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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mr. Incredible!

I'm going to be doing a Ducks-Stars series preview for Fanhouse on Wednesday, so I don't want to delve to much into that matchup just yet, but in updating my spreadsheets and going through the Ducks' season, I found some pretty incredible numbers about unretirement advocate Scott Niedermayer.

Pre-Niedermayer Ducks: 34 GP, 96 GA, 2.82 GA/gm
Post-Niedermayer Ducks: 48 GP, 88 GA, 1.83 GA/gm
(note: no shootout goals here)

The second segment has 41% more games than the first segment, and yet 8% fewer goals-allowed. In fact, if you prorate that second segment to 82 games, that projects to only 150 GA, which would have won last year's Jennings by some 34 goals and this year's by some 29 (I say "some" because I don't know if shootouts count or not). Whatever. It's a huge margin.

Most evident in that goal-a-game improvement is penalty killing: the Ducks allowed 41 power play goals before Scott's return and only 28 post-Niedermayer. Percentage-wise, the penalty killing improved from 78.8% to 86.7%, and the Ducks were shorthanded less frequently as well. Times-shorthanded-per-game improved from 5.7 to 4.4 (boy it's nice to have a diplomat on the ice).

The end result I think can be seen on these pie charts that apologetically carry a misleading title. Really, these pie charts sort and tally games according to the number of goals that opponents score. Before Scott's return, the Ducks held opponents to 2 goals or less 44% of the time. After Scott's return, they managed that feat 77% of the time.

Now I do want to throw a strong caution around all these glowing statistics: it isn't the case that Scott Niedermayer by himself is that good (or really, that much better than Pronger); there's a lot of factors to consider in these numbers. For one, the start of the year was a rough one; the team fought through early-season injuries to Giguere, Pahlsson, Schneider, and Bertuzzi, not to mention a crazy travel schedule coming out of London. Also, the quality of goaltending certainly improved as the year went on, both from Giguere and newcomer Hiller. There was going to be some improvement in Anaheim's numbers no matter what Scott did.

Still, it does carry home a point about how inserting talent at the top of the roster can dramatically improve a squad, as we saw last year when the Ducks acquired Pronger. It's not necessarily that Niedermayer can get better results in a shut-down role than Pronger (or vice versa), but rather that in one of them carrying that load, all the rest of the blueline gets to adjust to an easier role. When Niedermayer supports the Pahlsson line, the Pronger pairing and the Schneider pairing get minutes against lesser scorers, and as a result the team picks up wins.

Now I'm not promoting any half-season Hart Trophy or anything, but I do think it's a stunning set of statistics that provide the prevailing story of the Ducks' season, and why they performed so well in the last two quarters of Fenwick's tables. Short answer: Scott is Mr. Incredible.

Here's the kicker. Since Scott's return December 16, the Ducks have continued to score at a dismal rate of 2.42 goals per game, which ranks 26th out of 30 teams since that date. Yet their defense has been so incredibly stingy that their goal differential (+0.58 G/gm) ranks 4th in the league over the same stretch. The shaky offense does make the Ducks a tough team to figure out this spring, but the blueline certainly demands respect. More to come in the Fanhouse preview Wednesday (be warned, I will be regurgitating some of this info).

[EDIT: Bloggers covering different playoff teams wrote in for a Pensblog Playoff Preview, and I covered the Ducks, though mostly using material I've covered here before. Still, the cartoon is new!]

[EDIT 2: This guy beat BoC and four other blogs in the NCAA basketball contest, and will at some point be writing a gloat post to educate us all on Cal Bears football. But hey, we weren't last!]

Go Ducks.


The Puck Stops Here said...

Shootouts do count for the Jennings Trophy. However, I would argue they shoudn't

Earl Sleek said...

Well, just to be thorough, then.

Post-Niedermayer, the Ducks have lost four shootouts (4 extra GA). Prorated to 82 games, that's 7 lost shootouts on top of the 150 prorated regulation and OT goals-allowed.

Detroit this year lost 5 shootouts, and Minnesota last year lost 7.

So the pro-rated post-Niedermayer defensive numbers would have won last year's Jennings Trophy by 34 goals and this year's by 27 goals. A fairly huge gap.

BTW, I didn't really intend this, but wasn't the whole script of The Incredibles about how Mr. Incredible couldn't stay retired from super-heroing?

Earl Sleek said...

In other mostly non-related news, it turns out Randy Carlyle is bad at math. From the L.A. Times:

"If we had a perfect season, how many [standings points] would we have had, 184 or something?"

Anonymous said...

Re: The ncaa basketball thingambob.

A blog about Cal football? Haha, that's just plain sad. He wasn't even a fan until 2004, their best yr in the last decade. Bandwagon anyone?

Earl, if you need to lay some smack down on him, send him this link of MeSean getting raped by Kevin Ellison. LOL.

Cal "football". LOL

Anonymous said...

This guy beat BoC and four other blogs in the NCAA basketball contest, and will at some point be writing a gloat post to educate us all on UCLA Bruins football.

But why would a Cal Bears football fan write about the bruins?

(note to Earl: Cal and ucla are two different schools, although I can see how you could confuse the two; they share the same lame-ass animal mascot, lame-ass fight song, and socialist approach to education. But I digress.)

I guess he could cry over the fact that both teams are USC's bitch.

Or maybe he could tells us how many times MeSean beat USC in his storied career.

Is it CFB season, yet?

Earl Sleek said...

note to Earl: Cal and ucla are two different schools

Damn, fixed. See how badly I'm in need of collegiate education?

I'll stick to the NHL--only one team has a bear mascot, and that's simple enough for me.

Earl Sleek said...

Word has just come in from the ticketholder:

I'll be at G2 in Row B. Not sure how drunk I'm going to be (I'm going with my dad), but it should be a blast nevertheless.

antro said...

sigh...your post has just confirmed me in the belief that the ducks will repeat. if they do, i think, in the interest of fairness and 38 years in the hockey desert, scott niedermayer should sign with the canucks next year. he should think of it as a new challenge.

why can't they score this year?

Julian said...

Isn't your dad Irish?

Earl Sleek said...

Ah, nice to see that Antro has more faith than I do.

in the interest of fairness and 38 years in the hockey desert, scott niedermayer should sign with the canucks next year.

Heh, despite that extra year on his deal, I guess? No matter. If he wants a challenge, he can go 45 minutes up the 5 freeway and find a real reclamation project.

Isn't your dad Irish?

Yes, but sadly he's "responsible Irish". Ah, no matter. He knows my gig. I'll probably be tipsy at least, just to deal with the playoff stress.