By the Numbers: Sweeping the Coyotes

As the Red Wings recover from a hard-fought, physical and emotionally-charged series against the Phoenix Coyotes, how ’bout we take a look at some impressive numbers from the four-game series with scores that were never indicative of how closely contested the battles were? In a nutshell, the Red Wings cracked the code that is Ilya Bryzgalov, the penalty kill was terrible, the grinders were clutch, and the contributions came from everyone. All numbers and rankings are as of Thursday afternoon.

0 :: Minutes Henrik Zetterberg played in this series.

1 :: The Coyotes leader in +/- and the only player from Phoenix above the break-even line, Kyle Turris.

1 :: The fewest hits thrown by anyone in the series — shared by Keith Yandle and Mike Modano (the latter only played one game).

3 :: The most goals an individual scored in the series. And they were scored by Shane Doan.

4.5 :: Goals per game scored by the Wings, 0.75 more than second place (Anaheim).

6 :: The top post-season +/-, across all sixteen teams. It’s shared by Pavel Datsyuk, Ruslan Salei, and Niklas Kronwall.

6 :: Goals scored by the Coyotes on the power play — tied for the most of all playoff teams in four games.

7 :: Minutes Todd Bertuzzi spent in the penalty box, the most of any Red Wing and one less than Martin Hanzal for the series lead.

7 :: First period goals scored by the Red Wings — two more than the next best among playoff teams.

9 :: Ruslan Salei led either team in blocked shots.

10 :: Pavel Datsyuk takeaways, two and a half times more than the closest competitor for either team.

15 :: Shots Pavel Datsyuk took in four games — the most of either team.

24 :: Post-season goals allowed by Ilya Bryzgalov, dating back to Game 7 of last year’s first round matchup with the Wings, just under 5 goals per game.

24 :: Hits thrown by the leader in that department for either team, Shane Doan: ten more than the closest competition.

25:50 :: Average time on ice for Keith Yandle — the most of either team.

28.6 :: Shooting percentage of Patrick Eaves — the best of either team.

33.3 :: Power Play efficiency of the Coyotes — second best among playoff teams (Vancouver, 40%)

35 :: Average shots taken per game by the Red Wings — the most of any team not to go into overtime.

41:15 :: Minutes played by Jiri Hudler — the least of all Red Wings who played in all four games.

61.1 :: Faceoff percentage of Justin Abdelkader — by far the best of either team among players who took more than four faceoffs.

66.7 :: Penalty Killing efficiency of the Red Wings — tied for second worst among playoff teams (with Nashville, only Chicago’s 60% is worse).

89:39 :: Minutes played by Niklas Kronwall, including 16 minutes shorthanded — both are the most of all Red Wings.

103:22 :: Minutes played by Keith Yandle — the most of either team.

Get some sleep, Hockeytown. It’s looking pretty likely that the Winged Wheelers will be facing the Sharks — another Pacific Time Zone team and another repeat of the 2010 playoffs. Let’s hope for a better outcome than last year’s five-game stinker that sent the Wings into an earlier-than-usual summer.

Photo Credit: David Guralnick, The Detroit News, @DavidGuralnick

By the Numbers: First Half Production

The All Star Game is behind us and a return to meaningful hockey is only hours away, which means it’s time for a post that’s chock full of my favorite things: numbers. Sure, Disch has already given you a post about how to stay warm on cold days (The answer is “Grow A Pair, Austin”) and Petrella brought the thunder with his traditional pre-game post, which leaves me the only thing that I can easily manipulate in a post: stats!

As part of our commitment to (mostly) excellence here at TPL, we’ve been tracking line production for the entire first half of the season without really providing a ton of analysis around why it’s important or what exactly it tells us. No more! Analysis, Ahoy!

