Looking at Second-Half Performances, Questioning #FancyStats and Playoff Talk …
The Blues-Wild game was incredible Wednesday. The Wild drove the possession in the third period to tie the game with 28 shot attempts to 10, 18 shots to six and four high-danger scoring chances to two.
Here's my problem with Minnesota's attack and a qualm with shot attempts in general, and this has been my main holdup with overvaluing possession statistics the past few years. Although, I still probably value them more than most.
First, Minnesota registered 18 shots in the third period, but only 10 were counted as scoring chances and just four as high-danger chances. The shots and shot attempt highlight that Minnesota clearly dominated the play, but that domination didn't translate to consistent scoring chances.
Minnesota posted a Corsi For percentage over 55 percent at five-on-five from March 1 through the end of the season, and after watching them fire the puck from everywhere Wednesday, it's hard to imagine how they didn't approach a 60 percent mark.
Second, a shot attempt might not always be the best play to maintain possession or create an offensive chance. In fact, it might be the wrong play entirely. Mikael Granlund attempted a couple/few wrist shots from the periphery that weren't dangerous, and that Jake Allen handled easily and covered to get a whistle.
And as a little bit of an aside here, this is where I don't understand the negativity hurled at #fancystats. The old hockey adage of "Get Pucks on Net" is the exact same as piling up shot attempts to have a good possession ranking. Isn't it?
Back to Wednesday's game, though. Granlund's shots led to faceoffs, which for simplicity sake are 50-50 battles. Had he held onto the puck and drove deeper into the zone, or even turned it back for his team to regroup and start another rushing attack, it's a much better percentage that Minnesota controls the puck longer and turns their possession of the puck into a better scoring chance than a wrist shot from the wall. Even if we account for Minnesota's strong night at the faceoff dot, and give the Wild a 60-40 chance to win the draw, not attempting the shot was the better play, right?
So, when I saw the possession dominance of Minnesota align with it's underwhelming record down the stretch, it made sense that puck luck wasn't on the side of the Wild. That may still be the case, but the relationship between a team's shot attempts and their scoring and high-danger scoring chances shouldn't be ignored.
Of course, this was one period from one game, and Minnesota could bounce back and win the next four games.
Here is a quick look at some noticeable second-half performances.
Playing with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg is probably an easy gig, but Viktor Arvidsson's run after the All-Star break was noteworthy. The high-volume shooter registered 19 goals, 31 points and 97 shots through the final 32 games, which ranked second, 11th and 23rd in the league, respectively. It will take an enormous offseason hype train — or beastly playoff run — for his perceived value to match his likely value. For what it's worth, Arvidsson ranked 43rd in Yahoo's rankings and 60th on the ESPN Player Rater.
Evander Kane (135) and Jack Eichel (130) finished first and second, respectively, in shots after the All-Star break. Kane also collected 14 goals and 56 PIM, but with just five helpers and two power-play points, he was still just a complementary piece. Eichel, on the other hand, proved he's an elite fantasy asset. The sophomore posted 12 goals, 36 points, 14 power-play points and 18 PIM through the final 33 games. Obviously, the hefty minus-ratings hurt both Sabres, so hopefully Buffalo takes a step forward to help improve those plus-minus ratings.
Mathieu Perreault went on a point-per-game run with nine goals and 20 assists through 29 games following the All-Star break. He also closed out the campaign with six goals and 17 points through the final 12 games. The 29-year-old forward has produced offense whenever provided a legitimate opportunity, and remember, he was a monster in the QMJHL (75 goals and 233 points over his final 132 games) and has now posted four consecutive 40-point campaigns despite missing 61 games during the span. Best of all, that Winnipeg top-six group is special.
Alex Goligoski posted five goals, 21 points, 50 shots, 52 blocked shots, 16 PIM, 65 hits and a plus-1 rating through the final 33 games. The points tied with John Klingberg for eighth among all defenseman, and considering the dumpster fire Arizona was, the plus-1 rating was incredible. It isn't out of the question to suggest Dallas' struggles this year were at least modestly correlated to Goligoski's relocation. He's a high-floor, low-cost investment year in, year out.
Speaking of Arizona defensemen, Jakob Chychrun posted a 14th-ranked 1.09 points per 60 minutes among all rearguards with at least 750 minutes this season. That's an impressive mark.
Did you catch Justin Williams' interview with Scott Oake during the first intermission? It was funny. The meat and potatoes was Oake suggesting the Capitals were nervous in the first period, and Williams told him to "Pump the Breaks."
And let's be honest, any rationale fan wasn't even penciling in a 1-0 series lead for Toronto at any point in Game 1.
By the end of the game, Washington had 33 scoring chances to Toronto's 27, and in the third period and overtime, the Caps had seven high-danger scoring chances to the Maple Leafs' four (none in overtime).
Perhaps, that's why players shot from those positions, but there is a big difference between Tom Wilson firing a puck on net in OT and Mikael Granlund not using his speed and skill in a more effective manner.
Toronto isn't going to roll over, but Williams and the Caps aren't, either. That's pretty clear, and Toronto's faithful can thank Oake for Washington's chalkboard material heading into the second period.
I touched on Viktor Arvidsson earlier, and his first-period tally stood as the only goal of the game. The statistics highlight a strong game from Chicago, but from my patchwork viewing, it didn't appear to be a complete onslaught.
One important takeaway, and this could — and likely should/will — change, is that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews played just 24 second of five-on-five time together. If Chicago continues to struggle to score (they generated 24 scoring chances and nine high-danger chances), putting the one-two punch together more at even strength is one solution.
However, it might not happen because the rest of the lineup looks awful weak, especially if it's a Kane-Toews-Artemi Panarin trio.
My only fear with Connor McDavid's long-term success is that speed is his biggest weapon. At some point in his career, he isn't going to be significantly faster than almost everyone in the league. Assuming he avoids any serious knee or leg injuries, we're looking at years down the road, and his experience and vision should compensate. There is no guarantee of either, though.
McDavid was on the ice for 15 scoring chances and six high-danger chances in Game 1. He only logged 21:22 of ice time, though. Add another four minutes, and that's approximately one more high-danger chance and three chances. There is also no reason he isn't playing every second of the majority of Edmonton's power plays. After all, there is a good chance a couple more of those opportunities with the man advantage end in less than two minutes.
Shea Theodore was on the ice for all three Anaheim goals (two were on the power play), and he posted a 56.67 Corsi For percentage at five-on-five. Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour weren't as sharp with 36.11 and 21.88 marks respectively. However, the duo spent most of the night against Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, and the Calgary one-two punch failed to score at even strength.
The Flames generated more scoring chances (38-32) and more high-danger chances (22 to 17), so this series should prove to be as difficult to win for either team, as it will be for me to stay awake to watch it.
Thanks for checking in, Dobberheads.
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