The past few games, the Florida Panthers have been going with the following second line: Jonathan Huberdeau-Drew Shore-Peter Mueller. For fans, this line is one of the more exciting combinations of talent seen in a long time. It may not necessarily be the most productive line this season and head coach Kevin Dineen may eventually decide to change the line, but for now it serves as a harbinger for the future potential of the Panthers.
While the season is still young, I wanted to take a look at the individual parts that make up the Huberdeau-Shore-Mueller line. (Hopefully if the line stays together for a while someone will come up with a clever name, nothing has come to me as of yet, but if one thing is for sure, a good line is not complete until it has an awesome nickname.) I wanted to do this by utilizing some new age statistics. After Bill James revolutionized baseball with his sabermetrics, the statistical sea-change spread to just about every professional sport. In my following analysis of the Huberdeau-Shore-Mueller line, I will attempt to introduce some of the newer hockey stats, and because most of the stats are still new to me, I will attempt to use them correctly.
The Basics: (Courtesy of NHL.com)
So what can we take away from these numbers? The first thing I notice is the shooting percentages, which for Huberdeau and Mueller seem a bit high and are likely to go down as the season advances. Compare the above shooting percentages to the shooting percentages of the Panthers top three scorers in the 2011-12 season. Weiss converted 13.4 percent of his shots while Versteeg and Fleischmann each converted 12.4. Last season for Colorado, Mueller’s shooting percentage in 32 games played was 8.5%. While playing with the St. John Sea Dogs this season Jonathan Huberdeau shot 7.12%. These numbers lead me to think that Mueller and Huberdeau will see some regression in their shooting percentages while Shore’s will obviously go up once he starts putting some pucks in the net.
While it is early to take away too much from +/- numbers, it is worth noting that other than Shawn Matthias, who is +2 on the season, Shore, Huberdeau and Mueller are the only Panthers on the positive side of things. This would indicate strong defensive play or at the very least offensive production that outweighs bad defense.
Intro to Advanced Statistics:
Over the past few years, stats have been developed to better measure what kind of an impact a player has on their team. In looking at the early season impact of Huberdeau, Shore and Mueller, I will be looking at the following stats, Corsi On Ice, Relative Corsi, Relative Corsi Quality of Competition and PDO.
Corsi is a stat named after former player and current Sabres goaltending coach Jim Corsi. In its simplest form Corsi On Ice is a measure of shot differential when a player is on the ice. (Sidenote: all the stats shown in this article are taken from behindthenet.ca, an excellent source of information for anyone wanting to get deeper into hockey analytics.) The measure of Corsi On-Ice is as follows:
Corsi On Ice= (shots on net+missed shots+shots blocked by opposing team)-(shots on net allowed+missed shots allowed+blocked shots)
Corsi On Ice is most often looked at for 5 on 5 situations, and is measured on a per game basis i.e. shot differential per 60 minutes. The thinking behind Corsi is, situations where your team is taking a shot are positive situations while situations when the opposing team is taking a shot are negative situations. Better players will have higher Corsi numbers because when they are on the ice, their team takes more shots and gives up less shots.
To illustrate, I will use an example from last season; Stephen Weiss had a Corsi On Ice of -2.57 which means when Weiss was on the ice, the opposing team outshout the Panthers by an average of 2.57 per game. Corsi On Ice can be a helpful stat, but many situations can skew its usefulness. For example teams that are really good will have Corsi numbers that skew higher than really bad teams because good teams would tend to take a lot more shots than they give up. This detracts from the importance of On Ice Corsi when looking at individuals. The next stat Relative Corsi was created to avoid some of the biases that On Ice Corsi comes across.
Relative Corsi is the difference of a players 5 on 5 On Ice Corsi and their Off Ice Corsi.
