Any time that I get to link to an AC/DC song that hasn’t been royally corrupted by my 16-year old sister singing AC/DC’s Rock Band track pack, you have to take it. I suppose the other reason for writing this post is that I’ve been very critical of the play of one Joffrey Lupul this season. I believe that much of his success is hollow and pushed by the play of Phillip Kessel Jr., a superior player in all three zones.
In an attempt to prove anything here, I ditched the fancy numbers and looked back through video of each of the even strength, non empty-net goals scored by both Lupul (13) and Kessel (22) this season.
But first, turn on the song. Not so much that I’m a big AC/DC fan, but this will set the thematic tone for the post. You could even make the argument that Lupul is as stale and generic and as one-dimensional as AC/DC. He’s the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo-chorus-verse-chorus of hockey players:
Let’s start this up. I first looked at where these players goals have come from. While I’ve read in the comments section a bunch that these players create a lot of goals off the rush, I wanted to find a bit of proof. I don’t have a point of reference, but here are the numbers:
KESSEL – 13 goals off the rush, or 59.1% of total EV goals, 9 off possession
LUPUL – 7 goals off the rush, or 53.8% of total EV goals, 6 off possession
How I made the link was whether or not there was a clear play made in the defensive or neutral zone leading up to the goal. For each goal off the rush, I tracked who the main puck-carrier was in the neutral zone, whether it be Kessel, Lupul or Tyler Bozak.
I saw a lot of plays like this:
The reason is because Phil Kessel is a real good hockey player, and Joffrey Lupul is just sort of average. Here are the total numbers for goals off the rush:
|Kessel Carry||Lupul Carry||Bozak Carry|
Not to say this is anything definitive, but Kessel has been more adept at creating offence for both himself and his linemate this season. Kessel turns a lot more pucks around in the defensive and neutral zones and drives them forward. This is reflected in the fact that Kessel has the highest Corsi number on the Leafs among forwards with 60 games (I lied, I did use some fancy numbers) and I think the guy is developing into a two-way player that a lot of people don’t see just yet.
But if Brian Burke is intent on holding onto a player with a career-high shooting percentage this summer rather than selling him when his value is at the highest, that’s his worry. I really, really don’t think that Lupul is anything more than average offensively and he’s pretty bleak in his own end.
Powerplay goals, goals off of offensive zone faceoffs, goals created by a teammate off the rush or empty net goals account for 72% of Joffrey Lupul’s goal total this year, and just 50% of Kessel’s. Of course, it isn’t breaking news that Kessel is a better player, but I think it’s a pretty stark difference. Lupul is taking advantage of a real good situation in Toronto, and Burke may be better off selling high for a real good young forward from Ontario.