Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ducks Gameday—Scoring Trends Part 2

Detroit Red Wings (36-10-4, 1st in west) at Anaheim Ducks (27-18-6, 3rd in west)

This summer, I took a graphical look at leaguewide scoring, week-by-week, since the league came back with its rule changes. Seeing as this season is past its halfway point, I thought I'd update that graph.

Essentially, all I've done is group games by week; each week represents roughly 45 games. For each week, I've averaged the total goals scored per game, the total power play goals scored per game, and the power play opportunites per game. All are plotted below with a straight-line trend, but as before, I've divided the PP opportunities by six; this approximates the PP conversion rate fairly well. This time I've added an extra green line—the non-PP goals. This is really the difference between the red and blue points, but I think it's worth seeing on its own.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Really there's two main things I want to point out:
  • The first is really what I highlighted before; there is a pretty clear decline in scoring, but it's not difficult to pinpoint its source. There has been a steady decline in power play goals that correlates well with the decline in power play opportunities awarded. Probably some of that comes from referee standard relaxation and some from teams adapting their systems, but in either case that seems to be nearly the entire scoring story; non-PP scoring per game has remained incredibly consistent.

  • There is another aspect to this chart, though. Moving left to right the trend is a decrease in power play opportunities, therefore a theoretical increase in even-strength time. Yet despite a decrease of 5 or 6 power play opportunities in a game, the number of non-PP goals has not increased; instead it has remained static. The non-PP scoring rate, therefore, has decreased—there is more even-strength time available, but the same amount of goals are being produced. This is meaningful, I think; could it be that teams began to devalue 5-on-5 scoring in the face of initially-increased power plays?
Anyway, I really want to present the chart without too much judgment. That is, I really don't want to use this scoring trend as evidence about whether the game is more or less exciting than it once was. In hockey, quite frankly, excitement isn't measured in power play goals. For perspective, though, here are the comparative numbers: In 2003-04, the year before the lockout, the NHL averaged 5.14 goals per game, 1.40 power play goals per game, and 8.48 power play opportunities per game. This season, those numbers are at 5.51 goals per game, 1.57 power play goals per game, and 8.75 power play opportunities per game.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Anyways, I don't really know why I decided to pursue that topic instead of focusing on tonight's game against the Red Wings. Since Scott Niedermayer's return on December 16th, Detroit's the only team that has picked up more standings points than the Ducks, and in that regard, it should be a good matchup between titans-of-late.

In fact, there are lots of posts I need to write: how Bertuzzi became worthy of his salary, does this team need Teemu?, the surprising All-Star selection of Scott Niedermayer (to go with Pronger, Getzlaf, and Perry), the big contract extension signed by Ilya Bryzgalov, and I also wanted to link to a nice Mirtle interview that PJ did.

But that's what's odd about old Earl, I guess. A match-up with two top teams in the west with a relevant playoff history and tons of available storylines, and I get caught up in league scoring charts instead. Oh well; comment on whatever topic you want in the comments.

Prediction: The Ducks have taken 3 of 4 points against Detroit early this season, but a huge factor in each game was a crazy Russian named Bryzgalov. Of course the Ducks have improved a great deal since October, but it's still tough to tell where they stack up against the Wings, who've murdered the west despite injuries on their roster. I still get the sense that for the Ducks to win a lot of things have to go right, and fortunately, that's what happens tonight. Ducks 4, Red Wings 1. Goals by Rob Niedermayer, Bertuzzi, Weight, and Perry.

Go Ducks.


Earl Sleek said...

For some Wings perspective, Matt Saler has a gameday preview here, and A2Y provides a good perspective on the Niedermayer ASG selection here.

spade-in-victorhell said...

i watched the game last nite between the queens (one of earls closet teams) and the wings...im mystified how detriot doesnt lose more often...they have only one good defensive pairing (lidstrom-rafalski)..repeatetly the 2nd and 3rd pairing were coughin up the puck....im assumming there forwards are that good denfiensivly and/or the goaltending is good..if you agree with that then we should do well tonite...since our game is pressuring d-men...

samulesson's goal was bullshit...his forward partner held the kings d-man not once but twice....the ducks need to avoid short-handed break aways especally if shit like that wont be called

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I saw part of the Kings game last night, though I was flipping between that and the Sharks. Don't forget that the Wings gave Chelios the night off--that could have affected their 2nd pairing's tendencies.

It's absolutely stunning to me, though. As well as the Ducks have been winning, they've lost ground to Detroit. That's staggering. I don't know about seeing weaknesses in their game; if there is something evident, there's plenty of teams that are failing to exploit it.

