Author's Note: I feel bad posting this and running the risk of kicking BigCSouthside's epic -- no, legendary -- video FanPost off the sidebar, so please refrain from rec'ing this until it naturally fades from view. Thanks!
Stories aplenty! A matchup between the #1 and #2 seeds that ended in a four game sweep that looked anything but -- will generate those. Dustin Byfuglien continuing his
dominance on the top line bogarting of huge goals. Playing better on the road, or when they pretend they're on the road (with the help of Mario Kart). The murine qualities of Dave Bolland. The disappearing Sharks (click to enlarge your mind):
Discovery Channel sez: "Sharks Can Become Invisible!" o rly?
What do the stats have to say about this, you might ask? Well, aside from being freaked out by glowing sharks, that is. Well, how do we know unless we question them? Mutual +/- isn't terribly important here, because our lines stayed relatively stable. So instead, let's start with Head-to-Head +/-, which is a better name for the "Cross-Mutual +/-" I concocted in my last report. I'll also tackle the Flyers in the second half.
WCF Head-to-Head +/- and Corsi
I thought that "Cross-Mutual +/-" was too clunky a name, so I decided instead to make myself semi-consistent with what Vic Ferrari calls his Head to Head Icetime tables. I'm sticking with "mutual" for teammate-to-teammate stats so that I have a way to distinguish them.
Anyway, here are the numbers, arranged by the lines as they looked at the beginning of the series (click to enlarge slightly):
This is essentially just a breakdown of what actually happened. I wrote what felt like a book (but was really just a FanPost) about the Bolland line - Thornton line matchup, so I'll hold off on expounding on it here. That said, this made for an interesting series because Antti Niemi had to face more shots that either 'Hawks goalie had to face up until this point. So, to bring some additional clarity to the picture, and because I now have the tools, I also created a Head-to-Head Corsi script, which produced this:
There's some interesting numbers here, because there are cases where some Sharks were dominating Corsi with nothing to show for it.
One attempt at clarifying this came out of my other FanPost, where I came up with something called Weighted Shots-Directed rating (though the VerRATING name may stick). Since it's still highly experimental I'm not going to post head-to-head WSD ratings here, but for all you young overachieving stats geeks out there, I'll package it along with splits for Games 1-2 vs. 3-4 (due to Todd McLellan line shuffling) and head-to-head TOI in an Excel file you can download here.
- Joe Pavelski's positive +/- against the line centered by Jonathan Toews is remarkable, considering none of his linemates actually scored. Except when he was on the PK with Marleau... oh wait, that's why he was a plus (shorties count in +/-).
- The guys who shut down HTML -- VerBolLadd and Marlboro 72 -- all did well against them but not so well in their other matchups, if you look at Corsi. But, no damage was done in the even-strength time spent away from their normal matchups -- green all across on +/-.
- Also, while lots of credit for this shutdown combo has to go to Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, don't blame the Sharks' D men. In that same matchup, the second pairing of Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray clobbered Bolland's line on Corsi.
- Drink your soup -- Brian Campbell was a beast on Corsi. He really is a key cog in our offense, and his pairing stood up well against everything that wasn't thrown at Keith & Seabrook.
- The second line saw fairly even time against the Sharks' top 9. Their results were mixed; if they were the weak point among our forwards in this series, McLellan didn't do a very good job of exploiting them. Of course, they're probably doing something right, because they keep posting solid +/- numbers.
- One has to wonder what would've happened if San Jose took advantage of the depth it didn't know it had. Even though their top two lines got the bulk of the ice time, Logan Couture and Manny Malhotra posted solid Corsi ratings, and the Pavelski line did well when they could get free of the wrath of Tazer. But, nobody could pick up enough slack for this to happen.
- Actually, after Couture, the bottom three forwards weren't much help, even against our fourth line (which wasn't much better otherwise).
- Let me say it again: why didn't Logan Couture get to play more?!
- They don't call Jason Demers a 'Hawk killer for nothing.
- Past Patty Marleau, the Sharks were unable to turn any shooting advantages into goals. This speaks both to the performance of Antti Niemi and to factors other than even-strength shooting, though it's not easy picking out what those might be. It's not like the Blackhawks dominated spectacularly on special teams or anything.
Though the "eye test" could've told you this, the statistics seem to confirm that this series really should have gone more than four games. But, in the end, it did -- what can we say? Goals are more important than chances, and somehow the Sharks couldn't put those pucks home.
I think you really have to credit the combination of a strong commitment to backchecking by the forwards, responsible clearing of rebounds and pucks in danger areas by the D, and a tremendously tremendous performance by Pelican here. Let's hope they can keep this up for one more series!
March 13 vs. Flyers Head-to-Head Corsi
So, as I did before the WCF, I now turn to our regular season results against our upcoming opponent. Of course, with the
Phillies (why is it so easy to do this?) Flyers, this was only one game -- one we many of us wanted to forget, at that.
Since there were only four even-strength goals in that game, plus-minus probably isn't too meaningful here. So let's look at head-to-head Corsi, arranged by how we expect the lines to look like now (with Kop filling in on the third line until Laddie gets back):
I don't want to draw too many conclusions from a one-game sample size, especially since we had a different goalie in net, our lines were different, and nobody is playing at the same level (good or bad) as they were playing back then. Also, I actually missed this game. But I'll put up a crap shoot of observations anyway.
- Chris Pronger and Matt Carle posted a solid game. Kimmo Timonen was okay (even on both +/- and Corsi even though he got an assist), but Braydon Coburn and Ryan Parent were adventures in their own zone, it looks like. Testing their defensive depth is a must.
- Buff McNugget was downright awful, as was our fourth line. Reading the comments from that recap, it sounds like Biscuit had a bad game, but you can't see that here. Likewise, Versteeg's solid game doesn't stand out here, even if his numbers were decent.
- Interestingly, from their numbers here, it looks like our checking line could handle their top line okay. Our top line, not so much, especially if Buff is on it.
- This was Soupy's last game before the infamous hit. It wasn't a very good game, but considering Philadelphia's potentially killer forecheck, he will have to be more than good.
- The Flyers' second line looks like it could kill us if left alone. If Richards draws the Bolland line, then we need to match Toews against this. If not, then flip this.
- Of course, that leaves Marian Hossa in the same position as he was in against the Sharks -- underutilized. I don't see this lasting long; if we can't take advantage of Panda, it will show. Nobody wants it to happen, but there is a very real possibility that we haven't seen the last of Coach Q's line generator.
- Kaner got a +1 Corsi against Pronger. Does that mean anything?
Of course, none of this really means anything. But I didn't want there to be white space where I normally spew random observations, so I coughed some up. I hope you're happy. Plus, if any of them are accurate, I'll have proof that I "predicted" something.
Late Night Munchies
This probably isn't the best thing to have right now, but I think we're all hoping that, given the nature of the latest mayoral hockey bet (sorry laaarmer... just look at that list, though!), we get to keep some of this for ourselves: what Eli's is calling a "hat trick of cheesecake":
That's 500 slices of Original, Strawberry, and Chocolate Chip.
And, since you're probably drunk the night before the Finals start, now's probably the best time to pop this into the DVD player. Just admit it, you're hoping for a sequel: