Sleek,I'm a sucker for flattery, and yeah, I do have been keeping some spreadsheets for this sort of question, so without further ado, let's take a look at the forward lines for Anaheim, this year compared to last year. In a lazy move, I'm just using screen captures of Excel tables; hopefully they are all legible.
The Ducks play so far has me frustrated. And you seem like the guy to help explain the frustration. I'm curious about ES TOI this year versus last year for the Duck's containment line. As yourself, I'm a huge fan of Pahlsson, but it seems like that line is getting more ES TOI this year. Could just be my imagination.
However, if it's true, then it might explain some of the drop off in scoring. And also point to a coaching phylosophy that needs to change. The Ducks need to dictate play, rather than react (by over-using the containment line).
Keep up the great work on the blog.
For the Ducks, it really makes sense to compare forwards by their on-ice responsibility, because I think context matters a great deal in Carlyle's strategy. The Ducks play a top scoring line against the opposition's top defenders, a stopper line against the opposition's top scorers, and a sheltered line that for the most part doesn't carry either responsibility. The tables below are meant to reflect that, and show each line's even-strength minutes per game, even-strength points per 60 minutes, and even-strength goal-differential per 60 minutes. I'll try to indicate numbers that stand out to me after each table.
The Top Line:
The Stopper Line:
The Shelter Line:
A quick look at special teams:
As for the penalty kill, the top pairing of Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer seem to be as effective as last year, but the secondary unit of Marchant and Moen has seen a steep drop-off in goal prevention.
I think this analysis has been useful in seeing which minutes, in particular, seem to be preventing the Ducks from experiencing success similar to last year's. The problems that I can see are that the shelter line isn't finding a way to outscore soft competition, the top line is allowing more goals-against, and the stopper line could score some more goals. However, on an overall level I can't say that overplaying the Pahlsson line looks to be the Ducks' problem--that line, at least, has differential rates similar enough to last year.
Really, though, the Ducks' problem isn't really one that's explained through the forward minutes, I think. Certainly there are effects that come from personnel changes, but I think what's causing the dropoff more is the lack of a second Norris defenseman; last year these lines either had the benefit of usually a Pronger or a Niedermayer on their blueline, but nowadays Pronger minutes can only be distributed so far (usually in a defensive setting, as nobody else is really trustworthy).
The Ducks' movie theme thus far.
I have no idea what sort of team the Ducks would become if or when Scott Niedermayer rejoins the team, but I gotta think that a lot of these issues could be compensated by a blueline that's better at retrieving the puck and creating offense through transition. In that regard, TSN's Bob McKenzie has fantastic news for Ducks fans; Scott may be returning to the roster very soon.
If that happens, I'll gladly re-run these numbers after several games to see what effect another Norris defender has on the forward minutes. I'm not sure it can get back to last year's numbers, but I'll be happy for any improvement to what's become a rather mediocre team. In the meantime, I'll probably throw another post up pretty soon to show the defenseman minutes, where the Ducks' year-to-year dropoff will probably be more apparent.
Thanks for the question, Jeremy. As always, Go Ducks.