NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 05: Brenden Morrow #10 and Trevor Daley #6 of the Dallas Stars congratulate Mike Ribeiro #63 on scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on January 5, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Net scoring chances generated are useful numbers to look at to understand what happens when a given player is on the ice, but the raw number generates as many questions as it does answers. We've discussed contextual issues in this space before. Quality of Competition, Quality of Teammates, and Zone Starts intuitively impact scoring chances just like they impact Corsi and Fenwick. Does playing with better players put you in better position to generate a chance? It should. Does playing against good competition make it more difficult to generate a chance. Again, it should. Starting in the defensive zone instead of the offensive zone is definitely more difficult. Thinking that these factors make a difference and proving that they make a difference are two different matters.
Thanks to the work of George Ays of Blueshirt Banter we can apply an adjustment to the scoring chance data to account for Zone Starts. George has found that an even strength scoring chance that starts in the offensive zone is worth .425 scoring chances. His finding, and the equation he adapted from Adjusted Corsi, allow us to neutralize the impact of zone starts to see who is doing the most with their ice time.
The Stars have guarded their fourth line considerably this year. They've used the Vernon Fiddler, Eric Nystrom, and Radek Dvorak line in a checking capacity. The Jamie Benn line has generated the most net positive chances by far on the Stars. After the jump you'll find a chart (I made it pretty this time) of the Stars Adjusted Scoring Chances that will allow you to draw your own conclusions about how these particular lines are doing.
EVSC+/-: Scoring Chances For - Scoring Chances Against
OZ%: Offensive Zone Faceoffs/Defensive Zone Faceoffs
Adj SC: Adjusted Scoring Chances
Adj SC/15: Adj SC per 15 minutes
Adj SC/60: Adj SC per 60 minutes
|RANK||POS||NAME||EVSC +/-||OZ%||Adj SC||Adj SC/15||Adj SC/60||Corsi Rel QC|
Quality of Competition and Zone Start data brought to you by Gabriel Desjardins' behindthenet.ca.
I sorted the chart by Adj Sc/60 to illustrate which players are being the most productive with their ice time. The big variable that isn't being adjusted for yet is Quality of Competition. I included each players' Corsi Relative Quality of Competition so you can at least see what it is
The Benn brothers top the chart, but the Jordie Benn contribution needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. He played in two games, and had a very low quality of competition. I would like to see more of him. When he was up he was very poised with the puck, and really impressed. He isn't really number one though. That recognition goes to Benn The Younger.
Enough isn't being made about the value of the Stars usual top line. Benn and Loui Eriksson have carried the Stars this season. They've been so good that the defensively challenged Michael Ryder is third in the rankings riding third wheel with them and cranking shots at will. The Benn trio's ranking reflects their dominance. They lead the Stars in chances generated, but they also don't give up much to the opposition. As you can see they draw tough checking assignments with their elevated Corsi Rel QoC. Despite this they're excelling.
All of your fourth line names are in the positive range. If they weren't they shouldn't be sniffing an NHL roster. They play limited minutes against very underwhelming competition. Toby Petersen, Francis Wathier, Jake Dowell, and Tom Wandell have an average -1.52 Quality of Competition which includes Wandell's rising rating given that he has been playing top minutes with Mike Ribeiro and Benn out of the lineup
The Stars top three defensemen all have their heads above water. Alex Goligoski, Stephane Robidas, and Trevor Daley all play against above average competition, but they're all generating more than they give up. Goligoski has come back to earth some since returning from his injury, but lately he's been rebounding.
The Stars bottom four defensemen come in a span of five spaces. Sheldon Souray, Adam Pardy, Nicklas Grossman, and Mark Fistric all come in between the one to negative one net chances per 60 minutes range. Souray is playing against very difficult competition on a nightly basis while breaking even. You can't argue with the production they've gotten from him, but he hasn't played to the level of a core player like the top three guys. When you factor in how often he puts the Stars shorthanded the picture becomes even clearer.
The other three guys have taken beatings this year. Pardy, Grossman, and Fistric have gotten lumped together at times this season for various reasons, but in particular turnovers and poor defensive coverage. Some have suggesting shopping Grossman due to his UFA status or just letting him leave period. It might happen, but it's worth pointing out that he's more valuable than either Pardy or Fistric. He's the Stars best penalty killer (not reflected in these stats). Pardy doesn't kill penalties, and Fistric plays fewer minutes a night than any other defender on the Stars. He's clearly on a tier ahead of either guy, but you still probably don't commit to him long-term if you can help it.
The bottom of the chart consists mostly of the Stars second and third lines. The Ribeiro line hasn't been good this year. Early on they were getting torched defensively on a nightly basis. The line stabilized a bit over the past few months, but they're the Stars weakest defensive line. They play against difficult competition, and as the season has gone on Morrow has drifted to the point where he's taking more defensive zone draws than any other top nine forward outside of Loui Eriksson. That isn't a recipe for success
Finally, we get to the beloved third line. They're over-matched as a unit most nights. I've discussed the Nystrom shooting percentage issue before. It's now dropped to 18.6. He's scored three goals in his past 19 games, a 13 goal pace. They don't create much any offense, and defensively they're ok. They shouldn't be mistaken with a shutdown checking line. They're guys that don't kill you who bring some special teams value. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but it's lacking compared to other third lines in the league. I think they're a really good fourth line playing further up than they should due to the Stars well documented depth and financial problems.
This ended up a little longer than I was anticipating, but hopefully it was informative. The main ideas behind all of this are that without Benn and Eriksson the Stars would be in significant trouble. The Stars have two core-type defensemen in Goligoski and Daley (Robidas being out due to age). Finally, Souray and the third line haven't performed as well as it appears at first glance. A chart like this might not be a bad place to start when identifying which core pieces the Stars should move forward with if they are in fact about to move toward the next phase of the franchise starting with the upcoming trade deadline. If you have any questions leave a comment or follow me and send a tweet my way at the link below.