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Leddy Gaga, Part Two


Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images North America

 

 

Yeah, the title really sucks. But these things happen when you’ve got kids of a certain age. Sue me.

In the first part of my series on Leddy, I stated the reasons why Leddy will average over 14 minutes of ice time this year. Today, I’ll take a look back at how coach Quenneville utilized Leddy in comparison to Campbell and how he fared.

The Chicago Blackhawks are obviously a strong puck-possession team and I don’t expect that to change much this year. Last year, the Hawks took 10% more draws in the offensive zone than they did in the defensive zone. Therefore, on average, defenders with offensive capabilities had the opportunity to get more TOI than those without. This allowed Brian Campbell to get 19 minutes of even strength TOI – and succeed.

The same will be true for Nick Leddy who averaged 14 EV minutes last season. Campbell’s high minutes will need to be picked up by someone. If Leddy picks up about half the difference, he should average at least 16 EV minutes this season. Why do I feel so strongly that Leddy can fill these minutes and have a successful season? Aside from the similarities in their skill sets, it’s based on how Q used them last season and how they each performed.

First let’s look at the Quality of Competition each Hawks’ defenseman faced. The data is from behindthenet.ca. I used Nick Boynton instead of Chris Campoli since Campoli only skated 19 games with the Hawks (although I will accept the argument that what Boynton did for 41 games wouldn’t be considered “skating”). As you can see by the chart below, sorted by QualComp which is a measure of competition based on Plus/Minus ratings, Leddy and Campbell faced almost identical levels of competitions. In fact, their QualComp ratings were more similar than any other two defenders on the team.

(You can click on all charts to enlarge them)

The next chart is sorted by Corsi QoC which is a measure of competition based on Corsi. It gives us a larger sample size by using all shots directed at the net for and against, instead of just goals scored. Again, based on this metric, Leddy and Campbell faced extremely similar levels of competition.

So we know Leddy and Campbell faced the same level of competition, next we’ll look at Zone Starts. As you can see they both had nearly identical statistics, with both of them getting over 60% of their starts in the offensive zone. Seeing a pattern?

 

But John, even though they played in similar situations, Campbell’s Plus/Minus rating was a team high +23 and Leddy’s was a team low -3! Obviously Leddy can’t possibly fill Soupy’s skates.

Plus/Minus can be deceiving. That’s why many feel that it doesn’t tell us much about a player over the course of just one season, there are just too many variables that influence it and it’s a small sample size compared to Corsi which reduces some of the “noise.” But before we look at Corsi, let’s make some adjustments to those Plus/Minus ratings.

The chart below is sorted by Shooting Percentage plus Team Save Percentage while a player was on the ice 5on5 (Sv+Sh%). Campbell had the good fortune of being on the ice for the 2nd highest Shooting% for the Hawks and the highest Save% (.940) by the Hawks goalies. With those two combined, he had had by far the best Sv+Sh% rating of all defensemen.

Although many factors go into Sv% and Sh% like quality of shots both for and against, a large portion is simply luck. Another thing to consider is what I call “the Turco factor.” Campbell was still out when Marty Turco (.897 Sv%) was the Hawks starter and therefore his Plus/Minus didn’t suffer at the hands of Turco’s poor Sv% as much as the rest of the team.

Leddy, on the other hand, was at the opposite end of the spectrum. When he was on the ice, the Hawks goaltending had a Sv% of only .901. That Sh+Sv% difference between Leddy and Campbell of about 4.5 goals per 100 shots adds up quickly – and much of it has nothing to do with their actual performance.

Notice also that Duncan Keith had the best Corsi ratings of the Hawks defenders. CorsiRel shows that the Hawks were a much better possession team when Keith was on the ice. Not bad for a guy who faced some of the toughest competition with only average Zone Starts – actually it’s relatively awesome.

Unfortunately, last year Keith was the biggest victim of a combined low Sh% For and a high Sh% Against, so his season Plus/Minus looked a lot worse than it probably should have. (Again, we might assume that since Keith faced a higher level of competition than Campbell that the Sv% would naturally be lower, but we don’t know that for sure)

The chart below shows these three player’s actual Plus/Minus rating per 60 and their adjusted Plus/Minus ratings if their on ice Sh% and Sv% were equal. Campbell still did quite well, but the gap has closed significantly.

 

Okay, okay, I get it John! Their performances weren’t as drastically different as some metrics suggested. But you yourself stated that Corsi was a better measure and you ignored the fact that Campbell’s Corsi rating was much better than Leddy’s. You tried to gray it out in your charts, but I’m not that gullible!

