Damned Lies and Statistics: A brief history of Marco Scandella PLUS why don’t he and Brodin generate offense?

The other night after the Wild thoroughly pummeled the Flames in what was a super awkward return-to-Minnesota-and-thanks-for-the-goals game for Niklas Backstrom, I got to thinking about Marco Scandella. [Side note, I always appreciated the time Backstrom spent with the team when they stunk out loud in the early 2000s, and it was pretty lousy of a few fans to jeer him at the end of the game.] Anyway, after we all looked at the possession charts, and after taking into account the score effects, it appeared that Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin had a pretty terrible night in terms of possession:

cgymin diag chart 32516

The x-axis above is the total shot attempts when the player(s) were on the ice, and the y-axis is the net difference (so if they drove possession, they’d be above the red line and vice versa.) Down in the bottom right corner, you see Koivu-Coyle-Parise, but even farther down you see Brodin and Scandella. I checked into their zone starts and didn’t see anything glaring. Then I got to thinking about when they’d played together recently, and I couldn’t really remember a time in recent memory. Naturally I went to the interwebs, and realized they haven’t played together much at all in the last two years.

Scandella started getting paired with Jared Spurgeon at the end of the 2010-11 season, and played the bulk of the 11-12 season with the mighty mite. Shout out to hockeyviz.com for his awesome visualizations, by the way.

history-1112-MIN-scandma90

Scandella went back to Houston (remember them?) for most of 2012-13, and then had his breakout year in 13-14 and made a name for himself as a good two-way player with a rocket slap shot. In that season, he had the third-most 5v5 ice time of any blueliner, and split time with Spurgeon, Prosser, and finally Brodin.

history-1314-MIN-scandma90

While Brodin and Scandella were on the ice, the team clocked in at a 46% GF, 45.5 CF/60, and a 48.9% corsi rate. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about. Looking at his WOWYs from that year, when Scandella skated with all other defenders, he had a 65% GF, 51.8 CF/60, and 49.7% CF%. In 2013-14, the pair skated together for just sixty-two minutes on the year, telling us Mike Yeo pretty clearly recognized the two just didn’t complement each others’ games.

Obviously, this season gives us an interesting dataset because we have two guys setting the lineup in the same year. Here’s this year’s info, with some extra data added in.

history-1516-MIN-scandma90

A couple things stand out here–for a good chunk of this season, Yeo was deploying Scandella with Prosser, Brodin, and Dumba in the same game. I tried to estimate the spot where Torch took over (vertical red line), and you can clearly see that he deployed Scandella and Dumba together until very recently, when Scandella and Brodin have been almost literally joined at the hip. In the middle chart, you can see that Scandella’s power play deployment has dropped, and his possession numbers have spiked wildly–oddly coincidental that his for/against tanked right when he got back with Brodin, don’t you think?

I dug thorough the WOWY number some more, and put together a couple of simple bar charts that look at Scandella’s body of work when paired with each of the other guys who have been regulars in the lineup over the last few years. I wanted to look at more than just this year, so I set it to include 2013-2016.

scandellawowy5toi

Scandella and Spurgeon have more than 30% more time together than the next group, which is fairly even among Brodin, Prosser, and Dumba. We all know about Suter’s disgust of being paired with another left hand shot, which is why he’s got less than 200 minutes with Marco.

scandellawowy4ozstart

It’s too small of a sample to make any conclusions but look at that OZ start number for Suter-Scandella. The obvious trend in defensive zone deployment holds for Brodin and Prosser (both around 65% defensive,) but the 57% offensive zone deployment for Scandella-Dumba is probably about as high as you’ll see among any pair in the league.

scandellawowy2cfpct

Here’s where Scandella-Spurgeon really shine, posting nearly a 54% shot attempt percentage when together. With this type of visualization, we can look across the “Scandella apart” rows to get a sense of his true ability since each bar reflects a larger proportion of the player’s minutes. When apart from almost all the other guys, Marco was just about even in Corsi percentage. When apart from Spurgeon, it was a little lower, but the main takeaway is their excellent possession when together.

