Originally posted on Shutdown Line  |  Last updated 1/3/12

At the end of November, I came up with a narrative called "The March Towards .500" where the Hurricanes corsi, fenwick and scoring chance rates were slowly improving and that there was a realistic chance of the Canes getting over 50% in both of those categories even if the team wasn't winning. Well, the team was ".500" with a 5-5-2 record in the month of December but their scoring chance percentages actually regressed. It wasn't anything extreme (Scoring chances are sitting at 47.3% at even strength right now) there wasn't much progress being shown from the end of November. However, the shot charts that Gabe Desjardins cooked up show that the team's underlying numbers are slightly better compared to what they were under Paul Maurice. They are still a long ways away from reaching that .500 mark.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the individual scoring chances after three months. We'll be looking at both raw data and scoring chance numbers adjusted for zone starts. We will do that starting after the jump

Forwards

Player EV Total 5v5 SCF 5v5 SCA EV CF/15 EV CA/15 SC% Nov. Diff Drayson Bowman 120.12 38 32 4.745 3.996 0.543 N/A Jeff Skinner 429.45 141 123 4.925 4.296 0.534 0.007 Chad LaRose 543.12 164 148 4.529 4.087 0.526 -0.0274 Jussi Jokinen 429.53 124 114 4.330 3.981 0.521 -0.01 Tuomo Ruutu 515.8 157 148 4.566 4.304 0.515 0.014 Eric Staal 604.27 190 183 4.716 4.543 0.509 -0.001 Jiri Tlusty 476.8 115 113 3.618 3.555 0.504 -0.0246 Average


4.468 4.141 0.485
Alexei Ponikarovsky 474.85 110 119 3.475 3.759 0.48 0.017 Brandon Sutter 536.15 113 143 3.161 4.001 0.441 -0.014 Patrick Dwyer 480.05 80 104 2.500 3.250 0.435 0.009 Zac Dalpe 75.63 17 25 3.372 4.958 0.405 0.074 Riley Nash 21.03 3 5 2.140 3.566 0.375 N/A Anthony Stewart 257.37 41 69 2.390 4.021 0.373 0.0247 Tim Brent 285.35 42 78 2.208 4.100 0.35 -0.01 Andreas Nodl 108 13 29 1.806 4.028 0.31 N/A

5v5 SCF = 5v5 Scoring chances for, 5v5 SCA = 5v5 scoring chances against, EV CF/15 = Even strength chances for per 15 mins., EV CA/15 = Even strength chances against per 15 mins., SC% = Scoring chance percentage, Nov. Diff = Scoring chance differential from last month

This is sorted by order of scoring chance percentage, so I color coded the chart to make the other columns easier to read. Drayson Bowman's numbers are with a small sample size but it's hard to not say that he hasn't earned a longer look on the Hurricanes. He's doing basically the same thing he did last season only he is scoring now (albeit at a low rate), so that should be enough to earn him a roster spot for the next month or so. I will say that he looks to be a better fit for the third line than a top-six role, which doesn't exactly help the team right now, but he does fit into their future plans. You could argue that he's helped the third line a bit because Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer haven't been lightning it up offensively, so he adds a nice spark to that line.

Speaking of Patrick Dwyer, here is more evidence that he has been probably the team's best defensive forward. He plays with Sutter about 60% of the time and is giving up less chances in his own end than any other forward. The other top defensive players are Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jussi Jokinen according to this and both are creating fewer chances compared to the team average. This is interesting because Jokinen was the team's most consistent forward during October and now he's barely below the team average at creating chances. It's a good thing he has been great in his own end.

Chad LaRose didn't have a good month and he saw his percentage take a bigger drop than any other forward. I guess a fall like this was inevitable since he was playing so well at the beginning of the year but he is still outperforming most of his teammates. Speaking of outperforming teammates, no one has been able to catch up to Jeff Skinner's scoring pace yet as he still leads regular forwards in scoring chance percentage. Although, Ruutu has really picked it up the last month and Staal could possibly get there too. Staal's defensive play has been pretty bad, though. 

I'm thinking that we'll see Jiri Tlusty join the

Anthony Stewart has also been on the rise but he is still recovering from his dreadful start to the season while Tim Brent and Andreas Nodl are also getting killed in their own end with fourth line minutes. I know that Nodl has been glued to the fourth unit but I feel like he could at least be better defensively. Those are some ugly numbers.

Defensemen

Player EV Total 5v5 SCF 5v5 SCA EV CF/15 EV CA/15 SC% Nov. Diff Jaroslav Spacek 142 43 25 4.542 2.641 0.632 N/A Bryan Allen 598.03 138 126 3.461 3.160 0.523 -0.0073 Tomas Kaberle 429 111 108 3.881 3.776 0.507 0.001 Average

3.433 3.433 0.485
Jamie McBain 513.98 139 149 4.057 4.348 0.483 0.001 Derek Joslin 175.97 39 43 3.324 3.665 0.476 -0.0104 Joni Pitkanen 329.88 89 101 4.047 4.593 0.468 0.014 Jay Harrison 452.72 126 144 4.175 4.771 0.467 -0.0023 Justin Faulk 380.5 104 119 4.100 4.691 0.466 -0.0006 Tim Gleason 654.62 154 185 3.529 4.239 0.454 -0.019

Bryan Allen remains at the top of the pack for defensemen (can't say Spacek because he's only played 10 games, but I'll talk about him a bit), he may have been demoted to the third pairing but he's still starting 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone and is the only regular defenseman to have a scoring chance rate above 50%. What's also nice is that he is creating chances and preventing chances at rates above the team average. Now, why is he playing on the third pairing???

