Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Habs Week 3 in Review: Precipice

Wow, all that positivity must have caught up with us. This week (beginning with the game identified as a litmus test) really gave fans, players and management a lot to think about.

I think the question one has to ask (as before, though more people are open to the suggestion now) is: which team is the 2013 Habs? Weeks 1 and 2 had us all thinking that our faded memories of Markov were mollified by time and that maybe all the off-season griping over moves made and not was for naught. I think a week later, we find all that right back on the doorstep.

I wish there were a lesson other than anything can happen, but there may not be. Here then is a more downbeat weekly review of the Habs play than we've become accustomed to.

Dome of the week

A big thanks again to all who continue to vote. It's interesting to see where you guys go with the choices. I think I'd have had some backlash if I were the sole selector this season.

For week 3 of the 2013 season, the results look like this:
(What you see below are charts that show games played (GP), Domes, Game pucks (Pucks), the percentage vote for domes in each game (G1, G2, ...) and the points I mentioned above (Liw Pts))

Tomas Plekanec - F1
Player of the week

The landslide choice for player of the week. Plekanec did it with 2 goals and 1 assist, nothing more. Nothing more about his performance really suggests why he should have been so far and away the consensus.

But he is the perfect poster boy for a week like this. His 2 goals were scored in a losing cause (with points, mind you)but for all the good he simply didn't do enough. After all, he is now once again the team's #1 centre. And a #1 centre should never look so wanting for goals as he did in a game against a patchwork Marlies defence. Once again, he scored a breakaway and a two-on-one tap in, but if the team is to succeed against teams that don't give up breakaways (Boston), then his line (and Plekanec) will have to get a lot better at creating sustained pressure with chances.

Rene Bourque - F2

Bourque gets another dome, based for me, on his reputation so far this season. In games where it is hard to select the players, the default is to look to the best options and put them in. I think rightly so. But we must hope that the Bourque of week 3 is not the team's best option for the upcoming future. Because although he had a couple of nice contributions to goals, he was just as lost as the rest when the team was in desperate need of a goal.

Lars Eller - F3

This has to be seen as a bright spot for this week's dome. Eller having been down and out in the coach's mind has really regained some stature and placed himself in a nice stance for understudy duty. This is just what he needed to do for his Canadiens career. The next step is to do what the team needs of him, and that is to somehow use all that strength, skill and balance to create chances for someone other than Lars Eller. If he can do this, and with good frequency, then he will be the team's very valuable insurance policy for slump times like these.

PK Subban - D1

PK had a decent week and deserves the dome nod.  He's not back in full flight, but still has the skill to keep up with all but the most fearsome attackers (thankfully he plays in the East). His ESGA/60 was a respectable 2.76 in a week where most got shelled. But on the ice for 0 goals at ES was a problem (particularly in light of the team needing them so badly). I think PK really is still getting back into shape and let's not forget, he is having to learn to play with a new partner. I think things will get better for the rearguard and we should see his name in this weekly review as a fixture.

It seems strange that the best thing about the PP would be the subject of my ire. 2 PP goals to keep the decent man advantage unit ticking over. But this was more than a decent unit before he returned. I will not blame PK for doing things the way he does and executing with goals for. But I will blame Therrien for not recognizing a good thing he had going and without hesitation adding a player who did nothing more than some charity skates back to a slick functiong unit.

Andrei Markov - D2

Andrei still racked up 2 points in 3 games, for what is pacing to be a very good season offensively for him. But to be honest, the dominance that he displayed out of the blocks is faded. I've speculated as to why that might be the case on the PP. At ES, one needs to look at his defensive play. 6.92 GA/60 is not good enough. I have a feeling that it has something to do with playing from behind. I've always liked Markov's long passes, but when down, they multiply and the long bombs that don't connect for goals (see this week) get turned back to the other team faster than perhaps a slow breakout play might.

Carey Price - G

Price gets into the dome with a wide margin over Budaj, perhaps undeservingly. Though I'm sure we could go through the exercise of showing how none of the 8 goals he allowed were his fault, he still only saved 84% of the shots directed his way, 65% of the dangerous shots. In one game he was hung out to dry, but in the Boston game, his team turned in a monumental defensive game and still lost. The other reason Price gets the big lead is that Budaj has been atrocious so far, rarely looking like a player that could get his team a win.

It was a bad week, let's leave it at that.But you know what they say, as Price goes, so will the Canadiens. His good weeks have been good to the team, and the team needs more of those.

Scoring analysis

The stats from week 3 show the slump in broad daylight.

What you see in the charts below is a breakdown of the goals for per 60 minutes that each player has been on the ice for. The full line represents the GFON/60 for each player (so Gallagher has been on the ice for about 8 GF/60 of playing time at ES so far, Ryan White about 2 GFON/60). The blue section represents the players share of goals created per 60 minutes. The red section represents the goals that the player was involved in, minus the proportion for creation. And the green section represents goals the player was on the ice for but had no involvement in (Hey Colby Armstrong!)..

Even strength scoring (per 60 minutes)
Blue = Goals created per 60; Red = Involved per 60; Green = On ice per 60

OK, so there were only three even strength goals. Let me tell you, if this continues, these graphs will have to be replaced for something that is actually informative.

What information you can get from this graph is that half the players on the team weren't on the ice for an ES goal. This is poor, even for a three game period. What's worse is that some of the names on the list used to be counted on for digging out of the very holes they now create. Cole, Desharnais and Pacioretty had a rough week. They were all only on the ice for two dangerous shots. For all the ice time they get, this is a poor show.

On the better end of the spectrum, you can see the first line. I must note that Brian Gionta is standing out to me here. I revisit my earlier doubts about him as a goalscorer and top liner when I see that big green line on what is already a low total. While it's true that it's possible to contribute just by taking coverage, Gionta shouldn't be making his money for that purpose alone.

Finally, Brendan Gallagher. Not in the dome, and a slow week for his standard so far, but he still turns in a respectable total for goals created and involved in. The guy is a quality player, and if the note above gives concern, this note should give solace.

Powerplay scoring (per 60 minutes)
Blue = Goals created per 60; Red = Involved per 60; Green = On ice per 60

Again, this is only 2 PPG, so let's be careful about reading too far. Once again, to note are the zeroes, all of which played some PP time (even Armstrong: Therrien!!). The only alarm bell I have for this list is Raphael Diaz. Having been a machine in the early going, it is a shame to totally negate his main strength. Our prodigal coach has managed to do it. I think this city has something against the Swiss...

Desharnais also to note. He was on the ice for a goal but did not make a significant contribution to it. That makes a total zero for the week then. I hope he recovers, or is used differently, because I like the hockey he plays.

Finally Subban: the man in charge. This all looks very rosy for him. but that's because I'm not showing previous weeks. The shrinking scale on the x-axis flatters his 2 goal contribution and masks the effect the only significant change to the PP has had on the team.

Scoring Chances

Olivier was back, and so I reintegrate his stuff.

What you see below is chances for and against at ES (5v5 ChONF/A -- by Olivier Bouchard's count), dangerous shots for and against at ES (5v5 DShONF/A -- by my count), the percentage of dangerous shots for and against from the total attempts including misses and blocks (5v5 ChF/A % -- by calculation), and the difference between controlled zone entries for and against (5v5 ZoneE -- by Olivier Bouchard's count). The colours are a gradation from high to low, which I'm sure you all gathered.

This information is still settling in for me. What I think matters is absolute chances created (and allowed) and what percentages dangerous chances make up from each.

The chance for kings in darker green are Markov/Emelin and the Plekanec line. But note how the grinders are putting their chances on net (6 dangerous shots from 15 attempts for Colby Armstrong for instance). The chance against dogs in brighter orange are Bouillon/Subban and the top two lines. The Desharnais line particularly poor given their offensive balance.

Gorges/Diaz and the Galchenyuk line continue to be brighter lights. but they seem to be playing good defence at the expense of good offense.

I guess it's just a wonky week. Once we have more of these to compare and a half seasons' worth to see real trends, I'm sure it'll make for some interesting comparisons.

Hope you enjoy the stats. Look forward to discussing.

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