A statistical review of the Thrashers after fourteen games

“Figures often beguile me…especially when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force; ‘There are three kind of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics’” – Mark Twain from “Chapters of my Autobiography” as published in the North American Review, 1906.

Yes… for many, many moons now, people have understood that stats and stats alone cannot be the end all of end alls regarding certain issues…especially in sports. Indeed, they fail to tell the whole story behind how a team or individual player is performing. Worse still, there are times when stats can, whether intentional or not, can even be used to twist or contort the facts.

I know it, you know it…and the Thrasherville people know it.

Case in point. If one simply went with a statistical review of the Thrashers netminders, it could be argued the best goalie they’ve skated out between the pipes this fall is Peter Mannino…statistically speaking, I mean. He’s yet to lose even once, has a team high .938 SV% and his 1.58 GAA is far better than that of either Ondrej Pavelec or Chris Mason.

Peter Mannino allowed only a Steven Stamkos goal last month during his 2 periods of play with the Thrashers. His .938 SV% and 1.58 GAA still leads all Atlanta goalies...statistically speaking, that is (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Peter Mannino allowed only a Steven Stamkos goal last month during his 2 periods of play with the Thrashers. His .938 SV% and 1.58 GAA still leads all Atlanta goalies...statistically speaking, that is (AP Photo/David Goldman)

While true, those numbers don’t reveal the fact that Mannino has played in only two periods, has faced but 16 shots and finds himself back in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves.

But with all that said, let’s take time to review just where the team and the players find themselves in a statistical sense after fourteen games played and as the NHL heads into Monday night’s action.

You, then, may interpret them as you see fit in the comment section below.

First of all, 14 games played equates to roughly17% of the 82-game season. Their 6-5-3 record give Atlanta 15 points in the standings. This total is good enough for third in the Southeast Division, (1 point behind Tampa Bay and 1 point ahead of Carolina). In the conference, they are tied with Boston, NY Rangers, Ottawa and Pittsburgh for spots five through nine at this time.

Last year Atlanta was 7-6-1 for 15 points after 14 games played. Two years ago it was 5-7-2 for 12 points.

The .536 points-winning % is 15th best in NHL, tied with NYR and OTT.

15 points after 14 games played also puts the Thrashers on a course for right at 88 points. For what it’s worth…that was the points total I, along with a few others, predicted they would end up at this April. We’ll see if that holds up as there is much more hockey to play.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the Thrashers offense going into the season. But so far they have scored goals at a very respectable 3.07 per game rate. That is sixth best in NHL…0.01 behind Vancouver.

Unfortunately, they have not faired so well on the other end of the ice, allowing 3.50 GA/G… tied with NYI for dead last in the league. St. Louis’ 1.42 GA/G is best and Boston’s 1.73 is second.

Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd lead the Thrashers in overall team points with 13. Buff has 5 goals and 8 assists while Ladd has 4 goals and 9 assists. Evander Kane’s 7 goals is the most on the squad while Ladd’s nine helpers is tied with Toby Enstrom for the most in that statistical column.

On the opposite of the score sheet…Oduya, Hainsey, Sopel, Meyer and Bogosian are still having their mail delivered to Schnide Island.

Atlanta’s power play has been solid over the course of the initial weeks of the season, scoring goals 25.0% of the time they are afforded the man advantage. That is 5th best in NHL. Dustin Byfuglien and Nik Antropov lead the way here with 3 PP goals each. Dustin has also contributed with 5 PP assists.

Evander Kane scores one of his team-leading 7 goals against the Washington Capitals (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Evander Kane scores one of his team-leading 7 goals against the Washington Capitals (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The three scored by Antropov account for all of his goal scoring and Enstrom has a team best 7 assists while the Thrashers have had the man advantage.

Conversely, the penalty kill squads have been 78.0% efficient…that’s tied with the Rangers for 25th in the league at this time.

The 28.2 shots per game average is tied with the L.A. Kings and Ottawa Senators for 24th in the NHL. But the 37.8 shot against number is dead last… 0.08 behind Anaheim. The Blues have the league’s lowest SA/G stat, 26.5, while Pittsburgh’s 26.6 SA/G is second best.

5 on 5 GF/GA ratio is 0.70. Only New Jersey’s 0.58 and New York Islanders 0.40 is lower.

