After my defense of the play of Scott Gomez yesterday, I was asked about which players see the most powerplay time without earning any results. The reason for this is that Gomez, who has sort of become a major project of mine lately, has just 1 powerplay point in just over 64 minutes of ice-time this season.
It’s fair. Powerplay time is roughly 1/8th of the game, and we know a team can avoid rough goals for and against differentials at even strength with a strong powerplay. Pittsburgh, for instance, have allowed 102 goals against to 101 goals for at 5-on-5 this season, but their strong powerplay, 6th in the league at 34 goals, has allowed them to jump out to an overall +22 goal differential, 4th in the East, and they’ve been climbing in the standings.
None of this includes today’s games, because at the time of me writing this, Pittsburgh are losing 2-0 to Winnipeg on the strength of 5-on-5 goals by Kyle Wellwood and Antti Miettinen. (Oh wait, now it’s 2-2)
So for a team like Montreal, a strong even strength team, they’ve also been dragged down by their powerplay. At the start of the season, they were creating chances and getting shots on goal, but none were going in and they’ve been bogged down by bad luck. Recently, though, the team has slipped, falling to 14th in the league in powerplay shot rate at 49 per 60 minutes.
Is that due to Gomez? Probably not. Using some data found at Behind The Net (this is purely unscientific. Individual powerplay performance is pretty random, so there are many ways at attacking this question) I was able to calculate which players provide the most shots on goal and get the most points with the extra man.
I only looked at forwards who had played at least 1:30 of powerplay time per game (or 1.5 minutes on ice per 60) and started first with predictive stats. Which teams had the lowest amount of shots on goal with these players on the ice?
(These are rates per 60)
It’s not too surprising to see a few Devils on this list: Adam Henrique, Danius Zubrus and Petr Sykora have also given up a lot of shots and chances against. New Jersey is a dangerous team penalty killing, but they also give up a lot of goals when they’re up a man, and when the other team is getting shots and goals, it decreases your own team’s ability.
Also, Scott Gomez – 48.1 team shots per 60 minutes.
Next I looked at overall goals. If shots are predictive, goals are reactive, and fans will often get frustrated by a team or player that are getting chances but failing to convert.
Turris, Sykora and Jordan Staal are all holdovers from the last list, with Zubrus in 11th spot. A few St. Louis players are on the list, despite their recently improving powerplay (they couldn’t buy a goal to start the season). Meanwhile, it seems that if Montreal fans are complaining in reaction to Gomez’s powerplay minutes, they ought to be directing their ire at Brian Gionta instead, a man who has 3 powerplay points in 90 minutes of play.
Scott Gomez – 2.83 goals for per 60 minutes, so while theoretically better than Gionta, he’d also appear on this list if he hit the minimum games played requirements.
Third, I looked at points per 60 minutes on the powerplay. I guess you could really pinpoint a player’s individual contribution with this:
A few more holdovers. Who keeps giving Kyle Turris powerplay time?
Scott Gomez – 0.94 points per 60 minutes. He would most certainly be on this list, ahead of Brian Gionta. Oddly enough, his first goal in over a year came on the powerplay, he’s a terrific assist man at even strength, but he doesn’t have any with the man advantage this season.
So I think there is a reasonable argument to be made against Gomez’s inclusion on the Montreal powerplay, but he’s not the most egregious offender in the league (but he’s close to it). Still, who made the decision to have a primarily defensive forward on the powerplay, playing him in favour of guys who have reasonable scoring rates at even strength like Andrei Kostitsyn and Louis Leblanc?
I post about the Habs a lot in this space because their decisions baffle me so much.