I know Mondays are usually reserved for Sugar Pile, but I feel like doing this today. Maybe I’m just feeling nerdy. Maybe I don’t like to be confined by rules (evidence: Kills and my latest Twitter fight over a DLR game), maybe I like to keep you all guessing. Anyway, let’s get to it.
That’s Jeremy Morin’s Corsi/60 minutes, and penalties drawn per 60 minutes, and both lead the team. Obviously there are caveats here and it all seems silly now that he’s been sent down. But it’s worth discussing how this roster is being shaped. Morin’s rate is propped up by not playing all that much (especially the penalties drawn number), but it’s obvious that when Morin is out there he’s highly active. He is buoyed by playing mostly with Brandon Saad, who has been a possession-monster from the time he stepped on the ice last year. However, neither’s Corsi % change significantly when they’re apart, and hold right around 60%
Sending Morin down isn’t going to affect Saad’s game at all, that’s not the point. And I think the reason, or the underlying one, that people like me get in a rage about the handling of Morin or Pirri or anyone else is this: For the Hawks to stay on top for years to come, they’re going to have to plug holes from within. Even as the cap explodes, they can’t sign their way out of things that need fixing. At some point, players from within are going to have to be installed, and some of them are not going to do everything in the way that Q prefers. They’re going to have to learn to do what they don’t do well at the NHL-level. I’m sure Phillip Danault will be fine whenever he comes up, but will Clendening, Johns, McNeill, Ross, Teravainen, and whoever else? Some will have to be dealt. The fear is that they will all have to be because they can’t be mixed in.
Here last night, against another possession dominating team, we saw Q scratch the active Morin for four minutes of Brookbank. The lowest Corsi % last night? Brookbank (hardly his fault, he’s not a forward).
This was discussed in the guest column in yesterday’s Indian by reader and friend Jake Berlin. But that’s the percentage of shifts that Brandon Bollig starts in the offensive zone. That’s lowest in the league. In case you are wondering, Kruger is 3rd and Ben Smith is 5th, as they all play on the same line.
And yet that line faces a very high quality of competition. Of players starting that much in their own zone, only Minnesota’s Matt Cooke and Torrey Mithcell, as well as Boyd Gordon, are seeing the level of competition the Hawks 4th line is. If we can even call it a 4th line anymore.
And yet it’s not costing the Hawks much. While that line certainly has had its moments, other than his linemates Bollig plays the most with Oduya and Hjalmarsson. While Keith gets the headlines, it’s still Elfenben ein Ebenholts who are taking the toughest defensive assignments (and mostly being flawless while doing so). Just last night, it was Oduya and Hammer who were out against Kopitar’s line last night. Is it that line that’s keeping those zone starts from becoming disaster or the excellence of our Bork! Bork! Bork! pairing?
And while I risk being accused of having an agenda and having blinders on because of it (partially true, admittedly), here are the Corsi%’s for Smith, Kruger, Oduya, and Hammer with Bollig, respectively: 47.0, 49.4, 44.0, 44.5.
Here are the same players’ Corsi% when away from Bollig: 55.9, 51.3, 56.1, 56.5.
That’s not totally fair, as when those players are away from Bollig they’re probably not playing as tough as competition as that line has been assigned. But still, only Kruger’s % doesn’t jump at least five percentage points.
This one was a surprise. The first is Nick Leddy’s Corsi % with Michal Rozsival, the second with Sheldon Brookbank (it’s 54.7 with Kostka, but only in 50 minutes or so of time). From the eye-test, most would say that Brookbank (when on defense) has been slightly better than Rozsival, at least at the start of the year. But clearly Leddy’s game is better with Rozie, because Leddy’s game is pretty much all about driving chances and possession. It’s hard to know how much of the number with Brookbank comes when Brookbank is playing forward, because it doesn’t break down like that. But still.
This is one of my favorite stats of the season so far. That’s the amount of shots per game Marian Hossa is averaging. In his career, when he has averaged over 3.5 shots per game, these are his goal-totals: 39, 43, 40, and 26 (which came in only 60 games, and had he played 82 would have likely pierced 35 again). Hossa isn’t going to score 40 because he’s going to miss more games as the season goes on. If he played every game remaining on the schedule, at this rate he’d end up with 34-35. We always worry about Hossa’s health and age, and yet in some ways he’s as good as he’s ever been.