February 02 2012 08:53AM
Watch out Henrik Karlsson, those two Canucks are "clutch".
Cody Hodgson, as we all know, had a terrific January. As a Canucks Army newcomer described on Twitter last night Hodgson has scored "big goals at big times". He scored the tying goal against Chicago on a breakaway and scored this year's most memorable goal (so far) with a vicious slapshot that beat Tim Thomas, and stood up as the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final rematch early in the month.
This got me thinking. Which Canucks score the biggest goals at the biggest times? Also, does it matter? Well, yeah, in the scope of a month or two, you'll notice players who seem to come up big. In the interest of satire because I rail so often against a player's individual "clutch" ability, I counted up all the "big goals" the Canucks have scored this season. Those are goals in the 3rd period or overtime, as well as game winners.
Since the NHL doesn't have an easy way of tracking individual 3rd period goals, I only did it with the 12 leaders in ice-time this season. Here are the "clutch" goals the Canucks have scored:
By this measure, Daniel Sedin actually has more "clutch" goals than Hodgson, but not by much. Daniel has 8 3rd period and OT goals, while, oddly, brother Henrik has 4 game winners despite having scored just 2 3rd period/OT goals. Hodgson ranks well, while Jannik Hansen, despite his high-shooting% and career high goal totals, hasn't been lucky in terms of seeing those goals stand up as "game winners."
But this isn't really fair to Cody Hodgson. He doesn't score as much as Daniel, you see, so perhaps Hodgson is just making the most of his situations and more of his goals are "big" goals. I divided clutch goals by total goals to come up with Clutch%:
|Player||Goals||Clutch G||Clutch %|
That makes more sense. 64.3% of Hodgson's goals are "clutch" goals, while Daniel Sedin is only at 55%. And what's the deal with Chris Higgins? He only has 3 clutch goals out of 9. He's clearly making the most of his first and second period situations, and then slacking in the 3rd period and Overtime, when the game is on the line. What a bum!
Last one for this year, adjusted for Time On Ice. Which players are making the most of their ice time to score clutch goals?
|Player||TOI||Clutch G||Clutch 60|
Hodgson and Daniel are again, fighting this one out, but Hodgson gets the edge. In less ice-time, he gets way more goals. David Booth, interestingly, ranks very high in both Clutch/60 and Clutch%. I'm not sure if fans have taken enough to the "grit", "jam" and "compete level" that he provides in the lineup.
I also tallied last year's numbers:
By the "big goals" measure we've used to determine that Hodgson is the most important scorer in the Canucks lineup, while Mason Raymond led the team last year. Burrows, who had a very high Clutch % last year, but is having a brutal one this season. Jannik Hansen had .25 clutch per 60 last season, but that's more than doubled to .57. Has his "mental toughness" just improved that much this season?
Goals at the right time can determine one game, but it isn't sustainable over the course of the season. In fact, I tallied up the amount of "big goals" that every team scored last season and compared it to the total amount of goals they had:
In terms of the ratio of "big goals" to total goals, the two Stanley Cup finalists, Boston and Vancouver, were the least "clutch" teams in the NHL. They scored the fewest amount of "big goals" compared to their opponents, but they also scored a tonne of goals overall. This might come as a shock, but I suspect that scoring goals in all situations, and not just lighting up small, restricted samples, will lead to winning the most games.
While Hodgson is scoring a lot of "big goals" and thus has a very high QualCLUTCH rate, he could also stand to start scoring a few goals in the first and second period. If he could do that, it might allow the Canucks to pad leads, so those clutch situations, such as overtime, don't arise in the first place.