Maple Leafs scoring chances update through 12 games

Cam Charron
February 11 2013 02:04PM

If the 48-game season without any interconference play has a benefit, it's that the season breaks up conveniently into 12-game chunks representing a quarter of the season. The "quarter pole" in a regular 82-game season takes place in the second period of Game #21, where our minds are focused on other things rather than statistical analysis after a convenient number of games. 

Each Leafs game this season (well, comrade Thomas Drance covered one for me) I've sat studiously in front of the television, and each time a team takes a shot deemed quality enough, I'll mark down on a piece of paper the time it was taken, the player who took it, who passed him the puck and whether the play resulted in a missed shot, saved shot or a goal.

Every 12 games this season I will tally up the data and see what we come up with.

To start off, I'll just say my method is totally imperfect. In past years we had a script where we'd input our data and it would come up with an automated list of scoring chances, including which players were on the ice for each chance. It would then add up for each player how many scoring chances they were on the ice for, on each team. You'd have something resembling a plus/minus number each game and they were easy to tally up.

So my method, where I manually go through the play-by-play data because it's less time-consuming than writing a script (I do it during intermissions and get to avoid Doug MacLean talking about how terrible Dion Phaneuf's leadership is) will yield a few errors. I counted a total of 120 five-on-five chances for Toronto through 12 games so far, but only 117 made it onto my otherwise flawless sheet of manually-tallied scoring chances. That's a bit of a bummer, but comes with the territory of dealing with this stuff without having any programming or coding knowledge. I can speak enough HTML to order from an Internet Cafe, by that's the extent of what I can do there, so I use pen and paper like they taught me how to do in journalism school. The numbers below are "close" but not "perfect".

What is a scoring chance?

A scoring chance, by the way, is defined at this excellent post at Copper n Blue as "a clear play directed toward the opposing net from a dangerous scoring area - loosely defined as the top of the circle in and inside the faceoff dots (nicknamed the Home Plate), though sometimes slightly more generous than that depending on the amount of immediately-preceding puck movement or screens in front of the net. Blocked shots are generally not included but missed shots are. A player is awarded a scoring chance anytime he is on the ice and someone from either team has a chance to score. He is awarded a "chance for" if someone on his team has a chance to score and a "chance against" if the opposing team has a chance to score."

The home plate area is shown above. Sometimes I extend the range a little bit higher into the slot to account for a one-timer or an odd-man rush where the puck is shot from just outside the black line. Also this year I've taken out shots taken from good areas that end up being dribblers towards the net. Deflections are counted only if the initial shot would otherwise be in the scoring chance zone, or if it's a clear play on the part of the initial shooter to set up a deflection and the guy making the tip is on the same page. That's pretty rare since most deflections are just randomly thrown pucks at the net and a guy fighting for position throws his stick out at the puck.

Anyway, here's how the Leafs stack up. Regular forwards only and I've come up with a rate of "per 20 minutes" to modify ice-time:

No. TOI Total + Total - + per 20 - per 20 +/- per 20
Nazem Kadri 132.13 32 24 4.8 3.6 1.2
Clarke MacArthur 109.18 26 20 4.8 3.7 1.1
Matt Frattin 104.77 28 22 5.3 4.2 1.1
Phil Kessel 185.25 46 37 5.0 4.0 1.0
James van Riemsdyk 164.2 47 39 5.7 4.8 1.0
Tyler Bozak 172.88 42 36 4.9 4.2 0.7
Leo Komarov 132.63 25 24 3.8 3.6 0.2
Mikhail Grabovski 178.15 33 41 3.7 4.6 -0.9
Colton Orr 61.5 9 12 2.9 3.9 -1.0
Nik Kulemin 170.65 32 42 3.8 4.9 -1.2
Jay McClement 129.6 14 26 2.2 4.0 -1.9

Time on ice numbers are from Behind the Net.

Nazem Kadri, as you'll see in the chart below, has actually a lower Corsi Rel QoC (quality of competition) and a lower offensive zone start rate than Phil Kessel this season. Randy Carlyle has really brought him along, and he leads the team in scoring chance differential as well as both Relative Corsi and Corsi ON rates.

(For the uninitiated who want to learn more about Corsi, follow this link. It's basically a measure of puck possession when a player was on the ice, tallied by shot differential. Corsi syncs well with scoring chances over a large stretch of games)

However, it's the top line that's creating the most chances on their own, led by James van Riemsdyk, who is on the ice for 5.7 chances per 20 minutes of play. Like Clarke MacArthur, he has played on all three of the top lines at some point during the season. MacArthur also has very good chances and Corsi differentials.

