Maple Leafs scoring chances through 24 games

Through 24 games we’ve tracked the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve taken 230 scoring chances in that span of time and the opponents have taken 236. The team is mostly around even, and considering they’ve spent a lot of time through the first half of the season ahead, the ice has been naturally tilted against them.

So that’s the good news. I’ve tallied up the individual totals from each game that I post in the game recaps, fix any errors with the data, and adjust them per 20 minutes. Here is the data after 24 games:

First, what is a scoring chance? We use the definition from the Copper n Blue:

A scoring chance is defined 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:

That’s the “official” definition for scoring chances used by myself and a few other stats bloggers. I exclude dribblers as chances and will extend the scoring chance area if there was excellent puck movement prior to the shot. Generally, scoring chances don’t really tell us much more about the game than shot-differential numbers do. I post them here this year because they’re a good “gateway” micro statistic, something that bridges the gap between goals and Corsi.

Here are the Leafs’ forward totals. I’ve restricted the data to forwards who have played 100 or more minutes:

Player TOI Total + Total – + per 20 – per 20 +/- per 20
Clarke MacArthur 263.85 75 51 5.7 3.9 1.8
Nazem Kadri 285.15 77 54 5.4 3.8 1.6
Matt Frattin 114.98 32 24 5.6 4.2 1.4
Leo Komarov 280.48 66 50 4.7 3.6 1.1
Colton Orr 136.33 26 27 3.8 4.0 -0.1
James van Riemsdyk 346.02 77 84 4.5 4.9 -0.4
Tyler Bozak 345.38 69 80 4.0 4.6 -0.6
Phil Kessel 369.1 75 87 4.1 4.7 -0.7
Mikhail Grabovski 332.88 67 79 4.0 4.7 -0.7
Nik Kulemin 315.4 63 76 4.0 4.8 -0.8
Jay McClement 255.4 35 58 2.7 4.5 -1.8

Nazem Kadri and his line are the only players who have been able to drive play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s a little unfair to stack up offensive and defensive numbers like this given the role the players play for Randy Carlyle. Mikhail Grabovski, frequently pummelled in chances, has to play a hard-match against first-liners and generally takes face-offs in the defensive zone. Since the Leafs don’t have a good fourth line used for the sole purpose of moving the puck out of their zone, there aren’t a heck of a lot of offensive zone starts available for the Leafs—that hurts Tyler Bozak’s line as well.

Ray Ferraro on last night’s Senators-Leafs broadcasts made the point that Kadri has been playing third liners, but he’s been pummelling them. That’s been what I’ve noticed to. If Carlyle has done anything right coaching this year, it’s been getting Nazem Kadri minutes he can succeed in. The problem is that Grabovski, Bozak, Jay McClement and David Steckel’s minutes aren’t being optimized.

Side note, just how good is Clarke MacArthur? Team better look for ways to re-sign him…

Now for the defence:

Player TOI Total + Total – + per 20 – per 20 +/- per 20
Cody Franson 260.87 63 47 4.8 3.6 1.2
Mark Fraser 255.15 59 44 4.6 3.4 1.2
Carl Gunnarsson 260.57 58 45 4.5 3.5 1.0
Mike Kostka 401.3 83 91 4.1 4.5 -0.4
John-Michael Liles 245.35 45 53 3.7 4.3 -0.7
Korbinian Holzer 254.45 54 63 4.2 5.0 -0.7
Dion Phaneuf 424.03 88 107 4.2 5.0 -0.9

(I like that rounding quirk with Holzer and Phaneuf’s overall differential.)

Like the forwards, it’s bleak on the top two pairings, but the third pairing is alright. Cody Franson and Mark Fraser are doing everything that’s expected of them. Carl Gunnarsson despite his injuries has averaged +1.0 scoring chances per 20 minutes of play which is pretty exceptional given how rough he’s looked this season. Him and Mike Kostka have been a pretty good pairing, but generally it’s been Dion Phaneuf and Korbinian Holzer expected to play top comp.

Here’s my question to Mr. Carlyle: “Given that your top two lines and top defencemen pairing get murdered on puck-possession each night, why do you still opt for hard match ups?”

