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February 16, 2013
Shots On Goal
The Rundown, Week 5

by Ryan Schwepfinger

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Have some NHL teams started to hit the wall in this short season? Our system grades six teams as "extremely cold" systems for fantasy production, whereas only two clubs grade as "extremely hot." With five of those bottom six teams residing in the Western Conference, it is possible the demands of a condensed schedule combined with long travel have started to affect some clubs. While likely a coincidence, the three worst teams for fantasy production (Nashville, Minnesota, Columbus) are indeed three of the most Eastern-based teams in the West.

No matter the reason, we are tasked with finding the answers within this puzzle. We need to get the fantasy numbers however we can take them, and we have the underlying numbers to help us do that.

This week's summary of matchup/system analysis:

"Hot" matchups: Columbus, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Florida (Phoenix, Washington, New York Islanders, Colorado, Carolina). A close-call lineup decision should go toward a player facing off against one of these teams, particularly the first tier.

"Cold" matchups: Boston, Vancouver, Ottawa, San Jose, Montreal (New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Chicago).

"Hot" systems: St. Louis, Calgary (Chicago, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Vancouver, Montreal, New York Rangers). In a close-call lineup decision, lean toward a player on one of these clubs.

"Cold" systems: Nashville, Minnesota, Columbus, Edmonton, Florida, Phoenix (Colorado, Dallas).

Now to the tables:  

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  2/18 2/19 2/20 2/21 2/22 2/23 2/24
PIT     PHI   FLA   TBL
TOR @FLA @TBL   BUF   @OTT  
CGY @PHX   LAK     MIN PHX
BOS       @TBL     @FLA
EDM   LAK   MIN   PHX  
ANA CBJ           COL
BUF   WPG   @TOR   NYI  
WPG   @BUF   @CAR   @PHI @NJD
PHI @NYI   @PIT FLA   WPG  
LAK   @EDM @CGY     COL  

Several of Pittsburgh's top skaters are carrying high PDOs, particularly influenced by high on-ice shooting percentages (Kunitz 13.2%, Letang 11.4%, Crosby 11.0%, Dupuis 10.7%). Ordinarily, these are signs of a "sell high" player, particularly in Kunitz's level of above 13%, but I am not concerned. The first reason is obviously the Crosby effect. It's no coincidence that the three forwards listed are the trio that make up the Crosby unit, and we know that elite lines can sustain shooting percentages above 10%. As one of a myriad of examples, Stamkos carried Teddy Purcell to an 11.9% mark last season. Secondly, Kunitz's power play output should be enough to overcome a potential dip in 5v5 production.

Calgary's offensive start is nothing short of amazing, as the club ranks fourth in close game Fenwick, while slotting eighth in GF per game. Further casting a positive light on the Flames is that these numbers look to be sustainable, as the team actually ranks 20th in 5v5 shooting percentage at 7.5%. While goaltending has held the club back, we can take advantage of the overall low perception here. Dennis Wideman is a great trade target, as he is driving possession exceptionally well and quarterbacks the power play. Check your waiver wire for names such as Hudler, Tanguay, Glencross, and Cervenka, as all are capable additions if you need some scoring help this week.

My opinion of Edmonton remains the same: the team's 5v5 shooting percentage is so dreadful that a rebound has to come. They rank 30th with a 4.8% mark, while 29th is Florida at 6.3%, a huge gap. However, this is a team that does not drive possession particularly well, so I continue to think the three forwards who do drive possession on this team (Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and Hall) make great trade targets, especially as the club continues to struggle and their value falls. Be ready to pounce.

The biggest red flag to sell high? Weak possession numbers combined with high shooting percentages. That is exactly the situation in Anaheim right now, as the Ducks are tops in the league in 5v5 shooting percentage (13%), and sixth worst in close-game Fenwick. This club is only winning by virtue of shooting luck, as their power play ranks 21st, and their 5v5 save percentage ranks seventh, right in a cluster of teams. Nearly all of their fantasy-relevant skaters carry high PDOs, fueled by on-ice shooting percentages above 12.5%. Note the contrast with Pittsburgh: the Penguins do drive possession, and do have an elite power play. Thus, their skaters are more likely to sustain good offensive numbers. That is not the case with the Ducks.

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  2/18 2/19 2/20 2/21 2/22 2/23 2/24
STL   SJS @COL     CBJ  
MTL CAR @NYR   NYI   NYR  
NJD OTT     @WSH   @WSH WPG
CHI   VAN     SJS   CBJ
COL NSH   STL     @LAK @ANA
PHX CGY         @EDM @CGY
CAR @MTL     WPG   TBL @NYI
NYI PHI @OTT   @MTL   @BUF CAR
OTT @NJD NYI   NYR   TOR  
TBL   TOR   BOS   @CAR @PIT

St. Louis is a club that desperately needs Jaroslav Halak. The strong possession we have seen from the Blues the past two seasons is still there, but Brian Elliott has suffered the massive regression many predicted. Taking a chance on Jake Allen might not be a bad move given theor strong systematic play, but another savvy move might be to attempt to buy and stash Halak. That could pay enormous dividends down the stretch if you have the roster space to try it. Time is running out.

The Blackhawks are in the midst of a seven-game homestand, which should hopefully help their team possession numbers creep upward. Considering their strong start, their possession numbers worry me. They now stand 15th in the league, compared to 17th last week. I will be watching their home dates with Vancouver and San Jose very closely, especially how the Kane/Sharp unit fare, as their continued struggles 5v5 do not align with their point output.

A big name to watch is Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche. With the Erik Johnson injury, Barrie has gotten an opportunity to log big minutes, especially on the power play, and he has done exceptionally well. His 5v5 Corsi numbers are phenomenal for someone with a low offensive-zone start rate, and Colorado's mid-tier possession ranking is not particularly worrisome. The points have not yet come due to his on-ice shooting percentage of 4.26%, but here's saying they will soon if he continues to lead the team in ice time. Make the add now.

The Erik Karlsson injury has left many fantasy owners wondering how to cope. While Barrie would be a great replacement, the situation in Ottawa is worth exploring. The team appears to be going with Eric Gryba to fill Karlsson's even-strength role alongside Marc Methot, and it also looks like Andre Benoit will be getting the first crack at expanded power play minutes, rather than Patrick Wiercioch. Sergei Gonchar was already receiving analogous ice time to Karlsson on the power play, but since the rest of this defense corps looks like a work in progress, he could stand to benefit the most.

Tampa Bay is much like Anaheim, a team that ranks second worst in possession while ranking second in 5v5 shooting percentage. The difference is that while Anaheim has yet to come down to Earth, the Lightning have already regressed. The Bolts have lost six in a row and might continue to fall even further. On February 4, their team PDO was at 1077 (14% shooting, .937 save percentage). Today, it stands at 1039 (11.9% shooting, .920 save percentage). You can see the regression in both shooting and goaltending, and as the law of PDO states, those numbers should normalize around 1000 in the long run. The bad news is that your window to sell Tampa Bay players has likely closed, so my best advice would be to hold for now and hope this team's firepower can carry them through, especially on the power play, where they have dipped all the way to 25th in the league. Stronger production with the man advantage would go a long way for this club.

  Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  2/18 2/19 2/20 2/21 2/22 2/23 2/24
MIN       @EDM   @CGY  
DET   @NSH   CBJ   NSH VAN
NSH @COL DET     VAN @DET  
VAN   @CHI   @DAL @NSH   @DET
CBJ @ANA     @DET   @STL @CHI
SJS   @STL     @CHI @DAL  
FLA TOR     @PHI @PIT   BOS
WSH       NJD   NJD  
DAL       VAN   SJS  
NYR   MTL   @OTT   @MTL  

Jakub Kindl is an intriguing free agent pickup for deep leaguers, as his possession numbers are far and away the best among the current corps of Wings defensemen. His power play time has been spotty, but the 5v5 production is too good to ignore. His role only stands to expand, as do his numbers.

While the Rangers have a brutal week against quality competition, including two on the road, the situation might not be as dire as it appears. The Karlsson injury is sure to affect Ottawa, and Montreal is an up-and-down team to say the least. Take note of the resurgence of Carl Hagelin, who has played phenomenally alongside Derek Stepan and Rick Nash. John Tortorella changes his lines seemingly daily, but Hagelin's quality possession numbers, logged against extremely tough competition, have been quite impressive. When you factor in his six points in the last three games, you get the sense this is an emerging two-way star whose goal-scoring slump appears to be behind him.

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Shots On Goal (02/15)
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Shots On Goal (02/15)
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Shots On Goal (02/24)
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Premium Article Howe and Why (02/18)

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