How have the Lightning's underlying stats developed in the past six games?
Unless otherwise indicated, all stats are for 5v5 play and for players with at least 5 games. Data is from behindthenet.ca unless indicated.
1. Puck possession:
[Note that these are after 10 games, not eleven, as behindthenet's database has not yet updated this Monday morning.]
Fenwick close 42.23 (29th)
Fenwick tied 40.66 (29th)
The Lightning are still getting badly outshot. This has been true for the whole season, even when the Bolts were scoring and winning. Relative Corsi tells how a player is doing in shot generation while controlling for the team's play. Comparing players across teams using RCor instead of raw Corsi helps to keep from "punishing" players for playing on poor possession teams or "rewarding" them for playing on good possession teams.
A couple of people have asked me about physicality in the past week. Unfortunately, I don't have an easy answer for that. There is no good objective measure of physicality. Hits is a very poorly kept statistic, and is essentially unreliable in team to team comparisons.
In addition, the Hits statistic isn't even intended to capture every collision on the ice. In order for a Hit to be counted on the score sheet, a collision must result in a change of possession. Theoretically, anyway. It's pretty loose in application. Overall, the Hits stat is pretty worthless as anything other than a broad guideline for how physical a team is.
It's common sense that physicality factors in to the outcome of both games and seasons. We just don't have a good way to measure it. And we have no real idea exactly how this measure actually plays in. I would be wary of an assumption that having a high number of Hits is good for a team.
Because of the way they're (theoretically) scored, you only register a Hit when you don't have the puck. Being first in the league in Hits could mean that (A) your home scorer might just really like to see players go boom, and/or (B) you don't have control of the puck nearly as often as your opponents. Which isn't to say that you want to have the fewest in the league, either. Like Blocked Shots, you're probably best off being somewhere in the middle.
The Lightning have 223 hits (20th): 140 in 6 home games (23.3/G) and 83 in 5 road games (16.6/G). Only in one road game have the Lightning recorded as many Hits as the lowest of their home games. (data via nhl.com)
3. PDO inching down
I said last time that a correction would be coming, and over the last four games the Lightning have shot at 5% at 5v5. The 5v5 save percentage has been .886, making the PDO for those losses 936. That's not sustainable any more than the 1095 they had at the end of January.
However, if you take the season as a whole, the team's PDO is 1044, still high but much better than it was. So take the season as a whole, rather than either the first few or last few games, when thinking about what kind of performance we might expect over the long haul. In other words, this is a team that can compete for a playoff spot, but won't dominate in its current incarnation.
4. Player Usage chart
I love graphs, and John passed this along to me the other day. It's the Player Usage Chart for the current season. Opponents' Corsi ratings (Corsi QoC) are on the y-axis; Players' offensive zone start percentage is on the x-axis; and the bubbles are the Players' Relative Corsi numbers (red for negative, blue for positive). Mouse over the bubbles for each player's numbers.
Change the games played to 5 or more and things get even clearer. The "first line" (plus Ryan Malone) is out to the right with good blue bubbles. The middle lines are in the middle of the spread with a mix of positive and negative results. The "fourth" line is to the left. This means that Boucher has been able to put Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Cory Conacher in good scoring position with relatively favorable matchups.
Naturally that's going to change as the team plays more road games, where the coaches don't have as much control over line-matching. It's still awfully early in the season to read much into Corsi stats, but it's fun to see how things are unfolding as Boucher still has all of his options intact.
And sometimes questions arise that you might not see if you didn't have things laid out for you like this. For instance, why are Eric Brewer and Matt Carle's Corsi ratings (relative as well as raw) so much lower than Victor Hedman and Sami Salo's? It's not an ice-time issue or a Quality of Competition issue, and Brewer and Carle are getting slightly better zone starts than Hedman and Salo. Is it randomness or something else? I need to think about this.
5. Lightning system goalies Quality Starts
[QS=about a 75% chance to win a game]:
Anders Lindback: 3/8 (37.5%); 1 wasted; 3 Bailouts
Mathieu Garon: 1/3 (33%); 0 wasted; 0 Bailouts
Dustin Tokarski: 15/30 (50%); 3 wasted; 6 Bailouts
Riku Helenius: 5/16 (31.3%); 0 wasted; 2 Bailouts
The only one of those that's at all good is Tokarski's 50%. Blech.
However, as I've been saying all along, this can't be far off from what coaches and management expected from Lindback and Garon. They told us in June not to expect Lindy to be a savior and they've stuck to that ever since. It's far too early in his career to make predictions about where he'll end up. Patience is the key here.
A "Wasted" QS is one where the goalie gives the team a good chance to win, but they lose anyway. A Bailout is a win without a QS.