The 3rd Hangover of 2013-14

Dimitri Filipovic
October 07 2013 11:12AM


Dan Hamhuis is doing just fine in John Tortorella's new system. (Image via Ward Perrin )

The Canucks completed a successful weekend all-in-all when they finished off a sweep of Alberta's professional hockey teams on Sunday evening. They went into the Saddledome, sat through some terribly boring player introductions of a bunch of dudes I'm only vaguely familiar with, snoozed through the first 2 periods of play, and then made a furious comeback en route to an Overtime victory.

Just past the jump are the scoring chances totals, and some other interesting numbers that I figured were worth mentioning. You might find them interesting, too.

The Numbers:

In last night's recap, I mentioned that Hamhuis had a rough first period before the coaching staff mixed up the defensive pairings, putting him with Tanev (and Bieksa with Stanton as a result). In the recap of the season opener against the Sharks, I also made a point of noting that Hamhuis looked uncharacterstically off in that particular game. He has seemed to be pinching a ton more than usual, which has been leaving him out of position. At least that's what my eyes have been telling me.

Judging from my Twitter timeline last night, I'm not alone in the opinion that we haven't really seen the Dan Hamhuis we've become accustomed to in recent years. Our eyes seem to be deceiving us, though:

It's true. Hamhuis has been absolutely crushing it in the possession game thus far. Guess it turns out that he's not really struggling in John Tortorella's new system after all. 

It's also worth giving Mike Santorelli some props. He was the beneficiary of some line juggling, and found himself playing next to Henrik Sedin in the 3rd period. Sure, he scored 2 goals (including the winner in OT), but check out his possession numbers: 19 shot attempts for, 9 shots against. He killed it. So did Chris Tanev; I got on his case after a poor showing in the season opener, so now I've got to give him credit for a strong performance. It probably doesn't hurt that he spent most of the game playing with Dan Hamhuis.

Also, I have no idea what on earth happened to Chris Higgins when his underlying metrics plummeted last season, but it looks like he's back, baby. He's once again driving play (13.6 Corsi Relative) while facing tough competition (2.323 Corsi Rel QoC, 34.4 Offensive Zone Start %), which is surely a welcome sight for the Canucks. He better invite Ryan Kesler over for Thanksgiving dinner this Sunday.

(All of the stats cited were from ExtraSkater [dot] com.

Scoring Chance Totals:

Total 1st Period 2nd Period 3rd Period OT Total
Canucks (EV) 4 (4) 1 (1) 7 (7) 2 (2) 14 (14)
Flames (EV) 8 (8) 8 (4) 3 (3) 0 (0) 19 (15)

Individual Scoring Chance Contributions:

Chance Contributions Taken Created Total
Henrik Sedin 2 4 6
Chris Higgins 3 1 4
Mike Santorelli 2 0 2
Daniel Sedin 1 1 2
Brad Richardson 1 1 2
David Booth 1 0 1
Ryan Kesler 1 0 1
Jannik Hansen 1 0 1
Dale Weise 1 0 1
Dan Hamhuis 1 0 1
Kevin Bieksa 0 1 1

Individual Scoring Chance Differential:

Player EV F - A PP F - A SH F - A Total F - A
Henrik Sedin 7-6 0-0 0-1 7-7
Daniel Sedin 4-3 0-0 0-1 4-4
Yannick Weber 0-2 0-0 0-0 0-2
Ryan Kesler 4-7 0-0 0-2 4-9
Jannik Hansen 4-5 0-0 0-0 4-5
Chris Higgins 7-8 0-0 0-2 7-10
David Booth 5-4 0-0 0-0 5-4
Mike Santorelli 4-2 0-0 0-1 4-3
Brad Richardson 3-1 0-0 0-1 3-2
Zac Dalpe 0-2 0-0 0-0 0-2
Tom Sestito 0-2 0-0 0-0 0-2
Dale Weise 3-1 0-0 0-0 3-1
Jason Garrison 3-6 0-0 0-1 3-7
Alex Edler 4-5 0-0 0-4 4-9
Dan Hamhuis 6-5 0-0 0-0 6-5
Kevin Bieksa 7-9 0-0 0-2 7-11
Chris Tanev 4-1 0-0 0-1 4-2
Ryan Stanton 4-3 0-0 0-0 4-3

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Dimitri Filipovic writes about hockey on the internet, and is the Managing Editor of Canucks Army. You can follow him on Twitter @DimFilipovic, and email him at dimitri.filipovic@gmail.com.
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#51 Ruprecht
October 08 2013, 10:00AM
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NM00 wrote:

I'm convinced...

