The 3rd Hangover of 2013-14

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
  • JCDavies

    They controlled 67% of shot attempts with Hamhuis on the ice and that is pretty damn good. But that doesn’t mean the 33% against just disappears. It could be that those shots against had more impact on the game despite there being less of them.

    If you take two shots from the point yet give up just one shot from the slot you’re controlling more shot attempts, but also giving up a higher quality chance.

    I haven’t gone back and watched the game, but couldn’t Lack’s .714 sv% with Hamhuis on the ice be due in part to mistakes made by Hamhuis? I know over time there’ll be enough variance to show Hamhuis’ true level of play, but I don’t think a couple of weaker games from him should just be blamed on netminding or luck and be dismissed right away.

    • Peachy


      Defensemen have a negligible impact on shot quality against, if at all. ~1%.

      We have years of evidence suggesting that Hamhuis is a borderline elite D-man. It’s not likely that he suddenly became a journeyman.

      It’s far more likely that he’s been unlucky, especially when the largest sample suppporting evidence we have for this season (corsi) lines up with what we already know.

      • Peachy

        I’m not saying Hamhuis is suddenly a journeyman. I’m saying that he hasn’t been himself in these first few games. Players aren’t machines. Just because they’re stars doesn’t mean they can’t make mistakes and have off-nights. I agree with you that these three games aren’t indicative of Hamhuis’ talent, but chalking it up to poor luck and saying he hasn’t made mistakes doesn’t tell the whole story.

        Defencemen have no impact on shot quality against? I have a hard time believing that. A lot of goals in this league come off of defensive errors. Defencemen might not affect how well the opposing player shoots, but they can definitely affect the time and space that player might have.

  • JCDavies

    I still say you have to give the team a bit of time before you see the real Canucks under Torts.I like how he broke up the Sedins and made some subtle switches that worked.

    It is odd how we didn’t bother calling up anyone from Utica and Weber slides on to line 4. Ah well.

    Hopefully we have a better showing against the Shark this week!

    • argoleas

      I agree. The sample size is still too small, and the team is just starting to adjust to Torts

      Big questions for the next 2 months
      – Can the team keep up with their puck pursuit game
      – will Kassian make the leap (once he starts paying again)
      – will Kessler/Booth stay healthy
      – Will the Castoffs keep making a positive contribution (and I dont just mean Richardson and Santorelli)
      – Will Lack keep playing well

      I want to see a few more games against SJ, LA, and some of the other good teams to make a better judgement.

      • argoleas

        Why are we to assume that a new middle manager is going to be better at pushing buttons than the previous one?

        “you have to have a general idea of how much a head coach at the National Hockey League level is able to contribute to a win.

        In baseball, the consensus among the statistically set is that managerial strategies aren’t all that important to the outcome of a game. There’s such a large selection of samples in the game of baseball that you can figure out the most likely outcome for any forseeable situation based on past results. Even though it doesn’t always happen, as long as the percentages are played, that is to say the manager sets situations up to increase the likelihood of the most positive outcomes possible, then a manager is doing his job as far as strategy goes. But even when he doesn’t do his job, there’s such a large amount of randomness in baseball that he can essentially get away with it.”

        Unless there is some evidence that Tortorella is a better button pusher than AV, I don’t see a logical reason to expect improved performance as a result of the coaching change…

        • Peachy

          Wouldn’t it be fair to state that baseball and hockey are two very different games, the former consisting almost entirely of discrete interactions between two individuals, and the latter consisting almost entirely of flowing systems play involving chaotic interactions between (generally) 12 individuals?

          Further, wouldn’t it be fair to describe a coach’s role in such different games as, well, fundamentally different?

          Could we then infer that quoting baseball statstics has almost no positive value in assessing hockey?

          A fair inference would then be that quoting a baseball analogy has no value when discussing hockey?

          (The article you linked does nothing to connect hockey and baseball besides hand waving a comparison.)

          ((Sorry, a bit harsh there, but seriously, two different sports. Not comparable.))

          • Peachy

            “Wouldn’t it be fair to state that baseball and hockey are two very different games, the former consisting almost entirely of discrete interactions between two individuals, and the latter consisting almost entirely of flowing systems play involving chaotic interactions between (generally) 12 individuals?”