Faulk, McBain and Harrison are all having no problems at creating chances, the problem is that they are giving up a lot in their own end, especially Harrison. Faulk and McBain are all very talented and excellent offensive defensemen but their play away from the puck could use some improvement, especially Faulk. Harrison's style of play has shifted to more of an offensive presence and you can see that his play in his own end has taken a turn for the worst. It makes me a little weary of giving him tough assignments but a reason for that might be due to Tim Gleason struggling. While I'm sure those numbers are due to him starting so many shifts in his own zone, he hasn't been nearly as outstanding as he was earlier in the year.

Now it's time to adjust these numbers for zone starts to see how some of the heavy-lifters look.

Forwards

Player Raw CD CD/60 ZSNet Adj. Raw CD Adj. CD/60 Chad LaRose 16 1.768 -51 8.56490245 11.428571 Brandon Sutter -30 -3.357 -87 12.1769725 7.2794118 Drayson Bowman 6 2.997 -2 3.89576525 6.440678 Patrick Dwyer -24 -3 -63 9.91638336 5.5230126 Jussi Jokinen 10 1.956 -10 2.35357587 5.2009456 Jeff Skinner 18 2.515 -3 1.15643402 4.8 Jiri Tlusty 2 0.252 -24 4.08648694 4.4537815 Alexei Ponikarovsky -9 -1.137 -22 3.42974975 1.7916667 Eric Staal 7 0.695 10 -1.115259 -0.152672 Tuomo Ruutu 9 1.047 16 -2.16447193 -0.699816 Tim Brent -36 -6.729 -16 2.65127557 -8.384279 Andreas Nodl -16 -8.889 4 -6.86868687 -10.90909 Anthony Stewart -28 -6.528 21 -6.56821403 -16.84211 Zac Dalpe -8 -6.347 7 -19.2688513 -21.93548 Riley Nash -2 -5.706 8 -63.7164952 -44.21053
  • LaRose ends up getting more credit for his tougher assignments here and comes out the highest rated forward. It makes sense because he's been on the first and third lines all season which means he is either playing on the shutdown line or against the opposing team's top defense pairing. Him being a +16 in chances is impressive when you take all of that into consideration.

  • Guys who take more defensive zone starts are generally rated higher than those who take less even if they are slightly outchanced, and that is shown with Sutter being rated higher than Dwyer. However, if you look at their net zone starts, you'll see that he has taken 14 more draws in the defensive zone than Dwyer and has only given up six more chances, so him being rated higher makes sense in this instance. This isn't discrediting either as they have both been good.

  • Jiri Tlusty might be a little underrated.

  • Staal and Ruutu are getting easier zone starts and not outchancing their competition by much so they are barely negative here. I don't necessarily agree with this but I do understand it. Adjusting anything for zone starts in this matter expects players to blow away their competition if they start more of their draws in the offensive zone and if they don't, they come out looking horrible.

  • Nodl and Stewart need to be a lot better possession-wise. I expect Nodl to be put into a more defensive role soon but it's hard to justify doing that when he's already getting pinned in his own zone with easier assignments.

 

Defense

Player Raw CD CD/60 ZSNet Adj. Raw CD Adj. CD/60 Bryan Allen 12 1.205 -65 8.98715422 10.810811 Tim Gleason -31 -2.841 -75 8.84808931 4.4891641 Jamie McBain -10 -1.129 -34 5.3205846 3.5102041 Joni Pitkanen -12 -2.183 -27 6.06793379 3 Jaroslav Spacek 18 7.606 24 -4.31017331 -0.446097 Jay Harrison -18 -2.386 -14 2.05464324 -1.585082 Justin Faulk -15 -2.365 -2 -0.19473506 -3.409669 Tomas Kaberle 3 0.42 23 -5.33543608 -4.569733 Derek Joslin -4 -1.364 19 -10.8260581 -12.54902
  • Jaroslav Spacek has been everything that Tomas Kaberle was supposed to be. This is going with only 10 games worth of data but he has essentially been playing the same role at even strength as Kaberle and is outplaying his opponents by a much wider margin than Kaberle. As a third-pairing defenseman with sheltered zone starts, this is what he is supposed to do and I'm glad that he is living up to my expectations. If he stays healthy then he should be able to keep playing well in this kind of role.

  • Tim Gleason is still taking more defensive draws than any other blue-liner and he gets credit for it here but his adjusted chance differential about five points compared to last month so you can tell that he's regressed.

  • McBain is not getting killed too badly in a shutdown role but he did struggle the past month so his rating dropped about three points. I standby my original statement that his game isn't suited for that kind of role.

  • Faulk/Harrison end up negative here despite starting more of their shifts in the defensive zone and that kind of shows the limitations of these two. They played well against Toronto and New Jersey but they had a lot of ugly games last month and I'm interested to see how they turn out at the end of January because they will probably get a lot more looks as the top pairing between now and then.

  • Again, why is Bryan Allen still on the third pairing? I'm going to ask this until someone gives me an answer.

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