The second line, as you'll see below, has also faced very tough competition. Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin are 1-2 on the team in Corsi Rel QoC and start a lot of face-offs at the wrong end, typically matched up against opposing top lines. They've kept the scoring chance count somewhat equal, although they have tailed off a bit in recent games. I like MacArthur on that line better than Leo Komarov or Jay McClement.

Here's the defence. Again, the rates are "per 20 minutes":

No. TOI Total + Total - + per 20 - per 20 +/- per 20
Mark Fraser 92.23 24 10 5.2 2.2 3.0
Cody Franson 99.85 27 15 5.4 3.0 2.4
Carl Gunnarsson 119.72 26 20 4.3 3.3 1.0
Korbinian Holzer 84.28 17 15 4.0 3.6 0.5
John-Michael Liles 192.78 40 40 4.1 4.1 0.0
Mike Kostka 206.97 45 53 4.3 5.1 -0.8
Dion Phaneuf 222.77 45 56 4.0 5.0 -1.0
Mike Komisarek 51.77 3 13 1.2 5.0 -3.9

Mark Fraser and Cody Franson have been the best pairing for the Leafs on pure chances as well as Corsi as you'll note below, but they tend to play against third and fourth lines, and match up more in the offensive zone than any defenceman except for John-Michael Liles. They also don't play a lot of minutes, but they've been very good as a third pair.

Dion Phaneuf handles most of the defensive minutes, the highest Corsi Rel QoC by a fair margin on the Leafs' blueline and just a 39.8% offensive zone start rate. Carlyle starts him on the wrong end of the ice against tough competition, and much like Grabovski, Phaneuf has been limiting the damage done. Kostka is slightly better offensively and slightly worse defensively as you might expect.

The Leafs really miss Carl Gunnarsson, who was playing tough minutes and had a positive chance differential until he got hurt. That's a stinger. Mike Komisarek has been terrible all season, on the ice for just three chances for and 13 against, equalling by far the worst rate "for" and is up at the top in the worst rate "against". He played some tough comp, but wasn't even close enough to par to make him worth playing over Mark Fraser of all people.

Korbinian Holzer recovered after a tough start and I like his pairing with John-Michael Liles. Carlyle split them up last game, but presumably at some point they'll get back together.

Here are the Behind the Net numbers for forwards and defence. If you have any questions about what the numbers mean, leave them in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many as I can over the next few days. I'm posting them below mostly for my own reference, since BtN updates itself every day and there's no archive.

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Relative Corsi On Off Zone Start % Corsi Rel QoC
Nazem Kadri 11.01 24.2 14.53 54.3 0.689
Clarke MacArthur 12.13 20.8 10.99 52.6 0.807
Phil Kessel 15.44 11.6 3.89 57.0 0.119
Matt Frattin 11.64 10.2 1.72 45.7 0.730
Leo Komarov 11.05 6.2 0.90 52.2 0.862
James van Riemsdyk 13.68 2.8 -1.83 53.8 1.200
Tyler Bozak 14.41 0.5 -3.47 52.8 0.313
Mikhail Grabovski 14.85 -1.8 -5.05 33.8 1.560
Nik Kulemin 14.22 -5.7 -7.74 33.3 1.818
Jay McClement 10.80 -21.1 -19.91 30.0 0.344
Colton Orr 5.13 -24.3 -25.37 55.3 -0.387

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Relative Corsi On Off Zone Start % Corsi Rel QoC
Cody Franson 11.09 22.1 13.82 49.2 -1.649
Mark Fraser 10.25 16.2 8.46 50.9 -0.045
Carl Gunnarsson 17.10 9.4 4.51 41.0 1.123
Mike Kostka 17.25 4.3 -1.16 47.6 1.188
John-Michael Liles 16.07 -5.6 -7.47 51.7 0.261
Dion Phaneuf 18.56 -9.4 -9.43 39.8 1.708
Mike Komisarek 12.94 -15.1 -26.66 45.7 3.601
Korbinian Holzer 16.86 -31.5 -19.22 46.2 0.499

Scoring chance and advanced statistics on this page updated through games played on February 10, 2013.

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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 tnleaf
February 11 2013, 03:40PM
Trash it!
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Something is wrong with your data. For example, this corsi and scoring chance suggest Kostka is superior to Phaneuf.

Also the data shows that Orr is not great at the skilled part of hockey but his impact to the game and importance to the team cannot be over stated.

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