            “Further, wouldn’t it be fair to describe a coach’s role in such different games as, well, fundamentally different?”

            In some respects.

            “Could we then infer that quoting baseball statstics has almost no positive value in assessing hockey?”

            To which baseball statistics are you referring?

            “A fair inference would then be that quoting a baseball analogy has no value when discussing hockey?”

            Something about moneypuck…

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t we on the same page about coaches being middle managers?

          • Dimitri Filipovic

            Is there evidence that Sutter was the cause behind the Kings domination?

            Or was he simply along for the ride?

            Don’t worry the results are coming…

          • Peachy

            Coaches clearly can have an impact. How about Boudreau vs. Hunter?

            The questions are how much, and will there be a positive or negative impact in Vancouver?

            We’re on the same page; I don’t think the impact will be especially strong. But with early data only a month away, why make generalizations and innacurate comparisons?

          • argoleas

            If you want to isolate the difference between Boudreau and Hunter, I need a lot more than simply putting their names side by side…

            Espescially since coach A and coach B never coach the exact same team (players age for better or worse, rosters turnover etc).

            As it stands, it’s anecdotal.

            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.

            Placing value on managerial contributions is largely about the tangible (defensive shifts, bullpen usage etc).

            So, for example, if one wants to argue that Torts appears to be on the right track by using Garrison on the 1st PP, I can get behind that.

            Aside from that, this is an inferior roster to the one that lost to San Jose a few months ago.

            Specifically, but not limited to, the goaltending tandem which should be expected to produce a smaller save percentage advantage than the one enjoyed in the last 3 years.

            And unless there’s some evidence or a logical reason to expect Torts to be a better button pusher than AV, I don’t think it should deflect attention from the inferior collection of players that is a year older…

          • Peachy

            It’s not anecdotal. They happened to coach the same team in the same season, with dramatically different results, though, as always with hockey (compared to baseball, I’m still baffled by the sincerity with which you approach this comparison) there’s noise in the data.


            And again, why are you comparing managing in baseball to coaching in hockey? This is another apples-to-spaceships comparison.

            Analytical methods are probably applicable across sports. Statistical techniques definitely are, and for that hockey analysts should look to baseball. Functional comparisons are completely useless. I simply don’t understand why you don’t get that.

          • JCDavies

            “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.

          • 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…

          • JCDavies

            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.

          • JCDavies

            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…

          • JCDavies

            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.

          • JCDavies

            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.

          • JCDavies

            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…

          • JCDavies

            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.

          • 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 🙂

          • JCDavies

            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.

          • 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.

          • argoleas

            Well, that is the question. The team went from nowhere to suddenly dominating in the playoffs in a manner not seen in decades. Now, we have seen before with teams barely making the playoffs only to excel (and vice versa), and the composition of the opposition always plays a huge role, and many can argue the Kings has it somewhat easier than could be otherwise. What if they faced Chicago in conf finals instead of overachieving Phoenix? What if Boston or NYR made it to the final instead of overachieving Devils?

            My take on Sutter would be that he gave them a different perspective and for whatever reason things clicked at the right time. Would that have happened if Murray was still there? Maybe. Did the team, which apart from The Carter deal, was the same, just need a bit more time to gel into what they were meant to be? Possibly.

            >> Don’t worry the results are coming…
            Absolutely, stay tuned… We will see how this all works out.

          • argoleas

            The Carter deal was pretty significant though, was it not?

            As was the Richards deal…

            And it was a high upside roster…

            I think it’s a wonderful question to explore to what degree a coach adds wins.

            But I also need to know the coaches that add losses…

            And in regards to Torts & AV, I need a reason to believe Torts will be the better button pusher.

            Right now it just looks like a different spokesperson for the team…

          • argoleas

            The addition of Carter to help Richards was a good call, but it was done deep into a regular disappointing season, whereas Richards was acquired on the offseason. Management decided that changes needed to be made, so they did that trade, and they switched coaches. And they had success.

            Now, we could easily attribute it to other factors as well.
            – Team gels at the right time (regardless if Murray or Sutter or Bozo the Clown was coaching)
            – Canucks were missing their top scorer
            – St Louis was new to playoffs
            – Team did not have to face Chicago or Boston on path to win.

