Ramblings: Preds and Pens Even Up, Werenski Surgery, Kruger/Martinook Trade, PK Save Percentages – May 4

by Michael Clifford on May 4, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Preds and Pens Even Up, Werenski Surgery, Kruger/Martinook Trade, PK Save Percentages – May 4

The post-playoff time is always interesting for the injuries that come out once teams are eliminated, like Sean Couturier’s torn knee ligament and Wayne Simmonds being held together by rubber bands and Elmer’s glue. Add one more name to the list as the Columbus Blue Jackets announced Zach Werenski will need five to six months in recovery from shoulder surgery. Five months would put him in line for the beginning of the regular season, six months would have him miss the start of the year.

This is tough for fantasy owners but we’ll just have to play it by ear. Not having an offseason to recover and train properly is worrisome. As is the fact he had already lost the top power play job to Seth Jones. He is a superb talent on the blue line but 2018-19 might be a bump in the road.

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We had a rare mid-playoff trade as the Arizona Coyotes sent Jordan Martinook and a fourth-round pick to Carolina for Marcus Kruger and a third-round pick. Carolina retains 10 percent of the salary.

I can’t imagine Jordan Martinook’s role increases in Carolina, so there’s no fantasy relevance there outside of deep leagues that count hits. Kruger should have a regular bottom-six role so he might have some use in deep leagues that count face-offs. Basically, for fantasy, not much to see here.

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Pittsburgh evened the series with Washington at two games each following their 3-1 win on Thursday night. Mr. Playoffs himself led the way as Jake Guentzel scored a pair of goals, totalling seven shots on target which led the Penguins by far (no one else had more than three). He now sits at 21 points this postseason, which would have tied for 4th in the entire playoffs last year (coincidentally, tied with himself).

Barry Trotz did end up putting Devante Smith-Pelly on the top line and it was an unmitigated disaster. Alex Ovechkin had zero shots on goal (just two attempts) and at five-on-five, all three of them (Evgeny Kuznetsov included) were at a 33.3 percent shot share or less (via Hockey Stats). Trotz cannot go back to that combination.

There was also this play at the end of the game where TJ Oshie just about a foot off the ice and launches himself into Kris Letang:

I have absolutely no idea what Oshie was thinking here. There was no injury on the play but that’s the type of hit where you can only be looking to injure someone. We’ll see if he gets a call from the DoPS.

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Mathieu Perreault skated in the gameday skate for the Jets but did not suit up for their game. There’s no telling if he’s ready or not but when he’s able to return, it’ll be a huge boost for the team, obviously.

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Nashville evened up their respective series with Winnipeg in a 2-1 game that closely resembled the Tampa Bay-Boston game from the night before; the Jets just couldn’t get much in the way of dangerous chances as they have in prior games. That’s not to say they didn’t get their chances, particularly at five-on-five, but Pekka Rinne had a very good game on his end a couple days after the disaster that was Game 3.

Ryan Hartman’s first-period goal stood as the game-winner until Laine scored late in the third with an empty net. PK Subban's second-period power play goal would stand as the game-winner. That’s his 20th point in 32 playoff games since being traded to Nashville.

Of note here: Kevin Fiala was scratched in favour of Scott Hartnell. The Nashville beat writers made a point of saying there was no injury of any kind, so either it was disciplinary or a legitimate healthy scratch. The latter seems improbable, though this was one the same night we saw Devante Smith-Pelly skating with Alex Ovechkin, so anything is possible I guess.

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Anton Slepyshev will be heading to the KHL as his rights have been traded to CSKA Moscow and he’s set to sign with the team:

Slepyshev had 10 goals in 102 career games for the Oilers. In his Edmonton career, he had a higher goals/60 minutes at five-on-five and primary points/60 minutes at five-on-five than all of Milan Lucic, Drake Caggiula, and Zack Kassian. He was never really given a chance, though, as he was sometimes a healthy scratch, often used on the third and fourth lines, sometimes fighting through injury.

This is another hole in the lineup for Edmonton to fill this offseason. Hopefully we see Slepyshev back in the NHL someday.

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When it comes to goaltending, it’s ok to admit that it’s extremely difficult to project. There is not a more volatile position in fantasy hockey and it’s one of the most volatile positions in the four major fantasy sports. In the past, I’ve made comparisons to goalies in fantasy hockey to running backs in fantasy football. And the problem is that having top-end goalie performances is more important than top-end running back performances. If your fantasy roster has poor goaltending, that’s a wrap for the season.