The Colton Orr and Nazem Kadri combination

There were four games this season where Carlyle put Colton Orr and Nazem Kadri together, taking Leo Komarov off of that line. I forget what the initial reasoning was, but it was decided that Orr would protect Kadri and that he would create space for him in the offensive zone. What it actually did was slow Kadri to a crawl and completely restricted his offence.

That line was together for the Leafs’ first game against Ottawa, games against Florida and Tampa Bay, and the home game against Montreal. Here has how Kadri did in those games versus other games:

TOI Total + Total – + per 20 – per 20 +/- per 20
With Colton Orr 59.55 12 10 4.0 3.4 0.7
Without Colton Orr 225.6 65 44 5.8 3.9 1.9

I posted that statistic on Twitter and an OHL scout said the following:

More from Victor: “To expand on my tweet, it was a U17 camp and I figured Peluso would help JT and Logan by creating space. Wrong. Peluso felt that because he was on a line he could play with them. Couldn’t.”

“It wasn’t until we put Peluso on the 4th line that he played better. He was the best of the 4th liners. By then it was too late as we went 0-3 for the weekend in camp.”

The funny thing is that when Colton Orr isn’t fighting, the Leafs aren’t doing horrible in scoring chances. The qualifier is that when Orr’s line has a good shift, it’s generally against the other teams’ 4th line. Tough as he may be, that line is a clear area of weakness for the Leafs.

Behind the Net numbers for forwards and defence. These are mostly for my own reference. Worth noting that Mikhail Grabovski’s Corsi Rel QoC (Quality of Competition) has actually *increased* from the 12-game mark:

NAME TOI/60 Corsi Relative Corsi On Off Zone Start % Corsi Rel QoC
Clarke MacArthur 13.19 21.6 7.96 48.8 -0.106
Nazem Kadri 12.40 20.5 8.21 50.8 -0.319
Matt Frattin 11.50 12.7 2.61 46.3 0.376
Leo Komarov 12.19 5.9 -2.57 48.1 0.026
Phil Kessel 16.05 0.9 -6.34 48.6 0.791
James van Riemsdyk 15.04 -0.5 -7.28 46.9 1.139
Tyler Bozak 15.02 -3.1 -9.03 45.6 0.792
Mikhail Grabovski 14.47 -3.8 -9.55 33.6 1.810
Colton Orr 6.82 -7.0 -12.76 50.6 -1.615
Nik Kulemin 13.71 -8.4 -12.94 32.7 1.978
Jay McClement 11.10 -20.1 -22.32 31.7 0.702
NAME TOI/60 Corsi Relative Corsi On Off Zone Start % Corsi Rel QoC
Cody Franson 13.04 16.5 5.06 50.9 -1.841
Mark Fraser 12.76 8.6 -1.18 51.4 -1.309
Carl Gunnarsson 17.37 5.1 -1.61 41.0 0.860
Mike Kostka 17.45 4.6 -4.04 44.1 1.024
John-Michael Liles 16.36 -5.9 -10.27 49.0 0.265
Dion Phaneuf 18.44 -8.3 -12.03 38.8 1.910
Korbinian Holzer 15.90 -19.2 -19.81 39.8 1.584

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• Cam Charron

Wow. I’m shocked by three things.

First what NHL coach would play Orr for 100 minutes of ice time. Lol! That is just plain silly and Carlyle should be fired for that.

And second how come Kessel is sucking so badly. I understand Mclemment (and grabbo/kulemin) who play a shutdown role against more difficult competition will get out chanced. But Kessel – how is that possible? Carlyle is gifting him “easy” minutes by line matching and yet Kessel is stinking up the joint even with this. By your data, even Bozak and JVR are outplaying Kessel so I can’t really blame those players more then kessel. Is kessel really that bad a hockey player, as it seems this verifies the MSM narrative that Kessel is a 1D hockey player.

And third the same goes for Phaneuf. What I see on TV is that Phaneuf is not the problem but again your data is showing that Phaneuf is a bigger problem then most fans and even the MSM media think. Phaneuf is apparently worse then Kostka and Holzer at being out chanced which suggests to me that Phaneuf is way over his head as #1D. Again I really question your data as you will get laughed off most boards for suggesting that Phaneuf is not a good dman. But the data is the data so it is hard to argue against it.