Andrew Ladd has scored the only short-handed goal thus far. It came in San Jose during the second period, sparking the come-from-behind 4-2 win against the Sharks. Bryan Little assisted on the shorty that cut San Jose’s lead to 2-1.

As for hat tricks, well there has been one to speak of. Anthony Stewart score thrice out in Anaheim…but really, who didn’t see that coming from him this season?

The Thrashers have, however, allowed three different players to notch hat tricks against them this fall. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Washington’s Alexander Semin and St. Louis’ Jay McClement.

The Thrashers are winning 49.3% of their face offs, which 22nd in the NHL.

Byfuglien has dished out the most hits. 34 times Big Buff has forcefully impacted an opposing player in attempt to dislodge the puck. Eager has 26 hits, Kane has 24 and Chris Thorburn has 22.

Nic Bergfors is yet to register a hit.

Ben Eager’s +2 is highest on the team. Brent Sopel, Bryan Little and Eric Boulton are each +1. Eager has played in all 14 games, Sopel in 13, Little in 10 and Bolts has dressed for 8.

Ladd and Bergfors are EVEN.

Nik Antropov’s –10 is the lowest +/- for Atlanta…he was a +13 last year. Kane and Oduya are –8. Fredrik Modin is –7.

Brent Sopel has blocked 32 shots launched toward Atlanta’s goal. Ron Hainsey has 31, Enstrom has 29, Johnny Oduya has 28 and Freddy Meyer has blocked 15 in just 5 games played.

Who is the forward with the most blocked shots? Chris Thorburn with 12.

Anthony Stewart scores the first goal of three in Anaheim last month. His hat trick is the first and only one so far for Atlanta this season (AP Photo/Lori Shepler)

Anthony Stewart scores the first goal of three in Anaheim last month. His hat trick is the first and only one so far for Atlanta this season (AP Photo/Lori Shepler)

Eager has spent the most time in the sin-bin pondering his on-ice transgressions. He’s amassed 34 penalties so far this year. Byfuglien has 25, Thorburn has 13 and rookie Alex Burmistrov has spent 10 minutes in time out.

But Burmistrov has certainly drawn his share of penalties from the opposition as well.

Surprisingly… one of the Thrashers “enforcers”, Eric Boulton, has yet to collect any penalty minutes. The same can be said of Fredrik Modin.

Kane has taken the most shots on goal, 52, and Ladd is not too far behind with 48. Ladd and Rich Peverley are distant third and fourth…28 and 27 SOG respectively.

Toby Enstrom leads the Thrashers in playing time as he’s averaging 25:59 TOI each game. Byfuglien is behind Toby with 22:29. Zach Bogosian and Johnny Oduya both are averaging 22:18 time on ice.

Eric Boulton, however, has seen 8:45 average TOI in his eight games played so far.

And finally in goal…

Chris Mason is 6-4-1 with a 3.45 GAA and .909 SV%. He sees right at 37.8 shots per game on the average. Only Carolina’s Cam Ward and Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller have faced more shots…428 and 411 respectively. However, both have played in one more game and started two more times then Mason has.

Mason faces a shot on the average of every 1 minute and 35 seconds. Hiller sees one every 1: 42 while Ward has to face one every 1:41.

Ondrej Pavelec is 0-1-2 with a 2.83 GAA and .922 SV%. Not counting the 2:25 played on opening night in which he faced no shots, Opie has seen 116 shots during the three games he’s played, two of which went to shootouts. That’s an average of about 38 and a half shots per game.

Mason is 1-0 in shootouts this season, stopping both tries by the Anaheim Ducks. Opie is 0-2, stopping 3 of 7 shootout attempts between the Blues and Blackhawks.

And of course, there’s the aforementioned Peter Mannino who is 0-0-0 and a .938 SV% and 1.58 GAA. He played in the second and third period on last month’s 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay stopping 15 of the 16 shots he faced in 38:26 TOI. He faced one Tampa Bay shot every 2:24 during those two periods.

Hmmmmmm…imagine what Mason and Pavelec’s numbers would look like if they only faced a shots every two minutes or so. Of course, many would say think about what Mannino’s stats would look like if he played up here more and saw as many shots as the other two.

But that’s stats for ya…and you know what some people say about ‘em.