            It is very interesting to ask if coaches make a difference because teams spend a lot of money based on the assumption they do. Seems to me that Edmonton is betting the farm on it.

            For Torts specifically, I like the change for a new coach (not him specifically) to see if something changes. If yes, good, and he will get credit, as it is how it works. Otherwise, the team should make decision not to follow Calgary’s long path to oblivion, and instead follow Calgary’s path of rebuild. In this case, the team would need to jettison/trade/bury Sedins, Kessler, Burrows, Booth, Hamhuis, and Bieksa (although I like him for leadership). I would also add Luongo, but we are stuck with him, and besides Lack, if he works out, will not be ready for years. I found the demotion of Corrado understandable, but still jarring. That simply cannot happen next year.

          • argoleas

            I have nothing against Torts.

            Irrespective of his media perception, he seems like a nice enough guy.

            I’d say the same about AV.

            They both seem competent.

            Though I couldn’t tell you the tangible difference between the two guys in terms of their coaching abilities.

            Swapping the coach is fine. Perhaps the issue really is that AV did not manage the assets that Gillis has given him…

            But I doubt it.

            And, speaking in general terms, I don’t think a middle management change should make any of us expect a better result with an inferior (and older) roster.

            Gillis was smart to keep AV for as long as he did.

            I suspect his own clock didn’t start until AV was fired.

            And, assuming he retains the Sedins, his job may very well be secure for another 2-3 years even if this team continues sliding down the mountain…

          • argoleas

            Although there is a delay in the extension for the twins, they will be signed 3-5 years. I just wonder what the selling point here is. At the absolute best, the team must expect a retool like SJ (in terms of style, not results) starting next year, and at the worst possibly a couple of years as a draft team. I believe we can tolerate a this (not-so) youth movement for this year, just to see what can be squeezed here. But this cant happen next year, and it would be a terrible decision on the part of MG to let it happen, and for ownership to let him.

            There is nothing more infuriating than seeing a GM overstay and sink the team just to pretend that there is still hope. We all remember the mid-late 90s. Like I said, we can handle it for this year, but unless we see something very new, this team must go in a different direction. This can take place with the Sedins. I can see them performing well for a couple of years more, but the cast around them will change significantly. Are they ok with that?

          • argoleas

            Why can we tolerate it this year, though?

            As well as last year when the backup goalie absorbed $5.33 million of the cap and there was one legit centre on the roster for most of the year?

            San Jose doesn’t need to make grand pronouncements about resets.

            They’ve been transitioning the roster for years and have been doing a far better job of integrating quality young players than Vancouver has been.

            Of course, this is true of pretty much every NHL team.

            Which is why I think the year needs to be played out before any decisions are made on the Sedins.

            The last thing anyone wants is to have Vancouver follow the Calgary blueprint and they are certainly on that path without some big improvements from this management team or the next one…

          • argoleas

            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.

            I also think your arguments about the coaches not making much difference are only partially true. I think that at the pro level there is much else going on but to simply call the coach “middle managers” is misplaced at best. I’m no particular fan of Tortorella’s and was not greatly fond of some of AV’s tendencies — especially the weird favoritism and scapegoating that did little to improve outcomes — but it’s clear that their coaching strategies (not the stupid shot blocking but things like the zone d and high pressure forecheck, for example) are significantly different. Will they yield different results? I’m not sure — as you say, this year needs to be played out.

          • argoleas

            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…

          • JCDavies

            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…

          • JCDavies

            “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?

          • argoleas

            I dont want to sound like I’m defending the choices that MG has made. I dont recall him making the kind of deal that SJ has done to take core players and swap them (I bet Minnesota is loving that Heatley trade just about now), and I think he left himself with no flexibility with all those NTCs. The trouble with building around the concept of home discounts is that it makes it hard to trade them away. So it would probably need to be a fire sale, so everyone is moved. That’s why I see it now being harder for MG to retool it in the SJ manner this year. His whole approach now is to try a coach change so he doesn’t have to go for plan B. Like I said, I can tolerate it for one more year. No not mistake tolerance here with agreement. As a fan I’m getting impatient, but I can handle one more year of this, but no more. I just dont see any middle ground here.

