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Chicago Blackhawks: 2014-15 Forwards Review – Passing

By Melissa Peterson
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We had previously taken a look at the Chicago Blackhawks forwards’ production and suppression rates, so we’re going to switch gears a bit and focus on passing and zone entries. 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.

First Line

We’ll start with the first line, comprised on Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews.

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These three spent a total of 519:34 minutes of even-strength time together during the regular season, scoring 28 goals during that time (3.23 GF/60) and having a Corsi-for percentage of 57.7. Each of these three players actually improved in their time with one another compared to apart, as seen in the chart below:

Stats courtesy Puckalytics.com | Chart compiled by melissapeterson

From here you can see that Saad actually had the most significant improvement in being paired with Hossa and Toews, and Toews had the least deviation between his together and apart scores, implying he made the most significant impact to that line.

But outside of production, let’s look at how that impact was made. Throughout the season, Ryan Stimson had led a tracking project that involved data from every team and every game played during the season. What is tracked in this project is the Shot Attempts Generated (SAG), Corsi Contributions (CC), Scoring Chance Contributions (SCC) and Shots Generated (SG), which you can read about under Resources.

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

From the above you can see that Toews spikes into the 80th percentile five (almost six) times, Hossa four and Saad once. What this could (and maybe should) tell you is that Saad was not the play-maker or greatest possession driver on his line.

Second Line

Onto the second line, comprised of Patrick Kane, Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg.

Stats courtesy Puckalytics.com | Chart compiled by melissapeterson

None of their stats are all too remarkable apart from one another (Toews and Hossa are more productive than most of the line, to be honest), but what they are able to accomplish together is incredible. Their CF percentage does not actually spike nearly as dramatically as their GF percentage, which suggests that although they aren’t necessarily great at suppression, they are creating the space to allow themselves to score often, let alone to outscore their opposition. Just what makes that possible?

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Although the percentage of time the three spent together is a smaller percentage of their individual time (26-30 percent) compared to the first line (46-48 percent), this was mostly due to injuries (Kane and Versteeg). Richards spent approximately 52 percent of his time with Kane, and Versteeg spent 53 percent with Kane.

As you can see from the above charts, the only thing that Kane didn’t do well (and note that “not well”, here, is still above average) is his entry-assists/60 ranking. His CC contributions suggest he’s involved in a majority of the offensive plays that take place while he is on the ice, and his high SCC suggests a lot of those come from the home-plate area of the ice in front of the net, known as a scoring-chance location.

Richards and Versteeg both ranked stronger than Saad through these advances statistics. You can see that Richards was more depended on for transition play (entry Assists/60 Rank), which is typical of a center.

Third Line

The third line gets a little more difficult to evaluate, since it was easily the line that saw the most adjustments throughout the season. Because of this, the WOWY is not really an effective tool to look at for this line, as it represents a very small sample size overall. However, frequent faces of the third line included Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell, Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen.

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Again, we see the center’s (Vermette’s) stats spike in the transition play (entry assists/60 rank), which is quite common. Teravainen maintains the control of transitional play that is typical of a center even when he is deployed as a wing, which bodes well for the potential center depth of the Blackhawks in case a substitution were necessary. You can also see with overall spikes in all categories that he was central to driving offensive play while deployed on the ice.

We can see that both Bickell and Vermette rank below average in at least half of the measurements, but Vermette’s spikes in the categories of Shot Attempts Generated, Entry Assists and Composite Shots Generated helps offset other shortcomings that you just don’t see Bickell’s measurements do. It’s very apparent that Bickell was contributing minimally to the offensive production of the third line.

Fourth Line

The fourth line mostly consisted of Marcus Kruger, Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Shaw, post-Ben-Smith-trade to the San Jose Sharks.

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

Data via Ryan Stimson’s Passing Project

What’s important to note about the fourth line is that Chicago frequently runs it as their shutdown line. The function of a shutdown line is to prevent opposition from scoring rather than to produce offensively itself, which distinguished it from the other three lines (of course, goal suppression is the goal of any line, but the Blackhawks’ fourth lines traditionally went out against their opponent’s top scoring line). These players are typically good at forcing turnovers, winning board battles and other defensive-minded plays.

Desjardins’ results are really a product of low ice-time, so I’m hesitant to even touch on any conclusions to be made from his chart.

Shaw is sort of notorious as a goal scavenger; planting himself in front of the net and working hard off of any and all goaltender rebounds to score a goal. It’s really not surprising that his SCC/60 rank is as high as it is, even on the fourth line.

You will notice on Kruger’s chart that the spike in Entry Assists/60 rank that is normally a bit higher in centers does not spike for Kruger. The fourth line for the Chicago Blackhawks is truly the most successful of lines at recovering from the dump-and-chase (or chip-and-chase) style of play. This style of play obviously contributes more to less controlled-entry kinds of play, similar to what would show up as a deficit when tracking the Entry Assits/60 category. He does, however, still perform the role of a center, clearly, as his SC SAG/60 (setting up scoring chances for other players) is quite high. This suggests he is the primary passer before someone else takes the scoring chance shot.

What is even more important to see is that his scoring chances rank is above average, even being a part of the shutdown line. What this suggests is that Kruger is capable of taking defensive zone starts and turning them into scoring opportunities.


Resources

  • 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.
  • CC: Corsi Contributions; player’s total offensive contributions; adds individual shot attempts and primary and secondary passes that lead to shot attempts.
  • 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
  • SAG: Shot Attempts Generated; refers to the player who generates the final pass before a shot attempt is made (Similar to an Assist on a Goal, but an Assist on a shot attempt)
  • SCC: Scoring Chance Contribution; Individual Scoring Chance (ISC) from war-on-ice plus SC SAG
  • SC SAG: Scoring Chance Shot Attempt Generated: Passes sent into the Scoring Chance area (Home plate shaped area in front of the net) leading to a Shot Attempt
  • 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 Ryan Stimsonwar-on-ice.com puckalytics.com and stats.hockeyanalysis.com

Next: Exploring Kane-Less Lines

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