127 comments Add your comment

Joe Friday

November 10th, 2010
10:09 am

Guys, the lack of defense is really catching up to us. We’ve been very fortunate coming from behind in some early games this year, but there’s way too much room in our zone for opposing forwards to wheel freely into, I though Ramsay was the defensive guy? This resembles John Anderson’s “system” and it’s perplexing to me. That’s all Anderson did was have the dmen jump into the play but left our backside completely exposed, am I wrong or is this very similar to our play from last year? Lots of offense, but not enough to cover up our woeful d.

World Be Free

November 10th, 2010
10:14 am

Red Light, seems to be fewer players willing to drop the gloves on a regular basis. It’s not that I am pushing fighting or anything like that, I just know the value of a good fight in rallying your team. It just does not seem like there is alotta guys willing to do the team thing these days.

I think back to the Oiler and Islander teams of the 80’s. I was not a “fan” of either team, but I was a fan of how these teams played. The Oil was tough and they did not need Gretzky to be a champion.

Scott Stevens and Denis Potvin, 2 guys that could play the position, hit with authority and drop the gloves. Potvin was an animal, nobody wanted to fight him. The anilmal element is missing today, too many tough guys with visors and big mouths. Take off the visor, then I will celebrate the player as a tough guy.

Red Light

November 10th, 2010
10:48 am

Not sure if you saw this last night, but Derek Boogaard scored his first goal in 234 games to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead on the Caps. I thought I was looking at the reincarnation of Sergio Momesso for a moment, a big slow dude with a big shot whose primary role was to protect his teammates. Of course, the Rangers lost so the goal was all for naught.

I don’t like the visor and like good tough hits. But, it seems like these days are reserved to the pushes and shoves from behind and a clean open-ice hit seems to be a thing of the past.

Stevens was great to watch because he was a guy who could turn a game around with a punishing check. Didn’t like Potvin because he played for the Islanders.

Little old Ryan Callahan is third in the league with hits. Have to respect him, not only for his hits, but because he plays the game as it was intended. We need more like him.

Smoothie

November 10th, 2010
11:27 am

“I though Ramsay was the defensive guy? This resembles John Anderson’s “system” and it’s perplexing to me. That’s all Anderson did was have the dmen jump into the play but left our backside completely exposed, am I wrong or is this very similar to our play from last year?”

Hey Joe, glad you brought this up because I wasn’t feeling depressed enough this morning! ;-) But you’re right, we are way too easy to play against in our own zone again. If anything, I think we were better in our own zone in the 2nd half of last season under JA. The biggest issue with JA’s system was the poor rotation when a D-man did jump up into the play.

We now have fewer floaters (at the blueline) than last year when it comes to playing D, but the forwards seem afraid to hit and / or play the man aggressively to separate the puck from said man. Seems like they are more concerned with anticipating passes and clogging up passing and shooting lanes than play the man (see Modin on Foligno on GA #4 last nite).

The other major issue is the inability to safely control the puck in our own end when trying to get the puck out into transition. Seems like they are too concerned with making the perfect, “correct” pass when either simply chipping it out or skating it further up the ice would be better. They are hesitating too much or waiting for the perfect opportunity…just get the freakin’ thing up the ice!!

Of course, not winning F/O in the offensive zone at 5 on 5 in any consistent fashion is killing this team since they are lousy on transition rushes without Bryan Little. Sure would be nice to have ol’ Crazy Legs to pick up the puck from a D-man deep in the zone, zig-zag up the ice through the neutral zone and get the D-men retreating on their heels…oh for crap’s sake, we’re screwed! ;-)

World Be Free

November 10th, 2010
12:03 pm

J-F, I still believe the overall team defense will not get better until we get more physical. We also need better defense from our centerman as well. And you are right, it is killing us and will keep the Thrashers at the .500 mark for the balance of the season at best; .500 is not good enough to make playoffs.

R/L-not an Islander fan either, but from a pure hockey perspective, Potvin was a game changer with his physical play, as was Stevens. I know the rules are tighter today, but a great hit is still a great hit. What is sadder to me in today’s game is to see a guy get jumped for throwing a good, clean, honest body check. If a guy gets tattooed at center ice for taking a pass, the team should jump the guy who gave him the pass not the player finishing his check.

Ryan Callahan-another good Upstate New York kid, like Marty Reasoner.

litz

November 10th, 2010
12:33 pm

Media coverage of the NHL in this town just frustrates me to no end. It’s a catch-22 … can’t generate interest w/out the media, and the media isn’t gonna touch you w/out some kind of interest.

