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  • Looking at the Bottom Six of the Central Division’s Teams with Super WOWY


    Last month, we used the Super WOWY functionality over at Puckalytics.com to analyze the Wild’s bottom six forward group. Sorry for the lack of links, but Puckalytics.com has giving me issues for weeks now.


    What we saw was that there was a huge discrepancy for all of the Wild defenseman with and without the bottom six forwards on the ice. We defined the Wild’s bottom six as Stoll, Carter and Porter as the fourth line, since they were the primary players used in that role. And we defined the third line as whatever line Vanek was on, because he has become such a boat anchor with whichever center is put on his line, outside of Koivu. We found that without Vanek, Stoll, Carter and Porter on the ice, the Wild had a 51.7% CF ratio at 5v5, which is a number that would have been good for top-10 in the NHL last season.


    When I looked at other NHL team’s bottom-six forwards, I couldn’t find any that had such a huge discrepancy and I offered to take a look at other teams to see if this issue was truly unique to the Wild last season. mnfaninnc suggested I take a look at the rest of the Central Division. And then I got a sinus infection. I was pretty useless for two straight weeks, so I didn’t get a substantive response. Then, my spot in the rotation was skipped for the Wild’s opening day content. Next, I went on vacation for 10 days. So, finally, this week, let’s take a stroll through the Central and see how each team’s top six fared compared to its bottom six using Super WOWY to see if any other team had as stark a contrast as the Wild. We’ll take a look at Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg. Then, we’ll move on to something else.

    Again, the takeaway was the following:

    As you can see from the column I’ve highlighted in red, every Wild defensemen has a huge discrepancy and it’s based on solely whether or not one of those four players is or isn’t on the ice. Suter’s swing is over 10 percentage points, Folin’s is 15 (!), Prosser 11. The smallest swing is Reilly’s percentage point swing of six.


    Again, we’ll start with a list of the 352 forwards that played at least 500 minutes last season at 5v5.

    We’ll start with Chicago. And then we’ll go to the bottom of the list to find Artem Anisimov, Andrew Desjardins, Tomas Fleischmann and Andrew Ladd. I’ve been thinking a lot about whether this identifies the bottom six forwards on an NHL roster and I think there’s probably a strong argument that it doesn’t. But I’ve been writing about hockey and stats at HW for less than two months. I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody, so we’ll just stick to this MO. In any event, the worst Blackhawks forward on our list is Anisimov at number 178 of 352, or about right in the middle. The Blackhawks have a deep forward group.


    When Duncan Keith was on the ice without the four above-referenced forwards, Keith posted a CF% of 53.3. With any of those four, Keith was at 49.8, a difference of less than 4%. That’s a big difference, but it is nothing like what we saw with the Wild D. For Seabrook, the difference was negligible at .02%. Hjalmarsson posted a CF% of 51.1 without those forwards and 52.0 with any of them on the ice. Again, the Blackhawks forwards were a good group. Finally, Van Riemsdyk posted a CF% of 50.9 without and a 48.6 with. In any event, we aren’t seeing the vast discrepancy that we saw with the Wild.


    In the original piece, I looked at the Avalanche and this is what I wrote:


    As far as I’ve been able to tell, this issue is unique to the Wild. For example, of the 352 forwards with at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, Colorado had several finish at the bottom. So in place of the Wild’s bottom six forwards, I used Skille, John Mitchell, Martinsen and McLeod as forwards not on the ice with the four Avalanche defensemen that played at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5, and each of those defensemen had only about a four percentage point swing.


    Nick Holden played at a CF% of 47.1 without those forwards and 42.2 in all other minutes. Tyson Barrie was at 46.0 without and 42.4 with. Erik Johnson without the four forwards representing the bottom six was at 45.4 and 42.2 in all other minutes. And Francois Beauchemin was at 44.9% and 40.3%. Each around a difference of four points. Remember, the Wild D ranged from six to 15 points.


    For Dallas, the worst four forwards by CF% were Roussel, Sceviour, Fiddler and Eakin. Like the Blackhawks, the Stars had a deep forward group, as only Eakin finished in the bottom half of our 352 forwards. Nevertheless, Klingberg posted a CF% of 59.4 without those four forwards on the ice and a 52.2 in all other minutes. That’s a difference of greater than seven percentage points. Similarly, Goligoski was at 57.1% without and 50.9% with. Oduya was at 53.2% and 49.0%. And Jordie Benn finished last season as 50.6% without the representatives of the bottom six and 47.3% in all other minutes. We see big differences here, but nothing like we saw with the Wild.


    As for Nashville, we have Jarnkrok, Salomaki, Austin Watson and Gaustad, as the bottom six of our 352 forwards with at least 500 5v5 ice time. Jackman posted a CF% of 59.2 without these four forwards and a 51.1 in all other minutes, a difference of eight points. Similarly, Ryan Ellis was at 59.0 and 50.0, a difference of nine points. Ekholm put up a CF% of 56.6 without the bottom six and a 49.9 with. Shea Weber played at a 53.7% without these four and a 49.3% with. Finally, Josi posted a similar difference as Weber with a 52.4% without and a 48.3% with.


    For the Blues, we’ll use the following forwards: Reaves, Brouwer, Steen and our old friend Brodziak. As Wild fans all know, this is another deep forward group in the Central. We’re also over a thousand words in, so we’re going to cut to the chase, if you’re still with me. Parayko is a wizard and played at a CF% of 55.5 without these four and 54.7 with. Shattenkirk was 53.0% without and 52.0% in all other situations. Pietrangelo had a little larger difference at 53.5% and 49.7%, but nothing like we saw from any of the Wild D. Bouwmeester was at an even larger discrepancy at 55.2% and 47.1%, a difference of eight points. Finally, Gunnarsson didn’t see much a of a change in 50.8% and 49.4%.


    Last but not least, the Jets, we’ll use as our forwards Thorburn, Lowry, Copp and Burmistrov. For Byfuglien, he posted a 56.0 CF% without these four forwards and a 51.3 in all other situations, a difference of less than five points. Tyler Myers had a larger discrepancy at 55.6% and 47.9%, seven points! Even greater, Trouba put up a CF% of 56.7 without the representatives of Winnipeg’s bottom six and a 47.9 in all other situations, another big difference. Enstrom’s contrast was 54.6% and 47.8%. And Mark Stuart was 52.2% and 44.0%. So, the Jets had some big contrast between the top-six and bottom-six, but still not what we saw from the Wild last season.


    Woof. If you’re a member of the tldr set, I understand. But I think my theory still holds. The Wild’s bottom six undermined the team last season. And the Central Division teams didn’t see the same contrast based on what we’re looking at. I think the Wild’s bottom six has improved, based on what GMCF did in the offseason.

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