Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Playoffs: What it would take

Could this team make it to the post-season? What would it take to get there?

The fundamental problem for the Thrashers is that they continue to get out-shot nearly every game. Yes, you can win while being out shot--the Thrashers did it last night versus the Hurricanes--but to win while being out shot you must:
  1. Finish scoring chances at a higher rate than other clubs.
  2. Prevent goals on shots at a higher rate than other clubs.
  3. Both of the above.
Right now the Thrashers are being out shot 454 to 533 so far this season. Should we expect this to improve dramatically? If you look at the Shots For and Shots Against for the first 16 games that is a strong pattern.
31-43 = -12
33-39 = -6
26-26 = 0
25-35 = -10
37-30 = +7
33-38 = -5
33-46 = -13
32-33 = -1
24-31 = -7
29-33 = -4
20-32 = -12
31-21 = +10
27-27 = 0
26-32 = -6
22-37 = -15
25-29 = -4

The Thrashers have been out shot if 12 of the 16, they tied in two game and won the shot battle just twice. I have no strong reason to think that will suddenly change. So if we assume the team will continue to be out shot to the tune of 28-33 each night--what would it take for them to stay in the playoff race?

Let's assume the Thrashers are able to keep their current Shot Percentage all season 10.3% (Which ranks 8th in the NHL) what sort of goal tending performance would it take? Roughly a 91.0% Save Percentage would keep them in the playoff race. A 91.0% Save Percentage is basically league average (14th). So there's your answer--average goal tending plus above average shooting (8th) would give them a shot at the post-season.
Right now though the Thrashers have above average shooting (8th) and below average puck stopping (20th).

Other scenarios that would keep this team in contention while being outshot include the following.
  • Amazing shooting 12.5% (1st) and poor SV% .893%(20th)
  • Great shooting 10.3% (8th) and average SV% .910% (14th)
  • Average shooting 9.9% (15th) and amazing SV% .916% (9th)
  • A little above average in both, ST% 10.085 (12th) and SV% .915 (11th)
Conclusion: If you're going to be out shot most nights you have to extraordinary at something to get into the post-season.

8 Comments:

  • Will the return of Bogosian and Schneider help the shots against percentage very much?

    By Blogger Thrashers Recaps, at 3:40 PM  

  • I would certainly consider Bogo and Schneider an upgrade over Valabik on both sides of the puck.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 1:01 AM  

  • Falconer, to me what ultimately matters isn't the sheer number of shots against, but the *quality* of those shots. I don't necessarily care if they give up 40 shots in a game if those are all taken from the perimeter and are easily stoppable by the goalie. The problem for the Thrashers is that too many shots are coming from down low.

    I went back to ESPN.com and looked at the shot charts for each game and evaluated where the shots and goals were coming from. The Thrashers have given up 127 shots down low (which I define as below the hash marks and between or below the circles). A full 33 of the 57 goals against have come from down low. 25 of those were at even strength (by contrast there have been 2 ES goals above the circles, 6 ES from inside the circles, and 4 ES goals from between the circles but above the hash marks). Those numbers are insane and really tell the story IMO. In the two really bad games, Philly scored 6 goals down low, NJ scored 4 down low. In the games they have won while still being outshot, the shots down low were mostly kept to a minimum. The exceptions were against Washington (who scored 4 goals on 12 DL shots) and the first Carolina game where they scored both of their goals on 9 shots down low. But against Buffalo the second time, they only got 5 DL shots and Carolina got 2 DL shots in the second game.

    The Thrashers need to focus on keeping the puck away from that area, clearing rebounds efficiently, and defending man on man better. If they can do that, it will make all the difference in the world and not only make this a play-off team, but potentially a highly-ranked one as well.

    By Anonymous Sara, at 10:41 AM  

  • Interesting analysis. Improving the penalty kill-currently a woeful 74%-would help a lot. I realize that your calculations subsume this (save pct, shots against) but separating out the pk at least doesn't put all the onus on the goaltenders.
    (Sorry for the late response to your comment on my blog entry on NHL revenues. I post sporadically and look at my work(?) even less but I do appreciate your interest. I took the Toronto Star's figures on ticket revenue per game, multiplied times the number of home games (including playoffs) and subtracted from the Forbes figures on revenues. I realize that both sources are probably flawed and that there's no way to get figures on revenue sharing (paid and received). The real surpise was how little non-ticket revenue Calgary and Edmonton produce:it makes a good argument against putting franchises in Winnipeg and even Quebec. As for Atlanta, compared to the rest of the league, they aren't that bad but when you look at the size of the market (8th largest in metro area GDP of NHL cities) they are doing poorly. Again, thanks for the comment.)

    By Blogger Big Picture Guy, at 1:49 PM  

  • Do you know if we can watch tonight's game online anywhere for free? I already know about the pay to watch sites...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:06 PM  

  • Valabik has a tendancy to stand around, and gets caught out of position too often.
    Schnieder will get better (at least I hope so), but right now his +/- is one of the worst in the league.
    Bogosian leg was a major set back, it will take him weeks after healing to get back to full speed and then he will be back at square one out on the ice.
    The Thrashers are not as bad as people think they are.
    I little tweak on defense, and tightening up of the penalty kill and this team could easily contend in the southeast.

    By Anonymous bigmj, at 8:05 AM  

  • Sara: I totally agree that shot quality/shot location matters. There are some guys that study this.

    I'm not surprised at all about your figures. Have the Thrashers shown any improvement at reducing the number of slot shots allowed?

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 1:23 PM  

  • Big Picture Guy: I've tried to make the point that market size does have an effect on the corporate revenues over at the Business of Hockey board--but I've never been able to put a number on it. Your estimate confirms roughly what I had expected.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 1:25 PM  

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