Ramblings: Bruins Take Game 7; Wayne Simmonds Injuries; Defenceman Shot Share – April 26

by Michael Clifford on April 26, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Bruins Take Game 7; Wayne Simmonds Injuries; Defenceman Shot Share – April 26

Boston fell behind a couple times against Toronto in what was a wild game from pretty much start to finish, but third-period goals from Jake DeBrusk and then David Pastrnak gave them the lead and the insurance to take Game 7. They will now face Tampa Bay in the second round.

From a fantasy perspective, a 7-4 game will have a lot of fantasy goodness, this one being no exception. Patrick Marleau had a pair of tallies, Kasperi Kapanen scored a beautiful short-handed marker, DeBrusk scored his fourth and fifth of the series, Patrice Bergeron had three points, and Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak both had one and one. The goaltenders, however… not so much.

Of all things to happen in this series, for me, it was a coming-out party for DeBrusk. He never took a game off and his speed was too much for the Leafs blue line to handle. Beyond the speed, he was going hard to the net at all times and showed good finish. Assuming Rick Nash doesn’t sign, maybe DeBrusk can be their net-front guy on the power play next season. I am very interested in his potential fantasy value. He’s a guy that’s made an impression on me all season and the playoffs cemented the belief he can very productive in the fantasy game

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It was announced by the team Wednesday afternoon that both Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin will miss Pittsburgh’s first game of the second round against Washington. Malkin missed the series-clinching game against Philadelphia but Hagelin did play. Alas, the Penguins will be without two-thirds of their second line.

Not to say this is a killer but Pittsburgh better hope that it’s just one game for Malkin. Derick Brassard provides a safety net for the team but he’s nowhere near the player Geno is (obviously). Washington looked a lot better against Columbus than they had at almost any point in the regular season and being without one of your stars could be a tough uphill climb.

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The World Championships usually aren’t at the forefront of hockey news at this time of year but I was intrigued to see that both Olli Juolevi and Miro Heiskanen will be on the roster for Team Finland:

Heiskanen is of particular interest here, along with Julius Honka. Dallas undoubtedly needs a bit of help on the blue line and Heiskanen being able to step into the NHL lineup next year along with Honka finally being given regular minutes would be nice to see. There is some good competition at that tournament so watching to see how they hold up could give fantasy owners a glimpse into next season.

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We found out Wednesday that Ivan Provorov had been playing through a sprained shoulder. That’s nothing surprising; anyone who watched him play saw there’s was something clearly wrong and his shoulder made sense.

Wayne Simmonds didn’t have his typical season. His shots per game were his lowest as a Flyer while his goal total was his lowest in a Flyers uniform outside the lockout-shortened season. He also had his lowest penalty minute total of any season. There had been rumblings he had been playing injured lately.

He had been playing much more than just injured:

Considering all this, it’s a miracle he had the season he had, and still played 75 games. There’s going to be a lot of rehabbing this summer for him but hopefully a healthy Simmonds shows up in training camp so he can return to being one of the most dominant power forwards in the league.

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Andrew Shaw will be out until after the regular season begins in October with left knee surgery, according to the team. He suffered that injury, along with a concussion, back in March. They needed until his concussion issues were dealt with before proceeding with the surgery.

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‘Market Share’ is a concept that I first heard used in fantasy football years ago. Well, I should say I first heard it going through some general business class in high school, but my introduction to its usage in fantasy sports was fantasy football.

For football, the concept is simple: what percentage of snaps/targets/carries does a specific player play or get? For snaps, it’s hard to accrue fantasy points if you’re stapled to the bench. For targets or carries, it’s important to keep relative usage in mind. In general, it’s better for a wide receiver to get 20 percent of a team’s pass attempts even if the quarterback throws just 500 passes (100 targets) as opposed to 10 percent of a team’s targets if the quarterback through 750 passes (75 targets). Even though the first receiver plays on a team that throws the ball considerably less, his usage dictates his value.

There are several ways to apply this concept to fantasy hockey but today the specific target will be defenceman shot market share relative to their team. The biggest reason why this is important is because shots from the point infrequently lead to goals. The team at Hockey Graphs found that fewer than 1 percent of shots by defencemen at five-on-five from the point go in directly. When discussing the power play, even screened shots from the point don’t go in that often. It’s why you see defencemen from teams like Pittsburgh looking for deflections at the side of the net rather than having their blue liner just rip slap shots.

