Friday, March 2, 2012

Habs: Coaching Change Making Little Difference

Puck-possession numbers almost identical under both coaches

Mid-season coaching changes are rarely, if ever the product of planning. They are more often than not a panic move made as a last ditch effort to change the direction of a team. Even the turn-around made by the St. Louis Blues following the hiring of Ken Hitchcock could be argued a product of improved goaltending, rather than the impact of a new coach.

Below is a visual representation of the percentage of Montreal Canadiens even-strength events per-zone when Jacques Martin was the head coach, as well as the same data over the course of the entire season. The higher the number in the zone, the higher the amount of plays or events in that zone, and by extension the more time spent in that zone.

To-date the firing of Jacques Martin, and the hiring of Randy Cunneyworth has had a negligible impact on the team's play. They are no closer to an acceptable level of play under Cunneyworth, therefore the coaching change was not necessary. It was a decision based on hope, rather than on long-term planning and tangible evidence.


 
 
It is incredible just how close the actual totals are. The team has been involved in the same percentage of  events in both the offensive and neutral-zone under both Jacques Martin and Randy Cunneyworth. The only difference is in the defensive-zone; where the Habs have spent more time under Cunneyworth than they did under Martin.
 
If we look at overall even-strength performance under the two coaches, we see that the average player grade is 67 under Cunneyworth, compared to 66 under Martin. The even-strength risk/reward was 1.28 under Martin, and 1.29 under Cunneyworth.
 
In terms of ratio, the Habs had a ratio of 1.98 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play at even-strength under Martin, and have improved that to 2.02 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play under Cunneyworth.
 
Offensive-zone ratings have also been better under Cunneyworth, as the Habs have a offensive-zone risk/reward rating of 0.30 under Cunneyworth, compared to 0.28 under Martin. The team's offensive-ratio under Martin was 1.58 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play, and is at 1.64 under Cunneyworth.
 
The Habs won 52% of their EVEN-STRENGTH offensive-zone puck-battles under Martin, and have won 50% under Cunneyworth. They were successful with 59% of their offensive-zone passes under Martin, and 61% of their o-zone passes under Cunneyworth.
 
Defensive-zone play has been equal under the two coaches, as Montreal's defensive-zone risk/reward rating was 0.60 under Martin, and 0.61 under Cunneyworth. The d-zone ratio under Martin was 2.07 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play, and is 2.13 under Cunneyworth.
 
The Habs won 54% of their defensive-zone puck-battles under Martin, and have won 53% of their d-zone puck-battles under Cunneyworth. They also completed 70% of their d-zone passes under Cunneyworth, and 71% of their d-zone passes under Martin.
 
Neutral-zone play had been slightly better under Martin, as the Canadiens had a neutral-zone risk/reward rating of 0.31 under Martin, compared to 0.29 under Cunneyworth. The ratio in the neutral-zone under Martin was 2.42 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play, and is 2.38 under Cunneyworth.
 
Montreal won 54% of their neutral-zone puck-battles and completed 71% of their n-zone passes under Martin, and have won 52% of their n-zone puck-battles under Cunneyworth, while completing an equal 71% of their n-zone pass-attempts.
 
Montreal has had better numbers short-handed under Cunneyworth than they did under Martin, as the Habs PK risk/reward was 0.88 under Martin, and is 0.93 under Cunneyworth. In terms of ratio, Montreal has a PK ratio of 1.99 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play under Cunneyworth, but made only 1.85 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play under Martin.
 
Independent of results, the Canadiens lacklustre powerplay actually had better puck-possession numbers under Martin than it has under Cunneyworth. The average powerplay risk/reward was 2.20 under Marin, and 2.13 under Cunneyworth, while the PP ratio was 3.10 successful plays for every 1 unsuccessful play under Martin, and 3.04 under Cunneyworth. In terms of offensive-zone pressure while on the powerplay, an equal 62% of powerplay events took place in the offensive-zone under both coaches.
 
The coaching change has had little impact on the Montreal Canadiens season. This is more of a statement on the team, than on either Martin or Cunneyworth. To date, the only positive to come out of the change has been the chance to see different players play in different situations. Thereby allowing us a larger amount of data, and a better understanding of team-needs moving forward.
 

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