We have a newspaper with one beat writer, 2 blogs, and two “sports writers” who write at most one or two articles A YEAR. One of whom has only written one positive article in the last 10 years.

We have no local TV coverage, and cable TV coverage on (it seems) only local games.

We have radio coverage that can’t be heard north of I-285 … where probably 95% of the people who WANT to listen … can’t.

I get better coverage on my *phone* (and can audio stream the games off nhl.com, to boot).

Sad.

Joe Friday

November 10th, 2010
12:47 pm

Guys, re. the hitting, do you think the dropoff this year is in reaction to the new head hunting rule? Guys may be running scared of taking a 5 minute major . . . sometimes this league overreacts to it’s detriment, can’t take hitting out of the game.

Diego from Lilburn

November 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

Smoothie, I’m with you. I don’t see the difference between this system and Anderson’s last year. Anytime the D-Men are expected to jump up you are gonna have your butt hanging in the wind if the Forwards don’t want to come back and play defense.

I don’t see the difference and our Shots Against number says the rest of the NHL doesn’t see the difference either.

Also, anybody want to bet that the scouting report on Mason says, “To score on Mason just skate up to the left side post (glove-side) and jam it in. Works every time.”?

Diego from Lilburn

November 10th, 2010
12:59 pm

And, Joe, yes, I think the new head-hunting rules are causing total hits to come down.

My other peeve is that I still see lots of hits across the numbers that don’t get called for boarding. You can see the same play twice in the same game and one gets called and the other doesn’t. Too inconsistent.

Alan R.

November 10th, 2010
1:13 pm

You might be on to something, JF. Remember when Byfuglien received the penalty and game misconduct for “charging” the goalie (I think it was in Washington)?

Smoothie

November 10th, 2010
1:17 pm

Diego et al – indeed, shots against are almost 3 per game higher so far this season under Rammer (37.0) vs JA (34.5). That may not seem like much when you’re already giving up well in excess of 31-32 shots per game, but our overall Corsi (all shots combined) rating really sucks to the tune of a -15 per game adjusted for special teams. We’ve attempted a total of 665 shots where as our opponents have attempted 891!! That is an average of 5 fewer shots per period!!

As for the hitting, I think players are in fact looking for the open ice hit less, but I’m not sure how that should really affect our aggressiveness in our own end along the wall. Ladd’s boarding call was unfortunate as he was trying to time it so the defender would be turning towards the blueline coming from the wall and you could tell it surprised Ladd that he didn’t and he tried to lay off on the hit. I don’t think the players are totally committing to the system or they just aren’t comfortable yet. But Rammer’s system is useless if a) you keep turning it over with “soft” plays on the break-out and b) you hardly ever enter the off zone with speed; you can’t win a battle at the end line if you aren’t flying at a high rate of speed.

Rawhide

November 10th, 2010
1:30 pm

Hi everyone…

Sorry for my absence lately and lack of a new blog after last night’s loos. Lots going on in both home life and office life right now that is keeping 100% of my attention. Nothing bad or anything, but I wanted to drop in this comment to let you know.

Look for a new post tonight or in the AM. Until then, continue the conversation…

Larry E

November 10th, 2010
1:44 pm

Please!!!! someone please buy the Thrashers away from these idiot owners, spend some money, get rid of Donnie Wadell out of the front office and far away.Please keep the team in Atlanta. Thankyou.

World Be Free

November 10th, 2010
1:54 pm

J-F – guys may be worried about getting hurt too, especially with most teams not handing out long term contracts. More players are playing on one year deals, season to season with the primary measurement for new deals being goals and assists, not hits and fights.

New rules may come into play as well, but most players know the difference between dirty and clean hits. You wanna get rid of dirty hits? Take out the instigator rule so teams can get even with a cheap shooter the hockey way.

Tom Lysiak

November 10th, 2010
2:10 pm

This lack of improvement in team defense is hard to understand. I made the (incorrect) assumption when Ramsay was brought in that he would emphasize defense and get that part of the game nailed down. I also assumed they would just accept whatever scoring we got, knowing that part could be improved once defense was a given. Scorers could be added at the deadline or maybe even next season, but the defense would carry the day. Wrong. It just makes no sense to me to have a coach who is known for his defensive responsibility as a player and his good work with the Boston defense in the last few years, running a team that has these defensive lapses. Is it the people he has to work with? Is it reluctance or refusal to practice what Ramsay teaches? Have they tuned him out already? Or, will the light bulb come on one day and the defense just gel? I expected way better defensive play, even at this point in the process.

