Kid Ish's Pizzametrics, Week 7: Man Games Lost to Sads

@JHowardDesign

Imagine this stretch of games as a pizza with an unappealing topping. Sure, you'll eat it because it's pizza, but you won't love it. And you certainly won't order it again.

WEEK SEVEN

Vancouver Canucks at Anaheim Ducks - W

Anaheim Ducks at Florida Panthers - L

Anaheim Ducks at Tampa Bay Lightning - L

Anaheim Ducks at Carolina Hurricanes - L OT

The Ducks went 1-2-1 in week seven. In summary: the Canucks outplayed the Ducks without Getzlaf. The Ducks outplayed the Panthers but fizzled at the end of each frame (the flu was evident) and couldn't get more goals past Tim Thomas, who played well. Tampa Bay kicked the hell out of Anaheim. Moving on. The Ducks bested the Canes in pretty much every area except goaltending, with Justin Peters playing a huge game. Two inconsistent games, two hot goaltenders, iffy lineup shuffling because of injury and the flu...this was some midseason happenings here.

In terms of pizza pies and possession, here's where the fun sport of hockey plays poorly with statistics. Vancouver had better possession stats and lost. Anaheim had better possession stats against Florida and lost. Tampa Bay kicked the hell out of Anaheim. Moving on again. Anaheim had the better stats against Carolina too and lost.

This is why people who dislike the maths say "watch the game," because often the stats can be misleading. "Wins and losses" are all that matters! And yes, they are in the end. But the underlying numbers made this week's events long overdue. To anyone paying attention to them, the losses of the week within context of the bigger picture makes sense - and that's without the human elements (man games lost, sickness in the locker room, someone's pet died, etc.).

The Ducks have been scoring with an unusually high shooting percentage previous to this week. And while in general, the team's possession numbers have gone up (in a good way), a lot of the secondary production we saw early on came from guys getting lucky. That the Ducks' relative possession numbers have stayed the same is good, but goal scoring has dropped with a dip "to normal" in shooting percentage.

The maths said this was likely, and here we are. Fortunately, the team is playing with the puck enough to limit chances against - and that's where the fun of sports comes into play. We might see the team's shooting percentage drop to below-average levels upcoming, because slumps are a human thing that happen away from the maths, but with enough positive possession (low chances against) and strong goaltending, we can still string together wins.

Hopefully week eight turns around that way.

PLAYERS

Jakob Silfverberg 4P-Met

Mathieu Perreault 6P-Met

Cam Fowler 6P-Met

Dustin Penner 6P-Met

Ben Lovejoy 5P-Met

Andrew Cogliano 5P-Met

Sami Vatanen 2P-Met

Hampus Lindholm 3P-Met

Bryan Allen 3P-Met

Daniel Winnik 3P-Met

Ryan Getzlaf 6P-Met

Corey Perry 6P-Met

Teemu Selanne, RW (3P-Met) - I have tried to put off rating Selanne but the week seems to warrant it. With no Getzlaf until Carolina, the need for the other forwards to step up was there. Clearly, I am troubled here because of the status of the greatest eight.

The reality is, he hasn't been very good. He gets a middling pizzametric rating because in his very limited, sheltered minutes, his possession metrics are good - so that's a positive. But that's really it. The negative is, well, he's a fourth liner now. And given, on this team, the fourth line is a secondary second line in terms of role, but...

Players with more points than Selanne: Smith-Pelly, Emerson Etem, Cogliano, Fowler, Nick Bonino, Perreault, Perry, Getzlaf. And here's where the heartache starts: each of those players also adds something to the team away from scoring. Selanne is a scorer. That's literally all he does, and he's done it so well for so long that, hey, it's Teemu!

When a scorer isn't scoring, and said scorer doesn't defend well, doesn't hit or block shots, doesn't forecheck hard (or hasn't in the past few games, in any event), isn't a PKer, and isn't a strong cycle player, it's difficult not to be somewhat critical even though he's also a total legend. Now, some of you will come up with linemates as an argument and, shush. Selanne's been with Bonino, Perreault, and Getzlaf, all of whom have more points than he does - so he's being given his EV and PP chances.

But in week seven, the Ducks didn't score more than two EV goals in any game. Goal scorers: Perry, Bonino, Cogliano, Lindholm, Etem, Penner. That Selanne isn't on this list speaks to the team's record. While the Selanne Retirement Tour is a Very Cool Thing, he's also taking a wing spot away from young players who may be ready to contribute where Teemu may not be capable, and this has officially gone down as one of the more painful sentences I've ever tried to objectively write.

OVENS

I wrote above about the team's possession numbers being strong still. They aren't top of the league, but they're above average, and that's already better than in previous years. There was a conversation the other day in the comments about how those possession numbers are dropping slowly - and look, that's going to happen throughout the season. In some stretches, the numbers will rise or fall depending on play. But the conversation was more that we should be worried about the dips now.

I'm not worried, and here's why: Anaheim had the second highest official, team-reported "man games lost to injury" number in the NHL. As of November 17, or the end of week seven, the Ducks had a reported 109 MGL. That's a lot this early in the season, and not to garbage players either: Getzlaf, Koivu, Penner, Souray, Silfverberg, Palmieri, Beleskey. Regardless of what you think of each player overall, these are "key players," guys who are penciled to play every night.

To give you an idea of where that puts the team using today's numbers:

#1. Edmonton - 130 MGL, 6-15-2 record, 14th in West

#2. Anaheim - 116 MGL, 15-6-3 record, 1st in West

#3. Carolina - 103 MGL, 8-9-2 record, 10th in East

#4. Montreal - 102 MGL, 11-9-2 record, 7th in East

#5. Pittsburgh - 90 MGL, 14-8-0 record, 3rd in East

The next teams on the list: Buffalo, Columbus, Florida, Winnipeg, Detroit. Of those teams, only Detroit has a top eight standing right now in its conference. And of the 10 I listed, only Anaheim and Pittsburgh have maintained pretty consistent top slotting in the league despite missing a ton of players. That's a sign of good teams with good depth.

But beyond that, the information also helps explain the changes in the Ducks' possession numbers, as key pieces of the roster have been in and out of the lineup - and that affects the maths for so many reasons. So I'm less worried about any variation in overall possession numbers at this time.

Systemically, the team is playing a much better style of hockey, one that lends itself to more consistent success despite individual player failings. And you'll recall, my main complaint against previous coaching was entirely based on systems: without stellar goaltending, the gameplan didn't allow for consistent success without exceptional individual performance elsewhere. That's not something that could be counted on.

This team hasn't had its very best goaltending yet and has had a pretty crummy week seven, but the team is still sitting in a nice spot in the Western Conference because it plays a much better system of hockey, one that allows for depth to be inserted with success when so many players fall to injury.

So keep the faith, Quack City, and eat the pizza.

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