NHL

Luck Be a Lady Tonight (Week 4 Recap)

November 2, 2015

I’m doing a bunch of research prepping for another mid-week post, and it’s interesting to see how luck plays such an important role in these early season games. One way to estimate how luck affects the game is PDO, an advanced stat that can be used to measure how much luck plays into teams and players and their performance.

Team PDO is, very simply, found by adding the team’s shooting percentage at 5-on-5 and their save percentage at 5-on-5. This number will be around 100 if luck is neutral. A lower number indicates that a team could be having bad luck, and a higher number suggests that lady luck is smiling on them.

So why is PDO a useful stat? We know that over time, PDO will regress closer to 100. It suggests that a team sitting at 94 PDO is just profoundly unlucky, and that they probably aren’t as bad as their record suggests. Likewise, a team with a PDO of 104 is probably out-performing their true talent, and will be soon due for a cold streak. Last year the Rangers had the highest PDO in the league at 101.8, while the Oilers had the lowest at 97.0, with 20 teams falling between 99.1 and 100.9.

Let’s look at some examples this year. We knew Montreal would be a good team again this year in front of Carey Price, but I don’t think anyone expect their 9-0-0 start to the year. Even now at 11-2-0, their team PDO is 104.0 (9.46 SH% + 94.56 SV%), and they probably aren’t quite as good as the record suggests. On the other side, Anaheim is off to an atrocious 2-7-2 start after many expected them to be a Stanley Cup contender. But when you add their relatively good 92.83 SV% to their abysmal 2.74 shooting percentage, the PDO of 95.6 shows how unlucky they really have been this year. Eventually the goals will start going in…we hope.

Matchup Recap

As predicted, the matchup between Rhys and Jace was super close all week, with categories flipping all the way through the Saturday games. Jace held a commanding lead thanks to breakout weeks from Taylor Hall and Ryan O’Reilly, but a flurry of points from Rhys’ forwards put him into the lead 6-5-0, and it remained that way through the end of the week. Similarly, Brett held a pretty solid over Frank all week, but a late win by Martin Jones and the Sharks on Sunday narrowed Brett’s victory to 6-3-2. Davin beat Chris 7-3-1, but this matchup was a lot closer than the score would suggest; 5 of the categories were extremely close, especially the goaltending stats.

Davin’s victory propelled him to the top of the standings where he now sits 25-14-5. Jace’s record of 24-15-4 is good for second place, despite Rhys having one more win at 25-18-1. Brett moves up to fourth place with a record of 17-21-6, leaving behind Chris and Frank at the bottom with identical 14-25-5 records. Both will face off next week in the battle of the basement, while Jace goes after Davin trying to regain his place at the top of the standings and Rhys takes on Brett.

Best and Worst This Week

Goals – Chris 17 / Brett 6
Assists – Rhys 38 / Frank 15
+/- –  Jace +20 / Rhys -13
PPP – Rhys 19 / Chris & Davin 9
SHP – everyone else 1 / Rhys & Chris 0
FOW – Rhys 203 / Frank 66
ATOI – Brett 21:01 / Davin 18:58
SOG – Jace 155 / Frank 86
W – Rhys & Davin 4 / Jace 2
GAA – Rhys 1.839 / Jace 3.384
SV% – Rhys .9290 / Jace .8793

We saw several new season highs set this week. Rhys hit an astounding 38 assists this week, including 10 on Saturday alone. Jace was as high as +22 at one point, but settled for +20 once the week had ended. And Brett’s 21:01 is the first time we’ve seen the ATOI go over 21 minutes this season.

Chris rebounded from a season-low 4 goals last week to lead us this week with 17. Jace and Rhys combined for the most lopsided plus/minus disparity this season, with 33 points separating them. Frank struggled again in the faceoff circle with only 66 FOW, and for the fourth week in a row, Davin’s team had the lowest ATOI, clocking in below 19 minutes.

Player Showcase

Taylor Hall has an image problem. All those years on terrible Oilers teams and some time spent on injured reserve has led to a narrative around the league that he’s overrated. The truth is, Hall is one of the best left wingers in the NHL, and having Connor McDavid attracting some of the attention in Edmonton has only been good for him.

He, like many of the Oilers, started the year off slowly, but exploded this week for 3 goals and 5 assists. He now leads the Oilers in scoring with 13 points, and leads the entire NHL in shots with 47. With a career average shooting percentage of 11.0%, it’s in his best interests to keep pouring pucks on net. We could see a career year out of Hall, and maybe finally see him get the respect he’s due.

Watching the Waiver Wire

– What is it with Boston forwards putting up huge numbers week after week? We finally saw Krecji claimed by Chris this week, and now Brad Marchand has stepped into the “Unclaimed Bruin that collects points like Halloween candy” role. With 4 G and 2 A this week, Marshie has thrown up 11 points in only 8 games. He’s the guy you love to hate, unless those points are adding to your weekly totals.

– One waiver pick-up this week as Jace claims Sean Monahan from Davin.

– Jared McCann has had a terrific start to his rookie season, with 5 goals in 9 games. It was expected he’d be sent to Utica before he burned a year of his Entry Level Contract, but the Canucks announced he’d be staying with the team for the duration of the year. Would he be a good pickup? It depends on how much playing time he gets from coach Willie Dejardins – despite leading the team in goals, he’s only averaging 11:20 in ice time.

– Leon Draisaitl was drafted by Davin in the 15th round, and then dropped after he didn’t make the team out of training camp. A number of injuries to Oilers forwards led to Neon Leon getting called up, and he’s been spectacular in his first two games, with 3 goals and 2 assists playing with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He’s not going to sustain a 2.5 points per game pace, so the question is, what’s his true production level? Once Jordan Eberle returns from injury, will Drai get sent down to the third line where his scoring could dry up? As improbable as it seems, could he get sent back down the AHL?

– Jonas Brodin was a +5 this week, adding an assist and 22:50 ATOI. Lacking in those categories? He could be a smart pick up.

– Travis Zajac is a pivotal part of the Devils’ power play, and has put up 4 PPP on 7 total points this season. He’s also won 112 faceoffs and is averaging over 20:32 on the ice, 10th in the NHL for forwards. The Devils look to be struggling this year, so a guy like Zajac is going to get played a bunch.

– Antti Raanta has allowed only 1 goal in 2 starts this year, proving that the New York Rangers could in fact replace Cam Talbot after trading him to the Oilers. He may not get many starts behind Henrik Lundqvist, but when he does, he seems to be able to put up spectacular numbers.

– Carey Price is injured and expected to be out for about a week (seriously, Chris can’t catch a break when it comes to injuries this season), and we’re expecting Montreal backup Mike Condon to get most of the starts coming up. Price has got most of the attention for his spectacular play, but Condon has quietly been putting up a pretty good season himself. With 3 starts under his belt, he’s sitting with a .944 SV% and a terrific 1.67 GAA. This week’s games will be a good test of his true value.

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