World Be Free

November 10th, 2010
3:07 pm

Tom-tough to figure it all out up to this point.

Nate

November 10th, 2010
3:14 pm

Joe F. and Smoothie – Nail on head. This team looks the same as it has the last two years under Anderson. I don’t seen any improvement or change in philosophy defensively. Which is probably why the team continues to get torched by G/A like it has pretty much every year.

Red Light

November 10th, 2010
3:24 pm

Tom Lysiak: Personally, I do feel Ramsay’s system will be a good one when it is completely installed. But, for all the pie-in-the-sky posturing about this team and the personnel guru leading it up to the start of the season, this team’s current roster isn’t capable of anything but winding up in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. And, as has been pointed out, there’s not a $42 million roster in this league that can compete on a nightly basis with the top clubs.

Yes, they can compete and look good doing it from time to time — and even make the playoffs – but I still believe the Thrashers are at least $10 million short of a full load. When other teams have three to five guys on their roster better than anyone on the Thrashers roster, the illustration is crystal clear. As I said in the summer, this team is a work in progress and we won’t really know what they have until December. We’re 20 days and 10 games away from that point and while it doesn’t look real appealing right now, a lot can change over a couple of weeks in the NHL.

I think if you look roster to roster and pick who you think a particular team’s best defenseman, best forward and best goalie are, I’m pretty sure the Thrashers best compared to many of the others are way down the list. Heck, in the Southeast Division the Thrashers top goalie is third or fourth of the five, and we probably don’t even want to try when it comes to forwards or defensemen. But, I can name at least nine forwards and seven defensemen in the division that I’d take over any of the Thrashers.

Joe Friday

November 10th, 2010
3:36 pm

“Is it the people he has to work with?”

I think this is it, you can only coach up so much . . .

Cornbread

November 10th, 2010
3:56 pm

According to Ramsay, the team has not worked much on their defensive system. This is not that unusual early in the season when most teams have yet to tighten up defensively. I think he’s still working on puck possesion and establishing the forecheck in the attacking zone. The best cycling game so far was against CHI. Last night they did not establish the cycle or much of a fore-check but the real problem was breakdowns in their own end. I also don’t think the gaps are tight enough nor do I believe the forwards are getting out to their point coverage quick enough which all lead to shots against. These things will be easy for Ramsay to tighten-up.

mike

November 10th, 2010
3:59 pm

also at the begining of the season ramsay said hed leave most of the def up to torch or (well hes our real assistant coach but i forgot his name)…anyways one of those two is supposed to be the main d guy

World Be Free

November 10th, 2010
4:50 pm

We all sound pretty negative today-I think all 11.10.10 posters need a brew.

stendek

November 10th, 2010
5:39 pm

Thrashers were sold to Hamilton, Ontario ownership group for 60 used practice pucks, 100 cracked practice sticks, a retooled zamboni and 30 cases of Molson. Sale was immediate. Team given first ever schedule interruption approval by NHL. Games scheduled within three week absentia period will be tacked on at conclusion of regular season to allow move, arena venue change and other necessary switchover modifications. Team will be renamed Hamilton Hens. Life is good. Then I woke up! Sigh. STENDEK

jimbo

November 10th, 2010
8:20 pm

Smoothie- Right on man! Defense is a TEAM RESPONSIBILITY. All we heard from Rammer early on was that our forwards would be back on D. helping out and that we would have strategies for handling “The Trap”, “Fly Wings” etc. Well, we’ve shown no ability to adjust to those teams that throw the clamp down on neutral ice and let other teams freely dump, chase and cycle in our end. Unless our goalies are able to post .975 save ratios, the shots on goal will eventually find their way into the net and we’ll continue to scramble. So far Rammer has shown me no adaptability or changing strategies or system. Wanna get folks back in the building? Show us a run of ugly 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 WINS. Who care if SOG is 18-14 or some other low number. This fan base doesn’t want free wheeling 6-4 loses. Rammer- Recognize and deal with Reality.

Rawhide

November 10th, 2010
8:29 pm

The Thrashers have the 4th-best power play in the NHL, converting 26.1% of the time.

That’s really very good, however

R. Stroz

November 11th, 2010
2:01 pm

Rawhide

November 14th, 2010
1:26 pm

R. Stroz – Nope.