April 25 2014 02:30PM
Alexander Edler finished 886th out of 886 NHL skaters this season in the all-important "+/-" statistic. It speaks to how useless that statistic is that nobody seems up in arms demanding Edler's exit from Vancouver. I think generally the Vancouver media is pretty good at holding players accountable only for what they can be accountable for, and it was obvious all year that Edler's lousy +/- had little to do with his own transgressions.
After all, in 2011-2012, Alex Edler was tied for 13th in Norris Trophy voting with Duncan Keith (?). He won a silver medal for Sweden at the Olympic Games, played in the World Championships a year ago and has been a regular NHL player for seven seasons. Those kinds of players don't just become lousy overnight, or the worst in the league at something.
I don't think I need to explain to readers of the blog why Edler's +/- was so low. Via ExtraSkater, Edler had the lowest PDO in the league among defencemen, ahead of only Steve Bernier among skaters. The Canucks shot just 3.6% when he was on the ice, and Canuck goaltenders saved just .916 shots at even strength. The Canucks overall shot 7.3% and had a team save percentage of .922. If there was a player who personified the measly luck of the Canucks in 2013-14, it was Edler.
Context always matters, of course. Edler had a relative Corsi of -0.4%, despite the second easiest zone starts on the team, which denotes a pretty poor season by a player who has generally been a much better possession player throughout his career. Still, he mostly struggled with compliance buyout candidate Jason Garrison—and had a 53.9% Corsi rate away from him. I feel like an extended sequence with Garrison is to blame for Edler's pedestrian possession stats, and the low PDO is to blame for the +/-, as is tradition.
I thought it would be fun to check the points and +/- numbers for other players with sub-960 PDOs and see how they'd perform the next season. Unfortunately, the sample was pretty small. I'd assume that not a lot of players racking up the minuses get to stay in the league without some small amount of pedigree, and the poor seasons wound up costing poor 28-year-old Milan Jurcina and 27-year-old Vitaly Vishnevsky their NHL careers.
Here's the complete list, however:
|Player||Season||GP||Pts||+/-||nGP||nPts||n+/-||Pts/82||+/- per 82||nPts/82||n+/- per 82|
(n in this case denotes the next season. Stats via HockeyReference. I've bolded Filip Kuba, who is basically Ground Zero for PDO research. After a 949 PDO in 2011, Kuba was paired with Erik Karlsson the next season, recorded 32 points with a 1027 PDO and subsequently signed a two-year deal with Florida worth $8-million. Regrettably, Kuba's PDO fell to 967 in 2012-2013 and he was bought out of the final year of his deal and has not been heard of since.)
Seven players whose combined +/- in Year 1 was a combined -155 wound up being a combined +2 a year later. See what analysts suggest +/- is a poor way to judge players? The players' points-per-82 rate went up slightly, though not considerably enough to form any sort of conclusion based on the sample.
Here are those player's PDO stats for Year 1 and Year 2, also:
|Player||PDO Year 1||PDO Year 2|
With a larger sample I'd assume we'd see that Year 2 number closer to 1000.
Point being, Edler's low PDO and +/- this year is probably not going to have a bearing on what happens a year from now.
WEEKEND WATCHABILITY INDEX
The Canucks are not in the playoffs, but that does not mean there aren't some games on the calendar worth circling. If you can't watch all of them, at least watch these three:
Game 5 - Columbus vs. Pittsburgh - Saturday @ 4:00 p.m.
The hook: There is no other game being played on the primetime Saturday night time slot, which means the entire hockey world gets to watch the potential utter capitulation of Marc-Andre Fleury. Everybody's on the Blue Jackets' bandwagon now. It's a bit like the Islanders series last year, where the Penguins are forced into a first round matchup against a deceptively-good puck possession team. The only difference is that Columbus has a competent goaltender, even if that hasn't helped them hold a lead in this series.
Was reading a stat that said there have already been nine multi-goal comebacks in the playoffs thus far. Four have occurred in this series in four games played. It's been outstanding and outcomes have never been in doubt. Fantastic hockey, too—that Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky matchup has been very compelling.
Game 5 - Los Angeles vs. San Jose - Saturday @ 7:00 p.m.
The hook: The hockey has been fantastic, but so far only one of the four games has the outcome been in doubt in the late stages. Regrettably, Darryl Sutter and the Kings had more sense than to turn to rookie Martin Jones when Jonathan Quick was struggling, and he put together an acceptable-enough performance in Game 4 to stay between the pipes for the rest of the series.
Still, even though the Kings won me some money in 2012, I've always liked the Sharks, and would like to see them close this out sooner rather than later. The Kings are a good enough team to win three straight from here on out, and definitely dirty enough to put a couple more Shark players on the medical table prior to the next series.
Games 4 and 5 - NY Rangers vs. Philadelphia - Friday @ 4:00 p.m. & Sunday @ 9:00 a.m.
The hook: A bit of a forgotten series in Canada, since the games have been played opposite more compelling matchups, and generally really high up on the channel indicators. But this is probably the most exciting hockey of the bunch (even if the quality of play isn't the best, it's still been pretty fluid, wide-open, and lingering disaster looms each shift for either team) and the weekend games for the Flyers and Rangers get the full network treatment both nights.
New York is probably the second best team in the Eastern Conference this year. Even though they've had the lead for nearly half of the running time in the first three games (they've led for 89 minutes, to Philadelphia's 32), they've still out-shot the Flyers 92-72. Still, the Flyers dominant top line has yet to catch fire, and if they do, this series could stretch to 6 or 7 games. Could be a lot of fun.
Also, a Sunday morning hangover game, worth watching if Canada fails to make the finals at the U-18 World Championship.