After Claude Noel’s new lines brought a badly deserved win to the Jets on Saturday, it’s worth asking ourselves just how Noel is using his players. In this post, we’ll look at Ninja Greg’s fantastic Player Usage charts to examine Winnipegs forwards in terms of who they are skating against and where they are sarting their shifts at even strength.
To the Charts!
(Right click and hit ‘View Image’ to see it enlarged to full size. Or go here.)
How to read this chart: (It’s easier than you think!)
Higher and further left = harder. Orange bad. Blue good. Big blue is great. Big orange is awful. Easy, right? The details:
– Each bubble is a player at even strength only.
– The higher that bubble on the chart, the tougher competition that Jet tends to play against (QualComp)
– The further right the bubble on the chart, the more of their shifts start in the offensive zone (ZoneStart).
– So top left quadrant is the toughs, bottom right is the soft parade.
– The bubble itself is about corsi – the number of shots attempted (on net + missed + blocked) minus the number of shots attempted against. This is used as a measure of territorial advantage. You tend to direct more toward the net if you’re in the offensive end, and have more shots attempted against if you’re hemmed in your own zone, right?
– This uses relative corsi – a player’s corsi compared to the rest of the team.
– Orange bubble = negative corsi (more shots attempted against than for). Blue = positive corsi (again, relative to the rest of the team)
– The bigger the bubble, the bigger the RelCorsi number is. So if it’s giant and blue (like Wellwood), that means he gets a lot more shots toward the opponent than against his own, relative to the rest of the Jets. If it’s small and orange (like Jokinen), he is almost breaking even, but has slightly more shots against than for when the Jets put him on instead of their other options.
Phew. Okay, let’s get to the fun part. Some thoughts:
Uh… Kyle Wellwood FTW? I’ve long been a fan of Wellwood as an underated two way player, a creative passer, and a guy who got left in the deep fryer on the fast food of jokes about athletes. But by this chart, Noel is using him against the other team’s best players and starting him more often in his own end (slightly) – and Wellwood is absolutely killing it. Does he have a teenage fan club yet?
Antropov may also be underappreciated by Jets fans, as he’s taking on the other team’s best and beating them in territory advantage.
Burmistrov is facing considerably easier opponents, but is driving the play toward his opponent’s net. That’s encouraging.
Ponikarovsky is getting very few minutes under Noel recently, but his Player Usage chart shows that he’s having more success than the Jets fourth line this year. He’s moving the play the right way against middle opposition. Maybe Noel should be shortening his bench further? If so, Poni seems ready to be ridden.
What happened to Wheeler? His bubble last year was a beautiful blue last season, and plump too. One thing to notice is that he’s playing tougher competition so far this season than last (Of course, it’s a small sample this year). This should be a top priority for Noel – getting Wheeler into the opponent’s zone. I’m not sure Noel can do better than putting him with Ladd and Little, as he’s done so far. Maybe Wellwood! (haha…ha…ha?)
Many people have commented that the Jets miss their GST line. Slater, Thorburn, and Wright (ThWriSlater – kinda sounds like The Wrist Slitter, right?) are getting buried at Even Strength, no doubt. Noel clearly sees Thorburn as the primary problem, however, as Slater skated a season high 12:35 against Ottawa. Wright also saw his ice time climb until last night, while Thorburn’s ice time is melting away – even being scratched for the sizeable Anthony Peluso last night (whose 2:49 in ice time was left off this chart).
Truth be told, Slater and Thorburn are both doing better by this metric than they did with Glass beside them last year. That might be due to Ponikarovky and Little taking time with them as Wright is clearly being sheltered (weakest competition on the team, half his zone starts in the offensive end). Moreover, it’s clear Slater (and Thorburn less so) is being put on for all sorts of own zone draws at EV.
Anyone seeing something they didn’t expect?
Next up: Defense Player Usage