BTW, last game against Dallas and tonight's game against Detroit--they may provide the answer to the question of whether this team needs a return of Teemu Selanne. I'm getting extremely torn on this issue; of course Teemu's a superstar, but could it be that he turns out more disruptive to a winning team than additive? We shall see--how the Ducks play against top opposition will probably provide some sort of answer to this riddle.

spade-in-victorhell said...

i think teemu would only help..because of 2 things:

1. the argument u had about bochenski over ryan...u said they were the same player so play bochecnski let ryan develop in the minors...teemu we should assume is better than bochenski..in a sense of expereince and more likely to bury those open looks bochenski is missing right now

2. injuries..with so many games still be played and with forwards going down all over the league including on our team..be wise to stock up now

so in conclusion it will help...and how bout a carter-bochenski-marchant line for the playoffs? roatate may in and out

Earl Sleek said...

Spade, your reasons are sound and really, there's no real good reason to not hope for a Teemu return. It's just that when the team started winning like crazy, it was a natural thought: Does adding another player add to this winning, or detract from it?

Still, the Dallas loss was pretty eye-opening. We sure could have used a sniper who loves to shoot pucks in that game.

As for the fourth line, I think I'd rather dress May than Bochenski. I think Bochenski needs to be a second-liner to be successful; when it comes to limited minutes I think May knows better what needs to be contributed.

spade-in-victorhell said...

im still trying to come to terms with the dallas loss..I only got to watch about 60% of it so I need your help

answers thses questions:

1. how the fuck did we lose when they were minus zubov and we beat them handily couple days before..
my assumed answer would be they fell even further into there trap knowing they were minus zubov...i dunno

2. i missed that whole 4 minute bertuzzi PK..how did they score on that...who was the goat?

3. like i said i missed most of it...what was your take on how we lost

p.s. your right on may...bochenski would be a backup in the playoffs in case any winger on the top 2 lines got hurt

p.s.s. sux for parros that he got hurt...he was showing that he might be useful in the playoffs...

RudyKelly said...

Yeah, I watched half the Kings game last night and was surprised at how well the Kings were forcing the issue with the Wings' defensemen, especially considering how that's been a weak point for us. You can really tell that they don't have that much toughness, Dustin Brown dominated when he was on the ice. Still, they're a really good team and I can't say the Kings deserved to win that game. They sure could use a big, tough defenseman who can give them a little help in front on the power play, though. Know anyone like that?

And Earl, great post.

Earl Sleek said...

1. how the fuck did we lose when they were minus zubov and we beat them handily couple days before.. my assumed answer would be they fell even further into there trap knowing they were minus zubov...i dunno

Your answer is pretty close--basically the first two periods were all about how the Ducks refused to generate any shots on goal. They pressured and we buckled.

2. i missed that whole 4 minute bertuzzi PK..how did they score on that...who was the goat?

Actually, I missed the first goal, so I'm not sure. A combination of me driving home that day and our DVR deciding to stop working that morning. Scotty and Beauchemin were on the ice, though, and I suspect they could have been more Pronger-ish.

3. like i said i missed most of it...what was your take on how we lost

The same way we lost to Vancouver last month--showed up two periods too late.

spade-in-victorhell said...

is that coaching? not figuring out a counter stragedy till 2nd intermission?

3rd game of road trip? players tired or lazy? cant wait to get home

my theory is its a combo but mostly coaching..Rc should have ripped them a new asshole after the first intermission and not let there minds wander about thoughts of going home or letting them get frustrated

the ducks bang bodies around early and often the ducks win ....period
when in doubt....forecheck hard make getting the puck the 2nd option...1st option lay a hit..when the d-men are softened up then start fancy play bullshit...why even come out any other way if they know thats how they played to capture the cup!!! why do anything else whyyy!!!! arrrrrrrrggggg

Earl Sleek said...

I dunno--coaching is part of it, perhaps, but there's also human nature. The Ducks had just won six straight (two of which were not that deserved), and I think it's tough to make in-game adjustments when in the midst of such a streak.

I see it happen so often that I think it's a truism: it's tougher to win a game after winning six straight than it is to win a game after losing six straight.

(Or in the Kings' case, eight straight.)

Should be a revitalized effort tonight, though, especially with a Dallas loss and a SJ win on last night's schedule. For whatever reason, playing the body isn't a problem when the Ducks play the Wings--they have their natural motivation going, which should make for a good one.

spade-in-victorhell said...

thats true...ducks seem to like to play the wings...

i think though to avoid letdowns a solution would be this..
RC says this:

"ok guys for the first 10 minutes all i want u to do is one forward u carry the puck the blue line and either feather the puck into the trapiziod or shoot the puck (i.e. keep away from the goaltender and make the d play it) while another forward is sprinting his asss..to get a good lick on the poor sapp recovering the puck...do not even think about scoring...just do this for a good 5-8 minutes...no jumping when u make your check(fear of charge call) and watch your stick..

in this scenario...no matter how lazy or un motivated they are...those are simple instructions....in esscense...while the ducks are laying the wood and not having to think to much...just having fun kicking ass..the coaches are studying what the other team is doing and is devising a plan...

dumb down the game a little bit is what i mean..get them fired up with hitting...then when there into the game..then start throwing strageties..

