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Chicago Blackhawks: 2014-15 Forwards Review

By Melissa Peterson
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We had previously taken a look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ defense, goaltending, penalty kill and power play during the season, so we’re going to switch gears a bit and focus on forwards. If you’re not familiar with some of these abbreviations or terms, all are listed at the bottom under “Resources” with brief explanations for your convenience. All charts can be clicked on to enlarge. 

As it’s difficult to compare roles for players, especially with the vast difference between a shutdown line and a scoring line, we’re going to take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ forwards at even-strength (5-on-5 play). What kind of impact does 5-on-5 have, you might ask. It helps us to eliminate minutes players accumulate when they’re deployed for the penalty kill (not expected to score but have higher chances of being scored on) and for the power play (expected to score and far less likely to be scored on). Although these players still function differently outside special teams, there’s a more even platform narrowing it to 5-on-5 play, and we’re going to skew it a bit anyway, to adjust for deployment.

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  • Note: Some of these players’ results will be skewed by less time on ice, but in order to limit that impact, I did not include any forwards who played for fewer than 125 even-strength minutes. The chart I worked from is available under resources with total TOI available. 

    GOALS FOR PERCENTAGE (GF%)

    data via Puckalytics | Chart compiled by Melissa peterson

    Goals-for percentage refers to the total goals the team scored with the player on ice compared to the total number of goals scored both for and against the team while the player is on ice (Formula for GF% is (GF/(GF+GA)x 100). Much like Corsi percentages, goals-for percentage gives an indication of both the productivity of the team with the player on the ice as well as the capacity for suppression (in this case, goal prevention instead of just shot prevention).

    GF% can be skewed by both low and high TOI (the more time you spend on the ice in a game, the more likely you will be on the ice for a goal against or a goal for, or even both). Because of this, I divided the above 16 forwards into groups of 5-6 players, each based on their event rate and TOI, and compared them against the average for their event group, as well as to the overall average of the team.

    Group 1 (green) features the most-deployed players: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Brad Richards, averaged 1,013:27 on the ice for even-strength play with approximately 83 goal events during that time. Every player in this category ranked above the forwards’ average, but only Toews, Hossa and Richards ranked above the category’s average.

    Group 2 (purple) features Marcus KrugerBen Smith (traded to San Jose), Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg. These players spent an average 827:11 even-strength minutes on the ice with 51 goal events during that time. Almost all of these players (except Versteeg) played mostly in between the fourth (Chicago’s shutdown line) and third lines throughout the year. For the first half of the season, the third line was in a weird mode of not quite being able to be considered a scoring line, and wasn’t really a shutdown line either, mostly due to Sharp’s unleveled shooting percentage (you can read more about this in the Corsi-for percentage section below), so their GF% are bound to be skewed.

    Group 3 (orange) features lesser-used players (some acquired from trades, some brought up from Rockford, and some just less used or injured): Joakim Nordstrom, Daniel Carcillo, Antoine Vermette, Teuvo Tervainen and Andrew Desjardins. These players spent an average of 297:07 minutes on the ice for even-strength play with 14 goal events during that time. Many of these players, as stated, were not in the lineup throughout the entirety of the season, and these numbers include only their time with the Blackhawks. Also notice that all of these players spent a majority of their time on the third or fourth lines as well.

    What we can see here is there are some players who rate expectedly well (not to diminish their accomplishments) like Toews and Hossa. There might be some surprises for some (Kane in particular, given that he lead the Blackhawks in goals for most of the season), that shouldn’t quite be written off, and the below section will explain why.

    CORSI FOR PERCENTAGE (CF%)

    data via Puckalytics | Chart compiled by Melissa peterson

    Much the same as GF%, I divided them into the same three subcategories to compare by TOI and event rates.

