December 11 2013 12:25PM
Before every game, I get into writing about something other than the obvious storyline pertaining to the other team. The obvious thing going into tonight is the goaltenders. Jonathan Bernier will get to face his old team while Ben Scrivens looks to be sitting on the bench. Both have been exceptional since the trade in the summer.
But I don't want to write about the goaltenders, nor do I want to concentrate on the 6-0 drubbing the Los Angeles Kings laid on the Montreal Canadiens (thank you!) a night ago on national television. I want to focus on Justin Williams, because he is a player so rarely talked about in the mainstream press despite possibly being the best two-way winger in the world right now. He won't get Team Canada consideration because he's not flashy, but his teams are embarrassingly better with Williams on the ice than off the ice.
After the jump I'll look at the key statistics between the two teams, then completely ignore those, and focus on Justin Williams.
|Corsi Close %||57.1% (2nd)||42.4% (29th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.15 (17th)||2.09 (19th)|
|5v5 GA/60||1.52 (1st)||2.00 (9th)|
|PDO||101.0 (8th)||102.5 (2nd)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.94 (24th)||8.37 (5th)|
|5v4 SF/60||54.4 (11th)||58.2 (6th)|
|4v5 GA/60||5.11 (8th)||7.23 (23rd)|
|4v5 SA/60||48.4 (10th)||62.4 (26th)|
|Penalty Differential||-10 (24th)||-25 (30th)|
In 2010-2011, the L.A. Kings were a reasonably good puck-possession team. They became a loaded juggernaut when they traded their worst possession player, Jack Johnson, for a star centreman in Jeff Carter. Despite being an 8th seed, the Kings cruised through the playoffs and won the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup. They were not only the annual "well they aren't a traditional 8th seed", they were a legitimate threat. Over at Canucks Army, then-editors Thomas Drance and myself took some heat for picking the Kings to beat the Presidents' Trophy winners in the first round.
The 2012 Kings are the team that succeeded so the statgeek, Corsiati component of the hockey blogosphere could have a team to point to when quizzed on why you'd want a team full of hockey players and not a combination of scorers, checkers and thugs.
Justin Williams is a hockey player.
Williams came to the Kings at the 2009 trading deadline in a three-team trade that was notable because it was part of a three-team trade that saw Patrick O'Sullivan go to Edmonton and Erik Cole wind up back in Carolina.
Take a look at how those three players have fared since the start of the 2009-10 season. The chart here includes 5-on-5 points, 5-on-5 points per 60 minutes of ice-time, and the percentage of total goals scored by your team:
That fourth column is incredible. The Kings get 57.5% of goals scored when he's out on the ice, which is one of the top in the NHL since that time. In fact, he's 22nd in the NHL (minimum 3000 minutes played) behind a list of superstars, players that play with superstars, and also Patric Hornqvist and Radim Vrbata.
In that six-year period, only one player in the entire NHL has a better “Corsi Tied” rate when on the ice than Justin Williams. That is Pavel Datsyuk, whose Detroit Red Wings have had 60.4% of the overall puck possession in score tied situations. Williams is second at 59.5%, which is absolutely remarkable. The list is almost entirely made up of Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks, but Williams snuck onto that list.
Basically, the Kings are just as good with Williams on the ice as the Red Wings are with Pavel Datsyuk on the ice. Definitely not as talented, and Datsyuk records more points for a reason, but not THAT many more. Williams is 36th in the NHL in those score-tied situations in points, just by virtue of being out on the ice for so many goals for!
Quick. Think back to the last Justin Williams highlight.
The other thing I'd point out about Williams is that he's the convergence of love from the Corsi crowd as well as the love from the crowd that loves clutchosity and gritensity. Williams has one of the great Game 7 playoff scoring records. He has five goals and nine points in four games (including the goal that turned out to be the game winner back in 2003 against… Toronto).
Not to mention his team is 4-0 in Game 7s and he has two Stanley Cup rings. You know the kinds of players that people love because they "just do it all" and they bring up the Scott Hartnells and Wayne Simmonds of the world? Justin Williams is the guy that just does it all! He scores points! He is incredible through the neutral zone! He backchecks like a cycloptic driver without a rearview mirror!
Okay, serious analysis from the "Key Statistics" portion of the post: the Kings will probably out-shoot the Leafs by a massive margin tonight, but we don't need to look at Corsi numbers to know that's what's going to go down.
MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP
James van Riemsdyk - Nazem Kadri - Phil Kessel
Mason Raymond - Trevor Smith - David Clarkson
Joffrey Lupul - Peter Holland - Nik Kulemin
Frazer McLaren - Jay McClement - Jerry D'Amigo
Carl Gunnarsson - Cody Franson
Jake Gardiner - John-Michael Liles
Paul Ranger - Mark Fraser
I don't *hate* the top four. You have what amounts to an above average second pairing and an above average third pairing. Since I've taken control of this website, I've tried to hammer home two points: Dion Phaneuf is a legit No. 1 defenceman, and the team has not had a legit No. 2 since they traded François Beauchemin. They're short a top pairing of this being a pretty good defensive team, in my humble opinion.
If either Paul Ranger or Mark Fraser play above 16 minutes tonight I will scream so loudly the downstairs neighbours will think "why is that guy screaming so loudly?"
Dwight King - Anze Kopitar - Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown - Jarret Stoll - Justin Williams
Tyler Toffoli - Mike Richards - Kyle Clifford
Dan Carcillo - Colin Fraser - Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr - Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez - Willie Mitchell
Anze Kopitar is the genetic equivalent to more well-known two-way centremen like Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron, but his test tube prior to his birth was shipped to the wrong address and wound up in Slovenia, so you don't hear about him all that much.
(and a paragraph as useful as most goalie statistics)
Looks like it'll be Bernier and Jones. A prairie fire shot is the combination of tequila and tabasco sauce, and once you have several of them (not in a row, of course) you begin to like the taste. During the Kings' 2012 playoff run, I was spending some time in Toronto with a friend that happened to be a Kings fan. We would order a prairie fire shot after Kings wins (it may have been Kings goals, but I can't really remember, because, again, tequila) and I simply began to order prairie fire shots in bars in lieu of tequila. It's gotten to the point where tequila without tabasco sauce goes down like water, which is the first indication that I have a problem.
Also, when you've been focusing on the Canucks and the Leafs for the last three years, things are as they are, it becomes a lot easier to drink things.
The Leafs and the Kings get underway at 7:30 Eastern. Game is on TSN. It is 11/12/13 today, meaning the day, month and year will line up numerically for the last time until Smarch 12th, 2014.
ALSO AT TLN TODAY
- Say hello to the new guy! Jim Lang (as seen on TV!) joins the team, since we all decided we needed some adult supervision
- Jeffler looks back at how the Leafs compare to other previously out-shot teams, and determines that the Leafs goalies should get Hart Trophy consideration if they can keep the team in the playoff hunt.