Earl Sleek said...

You know Spade, I'm no coach or anything, but it may be that your theory is along the lines of what Carlyle does preach. Maybe it all went sour on Sunday because Turco took away so many of the dump-ins.

I'm willing to accept a loss in Dallas without pointing too many fingers, though. The streak is still mega-impressive, and lots of teams lose in Dallas. Thank goodness Columbus was able to pull out that win yesterday, though.

Slave said...

rafalski gave the puck away mre then any other defenseman on the wings last night...cept maybe lilja, but the kings looked like the better team last team is just the wings found the back of the net on their chances and the kings hit the post/crossbar on theirs.

I am a huge wings fan but they got their work cut out for them tonight, they have not been playing good hockey at all the last few weeks but still for the most part manage to win, that luck can not hold up forever so tonight might be your night (again)

spade-in-victorhell said...

slave u make a good point..and answered the question on wings sucess i think...the wings are accurate and bury those quality scoring chances 8 times of of 10 compared to the rest of the league who score what 4 out of 10...im sure earl could make some matrix on it...

case in point rob niedemeyer would not fit in on the wings as he cant hit a barn with his shots let alone hit a top corner

Morbo said...

Reason for wings success? Here's a hint, check out the Ducks roster from 2003. Babcock is a smart coach, he has a system, and he makes his players play it well.

Brilliant goaltending (Osgood has been a surprise), defensively responsible forwards, and a quick transition offense that has a talent heavy #1 line. Sound familiar?

They don't give up a lot of shots, and they bury their chances when they get them. Their only weakness is, like Rudy said, they're very soft. They don't need an enforcer or anything, but no one in their lineup initiates contact, like Brown or Getzlaf/Perry would.

Earl Sleek said...

Babcock in 2003 was a revelation, but I never thought of that team as dominant. Really, they were a team that hung in there against some top-notch teams, but generally most of their games were won or lost in the last few minutes of regulation or beyond.

It's not a fair comparison, really--that 2003 roster had lots of weak components defensively, such as Sykora and Ozolinsh notably, but lots of things still managed to work, really because of the emergence of J.S. Giguere as a series-stealer.

Still, your overall point's valid--we did see some "greasy" coaching from Babcock, and it's good to see that he can operate a dominant team with the same techniques. Still, I think it's a stretch to color the 2003 Anaheim squad in that same light. Sure, the team had success, but it was more a matter of some clutch goals and a goaltender who was stopping everything.

Mike in OC said...

Yup, and thats why they light up the leauge every season, and disappoint in the playoff's when it counts. Everyone steps up the hitting in the playoffs.

You know they are soft when the Kings are playaing them physical and out-hitting them.

spade-in-victorhell said...

I would say though the red wings almost beat us last year playing "soft"

they play a different game than we do but I still think they can win a cup that way...when the playoffs come and scoring chances are limited even further (and taking into account hockey is played more defensivly responsible these days) the fact they can bury more of there chances than others without having to just shoot from the point all the time and hope for lucky bounces makes them scary and the reason why they almost beat us last year

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I'm with Spade here. Toughness is fun and all, but I'm not sure I think it's necessary in Detroit's game. Their toughness is a different type--tough to move Holmstrom from the front of the net, tough to catch Lidstrom out of position, and tough to take needless penalties without seeing it on the scoreboard.

I don't think that's been their downfall; in fact as Spade and others have said, one lucky bounce is probably all that kept them from the cup last year. Thank god for lucky bounces.

spade-in-victorhell said...


That was a 6-3 Ducks win, which remarkably was the only time Detroit has lost by more than two goals this season.

Earl Sleek said...


Thrashers 5, Red Wings 1.

A frickin' week ago. I wish I even had to research this to defraud it.

spade-in-victorhell said...

its a travesty BOC isnt linked there...I see why now...we would show his incompetence

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, I've got a slight beef with Mr. Brady. Most of it comes from petty job jealousy, but he's also cited statistics straight from this site without a link. He probably thinks we're all f-bombs and state rape cartoons, but fuck, dude. If you want to use some of my stats from your posh office at the Honda Center, throw a fucking courtesy link.

Ah well, part of the reason the Ducks and I will likely never be on official terms with each other.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

2. i missed that whole 4 minute bertuzzi PK..how did they score on that...who was the goat?

Scott Niedermayer. Not that he was a full-on goat, but he was in a scrum along the boards and got hold of it and flicked it into the slot, right to Robidas.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

Nice chart, Earl! If you want my opinion on what it might show, I think it's that you can't artificially create goals. They're always going to settle at about the same spot.

When the new generation of creative offensive players that are now about 20 get a hold of the league, I think the goals will inch up. But they'll never be what they were in Gretzky's days. Those days were the fluke, not these days. And that's my story.