Which is why we’re going to look at how they fared based on Corsi, not Plus/Minus, next. Corsi doesn’t rely on goaltending – it’s a measure of all shots directed at the net whether they went in, were saved, were blocked, or missed the net. What Corsi is, is a great measure of puck possession and whether your team is heading in the right direction when a player is on the ice.

I used data from Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com to look at Corsi ratings per 20 minutes of ice time and to break the data down into situations. Shots directed at the net For minus shots directed at the net Against gives us CorsiForAgainst (CorFA20). When we look at CorFA20 in all 5on5 situations, it is obvious that Campbell outperformed Leddy rather handily against identical competition (.499 Opp CorF%).

But as I mentioned in my last article, Leddy often sat in 3rd periods of close games when the Hawks were losing and received extra minutes when the Hawks were leading. But that throws off your Corsi rating – and for the worse.  Teams that are leading will typically get “out-Corsi’d” due to the fact they’re protecting a lead and not generating much offense. The opposite is true when they’re behind.

My suspicion was that if we only looked at 5on5 SCORE TIED situations, the gap might close. What I found was that not only did the gap close, but Leddy actually outperformed Campbell when games were tied.

Campbell’s CorFA20 stayed the same (3.31 to 3.32), but Leddy’s jumped from 0.78 to 5.50. So although Q sat Leddy in certain situations, it probably had more to do with his lack of trust in rookies than the actual need to protect him. Besides, when you’re getting mostly offensive zone starts against average competition, you don’t need much “protection.”

 

So in conclusion…

MYTH: Leddy needed and will continue to need constant protection

FACT: One year does not a Brian Campbell make, but the gap last season between Leddy and Soupy wasn’t nearly as wide as many believe. How Leddy performs with more TOI and in situations where the game is on the line is yet to be seen, but 2011 was an excellent start for a 19 year old rookie.

In my final piece on Leddy, I’ll take a look at what lineups we might see on defense and tighten up my TOI estimations. I promise there will be no math.

John Schultz
Lead Writer, BlackhawkUp
Follow me on Twitter @ChiNativeSon

Related reading: Nick Leddy: A Perfect Ten, Or Even Higher?

Topics: Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks, Corsi, Duncan Keith, NHL, Nick Leddy, QualComp, Really Bad Title, TOI

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  • DaleHalas

    What’s the fun of no Math?

    If Leddy gets the almost 14 minutes of 5o5 ice time he got last year and takes over the 2 minutes of Power Play time that Campbell was getting (and nobody else is really a candidate to fill), well, that is 16 minutes with really NO improvement in Leddy from last year. Any kind of improvement and well, …

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @DaleHalas The article states EV TOI, so 16 EV minutes plus any PP time. Montador and Lepisto have gotten PP time in the past, but I agree Leddy will likely pick up 1-2 mins PP time.

  • antumbral.light

    It should have been obvious to anyone who watched last season that the org was grooming Leddy to be the next Soupy. They want him to be the cheap offensive defenseman that can man the PP. Okay, fine. The problem with all the stats is that Leddy was obviously protected. How many shifts did he take with reigning-Norris-champ Keith? I don’t know the exact stats, but in the latter half of the season, Q was pairing Keith-Leddy and Seabs-Hjammer. Which is fine, and it lets Leddy learn at the feet of a master when it comes to playing the offensive-defense role, but let’s not fool ourselves about QualComp or ice time when it’s Keith who is taking the brunt of everything the opposition throws at the pair. In many situations, Keith was literally protecting Leddy by taking defensive assignments that he shouldn’t need to cover, and as a result Keith’s numbers suffered.

    I’m not nearly as optimistic as you seem to be here. It’s not a myth that Leddy needed protection. He was a rookie, and he often made rookie mistakes. All the stats that you tout in this post come from the fact that Leddy was protected by not only easy shifts, but often also by pairings with the best defenseman in the league. Perhaps Montador can play a similar role this year, but in that case expect Leddy’s QualComp to significantly decline, and don’t be surprised to see a sophomore slump from him similar to what we saw from Hjammer. These stats aren’t telling the whole story.

