Anaheim Ducks (above .500) at Tampa Bay Lightning (at .500), 4:30 pm
Anaheim Calling and Raw Charge -- my 3-year-old nephew is a huge Lightning (McQueen) fan.
I'm recycling cartoons today for a couple reasons. One, I spent a lot of time making data tables that you'll get sick of fast, and two, I also got caught up yesterday arguing with Ducks fans in the comments of this AC post, mostly about whether the Ducks should trade Lubo (uh, nope!) but also whether the Ducks should later this summer trade everything they own for the rights to negotiate with Shea Weber (uh, nope!).
In fact, from a Ducks perspective I'm not terribly interested in this trade deadline at all. Anaheim probably should be "sellers", but enough is finally going right on the ice with this team that I'm happy enough to see how this roster plays out, UFAs and all. I think we owe this to two individuals, mainly -- there were many points in this season where Teemu Selanne could have barged his way out the door, but he didn't -- let's not pull the rug out from his potentially last season just as things are rolling.
And then there's Bruce Boudreau -- we really ought to give him full opportunity to coach the hell out of this team. Because that's exactly what he's been doing.
First, a look back at the three partial NHL seasons that Boudreau coached, and the impact he seems to have brought:
In 2007-08, the Washington Capitals made Bruce Boudreau their head coach after a 6-14-1 record through their first 21 games. Here's how the Caps did that season pre- and post-Boudreau, along with the "Kirby Factor" row -- Row B minus Row A, essentially.
|Pre-Boudreau||21||6 - 14 - 1||0.310||+2.2||-3.0||-0.8||14.6%||78.2%||+29.1||-29.0||+0.1|
|With Boudreau||61||37 - 17 - 7||0.664||+3.1||-2.7||+0.5||20.4%||81.5%||+31.6||-27.0||+4.5|
You'll note that in pretty much every area, the Caps were an improved team after Boudreau took over. Goals-per-game and shots-per-game improved on both ends of the rink, special teams got a bump, and as a result the team won at a much more impressive rate.
Cut to this season, where the Anaheim Ducks made Boudreau head coach after a miserable first 24 games. We can see some similar improvements, though the Ducks' special teams have fallen a bit back. Still, on the whole, the Ducks have become a much better shooting and scoring team since the coaching change.
|Pre-Boudreau||24||7 - 13 - 4||0.375||+2.2||-3.1||-0.9||17.2%||86.5%||+26.5||-31.0||-4.5|
|With Boudreau||35||18 - 11 - 6||0.600||+2.7||-2.5||+0.3||16.4%||81.3%||+27.4||-28.4||-1.0|
In this instance, it took longer for the results to turn around, so we shall see what this looks like after game 82.
But at this point I have to caution you -- it's not difficult to show improvement to teams that are at their worst "now let's fire our head coach" moments. A shakeup at the top of the coaching order does jumpstart some players naturally, and the baseline for "success" for a takeover coach is substantially low. Still, we have two instances where teams needed a turnaround, and it seems Bruce Almighty was able to deliver both times.
On the flipside, then, here's how the Caps have fared this season since Boudreau's departure (in this table, the Kirby Factor is Row A less Row B):
|With Boudreau||22||12 - 9 - 1||0.568||+3.1||-3.3||-0.1||16.3%||80.0%||+30.6||-29.7||+0.9|
|Post-Boudreau||37||17 - 16 - 4||0.514||+2.4||-2.5||-0.1||18.6%||81.3%||+25.9||-30.8||-4.9|
It hasn't been the same sort of turnaround for the Capitals, but in fairness, they fired Boudreau with a much better record than the first two table examples. Special teams have improved since Kirby left, but goals-for and shots-for are down noticeably. This is not to say that Kirby had no problems in Washington, mind you -- it's just they don't really seem to be resolved since he left.
So we have three examples where Kirby was head coach for part of a season -- two where he had a favorable "takeover" edge and one where he was let go. Let's add 'em up!
|No Boudreau||82||30 - 43 - 9||0.421||+2.3||-2.8||-0.5||16.8%||82.1%||+26.9||-30.4||-3.5|
|With Boudreau||118||67 - 37 -14||0.627||+3.0||-2.7||+0.3||18.6%||81.1%||+30.2||-27.9||+2.2|
Very heartening results -- go Kirby!
* * *
While I'm boring you with numbers, let's take a deeper look at a specific stretch of games where the Ducks have been really successful -- their last 21. Anaheim is an amazing 15-2-4 since January 6, outscoring opponents by a whopping 24 goals in 21 games. And it hasn't really been special teams domination -- Ducks have scored 12 power play goals while opponents have scored 9 over the stretch. At even-strength, the Ducks are playing awesome.
And shockingly, they've been outshooting opponents, also. Carolina outshot Anaheim 31-26 last game, but before that the Ducks outshot eleven straight opponents -- don't know that's happened ever in Anaheim's history.
So, I dug some numbers together to see how individual Ducks were performing at even strength over their successful 21-game stretch. Mostly this was done with the use of Vic Ferrari's internet tool but there's a glitch that happens after the Ducks' game in Columbus -- I had to compile the last four games through my own spreadsheet wizardry. What this table shows is for each player, when they were on the ice in even-strength situations with a goalie in each net:
- How many goals-for and goals-against were scored.
- How many shots-for and shots-against were fired on net.
- How many attempted shots (shots on goal plus missed shots and blocked shots) happened.
Anaheim Ducks Last-21-Games Even-Strength-With-Goalies Stats
(Players sorted by Position, then Goal Differential, then Shot Differential)
||Shots on Net||Attempted Shots|
Now you'll note at the bottom that this is a very goalie-favorable stretch of games for the Ducks. At even-strength, Anaheim outshot opponents by 15 SOG and also outscored opponents by 15 goals -- Hiller has been much better than his counterparts, or Anaheim's shot selection has been superior, or we've been luckier, or some combination of all those factors. So it's a cherry-picked table for sure, but it still does reflect a quarter of the season -- there's some value in the results.
It is interesting to see how evenly-spread the plus/minus has been among the forwards who have played, and yet how distinct performance has been among the blueliners. Certainly Fowler and Beauchemin have seen a lot of tough opposition, so the fact that they have most of the minuses isn't too troubling, but while they're hanging in there it's been very crucial that Visnovsky has been kicking ass. He's a goal-differential machine -- he gets easier minutes than some, but the fact that he milks them effectively matters a ton.
That's really why I don't get the "trade Lubo" sentiment -- it almost seems to me that's just a fan's vote against winning games. Add in the fact that Lubo is signed for only $3M next season, plus the Ducks are 2-9-2 this season without him (outscored 34-47), and I have no idea why he's not a hugely crucial part of next year's success. Plus, if need be, he can be traded probably more effectively next trade deadline (there's better bidding when teams are made aware a player is available), anyways.
One last note on the table -- I give our top line a lot of shit, but this table suggests they've been more unlucky than undominant. Look at the shot attempts while Getzlaf or Perry is on the ice -- they are owning the puck a lot of the time, it seems. Maybe they're still surrendering too many excellent chances against, but keep it up, big guys -- glad to see you guys in the outscoring and outchancing department.
Phew -- that's a lot of analysis! Feel free to point out anything you notice or ask anything you want clarified in the comments.
Prediction: I should be around for game comments today -- stop on by! Ducks keep rolling 4-2, with a goal from each forward line. Lubo ends up +3.