The 2007-08 Edmonton Oilers were a lousy hockey team at ES. They were outshot 1984-1710. They were outscored 181-157. Bad times.
There was a great deal of discussion at Lowetide’s this past week about defensive and offensive zone faceoffs and whether or not they affect a player’s scoring numbers. There seems to be a general consensus that a wide swing one way or the other will have some impact, but nobody seemed to know what the impact would be. I wanted to get a sense of that, so I took a look at the splits from the 2007-08 Oilers after offensive zone faceoffs and defensive zone faceoffs.
I was surprised at how extreme it is. In the thirty seconds following offensive zone faceoffs, the Oilers were dominant, outshooting the opposition 217-121 and outscoring them 18-10. After defensive zone faceoffs, they were the flip side, getting outshot 315-161 and outscored 26-16. There’s still a marked edge after 45 seconds, which is basically an entire shift. One’s like being the best team in the NHL, the other is like being the worst.
Assuming that this is in some way typical of NHL teams as a whole and that’s its not an effect created by lousier players tending to get the defensive draws – I would think that it is typical and that offensive and defensive zone draws are spread widely enough – then guys who are taking a lot of defensive zone faceoffs are going to be taking a bit of a hit on their numbers, whereas guys who start a disproportionate amount of time at the other end of the ice are going to look better than they otherwise are.
How big of an effect are we talking about? Tough to say. The numbers I’ve assembled say that the Oilers and their opposition were taking about 29.3 ESS/60 in the 45 seconds after taking an offensive zone faceoff and allowing about 18.6 ESS/60. Now, sometimes there would be situations where you’ve got multiple faceoffs in a 45 second span, which will drive my numbers down, but there does appear to be a substantial effect. If you figure a .920 save percentage, you can probably figure on something like 2.4 ESGF/60 and 1.5 ESGA/60 as the expected outcome in the 45 seconds following an offensive zone faceoff, with the reverse being true when you start with a defensive zone faceoff. These numbers do strike me as being somewhat low across the board, to be honest – I’m not sure why that is. It seems to me that, while the spread is probably about right, there should be more shots for/against and goals for/against.
In any event, we know that this isn’t going to smear the results too much for the majority of NHL players. 550 guys were on the ice for at least 500 faceoffs last year. If you look at this as a ratio, offensive/defensive zone faceoffs, 80 of those were at 1.0 +/- .05, 200 were at 1.0 +/- .1, 342 were at 1.0 +/- .2 and 405 were at 1.0 +/- .25.
If you look at someone like – for example – Shawn Horcoff, you see he took 466 defensive zone faceoffs and 310 offensive zone faceoffs. Compare that with Vinny Lecavalier, who went 239:343 or Evegeni Malkin, who went 238:411. While I’m not saying that Horcoff would have won the scoring title with more favourable ice time, this does seem to me to be pretty significant stuff at the margins, perhaps more significant than I’d appreciated. If my numbers are right, Horcoff had a slight tilt in favour of offensive zone faceoffs in 2007-08. I would bet that if I went and looked, Marty Reasoner did the real dirty work for the Oilers. What do Horcoff’s numbers look like if he takes 285 defensive zone faceoffs and 481 offensive zone faceoffs?
Only twelve teams had players who posted ratios of 3:2 or higher in more than 500 draws: Tampa Bay (Adam Hall, Jeff Halpern and Matt Perringer), St. Louis (Jay McClement), Pittsburgh (Jordan Staal), Phoenix (Kurt Sauer, Martin Hanzal and Zbynek Mihaelek), Philadelphia (Mike Richards), the Islanders (Brendan Witt, Richard Park, Radek Martinek and Tim Jackman), Nashville (Radek Bonk, Vern Fiddler and Jerred Smithson), Montreal (Mike Komisarek), Minnesota (Nick Schultz, Stephane Veilleux, Cal Clutterbuck, Martin Skoula, Kim Johnsson, Eric Belanger and James Sheppard), Edmonton (Shawn Horcoff and Kyle Brodziak), Colorado (Adam Foote and Scott Hannan), Atlanta (Boris Valabik, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Garnet Exelby, Colby Armstrong, Johan Hedberg (the Thrashers suck) and Marty Reasoner) and Anaheim (Travis Moen). Generally speaking, you’re not going to put up that number without being on a horrible team, or an average team that really dumps its hard work on a few guys.
Thirteen teams saw guys post a ratio of 3:2 or higher in more than 500 draws. It’s a list full of the young, the stars and third pairing defencemen: Christian Backman, Kris Russell and Jakub Voracek in Columbus, Jim Vandermeer and Mark Giordano in Calgary, Brian Campbell, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Troy Brouwer and Ben Eager in Chicago, Jordan Leopold in Colorado, Jiri Hudler in Detroit, Marc-Andre Bergeron in Minnesota, Steve Sullivan in Nashille (I assume that the Masterton voters will dock him accordingly), Markus Naslund, Ryan Callahan, Nikolai Zherdev, Nigel Dawes and Lauri Korpikoski for the Rangers, Ed Jovanovski (Glendale should be pointing to him along with Gretzky as wastes of money in their bankruptcy filings) and Kyle Turris in Phoenix, Petr Sykora and Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, David Perron and Patrick Berglund in St. Louis, Martin St. Louis in Tampa (Vinny L just misses), and Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green in Washington.
This is all a bit of an information dump, but it’s fascinating stuff, I think. I was reading something the other day, about Coleman Analytics, and some GM was quoted saying something along the lines that there was nothing like OBP in hockey. I kind of wonder if an ability to get the puck into the right end of the ice isn’t that – looking at teams like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington, they have obviously benefitted tremendously from being able to put their stars on the ice in the right end of the ice. That doesn’t happen without other players making sure that the puck is there when they come off.