WOWY. Also known as With Or Without You. It’s not just a U2 love song, in fact it’s a pretty useful tool for looking at how players perform with certain teammates, what players are driving their lines, which ones are dragging their lines down, and which combinations seem to work at bringing the best out of each other. The basic data came from Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com, and boy do they have a lot of data. Within those pages you can find WOWY details for pretty much every player over the last few seasons, combined seasons, when the score is close, and much more. For this post, I used 5v5 data from the 2013-14 season only (to keep the sample size as large as possible). So I took all that information, and made a nice big fancy chart. It shows the Corsi percentage that each player is better (or worse) with each player. So the corresponding space in the chart of Johansen With (along the top of the chart) and Foligno (on the left side of the chart) shows the difference between Ryan Johansen‘s Corsi For % with Nick Foligno, and Johansen’s Corsi For % away from Foligno. Got it? Good. Let’s take a look at the chart, then go over a few things that need to be considered. After that is the good stuff: the players who come out best (and worst) in this analysis, the best combinations of players, and various ideal/terrible/etc. lineups.
Well here we are. The 2014 Stanley Cup is going to be awarded pretty darn soon – a former Jacket (or 2..or 3..or 4) will be raising it. Free agency talk is starting to buzz. Things are happening. But more important than all of that is the conclusion of The Union Blue Awards for 2014. We wrap everything up with the most important trophy of all, The Hart Memorial Trophy. It is given out to the player judged most valuable to his team. Last year’s winner was a clear cut decision for Sergei Bobrovsky, but with more and more success built on more and more guys stepping up – we have a wealth of votes to dole out. With that being said, the winner of the 2014 tUB Hart Memorial Trophy is….
As defined, the The Mark Messier Leadership Award goes to: “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.” With the second year without a captain, it’s easy to argue that “the leader” is yet to be identified, but that doesn’t mean that the team suffered from a lack of leadership based on the votes cast by the tUB team. Last year’s winner was Vinny, but now we have a new crop of contenders from which to pick. Who gets this year’s nod? Read on:
The Lindsay is given out by the NHLPA, and awarded to the most outstanding player as decided by the players. Since we couldn’t do the whole player votes part (what sets it apart from the Hart) we went in a slightly different direction. The tUB Lindsay is going out to the BEST player, irregardless of value to the team. So with that said, the winner of the Lindsay is…
Jack Johnson. James Wisniewski. Two divisive players playing the same position. A quick Google search will bring up loads of examples of people saying how bad Jack Johnson is. A quick search of Twitter post-playoff elimination would have found numerous examples of people saying how bad James Wisniewski is. What all that super analysis tends to forget is the role of a defenseman. Which isn’t always easy to judge. It’s much easier to watch a forward play, look at his stats, and decide with reasonable accuracy how good (or bad) he is. For defensemen, it is MUCH more difficult. That stats aren’t quite as telling. Some of the most important aspects of playing defense have no stats, are barely perceptible to most viewers, and are significantly influenced by the role the defenseman plays on his team. Put a guy in his own end, against the best players, and make him the primary puckhandler on his pairing, and you’ll see a lot of goals against, a lot of turnovers, and not a lot of points. Put a guy in the offensive zone, against lesser competition, playing with scorers, and make him one of the focal points of the offense, and you’ll see less turnovers, lots of points and goals, and less goals against. Switch up either of those roles on the fly, and you’re likely to see the results switch up. There are only six defensemen on a team, so unless they are just rolled over willy nilly, you can’t compare teammates (well unless they are partners). You need to look at how those defensemen compare to other defensemen playing similar roles. So that’s what I did for Johnson and Wisniewski to try and find out if they are good, average, terrible, or deserving of buyouts.
I figured the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given to the best defenseman, would be an interesting vote. Considering that the bloom is off the rose for both Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski; reigning winner 2013 tUB Norris winner Fedor Tyutin had a slightly down year; and the emergence of youngster Ryan Murray, this vote could have gone any number of ways. Instead, we had a runaway winner, with unanimous across the board first place votes. That was surprising enough in itself, but then we also had a dead even tie for the runner up spot. Without further ado, the winner of the Norris is…..