  • matthew.m.mcclure

    @antumbral.light And a fine job he did at protetcting Leddy. They only seemed to allow one breakaway against per game coming off of a blocked Keith shot!I’m not saying that Leddy doesn’t have a lot to learn when skating backwards or that I’m entirely confident in his ability to mature to the level that will be needed this year, but to assert that Duncan Keith, who by his own admission could not be bothered on a lot of nights, elevated Leddy’s stats and protected him while having his own game and numbers be dragged down into the mud makes me think you need a new TV.The fact of the matter is that whether Leddy is good or bad this year is immaterial compared to whether or not Duncan Keith can regain 2008-2010 form. If Keith sucks again (and he did last year, make no mistake), then the whole thing is going to be up a creek by Christmas anyway.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @antumbral.light

    By your rationale, is Seabrook also “protected” when he skates with Norris Trophy winner Keith to? No need to answer, since I’m obviously being sarcastic, but I have news for you: ALL OFENSIVE DEFENSEMEN ARE PROTECTED, that’s why they get the easiest zone starts and often are paired with a stay-at-home defender. Wasn’t Campbell also protected by Hjammer? That was Hjammer’s role in that pairing.

    So it was that Keith had to up the slack when paired with Leddy. Sure, rookies are prone to mistakes, but that doesn’t change the fact that Leddy looked pretty good for a 19 yr old defenseman. In my opinion, his biggest weakness was gaining possession, but once he had the puck, he was better than most.

    When Keith is paired with Seabrook, although both are capable in the Ozone, Seabs more often “protects” Keith – and as Matt stated, Keith often needed it last season, especially due to all of his shots bouncing of defenders shins. I suppose if I looked at Fenwick instead of Corsi, Keith’s numbers would look good, but not as great.

    I do agree with Matt that we need more from Keith. I also agree that parts of Keith’s games didn’t look good last season – and when I say “didn’t look good” I mean compared to an average defender, not just compared to a Norris winner. But most of those problems had to do with his decision-making on offense and that’s were his numbers were off last season. I feel that his *actual defense* was still good.

    Keith’s passing and shooting while in the Ozone sucked. So while Corsi shows that he was able to move the puck in the right direction, it doesn’t show how many opportunities he squandered. If his decision-making was quicker, maybe goalies don’t have quite as high of a Sv% when Keith’s on the ice? I’m not sure, but I think I can safely assume that. Still a large portion of the drop in his number had to do with some bad luck too.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @antumbral.light

    By your rationale, is Seabrook also “protected” when he skates with Norris Trophy winner Keith too? No need to answer, since I’m obviously being sarcastic, but I have news for you: ALL OFENSIVE DEFENSEMEN ARE PROTECTED, that’s why they get the easiest zone starts and often are paired with a stay-at-home defender. Wasn’t Campbell also protected by Hjammer? That was Hjammer’s role in that pairing.

    So it was that Keith had to up the slack when paired with Leddy. Sure, rookies are prone to mistakes, but that doesn’t change the fact that Leddy looked pretty good for a 19 yr old defenseman. In my opinion, his biggest weakness was gaining possession, but once he had the puck, he was better than most.

    When Keith is paired with Seabrook, although both are capable in the Ozone, Seabs more often “protects” Keith – and as Matt stated, Keith often needed it last season, especially due to all of his shots bouncing of defenders shins. I suppose if I looked at Fenwick instead of Corsi, Keith’s numbers would look good, but not as great.

    I do agree with Matt that we need more from Keith. I also agree that parts of Keith’s games didn’t look good last season – and when I say “didn’t look good” I mean compared to an average defender, not just compared to a Norris winner. But most of those problems had to do with his decision-making on offense and that’s were his numbers were off last season. I feel that his *actual defense* was still good.

    Keith’s passing and shooting while in the Ozone sucked. So while Corsi shows that he was able to move the puck in the right direction, it doesn’t show how many opportunities he squandered. If his decision-making was quicker, maybe goalies don’t have quite as high of a Sv% when Keith’s on the ice? I’m not sure, but I think I can safely assume that. Still a large portion of the drop in his number had to do with some bad luck too.

  • DaleHalas

    @antumbral.light Seabrook and Keith are two of the best two-way defensemen in the league. Thing is you can negate their two-way play by not having a good offensive checking line. With Pisani on the third line last year the Hawks did just that.

    Last year Keith’s Goals Against per 60 minutes of ice time was very similar between last year and the Cup year. It was his Goals For numbers that fell off dramatically. Playing with Leddy in offensive situations that Campbell was in last year would actually give Keith more offensive opportunities NOT less.

    And yeah, Keith and Leddy were paired for 20 games last year. And I see them playing a good portion of this coming year together as well. And I totally agree with McClure, improvement on the team is going to come from better numbers from Keith. And I think he has a better chance of that teamed up with Toews and Leddy then he does in more typically defensive shifts.

