Predators Update, March 12 2009

Here's the scoop on your Preds this Thursday morning, along with a healthy dose of number crunching::

Despite some excitement about the possibility of a late-season return by Alexander Radulov, the young Russian's agent pops that bubble with word that he's instead focusing on the upcoming World Championships. It's too bad that the toothless IIHF refused to take a stand and suspend Radulov from the event for violating his NHL contract.

Via a FanPost over at From the Rink, we get a story about how a connection with Jordin Tootoo helped extend Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (a program that sends books to kids to encourage reading) to Dauphin, Manitoba, which also happens to be the hometown of Preds coach Barry Trotz

Mark Dekanich got an opportunity to start for the Milwaukee Admirals when Drew MacIntyre was suddenly called up earlier this week, and he stopped 46 shots in a 3-2 win.

David Boclair writes about Ryan Suter's development as a leader on the power play. With all the (well deserved) hype around Shea Weber this season, Suter often gets overlooked.

John Glennon writes about Antti Pihlstrom's ability to secure a steady roster spotahead of the other Nashville rookies, despite minimal offensive contributions. As I've written before, his ability to impact the overall Shots For/Against situation has stood out in comparison to not just the other rookies, but the entire team (see table below, data courtesy of Behind the Net):

 NAME POS GP TOI/60 RATING CORSI PTS/60 SFON/60 SAON/60 SFOFF/60 SAOFF/60
 ANTTI PIHLSTROM LW 42 11.35 -0.38 11.5 0.63 30.3 23.9 26.5 28.8
 SHEA WEBER D 64 16.77 0.78 8.2 1.23 30.7 26.1 23.9 28.8
 RYAN SUTER D 65 16.91 -0.19 7.0 1.04 29.7 25.0 24.4 29.2
 MARTIN ERAT RW 60 13.61 -0.14 6.5 1.91 29.3 27.1 25.3 27.7
 JEAN-PIERRE DUMONT RW 65 13.26 0.87 3.6 2.23 27.8 27.9 25.8 27.5
 DAVID LEGWAND C 65 13.61 0.18 3.6 1.76 28.7 26.9 25.4 28.0
 KEVIN KLEIN D 46 11.71 0.64 3.0 1.11 24.8 27.3 28.0 27.7
 JASON ARNOTT C 59 13.72 0.70 0.5 2.30 27.8 29.7 26.1 27.4
 JOEL WARD RW 62 11.64 0.45 -1.0 1.75 26.5 28.0 26.6 27.5
 PATRIC HORNQVIST LW 19 10.52 -0.58 -1.8 1.80 26.4 23.7 21.4 29.4
 RYAN JONES LW 37 10.18 0.32 -3.8 1.59 26.9 29.5 24.6 26.9
 JORDIN TOOTOO RW 56 11.39 -1.00 -4.1 1.22 26.0 30.5 27.1 26.7
 VERNON FIDDLER C 61 10.11 -1.26 -5.1 1.07 23.1 28.1 27.4 27.7
 WADE BELAK D 50 5.29 0.42 -6.8 0.45 23.8 25.4 27.7 29.4
 STEVE SULLIVAN C 24 12.97 0.39 -7.1 2.12 25.8 30.5 27.9 26.8
 DAN HAMHUIS D 65 16.53 -0.81 -7.4 0.67 24.7 28.3 27.3 27.3
 GREG DE VRIES D 54 13.48 -0.93 -7.7 0.41 22.7 28.7 27.2 27.1
 RADEK BONK C 55 11.66 -0.26 -7.9 1.03 23.2 27.4 27.4 28.2
 JERRED SMITHSON C 65 10.42 -0.35 -8.4 0.80 22.7 26.3 27.5 28.1
 GREG ZANON D 65 15.90 0.23 -9.6 0.41 24.5 29.5 27.4 26.6
 VILLE KOISTINEN D 31 11.71 0.17 -10.1 0.66 23.1 32.1 26.2 26.9
 SCOTT NICHOL C 27 7.98 -0.21 -17.6 1.67 21.5 29.3 25.4 26.2

The Corsi figure above represents the net Total Shots (Shots on Goal, Missed, & Blocked) For and Against, per 60 minutes of 5-on-5. Simply put, when Pihlstrom's on the ice, the play is generally headed towards the offensive zone, which is obviously a good thing. I've broken out the Shots For and Against per 60 minutes when he's on the ice as opposed to off of it, to bring a little more detail into the picture.

Basically, as Pihlstrom sits on the bench, the team is outshot 28.8 to 26.5 per 60 minutes of 5-on-5. When he skates, however, Shots Against drops by 4.9, and Shots For rises by 3.8. Notice, however, that Pihlstrom's Rating (his impact on actual Plus/Minus per 60) is -0.38, which seems somewhat at odds. He's having a positive impact on shots, but a negative one on actual goals being scored. There are two likely reasons for this. The first (which I consider more likely) is it's simply a matter of the bounces; a matter of a few saves made or not made either way could swing that number around. The second would be that the Quality of Shots For that Philstrom helps create is quite poor, while the opportunities given up to the opponent, while less frequent, are more dangerous. To answer that I'd need to dig into the issue of Shot Quality, and for that I've got some number crunching to do. I was starting to get into this yesterday, but found that the data I was parsing out is incomplete, so I've got to go back and flesh it out.

Regardless, the Corsi numbers present an interesting picture into who's pushing the play forward, and who's scrambling around playing defense. Weber and Suter have assumed leading roles on the team and appear to be handling the burden well; down at the bottom, we see why Ville Koistinen can't crack the lineup, and why Greg Zanon is blocking so many shots (because he's stuck in his own end much of the time).

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