Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Statistical Look at Alexandre Burrows

The 2014-2015 season will mark Alexandre Burrows' 10th season in the league, all with the Vancouver Canucks. The left-handed forward was undrafted and fought his way through the QMJHL and the ECHL to crack the Canucks line-up. His highest scoring season was the 2009-2010 campaign where he scored 67 points (35G 32A) in all 82 games. In the next two season, Burrows would average 50 points a season (48 points, and 52 points, respectively) all while registering a shooting percent all around 15%. In the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, Burrows scored 24 points (13G 11A) in 47 games played, with a 9.3% shooting.

So I think the biggest question Canuck (and non-Canuck) fans are asking is, what the heck happened last season? We had seen 4 straight 20+ goal seasons, and a season, if fully played where Burrows might have hit 20 goals, and then the 2013-2014 season, where Burrows scored 15 points (5G 10A) in 49 games. So let's take a look into the numbers of what happened, because they are far more than what the conventional stats say.
 In the very first game of the season, the Canucks were playing the San Jose Sharks when Burrows dove to block a slapshot during a San Jose 5-on-3 advantage. While out for a couple weeks, Burrows was injured when a puck hit him in the face while on the penalty kill in a December game against the Carolina Hurricanes. So the answer is simple, right? We take Burrows off the penalty kill unit, and all will be dandy...Except it's not that simple. While he was on the ice last season, Burrows was a solid staple on the penalty kill. Of all the forwards who averaged over 1:00 of penalty kill (4-on-5) time per game (60 min), Burrows was 2nd on the team in blocked shots for, with 26.1/60, which averages to 0.87 blocks per 2 minutes of penalty kill ice time. To put into perspective, the leader on the team (who falls under the aforementioned parameters) was Christopher Higgins, who averaged 28.1 blocks/60. This averages to .94/2. And while it's important to note that Burrows' on-ice corsi during the penalty kill was worse than his off-ice corsi (-82.30% vs. -67.45%), keep in mind that of the forwards on the Canucks who averaged more than 1:00 of penalty kill ice time per game, Burrows had the second-highest QOC rating, which is a statistical look at the on-ice competition a player faces. I will saw though, that this stat alone is a bit flawed because taking out the average time requirement, Burrows' QOC rating was 5th on the team. I say this because the three players directly above Burrows, David Booth, Zac Dalpe, and Zack Kassian, all had average ice times of less than 0.10 minutes (less than 6 seconds of penalty kill ice time) per game. They averaged 0.05, 0.03, and 0.01 minutes, respectively. If you're curious for more stats, you can follow this link to BehindtheNet, where I got all the information.

Here is a table of some other stats from the site above:
PlayerTeam Sv %BF/60 OnG/60 OnGA/60 Off
Alex Burrows90126.14.686.05
Ryan Kesler81124.96.684.09
Christopher Higgins83028.15.615.07
Brad Richardson91817.53.335.25

Moving on!