            But I cant understand the Higgins deal. Another player locked up in this 30s for 4 years.

            Yeah, the singing of the Twins really posses a dilemma here. If I was them, I too would wait. I suppose for them staying in one city as a package is more important than anything else. It is indeed true that them moving as a package would indeed be hard for most teams that are so close to the cap, unless that team is also doing a major retool. Maybe a 1 yr extension? This one is really tough.

          • argoleas

            I assume MG changed coaches simply because he didn’t have any other hope to sell without moving somebody like Alex Edler.

            And if he starts moving these kinds of players, he opens himself up to the risk of becoming like Philly.

            Although, in my opinion, this team needs a risk to have any shot at becoming a contender again.

            Mind you, it could also make the team quite a bit worse and I’m not sure MG is willing to bet his job on such a gamble.

            Variable reduction and all…

            Sure, 1 year Sedin extensions work for Vancouver.

            But why would the Sedins sign such a ridiculously below market extension?

            3-5 years and $7 – $8 million AAV is probably what we’re looking at here…

          • argoleas

            Personally, I think that you are probably closer to the truth about coaches. While they do make some significant changes that impact how the game is played (what type of formation used for PK, PP, etc.) if one or two tactics were superior to all others, everyone would be using them. I imagine that they all have advantages, and that those advantages are situational.

            As for this roster being inferior to last season’s, I’d have to disagree with you on two points. Firstly, third & fourth line talent is largely a question of matching talent to play schemes. To take another team as example, the Leafs will arguably have a more effective 3rd line with Bolland than they did last year with Grabbo, despite Grabbo being a superior player, because Bolland is capable of playing the game demanded of him by the system and Grabbo was not. So we’ll see if the lines match Torts’ expectations of them better than last season’s did of AV’s strategies.

            Secondly, this team’s inferiority can only be true in absolute terms if Kesler & Booth miss the vast majority of the season again. If Kess plays 75 games & contributes an average 23 goals the team is miles ahead of where they were last season. If Booth can provide 10+ goals on the 3rd line, the team is ahead again. Stanton is better than Alberts. Tanev is growing. Burrows will produce better if he doesn’t play significant minutes in the middle. More is expected of Hansen & Garrison.

            In total, I’d say that about 1/4 of the team is expected to improve under Torts; statistically, the Sedins will likely recede a bit (+/- 80 points).

          • JCDavies

            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…

          • JCDavies

            >> 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.

          • JCDavies

            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.

  • Peachy

    I think most of the D are still adjusting. All have had their moments. With Hamhuis, I’ve noticed his usually buttery footwork isn’t quite where it should be. All of them, at times seem too focused on the puck. When it’s on Auto-pilot or instinct, then the focus is on being in the right position to make the right play.
    I remember mentioning before the season that, from the Rangers games I watched which was quite a few, Torts liked to juggle his D pairings. I think this is great that it’s happening so early. It will shift the focus to each position and less on the pairings while they are learning.
    Another thing, you adavanced stats guys should be in glee today. Last night he gave you the birth of a new statistic….the Sedin together and apart comparison. What could be more exciting than that.

    Thanks for writing this Dimitri. I’m one of those old school guys that is just getting into advanced analysis and so far your guidance has been invaluable…along with some Drance guy.

    • Peachy

      Yes, defence are still adjusting, especially noticed that in first two periods. On the positive side, one d-man from the Calgary game I was impressed with was Stanton, he looked really good I thought. I know it is early, but he is a tough, relatively young talent, who knows, maybe he turns out to be one of those waiver gems.

      • argoleas

        Reading up a bit more about why Chicago waived him. The coach liked him, but the defensemen they already have are are too good. Still, it is early, and lets see him when they play the better teams.

      • argoleas

        Agreed. He’s pretty sound in his own zone, doesn’t run around, no panic so far. Laced his skates up and that was enough to put Alberts back to the bottom rung of the depth chart. But seriously, looking like a solid pick up. Cant wait to see what his game looks like against some of the beefier teams. That will be the test, when he players against some forwards that will lean on him all game.