Conversely, the Scandella-Brodin pairing just seems to be on their heels out on the ice. The team’s CF/60 has been just 43.28 with those two, and when you compare that to numbers like 59.39 (Scandella-Spurgeon) and 52.45 (Scandella-Dumba), you start to just get a sense that Brodin is the one dragging down the offense. Don’t get me wrong, I love what Jo Bro does defensively, but the numbers are not kind. If I can find the time, I’ll try to look through some game footage of the last five games or so when they have been paired together. In the meantime, hit me up on Twitter @BobaFenwick if you have other theories about what might be going on.

HTH game recap 11-17-15 vs New York Rangers: Now y’all are just showing off

If you watched the game tonight, there’s a pretty good chance that like me, you didn’t get to see the new Star Wars yet. So no spoilers alright!! But, if you happened to tune into the game, you got a chance to see Minnesota mop the floor with the Rangers. For the second game in a row, the Wild gave up a tidy two goals, but hung a big old crooked number on offense. These are the good times, so remember them well when the puck luck dries up. Continue reading HTH game recap 11-17-15 vs New York Rangers: Now y’all are just showing off

HTH game recap 12-15-15 vs Vancouver: That seemed personal

It seems we’ve been transported through some kind of inter-dimensional portal and ended up in a world where the Minnesota Wild are capable of putting up more shots in two periods than they can usually do in a full game plus overtime.

For as bad as the final score looked, the actual possession game was somewhat closer. To get everything kicked off, Charlie Coyle made a nifty power forward move in the slot and drew a penalty, which turned into about the easiest goal of Thomas Vanek’s career. Did you know that Charlie Coyle leads the Wild in penalties drawn (12) and he’s only taken 3 and leads the team in penalty differential (+9)? He’s really making more aggressive moves to the net this year, and the opposition is just getting pushed around. In past seasons, Coyle had a bit of a reputation for playing under his size, so it’s great to see him throwing his weight around out there.

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When the squad is finding success immediately on the power play, you start to get the feeling it’s going to be one of those nights. Despite the first goal, at about the ten minute mark of the first period the Wild turned on the afterburners. Jason Zucker ended up making some space for himself in the low slot, and hammered home a goal that was definitely something Parise would be proud of.

In a game with 57 shots on goal and 94(!) total shots attempted by both teams, you start to drool at the prospect of the shot map. Well, without further ado:

van min shot map 121515

Apart from the two goals scored from Mister Darcy’s doorstep, the Wild did a great job of defending the danger zone tonight. There is a very clear trend of the Canucks’ shots coming almost exclusively from the perimeter. I count eight blocked shots from the home plate area. Conversely, Minnesota put pucks on net from all over the place, but even the shots from the blue line are really closer to the top of the circles. Here’s a closeup of the Wild’s getting to the high danger area.

van min shot map danger zone min 121515

Everything was clicking for the Wild tonight, and certainly they all won’t be this easy. But having said that, it feels great to be on a hot streak right now, on offense and defense. Kuemper has made four quality starts (#MisterDarcy) and they say Dubnyk is ready to go, so I expect to see him on Thursday as the Wild take on the Rangers.

Hopefully they can keep things rolling, and strike while the iron is hot to make some noise in the ever-dangerous Central Division.

Quick side note: tonight’s game featured a number of players we talked about on the most recent podcast in a very fun name game, so be sure to check it out!

Thanks for reading and make sure to follow @BobaFenwick and @HTHpod on Twitter!

HTH podcast ep. 43: You don’t pay Mario Lemieux to not score goals

There’s a lot of depressing shit going on in the world today, so Bob and Dan decide to have a lighter-hearted episode this week. They tried a new twist on the name game, as Bob quizzes Dan on, “Pokemon or Big Data” and Dan quizzes Bob on pairs of brothers playing in the NHL.