LOL

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#52 JCDavies
October 08 2013, 10:00AM
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@NM00

"The "comparison" I'm making is to show that the sabermetric community, to which the hockey analytical community should be paying close attention, scoffs at the notion that performance is based on managerial button pushing."

I agree with this somewhat but the football analytical community, to which the hockey analytical community should also be paying close attention, would stress the opposite.

The hockey community absolutely should be paying close attention to what is happening in baseball but I think it would be a mistake to assume that what holds in baseball will also hold in hockey.

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#53 NM00
October 08 2013, 10:06AM
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@Neil B

While I agree about 3rd/4th liners needing to fit into the coach's scheme, there still has to be a minimal talent level amongst the bottom 6.

Torts can't simply throw fairy dust on Santorelli, Richardson, Weise, Sestito, Kassian & Booth and have them match up to SJ's bottom 6, for example.

As for the inferior roster, the handful of upside examples doesn't begin to compare with the bundles of downside examples.

And one area which I think people are ignoring is the goaltending.

The regular season save percentage advantage the Canucks have enjoyed in the Luongo era has been a big part of the success.

This is how the Canucks have ranked by team save percentage starting in 2006-2007: 3, 8, 9, 14, 2, 4, 8.

And, for what it's worth, the Canucks would have finished #4 last season if Lou had played up to this career .919.

Point being, Schneider masked the fact that Luongo is very unlikely to impact a team anywhere near as much as he did in 2006-2007 all by himself.

1. Save percentages have gone up.

2. Luongo is unlikely to soak up the percentage of shots he did in his first 2 years in Vancouver.

The play of the backup is going to be critical to maintaining a regular season save percentage advantage.

As it stands, top 5 is pretty unrealistic unless Lou outperforms his career average or Lack proves to be more than a generic backup...

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#54 JCDavies
October 08 2013, 10:06AM
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NM00 wrote:

In addition to Couture & Hertl, they also have Nieto on the roster for now.

And they used Charlie Coyle as a piece to get Brent Burns.

And they even have some of their 2008 late rounders playing a role in Demers & Wingels.

It's a lot different than what is going on in Vancouver and it will be evident by the end of the year...

My point on coaches is that the difference between AV & Torts is probably negligible and it certainly shouldn't deflect attention away from the underwhelming, yet entirely predictable, reset.

Unless there's some evidence that Torts adds more wins to his roster than AV, there's little reason to believe button pushing will solve this...

San Jose started their "refresh" two years ago, they should be further along in the process.

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#55 NM00
October 08 2013, 10:08AM
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@JCDavies

The only point I was making is that we shouldn't assume there is much, if any, difference amongst NHL-calibre head coaches in terms of their ability to add wins (or losses) without tangible evidence or, at the least, a logical explanation.

I don't pay attention to footbal so you'll have to enlighten me...

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#56 NM00
October 08 2013, 10:11AM
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JCDavies wrote:

San Jose started their "refresh" two years ago, they should be further along in the process.

I don't think they ever started a "refresh" irrespective of what Doug Wilson has said in front of the cameras.

They've been integrating young players into the roster for years.

Whereas the only graduates of the Canucks farm system in the Gillis era have been Schneider, Grabner, Hodgson & Tanev if I'm not mistaken...

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#57 JCDavies
October 08 2013, 10:14AM
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@PB

"I'm not sure why you continually bring up SJ. Aren't they the definition of what we don't want the Canucks to be -- perennially good regular season teams that belly flop in the playoffs? You say that they've reset without grand pronouncements but they're not exactly in the midst of a youth movement. They've made a couple of excellent picks -- Couture and Hertl probably should both have been picked earlier -- but their system from all that I've read is fairly mediocre and their core is rapidly aging (sound familiar?). Outside of those two I'm not sure who you see as being integrated or transitioned better than the Canucks have done. Both SJ and Van are teams on the bubble with a lot to prove."

But they have an aging all-star center that is willing to take less than market value to stay. That is exactly what Vancouver wants, right?

