Monday, March 9, 2009

The Curious Case of Kris Draper

The Quality of Competition metric at Behind the Net gets a lot of attention because it brings information that we know is important into numerical form. Recently, many people have come to equate playing the most difficult minutes with the playing the most difficult competition. This isn't totally unreaonable, but it does lack a little bit of context. The QC stats come brom BtN. All the others are from Vic's Time on Ice site.

Take the case of Kris Draper, a center playing for the Detroit Red Wings. Conventional wisdom is that QC is most useful when compared with others on the same team. Using this method Kris Draper ranks third to last on the team among forwards ahead of only his linemate, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty who managed to appear in only 13 games. And he's getting killed. His Corsi for the season is -12, which is terrible on the Red Wings and ahead of only McCarty. So what's going on? Is Draper just terrible?

Kris Draper is also taking an abnormally high number of defensive zone faceoffs which are going to effect his ability to succeed. To this point in the season, he's taken 243 defensive zone faceoffs compared with 192 in the offensive zone. He's on the ice for 31.11% of the team's defensive zone draws and only 22.38% of the team's offensive zone draws. His differential is 51 which leads the the Detroit forwards by 32 (Franzen is second).

Could Kris Draper be doing a better job? Yes. On a team that has a Corsi of +760 you'd need a pretty good excuse to be a minus (Franzen, for instance is +256). But this does provide some more context for what Draper is doing. The coach seems to rely on the Zetterberg/Franzen line against top players. A defensive zone faceoff against a team's top line will draw Zetterberg, but if there's a defensive zone faceoff and Zetterberg is getting off the ice or the opposing coach is throwing out a secondary scoring line then it's Draper time.

This is something to keep in mind with the Quality of Competition statistic. That's all it's measuring! There may be a high correlation with the difficulty of minutes, but if you want to talk about difficulty of minutes, more context is probably needed.

Because this is a blog about Yahweh's favourite hockey club, I figure I may as well append a chart providing some context for the Oilers forwards. The players will be organized top to bottom in their ranking in terms of quality of competition among forwards that have played at least twenty games and will include each player's Defensive - Offensive Zone Faceoffs beside his name:

Given these numbers, if we were measuring difficulty of minutes and not just the quality of the competition, I think that guys like Penner, Gagner, Nilsson and Gagner should be coming down the list while Stortini and especially Brodziak should be pushed up. If we value QC and starting position equally, organizing this list by ranking, we would get the following list in terms of difficulty of minutes: Horcoff, Moreau, Pisani, Brodziak/Hemsky, Penner, Reddox, Stortini, Gagner/Nilsson/Cogliano, Pouliot. There are probably some adjustments that need to be made, but I think this list looks a lot closer to what I would expect a "difficulty of minutes" list to look like for the Edmonton Oilers after actually watching the games.


Jonathan Willis said...

I don't know how I missed this post, Scott, but it's a good one.

Scott said...

Thanks Jonathan. Coach just taught me to put images into Blogger so it's a lot more readable now. You may have seen it and passed on the original since it was hard to read the charts.