Then, the guys showcase a handful of classic examples of NHL players doing car commercials–either dealerships or rentals. Evgeni Malkin, Adam Graves, Alex Ovechkin, Max Talbot, Mario Lemieux, and Wayne Gretzky are all featured. Finally, Dan gives Bob some advice on getting engagement photos taken.

HTH game recap 12-11-15 at Arizona: Heartbreak in the Desert

Hockey in the desert! Minnesota traveled to Arizona to face the slumping Coyotes tonight, and there was no question that the desert dogs would be severely over-matched against the Wild, who had not allowed more than one goal in regulation in the four games previous to tonight’s game.

Minnesota came out like gangbusters, with a dominant first two periods, though they only managed one goal for their trouble. The Wild absolutely dominated the possession game for the bulk of this game, but as always, the possession chart does contain some secrets. Let’s take a look. Continue reading HTH game recap 12-11-15 at Arizona: Heartbreak in the Desert

HTH game recap 12-7-15 at Colorado: Mister Darcy’s time to shine

I suppose it was too much to ask for the Wild to continue their fire wagon ways from just two days ago in Denver tonight. The Avalanche just really looked disinterested in playing proper defense that game, but tonight (after Sakic, Forsberg, and the greats did a pregame ceramony for the 20th anniversary) you had to think they’d come out and play better. And really, they didn’t improve their offense either, just limited Minnesota better. Take a look at the possession chart–both teams had a slow start but Colorado continued the pace into the second, while the Wild were able to at least put some rubber on net. That long stretch at the end of the second period though, no bueno. Both teams regrouped a bit in the third period, with Parise’s tenacious equalizer earning Minnesota a point for their trouble.

min col shot attempts 12715

Minnesota’s Power Play looked just dreadful tonight. As Russo pointed out a couple of times during the game, Vanek just wasn’t looking right, yet there he was right in front of the net, trying to make something happen.

 

Minnesota managed three shots on goal over two power plays, just over 4:00 on the man advantage and they can only get three SOG–seven shot attempts total. Obviously, it’s about quality not quantity, but this team isn’t getting either right now. It’s just not coming together, yet the team does not shake things up. I’m scratching my head over here.

The War on Ice pages are having some hiccups, so the other charts are unavailable. Let me say that I thought Kuemper looked good tonight, and despite not facing a high volume of shots, he stopped most of the ones that he faced. The first goal by Colorado was just a complete breakdown at the end of a shift, Nino goes for a change when he shouldn’t, and about three guys just stand around and watch Tyson Barrie walk in for a great give-and-go tap in. They executed well, but the Wild just got caught.

Overall, this wasn’t necessarily a pretty match–there was a lot of physical stuff that didn’t get called…Iginla was just throwing haymakers and didn’t get penalized for it. Lots of rough stuff, which I don’t really think Minnesota handled well. But then again, they played good defense against a bad offensive team, so that aspect is good. This team isn’t looking fantastic right now, but they’re staying competitive in the division, and that’s about all you can ask at this time of year.

The rest of the month is looking a little dicey, with tough matchups against some Pacific teams, some eastern conference teams, and of course, a couple Conference III teams in for good measure. We’ll ahve to see if Vanek is alright, and if he’s not, no need to ship him out there to stand around.

Thanks for reading, and make sure to follow @HTHpod and @BobaFenwick on Twitter!

HTH game recap 12-3-15 vs Toronto: Baby Duuuuuuubs Edition

Tonight, the Wild got off to a blazing start, with something like 7 shots on goal in the first 5 minutes of the game. Toronto stabilized in the second, and the game was close into the third period, and while the Leafs managed to put the biscuit behind Devan Dubnyk once, it was called back as being offside. The replay was razor close but it was the right call.