 

Here are the top-20 defencemen by market share of shots at five-on-five. Note that these are raw totals and not rate totals so it will naturally favour guys who played more games and more minutes. Rate stats are going to be saved for another day (it’s a long fantasy offseason, y’all). Data is from Natural Stat Trick.

I didn’t include players traded during the season like Sami Vatanen or Dion Phaneuf. I wanted to focus on player who stayed in the same system all year.

A few things to point out here.

 

Brent Burns

Of course Burns is way out in front of everyone. Of course he is. That should surprise absolutely no one. Again, these are raw totals and he played every game with a lot of minutes but even if someone like Erik Karlsson had played all 82 he would have come nowhere close to the Wookiee.

San Jose also scored just 2.12 goals per 60 minutes with him on the ice.

That’s a bit of an aberration but considering all the talent on this team, they haven’t really scored a lot of goals with him on the ice in recent seasons. There was a spike last year at 2.98 goals/60 minutes but the two years before that were 2.55 and 2.48. His four-year average in on-ice goals/60 minutes is 2.49, outside the top-30 defencemen with at least 3000 minutes played in that span, sandwiched between Zdeno Chara and Brooks Orpik. The volume and shot generation make Burns an elite fantasy rearguard. In real life, though, maybe mix in a pass or two.

 

Tyson Barrie

Look at that shot share from Barrie despite playing just 68 games. Only he and Ryan Pulock cracked the top-20 despite playing 70 games or fewer. He averaged the highest shots/game rate of his career at 2.62 despite less ice time than either of his previous two campaigns.

It should be noted that outside of Minnesota, Colorado managed the fewest shot attempts for any team appearing in the top-20. That aside, he had just 11 fewer shot attempts than Alex Pietrangelo despite 10 fewer games played and about 280 minutes ice time in difference.

 

Calgary and Ottawa

The only two teams with multiple defencemen in the top-20 were the Flames and the Sens. They were also both in the bottom-third of the league in five-on-five goal scoring.

Like Burns, we need to parse fantasy from reality here. The fact that Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton shoot so much is great for their fantasy value. It’s great that Hamilton had 270 shots on goal, which helped push him to a career-high 17 goals. His fantasy owners should have been happy with that (even if some other areas were a little underwhelming). But what if he had even 50 fewer shots and instead deferred to Sam Bennett, or Matthew Tkachuk, or Mikael Backlund?

In a way, this trickles to fantasy. Would Hamilton or Giordano be better served if they shot less and instead looked for teammates in better positions to score? Would the potential boost in points be worth the guaranteed drop in shots on goal? A question for the philosophers (or the people significantly more mathematically competent than I am).

 

Darnell Nurse

My affinity for Oscar Klefbom is well-known but Darnell Nurse had himself one heck of a season. The raw production wasn’t anything to write home about with 26 points but 194 shots, 161 hits, 153 blocks, 67 penalty minutes, and a plus-15 rating will play well in any multi-category league.

There is a lot of fixing needed in Edmonton. They need scoring wingers, they need to rebuild the bottom-half of their defence corps, and special teams need a complete overhaul. It’s going to be tough to make heads or tails of the Oilers even once we get into August. Where does Nurse stand in the power-play hierarchy? Second? Third? Where does he stand if they bring in a true PP QB? Is Klefbom going to be traded? Will the power play just flat-out suck again? Who knows.

The thing is, in multi-cat leagues, Nurse doesn’t really need power play time to bring a lot of value. If he can manage 6-7 goals and 25-30 assists, with his peripherals, that’s just fine. It’s nice to see him shooting as much as he is at five-on-five.

 

John Klingberg

The last one I want to discuss is John Klingberg because this guy’s shot rate exploded in 2017-18. His first three seasons averaged out to 9.80 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five and this year he finished at 12.32. That’s basically a 20 percent increase over his three-year average. Dallas’s problem was they were a lower-event team than in previous seasons so even though Klingberg shooting more was a good thing for his fantasy value it may have hurt their goal scoring.

Now that he’s in his prime years and is acclimated to the NHL, Klingberg having this kind of season isn’t a huge surprise. The question is whether he can replicate it next year. Ken Hitchcock is gone so how will a new coach affect Klingberg’s production and shot rates? With their elite scoring talent and top power-play unit, I’m not overly concerned about point production. Can he keep up the shot rates, though? I’m optimistic if only, as mentioned, he’s in his prime now and should be comfortable enough to shoot when he deems it necessary. Maybe his new coach won’t want him doing that unless absolutely necessary. We’ll see.