    Group 1 (green) again features the most deployed players: Toews, Kane, HossaSharp, Saad and Richards, who spent an average of 1,013:27 apiece on the ice for even-strength play with approximately 1,050 Corsi-for events during that time. Every player in this category ranked above the forwards’ average, but only Toews, Hossa and Sharp ranked above the category’s average. What’s interesting about Sharp is that he was clearly playing a major part in the possession stats for the third line. However, his shooting percentage neved quite leveled out to his career average, and as a result, his GF% stats tanked despite the effort being made.

    Group 2 (purple) again features Kruger, Smith, Shaw, Bickell and Versteeg. These players spent an average 827:11 even-strength minutes on the ice with 800.4 CF events during that time.

    Group 3 (orange) again features lesser-used players: Nordstrom, Carcillo, Vermette, Tervainen and Desjardins. These players spent an average of 297:07 minutes on the ice for even-strength play with 272.4 CF events during that time. The only two players to rank above average were Teravainen and Desjardins, both of whom ranked above for GF% as well.

    Kane is probably the most interesting out of all these players. He is known as a flashy goal scorer, but even his possession stats make him seem like he might not be that great overall, ranking just above the forwards’ average. What this tells us, though, is that when Kane possesses the puck, more than likely he will be scoring with it, which is shown in the fact that he has a higher GF% than CF%. Defensive awareness is a well-known hole in Kane’s game, which could explain the less than stellar CF%, but seeing players put in less work (smaller CF% numbers) and getting larger returns (shown in the GF%) suggests that while possession may be lost at times, it’s regained quick enough to suppress goals against.

    Again, I’d be hesitant to draw any conclusions about players primarily on the shutdown line from the above charts (Kruger in particular, as he did not move from line to line).

    CORSI AGAINST PER 60

    We can check this against a CA/60 rate. (Please note that these are rates designed for per-60 play and not the actual amount at which CA events happened. Per-60s make it easier to compare players across time differences, but can still be skewed by low or extraordinarily high TOI which is why they are again divided by the three event rate groups. In this case below, it is better to be BELOW the group average instead of above, as these are against rates).

    data via Puckalytics | Chart compiled by Melissa peterson

    The average event rate was 51.88 across all forwards. For Group 1 (Green), it was 51.63 CA. For Group 2 (Purple) the average was 51.62 CA. For Group 3 (Orange) it was 52.45 CA. Players that rank below within their categories include: Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Versteeg, Kruger, Shaw, Bickell, Desjardins, Teravainen and Nordstrom. These players could be described as more defensively aware/responsible.

    Players that rank well in both offensive and defensive categories include: Toews, Hossa,Teravainen and Desjardins. Sharp, Shaw, Versteeg, Bickell and Saad ranked pretty well, but did not deviate enough from average in one or both categories to be striking.


    Resources

    data via Puckalytics | Chart compiled by Melissa peterson

    • Corsi: For those that are unsure of what Corsi is, it is measured as Corsi for and Corsi against. Corsi is the total number of on-ice shot attempts (on goal, missed or blocked) taken during a game/series/season. A player’s Corsi for tracks the total on-ice shot attempts a player is on the ice for. Corsi against tracks how many shot attempts the opposition records while a player is on the ice.
    • CA%, Corsi against percentage (of total): What this means is they’ve totaled up the Corsi events that took place for both teams, and divided the individual team’s total by that number and multiplied it by 100 to get a percentage.
    • CP60, Corsi per 60: What this means is they’ve totaled up the Corsi events that took place for both teams and divided it by 60 to get an average Corsi events per 60 minutes.
    • G+/-, goal differential: The total number of goals for (GF) minus the total number of goals against (GA). If it is a positive number, the team is outscoring its opponents.
    • FO%: The percentage of faceoffs won.
    • OFOn%: On-ice unblocked shot attempts on goal
    • OSh%: On-ice shooting percentage
    • OSv%: On-ice save percentage
    • PDO: On-ice save percentage + on-ice shooting percentage
    • ZSO%, the amount of offensive zone starts: The larger the number, the more often a team or player starts (with a faceoff) in their offensive zone

    Sources

    Stats courtesy of war-on-ice.com puckalytics.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com

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