Relative Corsi= (On Ice Corsi- Off Ice Corsi)
Off Ice Corsi is the Corsi of a team when the player being looked at was not on the ice. This stat gives a better indication of the effect a certain individual has on their team. Again looking at Stephen Weiss from 2011-2012; Weiss had a relative Corsi of -2.2 which means per 60 minutes the Panthers gave up 2.2 more shots when Weiss was on the ice than when Weiss was on the bench.
Relative Corsi Quality of Competition:
This is a measure of the average relative corsi of a player’s opponents. If a player played 50% of his ice time against 5 players whose relative corsi was 1.0 and the
other 50% of the time against five players whose relative corsi was -1.0 than that players relative corsi quality of competition would be (.5*1)+(.5*-1)=0.0. Lets look again at Stephen Weiss from last season; his Relative Corsi Quality of Competition (Corsi Rel QoC) was .869 which means the Weiss’s opponents averaged .869 more shots than they allowed per 60 minutes. Weiss ranked 6th on the Panthers in Corsi Rel QoC which indicates he played most of the time against stronger competition which could explain in part why his personal Corsi numbers were in the negatives.
PDO= teams even strength shooting percentage when player is on ice+even strength save percentage when player is on the ice
This is essentially a measure of how much luck. It indicates whether a player is have an overly lucky or unlucky season. Over time, a players PDO will regress towards a mean of 1000 and any PDO over 1000 indicates a player was lucky while a PDO under 1000 indicates a player was unlucky. PDO can be used to tell if a
players sudden scoring outburst was legit or a product of luck. It can help indicate whether a player’s poor season was due to declining skills or just a product of bad luck. In 2011-2012, when Stephen Weiss was on the ice in 5 0n 5 situations, the Panthers shot 10.07 percent while his goalies save percentage while he was on the ice in 5 on 5 situations was 917. Adding these two numbers results in a PDO of 1017 (the addition of shooting percentage is, like save percentage, based around 1000 so Weiss’s shooting percentage would be added as 100.7 as in 100.7 out of 1000 shots are goals). This PDO indicates Weiss was a tiny bit lucky but nothing extraordinary.
Now that we finally have some tools, lets take a look at what they can tell us about Huberdeau, Mueller and Shore so far this season.
A Closer Look: (Rank on the team in parentheses)
|GP||Corsi On||Rel Corsi||Rel Corsi QoC||PDO|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||9||-4.06 (10th)||4.0(10th)||.734(10th)||1011(3rd)|
|Drew Shore||7||7.66 (2nd)||13.6(5th)||.734(10th)||974(8th)|
- The first thing to remember when looking at these stats is, we are looking at such a small sample size that most of what can be gleamed from these numbers is probably insignificant but we’ll plunge forward anyway and try to draw some conclusions.
- Mueller and Huberdeau’s PDO indicates they have been a bit lucky which would seem to agree with their slightly elevated shooting percentages. Shore has a PDO below 1000 which indicates bad luck. Having watched Shore over his short career I would guess this number is due in part to the tough time he has had
finishing so far in the NHL.
- It is a good sign that all three are players rank in the top ten Panthers in Relative Corsi. For all three of these players, the team averages more shots when they are on the ice than when they are not. This is a good indicator of future success for the line.
- The similarity in the Rel Corsi Quality of Competition make sense because while playing on the same line, they are facing the same opposing players thus it would be expected that line mates have similar Rel Corsi QoCs.
Statistics such as these are good ways of gaining a better understanding of what you witness with your eyes. It is important to keep in mind that advanced stats cannot completely replace the power of observation. I think the best way to use stats such as Corsi and PDO is to use them in conjuncture with what you see while watching the games. These stats are fascinating because often times they can reveal things that are completely invisible to the naked eye.
I will try to incorporate some of these advanced stats from time to time in my analysis of the Panthers. Like many NHL fans, I am relatively new to advanced NHL statistics so it is safe to say I will not completely geek out, however I do recognize their value and think they provide an interesting angle for the analysis of hockey.