Sometimes the possession chart lies, sometimes it does not. Tonight, the chart tells the story of the game quite well, as you can really see how Minnesota jumped down their throats in the first but by the end of the third it was all tied up.

tor min sat count 12315 Continue reading HTH game recap 12-3-15 vs Toronto: Baby Duuuuuuubs Edition

Music We Love – Edition 1

On a recent episode of the Hashtag Hockey Podcast, we talked about some new albums that we have been really enjoying. So, Dan decided to jot down some information about some of the bands and albums we discussed. Enjoy!

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (August 2015, Stax Records)

Two parts Rock & Roll, one part Gospel, one part Folk, topped with a healthy dose of brass and Blues is the ideal recipe for the cocktail to which we might just drink our lives away.  Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have created an album that is joyful, honest, and just a lot of fun to listen to.  While the song “S.O.B.” may not be the truest representation of what Rateliff does (it was written as a joke), it is a great example of how this group can do no wrong.  The song is undeniably catchy, and is brilliant in the way that the central joke, “If I can’t get clean, I’m going to drink my life away,” blurs the line between absurdity and reality.  This self-titled album will keep you warm during some of the cold Winter nights ahead.  Well, maybe this and a bottle of bourbon.  Enjoy responsibly! Continue reading Music We Love – Edition 1

HTH game recap 12-1-15 at Chicago: Suter talks the talk, walks the walk

Sure feels nice to end a slump against the Blackhawks, particularly in their barn. The Wild eked out a win tonight against a talented team on the road, and they sure benefited from getting their skaters back from injury–Parise, Fontaine, and Scandella all laced ’em up tonight. I couldn’t watch the first period due to some damn technical difficulties, but the Wild came out of the gates hot in this one.

min chi corsi chart 12115

The green columns there represent Wild power plays…which is why the lines are flat on the chart here because it’s 5v5 but let’s be honest, “flat” is a great adjective to describe the man advantage for this team. They look slow, they look lost, without a plan. They have a formation they set up but beyond that, there’s no creativity, no risk-taking. It’s ugly out there. And the PK isn’t much better. Miss you Brodziak!

min chi player corsi events 12115

Quick reminder on how to read the above chart–the x-axis (horizontal) is the total number of Corsi events while a player was on the ice at 5v5, the y-axis (vertical) is the differential, so the top half is positive, bottom half negative. I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting Suter’s dominance in this game. Not only was he out there for a lot of the action, he helped direct a great deal of rubber toward the Hawks’ net while preventing shots on goal in his defensive zone. Specifically, he finished the night on the ice for 26 Corsi for, 13 against (+13 overall.) And this was largely against the Kane line too.

min chi shot attempt map

We see that the Wild did a good job of getting shots from all over the ice, and their goals both came from waaaaaay down low. Also, before you tweet me, the x-axis coordinates look flipped here…Suter and Pommer both scored from the right side. Might be a NHL problem, might be a WOI problem. I’ll try to update if it gets fixed. In any case, Minnesota is getting shots on goal from beyond the faceoff circles, which is great to see. Their defense has been contributing more this year it seems, though lately they have sputtered. Glad to have Scandella back, that’s for sure. Chicago seems to have been very clearly trying to get to the “home plate” area, and while there are certainly some high danger shots there, I thought overall they did a good job of limiting the Hawks chances.

It feels great to get this win, but Minnesota is still fifth place in their division. They need to keep grinding and rack up those points if they want to avoid yet another midseason slump. The playoffs are still very much in play, but this team needs to pull it together a little more to really be considered to have a chance against the upper teams in the West.

Up next, Toronto comes to town on Thursday…the Leafs have played alright lately, but another two points are definitely in play. Thanks for reading, and make sure to check out the most recent podcast, and make sure to follow @HTHpod and @BobaFenwick on Twitter!

Daily Affirmation – Minnesota Wild

Yesterday, after dropping the third game in a row, Mike Yeo had some tough words for his club…


Well I’m here to try to erase that negativity with today’s daily affirmation. So say it with me,

“I deserve good things.

I am entitled to my share of happiness.

I refuse to beat myself up.

I am an attractive person

I am fun to be with.

I am going to have a terrific game today,

because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and people like me!”