This is a player usage chart I got fromSomeKindOfNinja. In case you haven't read any of my articles, I love player usage charts simply because of the visual aspect of a tremendous number of statistics they show. Let's break this one down! This is a chart depicting 5-on-5 (even strength) stats including offensive zone start%, QOC and Corsi R%. Each player is represented by a circle. Do you see Burrows' circle? It's all the way on the right, right near his line-mates for most of last season, Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The further right a player's circle is means the higher percentage of offensive zone starts. The higher up on the y-axis for a circle is indicative of higher Quality of Competition a player faced. If a circle is blue, then the player has a positive corsi rating, while a red circle means the player has a negative corsi rating. The smaller a circle is is indicative of a Corsi Relative% closer to 0. So it's better to have a large blue circle than a large red circle. There is a positive correlation between higher offensive zone start percentage and corsi percent, and I will elaborate on that a bit later. Burrows had the 6th highest Quality of Competition rating (0.48), while having the highest offensive zone start percentage (61.3%).
 Burrows' standard Corsi% average for his entire career (ignoring zone-start) is 54.6%. So this past season's number, 56%, while lower than the two previous seasons (58.4% and 58% respectively), was higher than his career average. Since a high number of offensive zone starts can inflate a player's overall Corsi, there is a way to compare all player corsis, despite the number of offensive zone starts. This is called Zone-start adjusted Corsi. Burrows' ZSACorsi from last season was 53.966%.
I am having trouble finding any seasonal summary of Burrows' zone exit/entry as well as passing distribution stats, which is too bad (If anybody has some, would you mind sharing?). While zone exit stats focus more on defensemen, zone entry stats are more indicative for forwards.
One more stat I'd like to look at is PDO, which is essentially a measurement of on-ice "luck". It combines on-ice save percentage and on-ice shooting percent. A score of 1000 is considered normal, while anything above 1000 is considered lucky, and anything below it, unlucky. Burrows' career PDO is roughly 1016, which is above-average in the quantified luck department. His PDO from the past season was 970, his career lowest, and 10th lowest in the league last season.
So the reason for Burrows' struggles last season was a combination of a series of injuries, strong defensive role and playing tough competition (Burrows was tied for 3rd on the team in QOC TOI% with 29.2%), and incredibly, almost comically, bad luck when shooting the puck towards the net (second lowest season shooting percentage in his career). Do I think Alex Burrows will bounce back? Of course, the numbers are all pointing to it! Now I don't think his offensive numbers will bounce back to right where they were, considering the fact that he might still be a bit rusty, and that he will most likely play on the second line of Vancouver, with Nick Bonino as center. Playing on the second line will help Burrows' bounce-back because his competition won't be as tough on the ice.

Pre-season is just about here, and every Canuck fan is looking forward to a bounce-back season from Alexandre Burrows.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @DTJ_AHockeyBlog for more articles!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A World of Hockey: Perth Thunder, Australia

Today's edition of "A World of Hockey" finds us in the land down under, Australia...Western Australia to be precise. I find it an interesting time for Australian hockey considering at this most recent NHL Entry Draft, we saw the Washington Capitals select forward Nathan Walker 89th overall, becoming the first Australian-born player to be drafted into the NHL.

 The Perth Thunder are one of 8 total teams competing in Australia's top, semi-professional, league, the Australia Ice Hockey League (from now on referred to as the AIHL). The Thunder was founded in 2010, and later that year were able to gain a provisional license to begin play in the 2011 season, so it's a rather young team! They play their home games in Perth Ice Arena. Their General Manager, Stan Scott, also served as the team's head coach from 2012-2013, stepped down for a few months (April-May) in 2014, and is resuming his role as a head coach later that year (2014). 

Their colors are red, blue, and white, and feature red based home jerseys, and white based away jerseys.
                             (Home)                                                  (Away)
                                            (Jersey images found through Google)
The Perth Thunder are named after the city they play in, Perth...yup. But on a more serious note, it looks like the name, Thunder, is named after the 2010 Western Australian storms, which swept through cities in south-western Australia. The storms ended up causing over $1 Billion in repairs, the most expensive natural disaster in Western Australian history. I'm not sure how true this may be, but considering that the storms occurred in March of 2010 and the team was founded in later that same year, I'm pretty sure it's no coincidence.
Over the 3 year history of the franchise, they have only made the playoffs once, in 2013. (The AIHL season plays from mid-April through late August/early September of the same calendar year) Their record for last season, the 2014 campaign, was 9-15 with 2 SO wins and 2 SO losses. This was a bit of a drop-off from making it to the semi-finals of the playoffs the season before (their record then was 17-9 with 1 SO win and 1 SO loss).
The team's captain is Australian-born forward, Samuel Wilson. The alternate captains are Canadian-born forward, Daniel Ruck, and New Zealand-born forward, Andrew Cox. The Thunder's leading goal scorer from last season, Stuart Stefan, scored 44 points (14G 30A) in 28 games. The Thunder's second leading scorer was Justin Fox, who had 40 points (20G 20A) in just 21 games last season. You can find more information about the team stats over at the EliteProspects page, and at The AIHL player stats page. Looking at the roster, there looks to be 23 players. Of those 23, only 8 were born in Australia. In total there are 16 players on the team who are Australian citizens. The countries from where the other 7 players are from are New Zealand, USA, Canada, Finland, and UK.

