Micro Stats: Enstrom-Byfuglien Strong ES Defense Pairing

The Thrashers are now 7 games into the season and an old problem is rearing it's head again--the team is being out-shot and out-chanced at even strength. The Thrashers have never out-shot the opposition in franchise history and that has a lot to with their lack of success.

Because the NHL tracks which player was on the ice as well as when shots are attempted, we can now calculate which players are helping (or hurting) the team in terms of generating more shots than the opposition. There are several ways to look at shot differential. Each of them have their advantages and disadvantages so I will present all three in the tables below.

  1. NHL Shot Differential: only counts shots that were on target and went unblocked.
  2. Fenwick: Shots on target + blocked shots.
  3. Corsi: Shots on target + blocked shots + shots fired wide

Each of the above is a measure of offensive pressure. If the number is positive, it means that the Atlanta Thrashers are putting more pressure on the opposition net, if the number is negative it means the Thrashers are being out-chanced.

 

Why does this matter? In the short run a team can be hot or cold in terms of converting their shot opportunities, but in the long run those streaks will wash out. Good even strength teams out-shoot the opposition, bad ones don't. End of story. Only a handful of NHL players can beat the NHL average in terms of converting ES shots into goals (and Kovalchuk no longer plays here).

The early returns for the Thrashers are negative for nearly every player in terms of net shot differential. Let's take a look at the defense so far.  The last few games Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien have been receiving the most ES minutes. The good news is that they are the Thrashers best pairing in terms of controlling the scoring chances. Those two plus Brent Sopel are basically breaking even, whether we look at the NHL Shots, Fenwick or Corsi rations (per 60 minutes).  The bad news is that when Bogosian, Oduya and Meyer are on the ice the Thrashers are being dominated in terms of the scoring chance ratio.

 

Player ES TOI ES +/- NHL Shot Diff Fenwick Corsi
Byfuglien 135 -3 0 -2 -1
Enstrom 141 -3 -1 -4 -4
Sopel 97 -1 1 1 -8
Hainsey 104 -3 -6 -8 -19
Bogosian 54 0 -12 -18 -29
Oduya 130 -4 -19 -26 -34
Meyer 76 -2 -19 -27 -37

Note: All ratios are chance ratio per 60 minutes of ES ice time

If we look at the forwards, young Alexander Burmistrov is right up at the top in terms of controlling scoring chances. (Boulton has only played 1 game so far.) Notice that the Thrashers coaching staff has given Burmistrov 98 Even Strength minutes of far, only Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd have received more ES ice time! Other guys with decent ratios include Eager, Thorburn and Bergfors. On the other hand, Peverley, Ladd and Modin are being badly out chanced when they are on the ice. Ladd is +1 so far, but that number will not hold up if the team keeps getting out chanced by a wide margin when he is on the ice.

 

Player ES TOI ES +/- NHL Shot Diff Fenwick Corsi
Boulton 13 0 18 18 32
Burmistrov 98 2 0 2 -2
Eager 90 2 -6 -9 -10
Thorburn 95 3 -2 -6 -11
Bergfors 55 1 0 -5 -14
Dawes 65 -6 -4 -9 -17
Kane 105 -5 -5 -7 -18
Antropov 74 -2 -6 -13 -18
Slater 50 -4 -10 -12 -18
Little 95 -1 -11 -15 -20
Modin 67 -7 -8 -12 -21
Ladd 98 1 -13 -18 -24
Stewart 91 -4 -14 -17 -25
Peverley 95 -3 -14 -20 -25

Note: All ratios are chance ratio per 60 minutes of ES ice time

Conclusion:

I'll give the coaching staff credit for recognizing which players appear to be more effective at ES and making certain they get more minutes. On the other hand, the entire team must improve on the shot ratio if they hope to remain competitive. Next post. I'll put these numbers into context with shift start locations.

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