Earlier, I introduced on The Nations Network a new way of looking at a player’s plus/minus rating, specifically to do with on-ice shot differential, in an effort to learn more about teams and players.
This month, somewhat regularly, I will break down types of players and teams in an effort to localize player talents and figure out exactly what certain teams need. There’s definitely more to a hockey player than simply being “good” or “bad” and by how much, so today I will profile the defensive forward.
At this point we get to move from players who are in the plus side of the plus-minus diagonal and move into murkier waters. The next three profiles will deal with players who are on the negative side, starting with the offensive liability today. As you can see from the highlighted section on the graph below, this particular range of players deal with those who are above average on defense, but much worse offensively.
The offensive liability works out if the player is low-event, as in, few shots taken either side. As you’ve may have noticed from previous entries in the series, team effects and scorer bias play a lot towards a player’s individual numbers, however, some teams certainly play the game at a snail’s pace and their players tend to fit right along into the mould. The New Jersey Devils are examples of this and tend to have a lot of low-event players, particularly in shots for.
The Devils, however, do not dominate the below column. No team really does, since it deals more with players who play few minutes and therefore probably not a big enough sample to really determine these players worths. These are playing about two minutes below average and probably not the type to draw any criticism; where a defensive liability draws criticism from all the mistakes he makes on one end, we never seem to criticize the offensive liability in the same way, despite the effect being just as pronounced in the overall score. This doesn’t mean you’re missing the net or are taking dumb shots, but it’s missing the puck on a breakout or making the wrong decision in the neutral zone. Somewhere along the line, whether it’s poor decision making, lack of talent, or the aforementioned “scorer bias” shots aren’t being created when these fellows are on the ice.
But here, we do not come to criticize these player’s abilities, but rather, to celebrate the low-event player. If a cheap option is required for a third or fourth line, I’m all in favour of a team bringing aboard a player who can slow down the game, preferably one who has a favourable penalties taken to drawn ratio and allow the team’s offensive stars to win. Eating tough minutes and not allowing too much out of it is a pretty valuable skill; we’re looking at Blair Betts and John Madden.
|NAME||TEAM||AdjFen||Events F||Events A||Type||Events T*|
(Raw data downloaded from BehindTheNet.ca and adjusted in Excel.)