That said, looking at your data makes me want to fire Carlyle and trade Kessel and Phaneuf to fix the defensive lapses of the leafs. So I have to ask, are you sure your data correct?

• SkinnyFish

“how come Kessel is sucking so badly”

Because his centerman is Tyler Bozak.

• Pension Plan Puppets

Phaneuf’s been saddled with subpar defence mates which likely plays a part in his struggles although again it should be noted that he has been playing against the opposition’s best lines every night and started heavily in his own zone. That will affect his numbers as the opposition are already in the offensive zone.

As for Kessel, it’s no surprise. His line has needed a defensively conscious centreman. One issue might be that when Kessel has been double-shifted it has often been with the fourth line. That’ll have an affect as well.

Overall, good post from Cam.

• Cam Charron

Also very good work. It is good to see how bad I am at judging talent as I thought Phaneuf and Kessel were much much better players.

• Pension Plan Puppets

Raises the question… Without a truly elite corps of forwards and with the obvious benefit of “puck luck”, would a fluke playoff appearance, diminished draft pick and reinforced belief in the “coaching” (use this term lightly) of Randy Carlyle be the worst true outcome for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season?

Really a nightmare season thus far. I actually feel really, really bad for Kadri having to come through under these circumstances. He could’ve really been something on a puck possession aware team.

• Pension Plan Puppets

@PPP

I can’t reconcile why the data says Phaneuf and Kessel are worse then Holzer/Kostka and Bozak/JVR. The easy answer is to blame their team mates and spin a story to fit the story that Kessel and Phaneuf are good at hockey but the data does not support that narrative. I would never say that Bozak is better then kessel (or Holzer is better then Phaneuf) but the leaf players do not look good at all here by this measure.

I agree Bozak and Holzer are part of the problem too but it is not accurate to pin the blame on those guys entirely. To me the data says Phaneuf and Kessel are significant part of the problem (at least more then people want to acknowledge) and not exempt from blame for being out chanced.

• Derek Zona

I’ve been thinking on PDO, and how to possibly separate the inherent luck and skill factors that both play a part in the statistic.

I might be out to lunch here, as this is far from my specialty but hear me out.

Would it be possible to derive as PDO+ stat?

My thinking is, you take the last 3 years of shot and shooting % figures (save and save percentage% for goalies) to compile an “expected PDO” based on the weighted average (by total shots/saves) of the roster. That way you could say Boston has an expected PDO of 1020 and therefore there actual PDO of 1025 is actually only sign of small upcoming regression.

Now in practice, I have no idea if I’m absolutely bastardizing the way to compute PDO, but I really feel that is a half finished statistic that needs work.

• MaxPower417

a* their* remove excessive commas**

• Cam Charron

I’ve done some scoring chances analysis… generally, puck luck plays a part in creating scoring chances. A lot has to go right for a team to get a chance on net.

Ultimately, there’s no substitute for good puck-possession.

• MaxPower417

Is this a response to my post? I don’t disagree with what you’re saying I’m just missing how it applies. (which may be a sign it isn’t directed towards me lol)

For example, we wouldn’t go into a season expecting Ondrej Pavelec and Henrik Lundqvist to have the same save%. So why should we treat it like such in PDO? Admittedly there ins’t a huge gap between the save% of the elite goaltenders and of the steady #1’s but there is still a definable gap.

• Cam Charron

I see what you’re saying, and I agree. A team with a good goalie could expect a 1.020 PDO compared to a 1.000. The problem is you never really know when you’re working with a good goalie and when you’re working with a goalie on a hot streak. You’d need at least three years of data to determine that “yes, this henrik lundqvist guy is pretty good”.

• MaxPower417

Agreed! Which is why I suggested 3 years of data in my original post to be the base for the “expected PDO”. It still wouldn’t be perfect, especially with young standout players not being weighted properly but I still think it would be an improvement to current form of PDO

• Derek Zona

Any chance you’re going to correct for ZS?

• Cam Charron

Hey Cam,

Do you have these statistics from the Ron Wilson years.

Skinny is always harping on the fact that there is no difference between Carlyle and Wilson, though i suspect the difference may lie in scoring chances…not in shot quality or toughness factors?

Is one vs two hands on the stick limiting scoring chances, two on ones?

No data to support anything though.