One thing that is very important to goaltending success in the fantasy game is the success of the penalty kill in front of him. Being able to limit short-handed situations, and being able to limit scoring chances when those situations do happen, is a team function that disproportionately affects goaltending for fantasy purposes.

I thought I’d go through some of the more interesting performances on the penalty kill by goalies this past season. Both on the low end and upper echelon. All data from Corsica Hockey and I’m looking at goalies with at least 200 minutes on the PK (there were 25 of them). For reference, the mean save percentage on the PK of these 25 goalies was .878 (5609 saves on 6390 shots).

 

Sergei Bobrovsky – .831 save percentage

The success of Columbus as a team in the regular season was kind of surprising considering their power play as an absolute tirefire for two-thirds of the year and their penalty kill was among the worst in the NHL, ranking 26th in expected goals against per 60 minutes. That is where they finished in actual goals against per 60 minutes as well. What saved them was they gave up the second-fewest power plays on the year at just 214 in 82 games (Carolina gave up the fewest at 191).

Bobrovsky, despite playing 65 games, faced only 242 shots. When you’re facing fewer than four shots on the penalty kill per game, it shouldn’t kill your stats. All the same, the team’s PK was so bad that he finished with the lowest save percentage in our sample, saving 201 of the 242 shots. Were he to get to an .876 save percentage while short-handed next year on the same rate of shots, it would mean 11 fewer goals. Just 11 fewer goals would have pushed him from a .921 overall save percentage to a .926. There is a lot of upside to drafting him next year.

 

Cam Talbot – .846 save percentage

The Edmonton Oilers PK angle has been discussed at length so I won’t dig too much deeper here. It was covered in my piece in the article on the team’s signing of Mikko Koskinen, it was a part of any conversation relating to daily fantasy, and other writers here have gone over it.

Just in case we have new readers out there, this is how Edmonton fared on the penalty kill (viz from Hockeyviz.com). The purple areas are where they allow more shots than the league average. The deeper that purple (magenta?) colour, the more shots they allow. This is a bloodbath in front of the net:

For all of Edmonton’s action over the years to acquire “blood and guts” defencemen, they absolutely suck in front of their own net on the penalty kill.

Does it improve next year? Your guess is as good as mine. Trying to project a penalty kill from season to season is difficult. If he can get close to the mean on the PK, he’d at least be near the league average in overall save percentage.

 

Carey Price – .851 save percentage

Everything went wrong in Montreal this year: Jonathan Drouin had a poor first season, Max Pacioretty had a down year and then was injured, and Shea Weber missed most of the season. Outside of Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher, it was a disappointing year across the board, Price included.

The question is Price’s health. He has started just 122 games over the last three seasons and getting 40-odd starts a year from your franchise goaltender is worrisome. Will he be 100 percent healthy next year? Only Price knows that.

If he’s to bounce back in fantasy, his team has to help him out. Remember how bad the Oilers PK was at giving up shots from in front of their net? This is Montreal:

It looks like Tinky Winky met an untimely demise in front of the goal. 

Injuries and a rotating cast of defencemen likely played a part so maybe just having a healthy lineup changes things. It’ll be the team’s second full season under Claude Julien and his staff, so familiarity should help a bit.

Now, Price’s save percentage at all strengths was an even .900, so a lot more has to go right than him saving an extra 8-10 goals on the PK. It is a start, though, and gives hope that he can rebound from this disaster. 

 

John Gibson – .920 save percentage

The starting Anaheim goalie had a .920 save percentage on the penalty kill this past season. To put into context how absurd that is, the following goalies had a save percentage at five-on-five lower than .920: Braden Holtby, Cam Talbot, Martin Jones, and Carey Price.

What’s even more odd about all this is .920 isn’t even out of line for Gibson. His save percentage on the PK the year before was .906, and .931 the year before that. Over the last three seasons, his PKSV% is .918. That’s almost as good as Jones has been at five-on-five.

This will require a lot more digging but it’s beyond absurd how good Gibson has been short-handed. His teammates can obviously take some of the credit here but the goaltender should take a bow. It’s a run in goal like I don’t remember seeing in the last decade or so.