Leafs microstats through October

Cam Charron
November 01 2011 03:53PM

We've sort of known for a while that Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson likes looking at numbers to evaluate player performance, but never were we given any indication that he looks at more than goals and goals against. That is, until James Mirtle at the Globe got Wilson to admit that he tracked scoring chances when discussing the play of Dion Phaneuf.

While a good eye for on-ice talent can be helpful, so can a blend a statistical analyses. A good defensive play can't be recognized by the eye, because it doesn't necessarily exist. While we can notice a shot block or a hit, or a gritty puck battle won by the defender, we need to understand that sometimes those plays don't give way to not allowing shots. Paul Coffey was a terrific defensive defenseman, because the puck was always in the other end. Vince Lombardi once applied to football the quote "the best defense is a good offense" and that perfectly applies to hockey.

We can check the Fenwick percentages of the Leafs, and notice that Phaneuf is the best player suiting up for Toronto. Toronto earns 60.5% of the events with Phaneuf on the ice, while, off of it, Toronto controls just 41.2%, a difference of 19.4%. Meanwhile, Luke Schenn has had an extremely rough outing, with the team getting just 39% of all shots and missed shots with him on the ice, and 52.7% of the events when he's off.

I've broken down the chart to just the Fenwick percentages, and the differences between them:

Player Fenwick % On Fenwick % Off Fenwick Diff
Phaneuf 60.5% 41.2% 19.4%
MacArthur 58.7% 47.0% 11.7%
Brown 55.2% 47.6% 7.7%
Steckel 54.7% 47.1% 7.6%
Kadri 55.6% 48.3% 7.3%
Gunnarsson 53.3% 46.5% 6.8%
Grabovski 53.4% 46.9% 6.5%
Rosehill 54.2% 48.5% 5.6%
Kulemin 52.1% 47.7% 4.5%
Gardiner 50.5% 48.1% 2.5%
Armstrong 48.8% 48.7% 0.1%
Frattin 48.4% 48.9% -0.5%
Lombardi 47.3% 49.1% -1.8%
Kessel 46.6% 50.3% -3.6%
Liles 45.5% 50.7% -5.2%
Lupul 45.2% 50.8% -5.6%
Dupuis 43.9% 49.7% -5.7%
Connolly 43.3% 49.3% -5.9%
Franson 41.5% 49.5% -8.0%
Bozak 40.9% 51.7% -10.9%
Komisarek 40.5% 51.4% -10.9%
Orr 36.4% 49.0% -12.6%
Schenn 39.0% 52.7% -13.7%

The top line continues to suffer possession-wise, due to their propensity to create offense of the rush. They don't play the type of game that's accostomed to this sort of analysis. Mike Komisarek and Cody Franson are other defensemen who are being victimized, while I'm sure 67 Sound won't be surprised to see that the Leafs do the worst when he's on the ice, and Mike Brown is clearly a better fourth line winger, and perhaps some of this data matches what the Leafs have.

Again, without actual scoring chance charts, Fenwick data is probably the closest we have towards what the Leafs are working with. It explains why Luke Schenn has been benched towards the end of certain games. Given how far removed Gunnarsson is from Phaneuf, I'm willing to bet that, separated, he's seeing similar struggles.

Overall, the Leafs have a team Fenwick of 48.7%, which is pretty close to even given the team have only played 11 games. The 102.9 PDO continues to hang over the Leafs' heads like an anvil waiting to fall. With no real set return-date for James Reimer, it's all on Jonas Gustavsson to out-play the man at the other end of the ice for another week or so.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 Kent Wilson
November 01 2011, 04:40PM
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If Dion sustains that level of play, then he has taken a very big, very real step forward...and the conversion of that trade for the Flames from bad to terrible is complete.

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#2 clay
November 01 2011, 04:46PM
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@Kent Wilson

Undo undo!

Maybe we can trade Stajan to Colorado for 3 first rounders

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#3 Danny Gray
November 01 2011, 04:47PM
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I'm assuming these are EV numbers? Because the disparity could be explained by the fact that Phaneuf and Gunnar are only split up on the PP.

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#4 TheKert
November 01 2011, 05:29PM
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I'm wondering the same thing. If this is for all situations then Gunnar's not as far behind as this makes it look. He has played less time on PP and one would assume your getting a better ratio of events for vs against on the PP. if this is even strength only then I guess Ive been thinking a little too highly of Gunnarson.

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#6 Danny Gray
November 01 2011, 06:14PM
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@Cam Charron

Which is very odd, because Phaneuf and Gunnar have been paired together very consistently this year. Any thoughts on what might cause the difference?

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#7 Pension Plan Puppets
November 01 2011, 07:14PM
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@Danny Gray

If I had to guess, I'd wager either longer shifts, double shifting, or a combination of the two.

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#8 Matt
November 01 2011, 07:22PM
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@Danny Gray

Only thing I can think of is Dion is double shifted and plays a lot more. Maybe there are times during the game Gunnarson plays with someone else briefly?

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#9 Danny Gray
November 02 2011, 08:34AM
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Took a look at both Gunnarsson and Phaneuf's EV TOI:

Total: Gunnar: 183:50 Phaneuf: 201:23

TOI/SHIFT: Gunnar:44.0 Phaneuf:51.0

SHIFTS: Gunnar:338 Phaneuf:350

SHIFT/G: Gunnar:31.8 Phaneuf:30.7

While not taking many more shifts per game than Gunnar Phaneuf is on the ice an average of six seconds longer. Is this enough to explain the difference? They don't see too much EV ice time without one another.

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#11 Danny Gray
November 02 2011, 11:27AM
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@Cam Charron

I've been watching the pair closely and they don't take too many shifts apart. Often Phaneuf just stays out longer.

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