Let’s start with the forwards:

[table id=3 /]

Yes, that’s right: only half of the top 10 producing lines in Detroit are in double digits in terms of points this year. What’s more, Mike Modano hasn’t played in months, and one of  his lines is still a TOP 5 scoring line, with the other coming in at #6. Disconcerting? Not really, considering the Wings are performing so well without him, which in turn highlights the fact that the Wings have been forced to reply on different combinations and matchups to score their points this year. However, that scoring balance comes (potentially) at the expense of line chemistry, so it will be interesting to see how Babcock spreads the lines during the second half of the season, especially with top point getters Dan Cleary and Pavel Datsyuk needing to be worked back into the lineup. Yes, it’s great to see names like Tatar and Emmerton in this chart (albeit at the bottom), but with the playoffs around the corner, methinks the priority now needs to shift towards chemistry building and comfortable pairings as opposed to throwing things into the blender in hopes that something seems to work. If this chart is any indicator, we know which lines will be the most successful and Babcock should use that as his core framework in building four solid lines for the rest of the season.

Some other thoughts:

  • 42 of the 63 lines have registered a point, which means only 21 lines are on there for coughing up points while on the ice.
  • Unfortunately for the aforementioned Mike Modano, one of his other lines comes in at a team worst -6.
  • Only two lines are anything worse than a -2.

OK, over to the defense:

[table id=4 /]

Raise your hand if you thought it would be Rafalski and the Shitbox at the top of the pairings. I’ll wait. You’ll also notice that my hand is not up, because I’ve personally thought that while Ericsson has showed improvement over last season, Rafalski has looked like he’s taken a step back and not been quite as sharp. Perhaps that’s a direct result of his pairing with the Shitbox – and the accompanying job of minimizing his mistakes – but Rafalski’s lack of goals hasn’t translated over to a slip in production and solid defensive play. Would we all like to see more goals? Sure. But last year’s complaints are this year’s fix in terms of the Rigbox looking more like an NHL defenseman, and Rafalski’s somewhat boring play this year seems to be one of the keys to that turnaround for #52.

We’ll skip over power play production since there’s not much out of the ordinary there, but let’s make a pit stop at the PK numbers:

[table id=6 /]

If you’re looking for a silver lining to the Brad Stuart injury, then take solace in the fact that he can’t be out on the ice with Helm, Eaves and Lidstrom on the penalty kill. Seriously, 2 times as many goals against allowed by that line as compared to any other kill unit. I’m no Mike Babcock, but even I can see that it might be worth changing up the kill a bit when Stuart comes back. Either that, or I’m going to go into cardiac arrest if I see those 4 on the PK together once the playoffs start.

Finally, 4 on 4 scoring:

[table id=9 /]

Pretty straightforward. You want a win in OT? Hank, Mule, Lindstrom and Kronwall is the best bet (although, they have been on the ice for a goal against in OT this season.)

So that’s how it shakes out. Like I said, it will be interesting to see how these lines finish up down the stretch when consistency and chemistry become a priority, but there’s plenty of time for that to happen between now and the postseason.

By the Numbers: Jimmah vs. The “Slump”

Let’s take a journey back a few months to the beginning of the Red Wings season. The Red Wings – coming off a season that featured more injuries than fingers on a pair of hands – looked to be well rested and primed for success. The Wings finally had a healthy lineup ready to take the ice, complete with some of the most proficient players in the game and a blue line that featured an almost sure-fire, top-five Norris contender. All the pieces for a successful season were in place, yet there was one nagging question on everyone’s mind leading up to the puck dropping on the brand new campaign…

“Will there be a sophomore slump for Jimmah?”

Honestly, I’m not one to make much of the idea of a slump or struggles based solely on the fact that a player is entering his second full season in a professional sport, especially when it comes to hockey. So much of a goaltender’s success hinges on the play of the guys in front of him, where an airtight defense can make even the most mediocre goalie look like a world-beater. So why, then, would there be any concern about whether or not Howard would continue to play at the level that took the Wings on a scorched-earth run up to the playoffs? The defense was still there. The players were healthy. There shouldn’t be an issue, right?

Fast-forward back to present day, where you are currently sitting at your computer/mobile device/etc. and hanging on every word that I am typing (or just reading this waiting for me to get to the point.) The Wings – despite a rash of injuries –  find themselves seven points ahead of the Predators in the Central Division and only three points back of the Canucks for most points in both the West and the entire NHL as the All Star Break closes in. Yet something doesn’t seem right, despite the success in the standings.

Perhaps it’s just me and maybe I’m a little too hard on the guy (as Matt Saler pointed out following the most recent TP:60) but something just isn’t adding up with Jimmy Howard. I watch Jimmah play between the pipes and I know that he’s a capable goaltender (tied for most wins in the league) yet the question about a slump is still tickling some part of my brain and won’t go away. Of course, that means a solution must be unearthed, but how do you realistically go about determining whether or not a player is actually suffering the effects of an uncontrollable phenomenon that may or may not live in the minds of fans and pundits across the league?

(Yes, you know what’s coming.)

Stats. Specifically, a chart of stats.

A quick disclaimer before we move ahead: I’m fully aware that circumstances such as playing style, opponents, ice conditions, experience, etc. can not be fully accounted for with a series of numbers and percentages. I could spend a lifetime staring at every second of Howard’s game to try and pinpoint whether or not his game is different from a year ago, but I just don’t have the time, patience or sanity to do that. Instead, the numbers you see below offer up a poor-man’s look into how Howard stacks up to his inner-counterpart from a year ago at this point in the schedule (33 games played, FWIW.)

[table id=13 /]

As you can see, the numbers offer up some surprising insight. I suppose the case can be made that the only number that counts in the end are the 22 wins Howard has posted this year, but it’s hard to deny the fact that the rest of this year’s statistics are a far cry from where Howard was at this time last year. It’s easy to get fixated on the lower save percentage and higher GAA, but what really stands out to me is this: 16 fewer shots faced. 16 fewer minutes played. 18 more goals against.

That’s a pretty big blip on the radar.

Theoretically, one would expect Howard’s numbers to be a little bit sharper given that he’s faced fewer shots than he did last year up to this point, but again, it’s hard to really quantify the importance of that. How many of those shots were on the power play? How many were point-blank shots as opposed to blasts from the point? That said, 18 more goals on 16 fewer shots is definitely something worth keeping an eye on as the Wings move forward. Of course, the other side of the argument is that he has four more wins, three fewer losses,one less OT/SO loss, and one more shutout, but it’s hard to pay attention to those numbers when the save percentage and GAA numbers are so drastically different.

So the big question becomes “Is this proof that he’s slumping?” If you put a gun to my head I would say yes, but with an asterisk. It’s a statistical slump. As I said before, the most important piece here is the wins, and Howard’s atop the league right now. It is somewhat concerning though that he’s giving up more goals despite seeing fewer shots, suggesting that his defense is doing it’s job in limiting the shots he’s seeing, yet Jimmah  just isn’t stopping as many.

Of course, many will point out that there’s still half a season to play, and I’m not one to disagree. If you ask most Wings fans when Howard was at his best last year, they will tell you it was in the second half of the season when the Wings went on their tear to the playoffs. And while that might be true, Howard’s first half numbers were equally as impressive, something that tends to be overlooked in favor of more recent results. Of course, Howard’s early season success last year could be attributed to any given number of factors – including the competition he faced up to this point in both seasons – and his second half numbers this year may see a boost based on that very same metric. However, one thing that is for certain is that Howard won’t be the beneficiary of extra time off to work on his game, as was the case during the Winter Olympics last year. Instead of a full two weeks of rest and 1-on-1 time with Jim Bedard, it’s only seven days this time around. Only time will tell how much impact that has on Howard, but it’s definitely something worth keeping in mind as April and May roll around.

Despite what the numbers tell us, Howard is still an excellent goaltender and a guy the Wings feel incredibly comfortable with in net. He’ll have plenty of opportunity to improve his stats with Osgood on the sidelines, and I believe his numbers will show signs of improvement as the season marches along. However, there is real value in comparing the numbers, and there’s something to be said for the dip in statistical performance year-over-year. Are we at Steve Mason levels of decline? Absolutely not, and I wouldn’t anticipate getting anywhere close to that. But for those folks who believe in the “slump,” the numbers sure seem to be in their favor.

Photo courtesy of mLive

Numbers! Charts! Hooray!

As promised, I sat up for hours last night and slogged through the backlog of numbers that I had failed to get to during last week, which now means all of the production charts have been updated for your reading enjoyment. So…like…enjoy.

