We've finally reached the midpoint of the 2011-12 season, and it's time to take a look back at how the Stars have gotten to this point. I have 39* games of scoring chance data that I've recorded for the Stars, and I've wanted to start looking at it more closely to see what conclusions we can draw about the Stars. Half a season, while a small sample still, is a reasonable landmark to take a step back to examine what we have in front of us.
NHL.com and Charter Cable ate two of the games. Sorry.
What I've done is tried to answer the question "What does the average Stars game look like?". The database I'm collecting has period by period totals, game by game totals, situational numbers, player totals, and team splits. I've used these numbers to recreate what the average Stars game looks like at it's most simplistic level. I've made some assumptions along the way to make it easier on me (read: less time consuming) that I will explain after the jump. So, if you're prepared to see what it looks like when you cram 41 (39) Stars games into two all-encompassing charts follow the jump.
Before we get into what the average Stars game looks like I am going to take a few moments to describe the methodology I used to come up with the charts. It isn't overly complicated, but it is involved. I started with the overall team scoring chance and ice time numbers. The first chart, you'll recognize it as the chart usually before the jump on a random game scoring chance post, is a recreation of a chart from the database. I just divided the total numbers by 39 (which is how many games are in the database) to take a simple average of what the overall game looks like.
The player numbers are where things get tricky. I wanted to show what the average game looks like at a team level, not what the average game of a particular player was. So I optimized the lineup to an extent. I determined the most common set of 18 players by games played. The top 12 forwards and the top 6 defensemen were considered for ice time in this fake game. Jordie Benn, Krys Barch, Adam Pardy, Tomas Vincour, Philip Larsen, and Toby Petersen are sitting idle.
With the 18 players isolated I wanted to credit each with fair ice time that they would see in a given game, and I wanted to credit special teams play appropriately. Using NHL.com's special teams minute breakdown I ended up giving the Stars 51.5 even strength, 5.7 powerplay, and 2.8 short handed minutes per game to be divided out amongst the 18 selected players.
Finally, to divide the ice time up and appropriately award scoring chances I began with Corsi Relative Quality of Teammates. I sorted the Stars by QoT to get the most appropriate line matchups as possible since they vary over the course of the season. From there I put the lines together with even strength ice times of the individual players, and estimated how the four lines would divide ice time. I ended up crediting the lines with ice time as follows: 15, 14.5, 12, and 10 minutes. I credited each defense pair with 17 minutes of even strength ice time since they generally roll them over the boards. Mark Fistric's 14 minutes per game skews this a bit, but I'm under no illusions that this is a perfect representation of a Stars game. It's a detailed estimation. I did a similar trick for special teams distribution. The special teams distribution was 3 and 2.7 minutes for the power play vs 2.25 and 1.55 for the special teamers.
With the players and ice time nailed down it became a simple matter of massaging the database to get the numbers I'm looking for. I simply took each players scoring chances per minute in all three situations and multiplied those by the amount of minutes they were assigned in each situation to estimate what they would do in this average Stars game.
The lineup for the average Stars game should look pretty familiar.
On average that lineup is being outchanced about 11-12 in the average Stars game. They generally play a strong first period, play a miserable second period, then rebound to bring the game back to equilibrium in the third. The second period is both their worst defensive and offensive period by far. The special teams remain consistent across the three periods, but the even strength play drops off dramatically. My initial thought about the second period struggles goes back to coaching since I'm very underwhelmed by the in game strategy (or lack thereof) that the Stars employ, but that could be biased. The second period is when a coaching deficiency would show up though since the other team would have an intermission tactical changes.
The individual player report has a few key bullet points worth pointing out. The first is the awesomeness of Jamie Benn. He's generated almost twice as many chances as he's given up to lead the Stars by a healthy margin. The Stars fourth line is a fourth line. They aren't offensively skilled, but they don't kill you defensively. The Stars best powerplay performer in the average game is Trevor Daley who is expected to generate 1.31 PP scoring chances in this game. The Stars best penalty killing defenseman is Nicklas Grossman by leaps and bounds. In this average game he would be expected to not give up any chances more often than not. He and Loui Eriksson have been key to the Stars PK resurgence. The Stars second line is very vulnerable defensively, particularly Morrow. He would be expcted to give up 3.52 chances against in the average Stars game. The closest person to Morrow is Alex Goligoski, but he's significantly more valuable offensively.
EVTOI=Even Strength TOI
EVSCF=Even Strength Scoring Chances For
EVSCA=Even Strength Scoring Chances Against
In the near future I'll put the actual scoring chance numbers up for examination, but for the time being I hope this snapshot of what the Stars are is educational on some level. They have an excellent top end duo of Eriksson and Benn. They have good secondary line of Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro that is being over exposed defensively. They also desperately need a top pairing defenseman to push everyone down a slot or two. They're in the playoff hunt after 41 games though. If they recreate the above game for the remainder of the schedule they should stay in the hunt for a while, and give us all something to enjoy for the first part of 2012.