-The Leafs Nation nerdling returns!
Earlier this week I looked at individual Fenwick percentages for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and there was some discussion in the comments as to why Dion Phaneuf’s individual number was so much higher than his partner Carl Gunnarsson.
So I looked through the timeonice shift charts and the NHL.com play-by-play data from Wednesday’s game in New Jersey and Thursday’s game in Columbus and give us a brief picture at what happens when the two play without each other.
I only looked at full shifts at even strength and didn’t count the few seconds tacked on at the start or end of a shift where one member changes on the fly. If there was a significant amount of time before or after the change, I looked at that.
-The pairing wasn’t split up in New Jersey for a while. Only until 2 minutes into the third period was Gunnarsson sent out with John-Michael Liles for an offensive zone draw and a missed shot by Toronto’s Mike Brown. +1 Fenwick.
-Right afterwards, Dion Phaneuf came out for a shift with Mike Komisarek. Brown and Phaneuf both got hits, but there were no shot attempts in either direction.
-After that, Gunnarsson came out for another brief shift with Liles and had his shot blocked. No Fenwick events, there.
-Phaneuf took another shift with Komisarek. Matthew Lombardi recorded a shot on net and there was a blocked shot by Adam Henrique the other way. That gives Phaneuf a +1 Fenwick, but an even Corsi rating overall.
-In Gunnarsson’s next shift with Liles (these were alternating, as Luke Schenn was stapled to the bench) he had a recorded shot. Another +1 Fenwick.
-In the last major shift during this little dance, Phaneuf came out not with Komisarek, but with Jake Gardiner. Also, Phil Kessel, who got a shot on net. That’s +1 Fenwick for Phaneuf.
-The two weren’t split up at even strength until the end of the game for the final shift. Phaneuf was out with both Komisarek and Liles for this, and all New Jersey managed was a single blocked shot by Dainius Zubrus.
-With the score 0-0, Gunnarsson was on the ice when Phaneuf was in the box, and Phaneuf got the next shift right after his penalty about 5:30 into the first period, playing with Gardiner. There were no Corsi events at either end of the ice during this shift.
-1-0 after a Toronto powerplay, which the two did not play together, Phaneuf was sent out for the shift directly afterwards with Schenn. No Corsi events were recorded, but there were two recorded hits in Columbus’ defensive zone, so the puck was at least at the right end of the ice.
-With the score 4-0 in the second period, right at the end of a Toronto powerplay, Gunnarsson continued to play with Gardiner for about 30 seconds. There was a missed shot at Ben Scrivens’ net recorded, and shot by Lombardi on Steve Mason, which was easily stopped and covered.
-Just after six minutes into the third period, score 4-1, Columbus was buzzing around Scrivens, and only Schenn was able to change and Gardiner was stuck out there for an extended shift with Phaneuf. The bleeding stopped with Phaneuf on the ice, he recorded a hit on Matt Calvert, and the play came to an end on an offside.
-Late in the third, Phaneuf played an extended shift with Gunnarson, Gardiner and Liles, for whatever reason. Mike Brown was credited with a shot, but there were also two shot attempts at the Leafs’ net when Phaneuf was on with Liles: one which the Leafs’ captain blocked, and one missed deflection from RJ Umberger. Phaneuf stayed at an even Fenwick but -1 Corsi.
-Right after that, Gunnarsson was out with Komisarek. Komisarek blocked a pair of shots, Gunnarson another and Derek MacKenzie recorded a shot on net. -1 Fenwick and -4 Corsi for that combination.
So, after all this, Gunnarsson was a +1 Fenwick in major even strength shifts without Phaneuf in these two games and he was also a +1 overall, so his time with and without Phaneuf in these situations wasn’t all that different to his actual totals. Phaneuf, on the other hand, was a +2 Fenwick overall and +2 without Gunnarsson.
There’s probably little to take away from this since no number jumps off the page at you, particularly since we’re dealing with a pretty low number of games. I’ll keep watching for any times during a Leafs game when the pairing is split up for a long stretch of period, because that may be worth looking at.
When you do a WOWY, you’re also catching the shots at the ends of shifts. Gunnarsson may make an outlet, but is the first to change, so another defenseman might be credited with being on the ice for the shot, so I think it’s fair to look at it shift-by-shift. It’s clear that in two games, there just isn’t enough information to be able to determine why Dion Phaneuf’s Fenwick number is so much higher than Carl Gunnarsson’s, but there’s a long way yet to go in the season.