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#58 Ruprecht
October 08 2013, 10:29AM
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NM00 wrote:

The only point I was making is that we shouldn't assume there is much, if any, difference amongst NHL-calibre head coaches in terms of their ability to add wins (or losses) without tangible evidence or, at the least, a logical explanation.

I don't pay attention to footbal so you'll have to enlighten me...

Didn't we discuss this in the summer when Torts first got here. We came to the conclusion a coaches value couldn't be measured. One you delve into inter-personal relations and chemistry between a room of people and the man in charge, isn't that the place where stats should lose all predictability because the variables are too random and subjective?

It seems cut and dried to me either a coach is doing his job as passed down by his organizational mandate, or not. I mean a guy like Torts is here to win, period. A guy at the opposite end like Kevin Dineen in Florida might find success in developing youth while being competitive, wins are still important, but not necessarily what he's being measured on. The fact that you can't put a stat on the role doesn't diminish it's importance or it's contribution to success. It just makes it less predictable.

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#59 JCDavies
October 08 2013, 10:37AM
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NM00 wrote:

I don't think they ever started a "refresh" irrespective of what Doug Wilson has said in front of the cameras.

They've been integrating young players into the roster for years.

Whereas the only graduates of the Canucks farm system in the Gillis era have been Schneider, Grabner, Hodgson & Tanev if I'm not mistaken...

We can disagree on this, I guess; I think it is mostly just semantics. Doug Wilson didn’t like the make-up of his team, so he made moves to change it.

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#60 JCDavies
October 08 2013, 10:43AM
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@NM00

The football analogy isn’t really all that important other than as an example of a polar opposite situation to your baseball example. I believe hockey falls somewhere in between the two.

Assuming that there isn’t much, if any, difference amongst head coaches without tangible evidence really shouldn’t be done either.

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#61 NM00
October 08 2013, 10:46AM
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@Ruprecht

But is Torts here for the sole purpose of winning?

Or is a large part of his mandate to integrate young players onto the roster even if the W-L suffers a bit?

I certainly don't think coaches are worthless just as I don't think middle managers in any industry are necessarily worthless.

I just think the seperation amongst coaches at the elite professional level is probably minimal.

And for me to believe that coach A can improve the W-L record that coach B could not, I'd need either evidence or a logical explanation such as using Garrison on the 1st PP to make better use of his skillset...

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#62 NM00
October 08 2013, 10:51AM
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JCDavies wrote:

The football analogy isn’t really all that important other than as an example of a polar opposite situation to your baseball example. I believe hockey falls somewhere in between the two.

Assuming that there isn’t much, if any, difference amongst head coaches without tangible evidence really shouldn’t be done either.

The baseball comparison wasn't about the sport itself.

It was about the sabermetric community and the hockey analytical community.

At some point, and it may take 10-20 years for all I know, the hockey analytical community is going to be in the same place as the discourse continues to improve.

The deification and vilification of coaches won't simply be based on the W-L record...

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#63 JCDavies
October 08 2013, 01:47PM
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@NM00

The football analytical community is also much further ahead in the process than the hockey analytical community, which is what makes it a fair comparison.

Nobody is suggesting that coaches should be evaluated simply by their win/loss records.

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#64 NM00
October 08 2013, 02:03PM
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@JCDavies

And how does the football analytical community evaluate coaches?

While I know little about the sport, I'm sure there is much that can be learned from the analytical community in football.

"Nobody is suggesting that coaches should be evaluated simply by their win/loss records."

Surely you've listened to sports talk radio before :)

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#65 Neil B
October 08 2013, 09:35PM
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@NM00

>> As for the inferior roster, the handful of upside examples doesn't begin to compare with the bundles of downside examples.

25%+ improvement is more than a handful; and on a 23 man roster, that's only 6 players. I listed 7, including half the top 6 and one top-4 defenceman & half the starting defensive unit as a whole. That's more than a handful; if it plays out, that's hugely significant.

>>And one area which I think people are ignoring is the goaltending.

>>The regular season save percentage advantage the Canucks have enjoyed in the Luongo era has been a big part of the success.

>> This is how the Canucks have ranked by team save percentage starting in 2006-2007: 3, 8, 9, 14, 2, 4, 8.

I'd have to agree with you: goaltending is the elephant in the room.

