clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Contenders At Last?

The Ducks have upped their possession game since the trade deadline. How much does that matter?

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

For the third straight season, the Ducks have played a mediocre possession game despite dominating in the standings. Unsurprisingly, that has translated into two playoff seasons that have ended in losses to lower seeds. This year, things look only slightly better at first glance: The Ducks finished 19th (50.0) in 5v5 CF% (or SAT%) in 2013-14 and they currently sit 13th (51.3) in 2014-15.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. The Ducks have lost the third most man games (348) of any team in the league and, perhaps even more importantly, Bob Murray did some major roster tinkering at the trade deadline. So what do the possession numbers look like since then? Glad you asked.

Since March 2nd, the top five teams in the league in 5v5 CF% are:

1. Dallas Stars (14 games played) 56.9

2. Carolina Hurricanes (15 GP) 55.6

3. Los Angeles Kings (14 GP) 55.1

4. Anaheim Ducks (15 GP) 54.4

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (15 GP) 54.4

Obviously, what we have here is a small sample size. The top three teams are all currently outside the playoff picture (as of this writing), and the top two are locks to miss out on the dance. To see if these numbers have any relevance, I looked back at past years' post-deadline statistics.

The following table shows the top five teams for each time period in 5v5 CF%. Teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final that year are in bold. I didn't include the actual numbers because A) I have things to do and B) you know what neighborhood they're in anyway.

A note on sample size: All teams played between 17 and 22 games post-deadline except for those in 2015 (14 or 15 GP because the season isn't over yet) and in 2013 (12 or 13 GP because the season was shortened).

Season Top 5 Teams Full Season Top 5 Teams Post-Deadline
2014-15

1. LAK

2. CHI

3. DET

4. TBL

5. NYI

. . .

13. ANA

1. DAL

2. CAR

3. LAK

4. ANA

5. PIT

2013-14

1. LAK

2. CHI

3. NJD

4. BOS

5. SJS

. . .

8. NYR

1. LAK

2. CHI

3. BOS

4. NJD

5. VAN

. . .

8. NYR

2013

1. LAK

2. NJD

3. BOS

4. CHI

5. OTT

1. NJD

2. OTT

3. DET

4. CHI

5. MTL

. . .

7. BOS

2011-12

1. DET

2. LAK

3. PIT

4. BOS

5. STL

. . .

13. NJD

1. LAK

2. DET

3. BOS

4. OTT

5. VAN

. . .

7. NJD

2010-11

1. SJS

2. DET

3. CHI

4. PIT

5. VAN

. . .

14. BOS

1. SJS

2. PIT

3. VAN

4. ATL

5. CHI

. . .

8. BOS

2009-10

1. CHI

2. DET

3. TOR

4. WSH

5. BOS

. . .

14. PHI

1. PIT

2. DET

3. CHI

4. SJS

5. BOS

. . .

9. PHI

2008-09

1. DET

2. CGY

3. CHI

4. WSH

5. SJS

. . .

19. PIT

1. DET

2. CGY

3. WSH

4. CHI

5. PIT

2007-08

1. DET

2. WSH

3. NYR

4. SJS

5. CGY

. . .

29. PIT

1. DET

2. SJS

3. WSH

4. CAR

5. TOR

. . .

19. PIT

2006-07

1. DET

2. FLA

3. TOR

4. ANA

5. CAR

. . .

12. OTT

1. DET

2. CAR

3. DAL

4. FLA

5. VAN

. . .

10. ANA

11. OTT

2005-06

1. DET

2. OTT

3. FLA

4. DAL

5. ANA

. . .

9. EDM

24. CAR

1. DET

2. FLA

3. PHI

4. OTT

5. VAN

. . .

7. EDM

19. CAR

Other teams that have improved their possession game significantly post-deadline, as the Ducks have done this year, include playoff successes like the '08 and '09 Penguins, '10 Flyers, '11 Bruins and '12 Devils. But teams like the '08 Maple Leafs, '11 Thrashers, and '12 Canucks also upped their possession game in the final quarter of the season, and nobody remembers these teams except their fans who remember their suffering.

Though I'd be wary of drawing too many conclusions from this data, it does seem clear that the Ducks look like a better team now than they did a month ago. A big part of that is the fact that James Wisniewski is now arguably the sixth best defenseman on the team, whereas in past months Ben Lovejoy, Clayton Stoner, Bryan Allen, and Eric Brewer have played significant minutes in the top six. The Ducks don't have a Norris Trophy-level defender, but they do have three excellent players and three pretty good ones on the blue line, and that may just be enough this year.

All numbers courtesy of war-on-ice.com.