Friday, January 20, 2012

Desharnais and Plekanec: Plek's taking one for the team

Line-mates and line-matching huge part of Desharnais' success


David Desharnais has come into his own as an NHL player this season; scoring 7 goals and adding 24 assists. He is a player perceived by some as the new number 1 centre on the Montreal Canadiens, while Tomas Plekanec is thought to be having a difficult year.

The truth is always somewhere in the middle; the law of averages demand this.

Both players have the same amount of points this season. Desharnais, however has a much better traditional plus/minus. Desharnais has enjoyed the luxury of playing with two solid wingers for much of the season, while injuries to other players have seen Plekanec being flanked by a revolving door of wingers.

Examining home and away scoring we see that Plekanec actually has more points on the road than Desharnais, and a similar plus/minus. Desharnais home scoring is better than Plekanec, while his plus/minus is substantially better at the Bell Centre.

The plus/minus is the key to the explanation. Not because it's a solid individual statistic, but because it's a solid representation of the strength of opponent players are facing on a given night. At home, the Montreal Canadiens have the last change. This allows the coaching staff the luxury of (for the most part) picking which players play against whom. Tomas Plekanec consistently faces the opposition's best players at home, thereby allowing Desharnais to play against lesser opponents. As a result, Desharnais produces more offense at home.

Desharnias' linemates for most of the season have been the Canadiens two-best offensive-performers. Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty have combined for 32 goals this season. This is both a benefit to, and a product of Desharnais. By comparison, if we combine the goal totals of all the wingers left to play with Plekanec, we have a total of 34 goals.

Looking deeper into each player's individual statistics, we see that Plekanec (1.61) has a better overall risk/reward than Desharnais(1.29). Both players have solid even-strength ratios. Plekanec produces 2.05 successful plays for every 1 mistake or lost puck-battle, while Desharnais produces 1.95 successful plays for every 1 mistake or lost puck-battle.

Plekanec has a 67% success-rate for plays that require him to maintain puck-possession, while Desharnais is successful with 65% of plays that require him to maintain puck-possession. During plays that require them to remove or acquire puck-possession from the opposition, Plekanec's success-rate is 69%, while Desharnais' is 68%. 

Forty-two percent of the events Plekeanec is involved in occur in the offensive-zone, while 36% occur in the defensive, and 22% in the neutral-zone. Forty-five percent of the events Desharnais is involved in occur in the offensive-zone, while 35% occur in the defensive, and 20% in the neutral-zone.



EVEN-STRENGTH OFFENSIVE-ZONE RISK/REWARD

Plekanec 0.45
At even-strength, number 14 wins 44% of his offensive-zone puck-battles, completes 60% of his offensive-zone pass-attempts, and beats opponents with 67% of his attempted dekes. Also, 57% of Plekanec's shot-attempts are on-net.

In terms of positioning, Plekanec recovers 0.29 loose-pucks in the offensive-zone for every minute of ice-time. He has also intercepted 47 opposition passes in the offensive-zone

 Desharnias 0.39
At even strength, number 51 wins 46% of his offensive-zone puck-battles, completes 65% of his offensive-zone pass-attempts, and beats opponents with 55% of his attempted dekes. Also, 53% of Desharnais' shot-attempts are on-net.

In terms of positioning, Desharnais recovers 0.25 loose-pucks in the offensive-zone for every minute of ice-time. He has also intercepted 42 opposition passes


EVEN-STRENGTH DEFENSIVE-ZONE RISK/REWARD

Plekanec 0.45
At even strength, Plekanec wins 50% of his defensive-zone puck-battles, and  completes 65% of his defensive-zone pass-attempts.

In terms of positioning, Plekanec recovers 0.30 loose-pucks in the defensive-zone for every minute of ice-time.  He has also intercepted 42 opposition passes in the defensive-zone, while blocking 24 opposition shots.

Desharnais 0.43
At even-strength, Desharnias wins 52% of his defensive-zone puck-battles, and completes 73% of his defensive-zone pass-attempts.

In terms of positioning, Desharnais recovers 0.24 loose-pucks in the defensive-zone for every minute of ice-time. He has also intercepted 48 opposition passes, while blocking 24 shots

EVEN-STRENGTH NEUTRAL-ZONE RISK/REWARD

Plekanec 0.43
At even strength, Plekanec wins 44% of his neutral-zone puck-battles, and completes 82% of his neutral-zone pass-attempts. He has been successful with 84% of his attempts to dump the puck deep into the offensive-zone.

In terms of positioning, Plekanec recovers 0.11 loose-pucks in the neutral-zone for every minute of ice-time. He has also intercepted 30 opposition passes.

Desharnais 0.22
At even-strength, Desharnais wins 59% of his neutral-zone puck-battles, and completes 69% of his neutral-zone pass-attempts. He has been successful with 69% of his attempts to dump the puck deep into the offensive-zone.  

In terms of positioning, Desharnais recovers 0.20 loose-pucks in the neutral-zone for every minute of ice-time. He has also intercepted 26 opposition passes.

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