While the team may not do live video streams of their games, they have very active social media accounts. The above video is from the Perth Thunder's Official Youtube Page, to which I will link later below.

Hockey is growing in Australia, and it's nice to take a look at one of the teams in the growing league! With the addition of the Perth Thunder, the AIHL split the teams into two conferences in order to "manage costs and length of the season". I mean, after all, it really can get lonely all the way over on the left:

(From EliteProspects)

While the population of Australia is very skewed towards the Eastern coast, is there a possibility of adding another team along the West coast, near Perth? Just some food for thought.

Important Links:
-AIHL Website
-Perth Thunder Web Site
-Perth Thunder Facebook Page
-Perth Thunder Twitter Account
-Perth Thunder Youtube Account
-More information from EuroHockey

Any comments or suggestions for what teams to write about next? Let me know! Don't forget to follow my Twitter account @DTJ_AHockeyBlog for more articles! Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Statistical Look at Eric Gelinas

Rookie defenseman, Eric Gelinas, really turned some heads in his first season with the New Jersey Devils. I feel this would be an appropriate time to look at his stats, considering that he just signed a 1 year extension with the team, worth $900,000...also known as a bridge contract, or a "prove-it" in my own view. As far as stats go, for defensemen it isn't as cut and dry to determine value, as there are so many different types of defensemen in the league. If we're going to use the terms EA uses for the NHL-franchise video games, there can be offensive defenseman (think Mike Greene from the Caps comes to mind), defensive defenseman (Kimmo Timonen), two-way (Ryan McDonagh), and enforcer (Zdeno Chara). Since there are so many possible uses of defensemen, there are a few overall ways to quantify performances of defensemen, such as basic and possession stats, zone start analyses, zone exit and entry stats, and player usage charts come to mind, immediately. In addition to the quantified evaluation, there is a certain qualitative analysis that goes into valuing a player (every player, not just defensemen). Do they fit into the team system? Are they able to hold their own? These are all important factors that must be taken into consideration when looking at a player.
So let's begin!

I think the first thing that really caught the attention of not only the coaching staff, but the fans, to Eric Gelinas happened a year ago today. In the beginning of the third period of a pre-season game against the Rangers, a powerplay was coming to a close when Gelinas got the puck along the blue line. With a quick movement of his hands, the puck was in the back of the net.

Gelinas played in 60 games in the NHL this past season and accumulated 29 points (7G 22A) in that time. His 6'4", 205 pound frame helped solidify his physical presence on the blue line. Gelinas became a real fan-favorite when his slapshot found the back of the net, once again against the Rangers. This time though, it was in overtime in MSG.

Okay, so a big, strong rookie defenseman emerges with a wicked slapshot. What happened? Well, there's a difference between using a young player to his advantages and helping him develop as an overall player. Gelinas found himself more and more limited to the powerplay, where he was on the point, rightfully so. But that was about it, really, for the NHL level. Eventually, Gelinas was sent down to Albany, the AHL affiliate of the Devils, to help further his development before stepping onto the "big ice" again. Personally, I think management sent him down after the disastrous outdoor game for the Devils, against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium, in January. Gelinas was caught a little flat-footed in his own end which resulted in lots of scoring chances and odd-man rushes for the Rangers. Justin Bourne, a writer for TheScore, does a fantastic breakdown of some of the things that went wrong in this article.
It's interesting to think about the difference between the progression of the NHL year between Eric Gelinas and fellow rookie defenseman, Jon Merrill. They both started on what seemed like opposite ends of the spectrum: Gelinas started out really hot and eventually cooled down, while Merrill was very quiet in his game, and eventually really began to step up as a defensive staple on the team. As for Gelinas's future role on the team? There's no doubt that slapshot is his key to the NHL, but I expect fellow offensive-defenseman, Marek Zidlicky, will mentor Gelinas on responsibility in pinching along the boards and providing offense without being a liability in one's own end. Unfortunately I don't see the possibility of the two being on the team for a very long time, since, right now, they are extremely similar in playing style.
But now that the qualitative look at Gelinas is over, let's look at some more numbers.
This picture above is called a player usage chart I copied from SomeKindOfNinja, a useful site for charts. Do you see Gelinas's circle? It's the small one on the very right. I have used player usage charts before in previous articles, so this is not something new, however this is a little different of a graph. Essentially the higher a circle is up on the y-axis, the tougher opponents they faced. The further right on the x-axis means the more times they are deployed for offensive zone face-offs. This is indicative of an offensive-defenseman, and can oftentimes boost one's corsi rating. Gelinas's circle is red because his Corsi relative% is negative, and if a circle is blue, like Adam Larsson's, it means that the Corsi relative% is positive. The size of the circle is indicative of the "size" in difference of Corsi relative%. What that means is that the smaller a circle is, the closer a Corsi relative% is to 0. Gelinas's Corsi relative% is -0.7, while Marek Zidlicky's is -1.6%, so Gelinas has a smaller circle because his Corsi relative% is closer to 0. Remember, this is 5-on-5 (even strength) ice time stats. 