  • cliffkoroll

    @[email protected] mac, congratulations on perpetuating this canard: “Duncan Keith, who by his own admission could not be bothered on a lot of nights,” and the subsequent vitriol spewed in #2s direction.

  • cliffkoroll

    John, this is an extraordinary piece of work. Extremely well done. I’ve never seen Sh% + Sv% before. Your own brainstorm?

    All the numbers in the world don’t eradicate the eye test though. Campbell had an excellent year, and Leddy was a 19-year old kid who, I thought benefited from NHL ice last year and made nice strides, but Q was also protecting him quite a bit. Good-sized gap there, IMO. Let’s hope Leddy can close some of it this year.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @cliffkoroll Thanks. I thought I was being original last season when looking for those stats, but found them calculated on the site mentioned. I did the adjustments. The guy there uses some other advanced measures that are apparently his own and a few are in the “experimental stage.”

    If you notice, my commentary isn’t “rah rah Leddy,” just stating what the numbers show. Also I stepped back with my conclusion. Why? Because of the eye test.

    Sometimes you expect one thing and the numbers show you something completely different. I expected the numbers would show that Leddy “wasn’t horrible.” The fact that he surpassed Campbell in some categories and in others when the data was adjusted completely surprised me – but hey, that’s ultimately a very good thing right, especially for the future if he keeps it up.

  • DaleHalas

    @cliffkoroll PDO is a stat created by Vic Ferrari. It looks at Sh% plus Sv% and expects it to be 100%. Players above that are perceived as “lucky.” As John mentioned Players below that number are perceived as being unlucky. I think there is something to the idea that Keith was unlucky this last year.

    To me the interesting part is looking at the players that are “always lucky.” Those are the guys that “make their own luck.” My understanding is that this stats has only been around for the last two years. In both of those years, Toews and Kane have been “lucky.”

  • Preacher000

    Losing Campbell is my biggest concern going into the season. I keep thinking back to how the Hawks struggled whenever Soup was out the last couple seasons. No one does what Soup does as well as Soup does it. I think Leddy’s going to be a good D-man, but the concerns are still there. Also, if Leddy played more when the Hawks had the lead, then how responsible is he for all those blown leads last season? (Though I know that, ultimately, those were all Keith fault!)

  • DaleHalas

    @Preacher000

    When Campbell was injured, half your D-men were some combination of Boynton, Hendry, Cullimore and Scott. That had more to do with missing Campbell then Campbell being injured.

    The moves the Hawks made are in good measure to deal with D-man depth. And I am working on that as part of my next article.

    And the “blown leads” were more an issue before Leddy and Campoli arrived. And having that extra depth arrive is one of the biggest reasons those issues became, well, less of an issue.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @Preacher000 Hey Preach, thanks for stopping by.

    I’m less concerned about the loss of Campbell than most. One, because this is the best defensive depth the Hawks have had in eons, and two, because there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

    The “we’re doomed without Campbell” meme really grew out of the Nashville series. In 2011, the Hawks’ winning pct when Soupy was out was almost the same as when he was in the lineup. Their performance to start the season when Campbell was out probably had more to do with Turco being in. But as Dale mentioned, it was mostly an issue of who was replacing Campbell in the lineup. Boynton, Cullimore, Scott, Hendry were huge downgrades.

    Based on the Hawks’ goal differential, most of those blown 3rd period leads had a lot to do with bad luck. But I also believe you create “bad luck” when 1/3 of your team is on the bench late in the game because a) they suck, b) they’re a rookie, c) they’re a rookie AND they suck, or d) John Scott. There have been studies that show there is a strong correlation between long shifts and getting beat on the ice. I think that was part of it – and of course, Keith.

  • cliffkoroll

    @DaleHalas Yeah, great point. I couldn’t help but think that Keith’s propensity to find opponents’ shin pads was a problem of his own making, for example.

    More generally, as Branch Rickey said: “luck is the residue of design.”

    Which reminds me of VerStig’s lament that blocked shots, while a positive for CORSI, are generally a bad thing. I wonder if these can at least be backed out of CORSI.

    Still, I think the stat does capture a fair amount of pure luck, and I think it is interesting and useful.

  • DaleHalas

    @cliffkoroll Sometimes people’s memories just don’t “jive” with the stats. And sometimes they do. Keith’s Corsi vs Fenwick numbers do show a shift in more blocked shots compared to the total shots for his time on ice. It was an issue and when you use Fenwick numbers (which remove blocks) you can see the shift..

