Micah McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) penned this piece today after he took a deeper look into how deployment percentages impact shot creation.
(Side note: he also factors in on-the-fly deployment, which the traditional deployment stat completely ignores. No big deal, but that's like half of the shifts in a hockey game so kind of a huge deal.)
The breakdown is simple: if you start in the offensive zone, you should have a pretty easy time creating shots. As you move to the neutral zone starts (or on-the-fly changes), it becomes a little harder (and more impressive) to create shots. Starting in the defensive zone is, obviously, the hardest.
And so Micah went through all of the NHL players (Excel Macros represent) and calculated their Raw and Adjusted Shot Percentages. It's interesting stuff, and it's especially nice for the Flyers.
For years now, our boy Sean Couturier has been "buried" in the defensive zone and tasked with defending the other team's best line. We use it as an excuse for his less-than-stellar offensive numbers. My first thought when I read Micah's post was "How much has deployment skewed Coots' shot percentage numbers?"
Coots' raw Shot Percentage (Flyers shots/Total shots) for the year so far is 48.4% - less than ideal, because it means they're shooting less than their opponents. When you factor in the adjustment for deployment, that number rises to just 48.7%. To be honest, I expected it to rise over 50. At times, Couturier looks dominant with the puck, and his line with Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds has recently had a lot of success sustaining pressure in the offensive zone.
In the last two games (Carolina and Los Angeles), Couturier has been playing an impressive game with an unfortunate lack of recognition on the scoresheet. Against Carolina:
- 4 offensive zone starts, 4 defensive zone starts
- 22 Corsis for, 10 Corsis against
- 0 goals, 0 assists, +1 goal differential
- 1 offensive zone start, 6 defensive zone starts
- 8 Corsis for, 7 Corsis against
- 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 goal differential
My analysis: Dave Hakstol should be fired.
Yes, the Kings are better than the 'Canes. Yes, the Coots line almost completely nullified the Carter-Lucic-Toffoli line until the very end of the game. But to have a line that generated more than twice the shot attempts against Carolina's second line.. and then make them start in their own zone that much. If you bought the "Berube doesn't use Coots in a way that will allow him to be a star player" line, you want Hakstol to address this discrepancy.
I'm kidding about firing Hakstol, of course, because I like his system and I think it really works. That's simpleton logic, and the biggest reason the deployment was so different was because LA has a killer second line (while Carolina's.. uh... stinks).
Against the 'Canes, the Coots line primarily played against the Rask-Terry-Nordstrom line and the Liles-Pesce pair. Rask is second on the Canes in goals and points. It drops off steeply from there. The stats for Terry (2 goals) and Nordstrom (2 assists) are decidedly less impressive. Liles and Pesci each have just one assist, and Liles is sporting a healthy -9 goal differential. They also played a bit against rookie/phenom Noah Hanifin, who held his own (should of drafted).
I want to take a second here to note how huge it was for Sean's line to be able to avoid the Lindholm-Staal-Staal line and the Faulk-Hainsey pair. Those guys are responsible for most of Carolina's offensive production, and they played mostly against the Giroux line.
Let's end on a learning point/bright spot for Seany Coots. The Giroux/Voracek line is always going to be the "top line". They are going to draw the other team's best defensive line, and that's going to mean Coots' line gets to play against a less defensive-minded line. In some situations, that line is very talented offensively (Carter-Toffoli-Lucic). In others, it just kind of stinks (Rask-Terry-Nordstrom). I'd love to dive more into whether the teams we've played - and which teams Couturier sat out against - but I'd also love to not get fired from my job, so we'll save that for another day.
Tonight (Sharks-centric preview), with home ice advantage, I'd expect to see Hakstol match Coots' line up with the Thornton-Pavelski line (Pavelski has scored 10 goals this year). Those two Joes are a *combined +17* so far this season. I imagine Hak wants to shut that down. That means the G line gets matched up with the Marleau line (or maybe the Hertl line depending on how Peter DeBoer operates). G and Jake will also probably draw Paul Martin and Brent Burns, which is a good sign for Coots, Reader, and Simmer.
The Sharks have a handful of big names and they're tied for 2nd in the Pacific, but they have just 4 points more than the Flyers (10-8-0 against 6-8-4). Vegas says Sharks -135/Flyers +115. Confidence level for tonight: 6.9/10.