So the season is over. What a season it was. The best in Blue Jackets history by any measure you want to use. We’ll all have some thoughts coming later this week on the season, so let’s talk about this series for a minute. It took until the game five reminder, but keep in mind just how good this Penguins team really is. They had the two most talented players in this series by far, and probably four or five of the top five or six. Hell, they would have the two most talented players in ANY series they could possibly play. Their downfall the last couple years has been Marc-Andre Fleury, who was steady enough in this series. Basically, this is a very good hockey team. Yet the Blue Jackets gave them all they could handle. Unlike their last playoff appearance, this was a series. Actually, that verbalizes it quite well. 2008-09 was a playoff appearance, 2013-14 was a series. This team fought to the bitter end, well after others had given up. Our own RockmanHalo turned the television off. I headed over to the kitchen to do some cooking about two minutes before Tyutin scored (don’t worry I could still see/hear). I stayed in the kitchen through all three goals, but had to sit back down for the final furious minutes. Pretty sure it’s my fault. If I stayed in the kitchen, they probably would have tied it up. Dammit. Anyway, let’s take a look at some goals. Continue reading…
I was out of the country for a bit there, lacking internet and good watching locations (although a packed bar all rooting against the Penguins was a great place to watch game four), so I missed a few games for the goal breakdowns. So here is a supercut from the last three outings. Not every goal is covered, but a couple from each game that stood out for one reason or another.
Game Three: Boone Jenner from Jack Skille and Ryan Johansen, 1-0 Jackets
A few things on this goal. First, holy hell, that is a pass by Ryan Murray. You can’t even see if it is tape-to-tape, but it sure looks that way by the time the camera catches up to Ryan Johansen. The pass creates a nice little insta-rush, but it really shouldn’t have come to anything. The movement by Johansen, Skille, and Jenner is what makes this dangerous. I like the creativity by the Johan here. He has to slow up to get help, which usually means getting the blueline, stopping hard, letting the defense sink back, the following forwards crash in, and the puck carrier walks into space. But Pens defender Olli Maata expects this and steps up on Johansen, so Joey cuts right into the heart of the defense, which pulls everyone in. From there, Skille and Jenner do a good job of spacing themselves out and forcing a decision by Maata. The rookie has Johansen, passes him off, and then has to decide between Jenner and Skille. Skille takes a shot and goes wide, stops Maata cold, and Jenner has all day to bury the rebound. Any time you can force players to change coverage and make decisions, you are going good work. Continue reading…
Well the Jackets forced a game 5 with their physical play and relentless never say die play. All that seemed to be missing from the series equation was for Sergei Bobrovsky to step up and steal one game away. Unfortunately, it seems the night Bob was able to do that, that the rest of team forgot the game plan. The Jackets thoroughly lost this game on their own accord. And don’t discredit the Penguins – they are an experienced skilled team that badly needed to step up and take a game definitively. They did that tonight holding the Jackets to 24 shots on goal while taking 51 of their own (Bob saw 50 of those). There’s a lot of complaining about the officiating on the twitters, but make no mistake – you can’t take less than half the shots your opponent does, and have possession (Corsi for) of 37.4% at even strength (5v5) and expect to win. You also can’t count on your “physical game” when you have only 3 more hits than the opponent when you usually best them by 20+ (particularly if you do NOT have the puck). The Penguins showed up tonight (and you knew they had to), took over the game, took the series lead and blew up the 4-3 score narrative…though apparently the “you don’t want to score first” narrative is soundly in tact.
Let’s look at the three stars of the game according to nhl.com:
OK, this is getting ridiculous. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: final score of 4-3 after one team being up 3-1. After the first period it was hard to be too optimistic that lightning would strike for the 4th time in a series and that we’d be on the favorable end of it. Tonight the CBJ faithful were treated to nothing less than a fairy tale story of a young, playoff-inexperienced team that simply didn’t know how to die. I left Nationwide Arena to thunderous echoes of ‘CBJ! CBJ!’ from an inspired and excited fan base. Here are the players that made the magic tonight: