dadonov trio has always been deployed as a scoring line as they began most of their shifts in the offensive zone last year (74.3 percent). However, last year, Barkov and Huberdeau played a considerable number of minutes away without Dadonov and they took on more of a shutdown role when he wasn’t on their line. This season, Quenneville hasn’t separated Dadonov from the other two as often, so their seeing a greater offensive role as a result.

 

6. Good goalies are being let down by the teams in front of them. (Source)

 

Rank

Goalie

Team

Games Played

GSAA

Expected Goals Against

1

Carey Price

MTL

14

2.50

36.32

2

Frederik Andesen

TOR

14

3.13

34.71

3

Sergei Bobrovsky

FLA

14

-9.01

33.64

4

Henrik Lundqvist

NYR

9

2.42

32.30

5

Braden Holtby

WSH

13

-3.99

30.00

6

Joonas Korpisalo

CBJ

14

-5.26

29.98

7

Matt Murray

PIT

14

2.72

28.21

8

Petr Mrazek

CAR

12

-0.51

26.93

9

Carter Hutton

BUF

10

3.94

25.62

10

Jonathan Bernier

DET

11

-5.06

25.1

 

It’s a well-established fact that goaltending is one of the most unpredictable aspects of fantasy hockey. Coming into this season, not many could have foreseen the success of Edmonton’s goaltending tandem and the struggles of Andrei Vasilevskiy. A goalie’s performance is very much linked to the team in front of them. A stat like Expected Goals Against takes into consideration the quality of shots a goalie is facing and determines how many goals they should have conceded. Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA) tells us how a goalie is performing compared to the average netminder in the league. A negative value indicates that they’re underperforming while a positive value indicates they’re outperforming expectations.

Among goalies in the Eastern Conference, Carey Price was expected to concede the most goals thus far. While that might be a result of the youth on Montreal’s blue line, it definitely has a lot to do with the team’s struggles on the penalty kill where they’ve given up a lot of seam passes that lead to quality scoring chances. If the Canadiens are able to sort out their penalty kill, Price’s numbers should improve.

Sergei Bobrovsky has faced a lot of difficult shots as well but that’s to be expected as the team in front of him adjusts to the system of a new head coach in Joel Quenneville. Now that everyone in Florida has had a number of games to get familiar with their coach’s style, I think we’ll see Bob’s numbers get better.