Welcome back to the Wild West. This week I spent some time poking around Sean Tierney’s vizzes and you should too.
As you can see in the table below, these are the top ten players who are performing above their expected goals. In essence this is not the good list. Basically we are able to get a rough idea of how many goals a player should have given the shots, and type of shots, they are taking. When we compare that number to the number of goals they have we find the top ten players in the west who are over performing expectations. I was able to pull some high flyers in the west, and it is worth chatting about a few of them.
Laine leads the west and the league with 21 goals (one ahead of Jeff Skinner as of Sunday). Unsurprisingly he also leads the list of players who are scoring at a higher rate than expected. According to Tierney's metrics he should be closer to 12, meaning he is potentially over performing the mark by a bit.
If you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks this one could be a surprise. With only three goals in his first thirteen games some folks had alarm bells tolling in their heads. In his past 13 games however, he has put up 18 including five multi-goal games, two hat tricks, and one five goal outing. Over that time he has taken 57 shots which averages out to 4.4 per game. The craziest thing is his shooting percentage (20.7) isn’t actually that high (for him). His career average is 18.5 so even if he were to drop to that average he would only be dropping 2-3 goals.
What is Laine’s super power this year? Well he is shooting almost a shot more per game and is also seeing a larger chunk of Winnipeg's power play. His 3.8 shots per game amounts to 310ish shots over the course of the year and about 57 goals (using his career average shooting percentage). Even better news? His PDO and IPP are low if anything, all of which leads suggests that much of what Laine is doing (season long, not last 13 games) is essentially sustainable.
Cody Eakin is the second worthy mention on this dubious list. He is currently sitting with an expected goals number of about 3.5, but has 10 markers on the board. That gives him a fairly large difference of 6.5 goals.
Unlike Laine, some of the underlying numbers are not so kind to Eakin. To be fair he is shooting more as well, though in is case it is an increase in shots per game numbers from about 1.35 to 1.5 per game. It is not exactly the recipe for continued success. His currently shooting percentage of 26.3 highlights how unsustainable all of this is for Eakin. Given his average shooting percentage of 10.5 he would have about five goals personally.
Wherever we look we find unsustainable numbers. His shooting percentage, his PDO, his individual 5 on 5 shooting percentage, his IPP, you name it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Cody Eakin has not suddenly morphed into the league's next Patrik Laine. Anyone expecting this scoring pace to continue will be sadly disappointed when he comes crashing back to earth.
Matt Dumba is the first defensemen on our list with 10 goals to his credit. According to the model he should have just over five.
At first glance there are some positive numbers here. Dumba is certainly scoring more than he used to, but he is shooting more than he used to as well. In 2017-18 he averaged 2.15 shots per game, while so far in 2018-19 he is up to 3.11. Almost a full shot per game difference should make it slightly less surprising that he is seeing more goals.
Unfortunately, while the increase in shot count can account for some of the increase, it does not account for all of it. Dumba is currently riding a 12.3 shooting percentage, which is high for some forwards let alone a defensemen. Dumba’s career shooting percentage is fairly high too though (coming in at 9%) so even if his goal total was adjusted we would still be expecting Dumba to have seven goals this season.
Overall he likely won’t keep the pace exactly, but his increased shot count does mean he should have no trouble setting career highs in goals (barring injury). His ten is only four shy of his career number of 14 with 56 games left to play.
Western Conference Quick Hits
Potential Streaming Pickups:
Mikael Backlund: With two goals, three assists, and 10 shots over his last four games if Backlund wasn’t on your watch list you were sleeping on the job. Pick him up for this busy week and see what he can get you.
Alex Chiasson: So with three goals and eleven shots in the last four games Chiasson is likely already on your watch list, but in case you didn’t notice he has been lining up with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at even strength, oh and on the power play too. Who knows how long it will last, but ride the wave while you can.
Last article’s recommendation:
Ondrej Kase: Getting kicked off the top line didn’t help Kase for the week, but he still managed four assists, four shots, and three power play points. I’ll take that.
Kevin Labanc: Labanc has been more successful at sustaining quality linemates, and ended with a stat line of two assists, eight shots, and two power play points on the week.
Drop or Not:
So is Mattias Ekholm for real? He is currently on pace for the best season of his career and his first brush at 50 points. Short answer is probably not, but the long answer is… well maybe?
So one thing right the bat, Ekholm likely is not going to end up at 50 points. Probably not even all that close to 50 either. But his career high is 35 and there are some positive signs that he may be able to beat that.
First the negative. His career high point pace is being helped along by the fact that he is shooting at a career high of 7.3%. Also his PDO, and his IPP are both a touch high. Oh and he is shooting less (by about .15 shots per game). And he is also averaging a bit less time on the power play than he did last season.
So wait there is something positive here? Well the thing is, while everything is a bit high, it isn’t necessarily dramatically high. A regression in his shooting percentage would mean a difference of about a goal, and maybe three over the course of the season. He has also been seeing more than two minutes of power play time (more than his season average) in nine of his last 11 games (and more than 50% of the total time in three of them). Given that the team boasts Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, and Ryan Ellis his ceiling is limited, but that amount of time is still a boon. Plus in order for him to eclipse his career high he only needs to have a point pace of about .4 per game which he has bested twice in the last three years.
The bottom line? Enjoy the production he has given so far, sell him as 50 point guy if you can and maybe when all is said and done he might hit 40 if all falls well.
Thanks for reading.
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