Before we get to the all-up numbers, though, here’s a look at how things shook out last night against Phoenix:

Forwards G A PTS +/-
Abdelkader-Modano-Cleary 1 1 2 1
Abdelkader-Datsyuk-Franzen 0 1 1 1
Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Cleary 0 0 0 -1
Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom 0 0 0 -1
Defense G A PTS +/-
Lidstrom-Stuart 1 1 2 E
Rafalski-Ericsson 0 1 1 1
Rafalski-Stuart 0 0 0 -1
4v4 G A PTS +/-
Zetterberg-Bertuzzi-Kronwall-Salei 1 2 3 1

Few things:

1. Yes, I’m well aware that the above tables look like shit. I’m working on a formatting solution, but until then game-by-game numbers are going to look smushed and scrunched. Deal with it.

2. The OT winner actually saw the Wings with five guys on the ice, since Dan Cleary was TECHNICALLY out there during the play. That said, he’s the odd man out in this equation since A) He didn’t point on the play and B) He broke his stick in half and was on his way to the bench when the puck went in.

3. Good to see Zetterberg get the winner, especially since he was out there for both of Phoenix’s goals.

OK, enough with the ugly charts. Here’s the updated season charts for the forwards and defensemen. Reminder: You can access these and any other number of charts on the toolbar above.

[table id=3 /]

[table id=4 /]

As Promised: Charts

Nothing deep and insightful this morning from me as I prepare to don a flight suit and kick off somewhere between 10-16 hours of drinking and general shenanigans. Instead, you get charts. As promised, we’ve pulled together the line production charts that I slaved over so diligently last year, and they now live on the nifty toolbar right above this writing. Don’t want to play with the toolbar? No worries: bookmark away.

For those of you who enjoy these charts and were asking for them to be brought back: you’re welcome. I think you’ll enjoy some of the features the new charting system affords us, including the ability to sort by statistics and receiving instant results after a search. I’ve included a sample below for reference. For those of you that hate these charts: feel free to carry on. The actual talent on this site will have something better up in a few hours.

[table id=3 /]

Sooo….what’d I miss?

Oh wait, no…

Gigantic high five to Rob for holding down the fort solo over the last week or so. It was one of the rare times I didn’t even have a minute or two to update things ’round these parts, and – per usual – he delivered the LOLZ to TPL.

Massive hat tip (sombrero tip?) to @Mariia19 for hooking me up with a way to watch the game on Thursday. The video was a bit shaky, but at least I got to check out the EIGHT ROUND SHOOTOUT. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

I would like to echo Rob’s praise regarding Mike Babcock’s use of Ville Leino in that shootout. If he had scored, playing that hunch would have been universally hailed as brilliant. But instead, Leino muffed, ate some ice, cried a little, and returned to his lonely spot at the end of bench.

The Wings were in 7th place for about nine minutes before dropping into 8th — which is where they started Saturday.

I didn’t see a single second of the Kings game. By all accounts, that’s a good thing. The Wings blew a two goal lead, fell out of the playoffs, and some jagoff climbed the rafters at the Joe before getting spooked and not being able to climb down on his own. Like Hoarders, I don’t know if that’s sad or hilarrrrious. I’m going to go with hilarious (unlike Hoarders, which is sad).

The weather in Atlanta was horrific, tornado watches/warnings all day yesterday, and guess who had to fly back to New York? Flying into or out of New York is always a pain in the ass, but coupled with Atlanta’s day, it was the start of an epic Fail of ginormous proportions. Very long story short: I was delayed four hours,  and didn’t walk into my apartment until 4am.

BUT! All is not lost. I woke up to some awesome news. Per Khan, it looks like Niklas Kronwall is playing tomorrow and — even though Mickey Redmond was called a drunk liar over and over again — it looks like Andreas Lilja is on his way back very soon, too. The gist:

–Niklas Kronwall is back Tuesday.

–Tomas Holmstrom is slated for either Friday or Sunday.
–Jason Williams “could” play Friday. Like in all the injury reports since his injury, it’s almost a throwaway line.

–Andreas Lilja is on Day 13 being headache-free, so he could be cleared as early as tomorrow.
–Johan Franzen is seeing a doctor to see if he can return prior to the Olympics or — more likely — play with the Wings when the NHL resumes after the Games.

The salary cap won’t be affected until Franzen comes off IR. But, as they’re currently carrying 21 men, they only have two roster spots left. Kronwall would make 22, Homer and Williams would make 24. Justin Abdelkader is likely headed back to Grand Rapids, even though he’s clearly one of the top twelve forwards at this point. Gator can be sent down without being waived.

When Lilja returns, another player would have to go. I gotta believe Brad May will be waived with the intention of sending him to Grand Rapids. I’d laugh my ass off if anyone claimed him.

When Franzen returns, it’ll be interesting to see what happens (assuming another player hasn’t been injured in the interim). Derek Meech or Brett Lebda could be traded, as could Ville Leino (in theory). Drew Miller seems to have worked himself into the lineup, potentially earning himself a contract extension.

Meet Your New/Old Red Wings

Alright, numberphiles. Get your inhalers.

With Red Wings Central’s announcement of the Training Camp Roster, we learn what numbers the new additions will be wearing this upcoming season. Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi take over their old digs in #29 and #44. Newcomer Patrick Eaves will be in Dougie Brown, Brett Hull, and Dallas Drake’s #17.

As of right now, Darren Helm is staying in 43, and Jonathan Ericsson kept 52.

A handful of notable call-ups and their reasonably-low jersey numbers:

4 Andy Delmore
8 Justin Abdelkader
15 Jeremy Williams
27 Ryan Oulahen
31 Daniel Larsson
32 Kris Newbury
37 Doug Janik
38 Thomas McCollum

At the moment, only five free agents have been accepted invitations. We’ve already mentioned goaltender Chris Whitley and forwards Willie Coetzee and Austin Fyten. No sign of Randy Cameron on that list, although we mentioned a few weeks ago that he would be in attendance.

The two new names are Francis Lemieux, a Grand Rapids Griffin, and local boy John Vigilante. Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare has a nice write-up on the two of them – we suggest you give it a read.

By the Numbers :: 41 and beyond!

Well, this has been fun. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed researching this topic, but since there are only so many one- and two-digit numbers, the list has to come to an end sooner or later…

From this point on, there will only be a handful of players to have worn each number after 40. So, since it’s fair to assume that most of them would have fallen into the “notables” category, I’m just going to go ahead and list ’em all. Remember, these are players that played in regular season NHL games only.

The finale:

41

First Wearer ::Eddie Mio, 1983
Most Recent Wearer :: Valtteri Filppula, 2006 (before the switch)
The Rest :: Brent Gilchrist, Ray Whitney

42

First Wearer :: Bernie Federko, 1989
Most Recent Wearer :: Mattias Ritola, 2008 (as a call-up)
The Rest :: Sean Avery, Donald MacLean

43
First Wearer :: Murray Eaves, 1989
Current Wearer :: Darren Helm
The Rest :: Bill McDougall, Ladislav Kohn, Matt Hussey

44

First Wearer :: Glenn Merkosky, 1989
Most Recent Wearer :: Aaron Downey, 2009
The Rest :: Gord Kruppke, Slava Fetisov (briefly), Anders Eriksson, Yan Golubovsky, Uwe Krupp (briefly), Mark Mowers, Todd Bertuzzi, Mark Hartigan

45 :: The Only :: Kyle Quincey, 2005-2008 (and then he became #4)

46 :: The Only :: Marc Potvin, 1990-1992

47 :: The Only :: Jim Cummins, 1991-1992

48

First Wearer :: Gary Shuchuk, 1990
Most Recent Wearer :: Chris Tancill, 1992

51

First Wearer :: Dmitri Mironov, one game in 1998
Current Wearer :: Valtteri Filppula

52

First Wearer :: Dave Lewis, 1986
Current Wearer :: Jonathan Ericsson
The Rest :: Ryan Barnes

55

First Wearer :: Tiger Williams, 1984
Current Wearer :: Niklas Kronwall
The Rest :: Keith Primeau, Larry Murphy, Dmitri Bykov

65 :: The Only :: Josh Langfeld, 2005

71
First Wearer :: Wendell Clark, 1999
Most Recent Wearer :: Jiri Slegr, 2002

77 :: The Only :: Paul Coffey, 1993-1996

81 :: The Only :: Marian Hossa, 2008-2009

82 :: The Only :: Tomas Kopecky, 2007-2009

85 :: The Only :: Petr Klima, 1985-1990 and 1998-1999

91 :: The Only :: Sergei Fedorov, 1990-2003

93 :: The Only :: Johan Franzen, 2006 – current

95 :: The Only :: Danny Markov, 2005-2006

96 :: The Only :: Tomas Holmstrom, 1998 – current

The following numbers have never been worn in a Red Wings uniform during a regular season game. Stake your claim now!
49
50 :: 53 :: 54 :: 56 :: 57 :: 58 :: 59
60 :: 61 :: 62 :: 63 :: 64 :: 66 :: 67 :: 68 :: 69
70 :: 72 :: 73 :: 74 :: 75 :: 76 :: 78 :: 79
80 :: 83 :: 84 :: 86 :: 87 :: 88 :: 89
90 :: 92 :: 94 :: 97 :: 98 :: 99 :: 00

Number 99 was retired league-wide after Wayne Gretzky’s retirement, and therefore will never be worn in Detroit. Number 00, only worn twice in NHL history (John Davidson and Martin Biron), is apparently no longer allowed.

By the Numbers :: 31 – 40

The fourth installment
31

First Wearer :: Andy Brown, 1971
Most Recent Wearer :: Joey MacDonald, 2007
Other Notables :: Ed Giacomin, Bob Sauve, Mark Laforest, Darren Eliot, Alain Chevrier, Peter Ing, Kevin Hodson, Ken Wregget, Curtis Joseph
The story of #31 :: Oy.

32

First Wearer :: Bruce Eakin, 1985
Most Recent Wearer :: Tomas Kopecky, 2006
Other Notables :: Sam St. Laurent, Tim Cheveldae, Stu Grimson, Maxim Kuznetsov, Steve Thomas
The story of #32 :: That’s all of them.

33

First Wearer :: Bob Manno, 1983
Current Wearer :: Kris Draper
Other Notables :: John Blum, Yves Racine
The story of #33 :: Is Draper’s number in retirement territory?

34

First Wearer :: Andre St. Laurent, 1983
Most Recent Wearer :: Manny Legace, 2006
Other Notables :: Jeff Sharples, Daniel Shank, Greg Millen, Anders Eriksson, Norm Maracle
The story of #34 :: Let’s hope the next 34 erases all the images of FAIL! we’re used to.

35

First Wearer :: Ken Holland, 1983
Current Wearer :: Jimmy Howard
Other Notables :: Warren Young, Allan Bester, Dave Gagnon, Bob Essensa, Marc Lamothe
The story of #35 :: Holland started a string of border-line NHL goaltenders in #35

36

First Wearer :: Steve Martinson, 1987
Most Recent Wearer :: Derek Meech, 2006
Other Notables :: Per Djoos, Dennis Vial, BJ Young
The story of #36 :: Seems to be a “placeholder” number for the Wings

37

First Wearer :: Kris King, 1987
Most Recent Wearer :: Mikael Samuelsson, 2009
Other Notables :: Vincent Riendeau, Tim Taylor, Marc Rodgers
The story of #37 :: Maybe the next 37 will be able to hit the net.

38

First Wearer :: Murray Eaves, 1987
Most Recent Wearer :: Nathan Robinson, 2004
Other Notables :: Bobby Dollas, Jason York, Jason Elliott
The story of #38 :: The number Thomas McCollum has been seen in…

39

First Wearer :: Dale Krentz, 1987
Most Recent Wearer :: Dominik Hasek, 2008
Other Notables :: Doug Crossman, Johan Franzen
The story of #39 :: Franzen’s until Hasek’s return.

40

First Wearer :: Rogie Vachon, 1978
Current Wearer :: Henrik Zetterberg
Other Notables :: Gord Kruppke, Bill Ranford
The story of #40 :: Henrik Zetterberg had to give up his “famous-in-Sweden” #20 because it was being worn by Luc Robitaille, so he doubled it.