  • Peachy

    More data. Max 2% effect, if you’re Lidstrom.

    Player effects on save percentage make intuitive sense, but basically don’t actually exist.

    The roughly 20% difference (actual sp 714, expected 914) is luck.

    Remember that in order to get to the NHL, as a defender you have to be pretty damn good at prebenting quality chances against. Elite, you might say. Within that paradigm, it makes more sense that there’s little difference between NHL defensemen.

  • Peachy

    Over the long haul, defenseman likely have very little discernible impact on save percentage. Over the course of a game? Of course they do. Using individual corsi for a single game is largely meaningless.

    You can watch Hamhuis and see that he’s struggling a bit and causing a lot of turnovers. If he makes a dumb play that results in a 2 on 1 and a goal, it’s disingenuous (at best) to suggest defensemen don’t have an impact on shot quality. If a guy has a bad night and gives the puck away for 3 odd-manned rushes, he probably effected shot quality for that game. It will just even out over a larger sample of play.

    Clearly Hamhuis won’t continue playing this poorly — he may even be hurt — but he’s made quite a few uncharacteristically poor plays this season.

  • Peachy

    Of course the example is anecdotal.

    You are providing a single example and the article to which you link does nothing to show causation.

    The author even admits the different roster with which the two respective coaches had to work citing the injuries to Green and Backstrom.

    The comparison to baseball isn’t simply about a manager vs coach.

    It’s to consider the differences in the respective discourses.

    In baseball, the affects of a manager and coach are largely scoffed at without tangible evidence.

    Here’s another scathing look if you are interested:

    In hockey, for whatever reason, coaches are deified as the explainers for success.

    And, by the same token, vilified as the explainers for failure.

    Step back for a moment from hockey and think about this logically.

    Hockey is a game.

    Necessarily, there must be a winner and loser (OTLs not withstanding).

    So if the strategy of a coach is adding wins, the strategy of another coach is adding losses.

    It may not break up this neatly, but approximately 10 coaches are adding wins, 10 coaches are neutral and 10 coaches are adding losses.

    So is Torts one of the coaches that adds wins? Is AV?

    And if they both have the same impact on the W-L record, wouldn’t the effects of the swap be negligible?

  • argoleas

    YES! *will direct Hamhuis haters to this post*

    According to extra skater, he has the best possesion stats of any player on the team (yes, small sample – but still). Yet, here’s the uneducated Canucks Nation (and John Torterlla) yapping on about Hamhuis struggling. Yes, he’s made a new uncharacteristic mistakes that are visually clear to the average watcher. But this team is still better off with him ON the ice vs. off it. Yet, John *Don’t know what behind the net* Tortorella benches this guy? Is he drunk.

    Listen, I’ve made my opinion clear about Torts from the get go. I never liked the hiring. I think he’s an old school coach, with mostly old school philosophies in a ‘new’ NHL. In his first press conference, AV talked about the Rangers need to be a strong puck possession team. In Torts first press conference, he talks about the need to ‘pay the price’ and shot block. Oh ya, he also had no clue what Behind the Net is. Thanks, but I’ll take AV back any day of the week and twice on Sunday over this dinosaur Torts.

    I’ll be monitering this teams possesion stats with an eagle eye just to prove my point ever week. Torts was not, and is not the coach for this team.

    • argoleas

      If the Canucks possession stats continue to decline, couldn’t the explainer simply be that the roster isn’t as good as the one from 2010-2011 and 2011-2012?

      Simply because Torts preaches shot blocking does not mean he wants the Canucks to be outshot constantly.

      I’m not sure that Torts needs to be analytically inclined to understand that outshooting the opponent is a good thing…

  • argoleas

    I believe the next two games are big for one reason and that is the Canucks need to start getting a REAL home ice advantage. It’s been quite sometime since the Canucks could be expected to win a big game at home and what better way to start than beating Schnieds and the team that has beaten the Nucks 10 straight times. The team has to give the home crowd something to cheer about. True Van isn’t as loud as Winnipeg or other cities, but I believe this team could give them plenty to cheer about with tough play. I don’t think Torts will make a habit out of splitting the twins….. Only to make a point.