The graph above is a look at how Gelinas compares to the other defencemen on the Devils in the categories of Corsi For% (blue), and Corsi Caused% (red). Gelinas flaunted the highest Corsi Caused% of any Devils defenseman last season, and but had the second-lowest Corsi For%.

 Gelinas logged 808:39 minutes of even-strength ice time last season. In that time, he registered 11 points (2G 9A) and had a 53.2% CorsiFor%. Taking into account his large amount of offensive zone starts, Gelinas's Zone-Start-Adjusted Corsi is 50.77%. His even strength stats included 0.148 goals/60min, 0.668 assists/60min, for a total 0.816 points/60min of ice time. While those numbers may not jump off the charts, remember that he is still a defenseman. How do these numbers compare to his powerplay stats. Gelinas played 141:02 minutes of ice time on the powerplay last season, registering 15 points (3G 12A) in that time. These numbers lead to a 1.276 goals/60 min, 5.105 assists/60min for a total 6.381 points/60min of powerplay time. How do these numbers compare to another offensively-focused defenseman? Below is a table differentiating Gelinas's numbers from Senators' defenseman, Erik Karlsson.

(Karlsson's numbers are just derived from this last season)

Gelinas Karlsson
ES G/60  0.148 0.518
ES A/60 0.668 0.852
ES P/60 0.816 1.37
PP G/60 1.276 0.75
PP A/60 5.105 4.126
PP P/60 6.381 4.877

This is not to say that Gelinas is a better or worse offensive-defenceman than Erik Karlsson. These numbers are just for reference. (All of these numbers were gathered from

There is a statistic in hockey known as PDO, which is a measure of luckiness on the ice. It combines the shooting% of a player or a team as well as the team's save%. A PDO of 1000 is considered normal, and a PDO higher than 1000 is considered "lucky, and lower is considered "unlucky". Gelinas's PDO, according to ProgressiveHockey was 1008. This measurement is meant to show that Gelinas did not just get lucky on his goals and on the ice over the course of the season. Just for reference, the lower PDO last season was Alex Edler of the Vancouver Canucks, with a 954 PDO, and the highest PDO belonged to Dustin Penner and Gustav Nyquist, with scores of 1056. Interesting to note that Steve Bernier of the the Devils is second-lowest on that list, with a PDO of 959.

Two key stats for a defenseman, in my opinion, are passing % and zone exit numbers.