    The thing about Corsi is that it is only supposed to “infer” time on ice. It is NOT supposed to be the end all be all stat that some (see that Nucks dude) think it is.

    To me Corsi and PDO are insights into Plus/Minus numbers. They don’t “excuse” the results.

  • Pingback: And Now For Something Completely Different: Defensive Pairings, Part 3 « Blackhawk Up | A Chicago Blackhawks Blog

  • rayvalek

    I don’t see how you can say a goalie’s save percentage is not related to the defensemen on the ice. Good d-men force teams to take more low-percentage shots and vice versa. You lost me on that point in your argument.

  • cliffkoroll

    @rayvalek The article doesn’t say that. It says: “Although many factors go into Sv% and Sh% like quality of shots both for and against, a large portion is simply luck.” You raise one example, others were also mentioned (e.g. if you’re playing against better competition, your goalie’s SV% will probably be lower when you’re on the ice.) Despite such qualifications, it seems correct to me to assume a good chunk of this difference is down to sheer luck, though.

  • rayvalek

    @cliffkoroll Yes but 90% for Leddy and 94% for Campbell is a significant difference and I think outside the range you would attribute to luck. I seem to remember Leddy getting turned inside out a lot more than Campbell and also getting burned more on breakaways on quick breakouts.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @rayvalek@cliffkoroll Actually it’s exactly the opposite of what you think Ray. The difference is so great for two players* on the same team* that the vast majority of it HAS to be attributed to luck.

    Aside from what cliff (Brian) already stated regarding the variables I mentioned in the article that could account for a portion of the difference, you have to remember that both Campbell and Leddy play for the same team. Leddy was on the ice with 5 other players, as was Campbell. Most of their data (who they played with, etc) is shuffled together very well.

    In addition, the idea that a goalie behind a good defense has a higher Sv% is mostly a myth per a number of studies I’ve read. And it actually appears to be the opposite because they usually face less shots and therefore end up with a higher Sv%.

    The small fluctuation is from team to team, but not typically on the same team. Again, remember Leddy and Campbell had almost identical stats elsewhere, so to imply that the Sv% would be that drastically different doesn’t jive with the numbers unless it was attributed to luck.

    I know many people struggle with the concept of there being such a significant difference in “luck” over the course of a full season, but really it’s a very small sample size and a variation of 2 goals in each direction from the norm per 100 shots. So basically if you flipped a coin 100 times for Campbell it came up heads 48 times, but when you flipped it 100 more times for Leddy, it came up 52.

  • DaleHalas

    @rayvalek PDO is similar to BABIP (Batting average Balls in play) in baseball. Generally, when the batters puts the ball in play they have around a 300 Batting average. Good hitters put the ball in play more, poorer hitters less so, which is why there is a difference in batting averages. When the average is based more on an abnormal BABIP you should view the results with some skepticism.

    Good hockey players put themselves in position to put more shots on goal. However, their shot percentage is usually not all that much better then other players. They just get more shots.

    Same with goals against. You compare the overall save percentage of the goalie and the save percentages of the defenders in front. Individual defenders usually change the number of shots at net more then the quality of those shots. So by the end of the year the save percentages of individual teammates should approach the norm. At least for that team.

    Both Campbell’s good numbers and Leddy’s poorer numbers are outside the “normal” range for the teams PDO. That is why they should both be viewed with at least some skepticism.

  • http://BlackhawkUp.com/ ChicagoNativeSon

    @DaleHalas@rayvalek Thanks Neal for saying what I meant, but coherently.

  • DaleHalas

    @John Schultz@rayvalek@cliffkoroll

    What John said, good defensive teams actually LOWER the goalies overall save percentage. They don’t typically raise it. That is because good defensive teams have a tendency to block more outside shots compared to the overall shots against. This raises the ratio of tough shots compared to all shots against. And that lowers sv%.

  • cliffkoroll

    @DaleHalas@John Schultz@rayvalek I think the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, who played very good defense and allowed ridiculously few shots, are an excellent example of this. The team SV% was middle of the pack.

  • cliffkoroll

    @DaleHalas@rayvalek Well put. As you mentioned elsewhere, it is possible to identify elements of “non-luck” by looking, e.g., at a player who, year in, year out, has an above average Sh%. As the sample size goes up, it gets harder to ascribe the result to luck. Same goes for the goalie’s Sv% when a player is on the ice.