But you would have to agree that the conditions under which Luongo played last season were less than optimal. In fact, I would expect Luongo's save % to go back up to near his prior 3-year average of .920 (which would put him around 10th for starters last season) [Starters as defined by 1420 minutes played; 1440 is playing every minute of 1/2 the games in a 48 game season. Plus it includes Anderson in Ottawa, whom it would be disingenuous to ignore].

It's worth noting, for the purposes of this topic, that a .920 save would rank Luongo tied for 5th in the West last season, and tied for third in the new division (with Dubnyk).

As you say, during the regular season Lack's performance is important. The median save % of rookies last year was around .916 [the mean, by my math, was a ridiculous .953]. That's a 7% decrease to the "starter" and a 9% increase for the backup. If the Canucks hold to around that over the span of the season, then goaltending last year-to-this will be pretty much a wash.

So, again, unless you assume that Luongo's usual October blues will carry over for the entire season (a statistically unlikely and unsupported proposition) you'd have to admit that the goaltending (assuming an average NHL rookie backup performance from Lack) will be an area of either zero change, or very slight shift either upwards or downwards.

In either case, a return to average form for 30+ year old Luongo leaves the Canucks looking at about, again, third in the division and 5th overall.

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#66 JCDavies
October 09 2013, 12:11PM
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@NM00

The same as every other sport. The argument from the sabermetric community is that managers can’t win games for their teams, they can only lose them. You won’t see anybody credibly make that argument in football. The differences in the game, the high level of coaching involvement in the gameplay, make the impact of coaches much more significant in football. “Surely you've listened to sports talk radio before :)”

Haha, sorry, I thought you were talking about the people here at CA. I try to stay as far away from that nonsense as possible.

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#67 Ruprecht
October 09 2013, 12:26PM
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NM00 wrote:

But is Torts here for the sole purpose of winning?

Or is a large part of his mandate to integrate young players onto the roster even if the W-L suffers a bit?

I certainly don't think coaches are worthless just as I don't think middle managers in any industry are necessarily worthless.

I just think the seperation amongst coaches at the elite professional level is probably minimal.

And for me to believe that coach A can improve the W-L record that coach B could not, I'd need either evidence or a logical explanation such as using Garrison on the 1st PP to make better use of his skillset...

No he's here to win, perhaps save Gillis' bacon, you'd have to be blind to miss it. Travis Green's job it to make it so that youth can integrate. What you are asking for for your end analysis are results, what every coach is after. It's impossible to measure the way you are suggesting because it's a one man seat per team, and you want to put two asses in the exact same chair for comparison. You'll just have to have faith because you've never experienced being in a room, but trust me when I say the coach can make all the difference in the world. It's leadership and it makes a difference for better or worse pretty much everywhere. There is separation, as is with all elite level talent. You just haven't found the point where it can be translated into numbers. Same thing with the Defensive discussion with Peachy. If anybody actually believes a good defenceman doesn't affect shot selection, they aren't watching the game close enough. It's not just location, it's angles that are being defended. You can shoot from the same spot 50 times and the angle can be different each time. You can't tell me that a guy with a stick like Chara's doesn't help a goaltender out by helping him defend the prime scoring angles. It just can't be measured by the stats as they are measured because there's nothing that can calculate the randomness of trajectory. But that's another discussion for another day we're getting buried here. Thanks for indulging me.

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#68 NM00
October 09 2013, 12:31PM
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@Neil B

To be clear on the goaltending, I was referring to the Luongo/Lack tandem for the regular season.

The median team save percentage fell last season which may have simplybeen lockout effects.

It was .911 the previous 2 seasons and, if anything, I'd expect the same or possibly a touch higher based on the quality of goaltenders these days.

Luongo can perform to his usual .919.

But if Lack soaks up maybe 20-25% of shots and performs like a generic backup, Vancouver may end up in the 8-12 range.

Which is still above average but not as elite as it was in the Luongo/Schneider era.

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#69 NM00
October 09 2013, 12:36PM
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@JCDavies

The "managers can only lose" is only one argument, though.

And not an argument with which I entirely agree, for what its worth.

I don't doubt that a coaching staff can have more of an impact in a flow game like hockey or football.

But impact could be good or bad and when it comes to AV and Torts, I'd need a logical explanation to believe it's going to make much, if any, difference on team performance.

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