Player GP %DZ P %NZ P %OZ P O/DSt%
Marek Zidlicky 81 61.9 12.6 25.5 59
Adam Larsson 26 80.8 8.5 10.7 58
Andy Greene 82 68.9 13.4 17.7 47.2
Mark Fayne 72 70.8 13.5 15.8 47.2
Peter Harrold 33 68.2 11.3 20.5 50.8
Eric Gelinas 60 71.7 12.8 15.6 63.3
Bryce Salvador 40 77 8.7 14.4 51.3
Anton Volchenkov 56 73.4 12.1 14.5 49.7
Jon Merrill 52 69.2 13.7 17.1 55.5
Totals/Averages 502 69.4 12.4 18.2 53.6

Above are passing numbers for all Devils defensemen last season, taken from an article from In Lou We Trust. The measurements in the %DZP, %NZP, and %OZP are the percentage of passes made in each zone. For example, Eric Gelinas's %DZP was 71.7. That means that out of all the passes Gelinas made over the 60 games he played last season, 71.7% of them were in the defensive zone. 12.8% of his passes came in the neutral zone, and 15.6% of his passes came in the offensive zone. The very right column is a measurement of pass completion %. This means that of all the passes that Gelinas attempted last season, he completed 63.3% of them, which was the highest on the team.

Player GP Successes Attempts %Success Rate Poss. Exits %Poss. Exits Success/GP Attempts/GP D-Zone T/GP
Marek Zidlicky 81 599 733 81.7 335 45.7 7.4 9 1.51
Adam Larsson 26 187 231 81 104 45 7.2 8.9 1.35
Andy Greene 82 684 853 80.2 370 43.4 8.3 10.4 1.52
Mark Fayne 72 387 488 79.3 212 43.4 5.4 6.8 1.18
Peter Harrold 33 230 308 74.7 127 41.2 7 9.3 1.73
Eric Gelinas 60 321 432 74.3 187 43.3 5.4 7.2 1.55
Bryce Salvador 40 204 294 69.4 108 36.7 5.1 7.4 1.78
Anton Volchenkov 56 304 372 81.7 132 35.5 5.4 6.6 0.8
Jon Merrill 52 346 430 80.5 195 45.3 6.7 8.3 1.23
Totals/Average 502 3262 4141 78.8 1770 42.7 6.5 8.2 1.39

This chart is much wider, so mobile users aren't going to be too happy with it, but I really think it's just as important. This is a measurement of zone exit stats (from the same ILWT article). Like the passing table above, I included the entire defense for comparison. So let's break it down. Eric Gelinas had the puck in his own zone and attempted to exit the zone (get it?) into the neutral zone 432 times last season. Of those 432 times, he succeeded 321 times, meaning he had a success rate of 74.3%, which was actually below the team average of 78.8%. A defensive zone exit can either be done one of two ways: passing the puck or carrying it yourself. Carrying it yourself is referred to in the chart above as "Possession exits". Gelinas had 187 possession exits, meaning that 36.7% of his zone exits were possession. The next column is an average number of attempts and successes per game. Gelinas is averaging 5.4 successes of 7.2 attempts per game, which are both lower than the team average. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though.When a player is unable to exit the defensive zone, it is because of a turnover. The last column measures the average number of defensive turnovers per game. Gelinas 1.55 defensive turnovers per game. This isn't very good, but it's about the same as Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky.
Gelinas is going to have to earn his spot on the team in the upcoming training camp, but that is a distinctive possibility. Devils fans know that they have a gem with this kid and that he is going to be a big player in a few years. He just needs to work more on his defensive game if he wants to thrive in the New Jersey system.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @DTJ_AHockeyBlog for more articles!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A World of Hockey: Anyang Halla, South Korea

        The semester is proving to be much more writing-intensive than I had first imagined, but I want to write about something a little bit different. There’s an entire world of hockey out there. Did you know there are 4 ice hockey leagues in Mexico? There are 2 leagues in Thailand, 3 leagues in Turkey, 7 leagues in Poland, an international team in Kuwait, etc. The list goes on! In Canada, alone, there are over 200 registered ice hockey leagues, with almost 1300 teams! As important as the National Hockey League is to me, there is so much more hockey out in the world that I don’t think gets any attention. This could be because of a much lower skill level in the leagues, or because of the focus on another sport, mainly soccer/futbal. So I’m going to write a post, every once in a while, about a foreign league team, and title the section: A World of Hockey. So without further ado, here is Anyang Halla from South Korea.

Anyang Halla was founded in December of 1994 in Anyang, South Korea. Their home arena is the Anyang Sports Complex in Anyang, and their colors are blue, gold, and white. Their home jerseys have a blue base color, while the away jerseys have a white base color. 

The team captain is 26-year-old, Korean-born defenceman, Kim Woo-young. The alternate captains are Korean-born defenceman, Kim Bum-jin and Canadian-born forward, Brock Radunske. As of now the head coaching position is vacant. This is due to the last head coach, Shim Eui-sik being fired in May of 2014 for “locker room related issues”. There are 23 players currently on the roster for Anyang Halla. Of those, 4 were born in another country, and 1 of those foreign-born players is now a naturalized Korean citizen. The ALIH is not well known for bringing in foreign talent, and I can understand why. If they are trying to improve the hockey programs in their own country, why would they want to bring in other people to take their jobs (as players on the ice)? That doesn’t mean they’re not interested, though, because bringing in good foreign talent will bring attention to the league, and, in turn, can help spread the game more around. While there have only been a handful of NHL players imported to play for Anyang Halla and the ALIH, the majority of imported players come from the Czech Republic and other lower-tier leagues in the world.

                 The leading scorer from last season was Brock Radunske, who scored 65 points (29G 36A) in 40 games last season. Mike Testwuide cam in second in scoring with 54 points (27G 27A) in 42 games. The entire stats list from last season can be seen here. From 2003 to present (under the name Anyang Halla), the team has amassed a total record of 209-115-20-9, with 13 OT wins, 20 OT losses, 9 ties, 12 SO wins, and 13 SO losses.

As the 2014-2015 season has started underway, Anyang Halla finds itself with a record of 2-3-1, good enough for 5th place in the league so far.

                The team gets its name from the owning body of it, the Halla Group, a South Korean business conglomerate. The company sponsors several hockey teams, including Anyang Halla and Kiekko-Vantaa, in a smaller Finnish league. Originally founded to help promote hockey in Korea, the team was originally named “Mando Winia”, named after a subsidiary company of the Halla Group, Mando. The team was known as “Mando Winia” from1994-1997. In 1998, the name was changed to “Halla Winia”, and stayed that way until 2004, where the name was changed to “Anyang Halla Winia”. Ultimately, in 2005, the name was changed to the present “Anyang Halla”.
                Before joining the Asia League Ice Hockey, from here on referred to as ALIH, Anyang Halla was a member of the Korea Ice Hockey League. In that league, Anyang Halla was one of 4 teams in the league, and were able to win the championship 5 times starting in 1998. In 2003, Anyang Halla was one of the founding member teams of the new league, the Asia League Ice Hockey. This new league arose because of the large amount of teams that folded in the Korea Ice Hockey League as well as the Japan Ice Hockey League. The leagues, essentially, decided to form together, along with a team from China in what they call “The Three Kingdoms on Ice”. As a member of the ALIH, Anyang Halla has won the championship twice, in 2010 and 2011. Anyang Halla is one of 3 total Korean teams in the ALIH. The other two are High1 and Daemyung Sangmu.
 Anyang Halla has one retired number, and that's #91 for Shim Eui-sik (the same head coach who was recently fired in May). In his entire playing career with Anyang Halla, Shim Eui-sik was the MVP of the Korean League 5 times, and held the record for most goals and points.

Interview from 2013 with Brock Radunske:

Anyang Halla's Official Team Song:

Highlights from a game last season:

More ALIH game highlights from last season can be found on this Youtube playlist.

And this one, specifically for Anyang Halla:

As of now, I'm having trouble finding ways to actively watch live streams of the games, so I can only go based off of highlight videos and standings updates.

Important Links:
-ALIH Web Site
-Anyang Halla team web site (if you have Google Chrome, it can automatically translate the page for you)
-Anyang Halla Facebook Page
-Anyang Halla Twitter Account
-More information from Eurohockey

Any comments or suggestions for what teams to write about next? Let me know! Don't forget to follow my Twitter account @DTJ_AHockeyBlog for more articles! Thanks for reading.