Welcome to the Hindsight Happy Hour
This will start as a more in-depth recap of Predators games—if you’ve been familiar with my Twitter threads during and post-game with these charts, it will be somewhat similar. This is where we can take a little bit deeper of a dive into what exactly happened, what the numbers say, and if the numbers agree with the outcome.
We’ll start chart by chart, then go into some other details further down:
- The Predators played a strong 5 on 5 game. This isn’t going to include the 6 on 5 time where the game-tying goal occurred (I’m working on this for the future), but aside from the final minute and a half with the extra attacker, the Predators’ skaters did a good job against Vegas. They had a good 55.3% Corsi For percentage (all shot attempts); however, 52 shot attempts overall is low for the team as of late.
- Their shot quality was pretty good as well, as they led the Golden Knights with a 59.3% Expected Goal (xG) percentage. In fact—oddly enough—they held Las Vegas to the lowest amount of total xG in a single period (just 0.31 xGA) in the third period.
- Neither teams’ 5 on 4 power play ever really got going. Nashville did only get a single shot on net, but Las Vegas didn’t get a single one, even though they had seven shot attempts overall. You can at least feel better than Nashville didn’t allow a 5 on 4 goal this game.
- Juuse Saros played well enough for large stretches of the game, and I don’t know that there was much he could do on any of the four goals in total, especially not the two at 5 on 5. Still, a 90.9% save percentage will still help to push his season average back up somewhat, despite tonight’s loss.
Individual Summaries - 5 on 5 and On-Ice Adjusted 5 on 5
- Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis had uncharacteristic nights. Despite their offensive numbers (Ellis with one goal, Josi with two assists), they drew tough assignments tonight and could only manage to get to break-even in on-ice shot volume and expected goal percentages (basically, shots and shot quality was dead even). Josi saw over seven minutes with McNabb and Schmidt, and matched up against the Vegas top 6 for over six minutes as well. Still, the pair has usually been brilliant in wins, especially as of late, and balancing offensive output and defensive responsibility can be a struggle. Let me be clear: they played a great game—Josi's passing and Ellis' goal were amazing efforts—but I'm positive a stronger defensive effort makes this game 3-1 or 3-0.
- The second line of Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund and Daniel Carr, much like Josi and Ellis, saw offensive output (Granlund and Duchene both had a goal and an assist), but was only at a break-even level on-ice and again, it was due to mainly seeing the same matchups as the top pair. Still, I don’t put as much on this line as the top pair, as they shot 50% overall, and the group was only on the ice for one goal against.
- We’ll speak more on this later, but the Austin Watson, Mathieu Olivier and Colton Sissons line struggled badly yet again despite having one good game during the back to back matchups with St. Louis. They managed only two shots combined and individually got torn apart in on-ice metrics. Sissons has managed to stay a solid defensive player this season, but Austin Watson has not, and Olivier has made it readily apparent that he is not ready. This line worked when it was Nick Bonino, but as we’re finding out, it might have been that they were holding him back.
- Mark Stone led all teammates with 5 shot attempts and 0.29 xG at 5 on 5. His early goal was skill all the way, and as one of the best players in the NHL, he was all over the ice, especially in the crucial final moments. Thankfully for him, nobody in Nashville was thinking of the injury he had apparently inflicted on Filip Forsberg, since Viktor Arvidsson is still fresh on our minds.
- His linemates Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny had oddly differing games at 5 on 5, but in all situations, they each contributed a goal, including the game-winner. In fact, at all situations, Pacioretty had an individual 0.82 xG—a practically unheard amount despite just four shots on goal. This line changed the entire game, which is what you would expect a first line to do.
- Both defense corps ended the night fairly uneven at 5 on 5, but Vegas seemed to be slightly worse. It seems as if besides Brayden McNabb, they were either mediocre or very bad on-ice in terms of volume and shot quality. McNabb, in particular, had a surprisingly decent game—something I didn’t catch during the game.
Forward Lines - Adjusted 5 on 5
- I can’t talk enough about just how wrong I was regarding the years Rocco Grimaldi and Nick Bonino would have. Bonino had always been strong defensively, but he’s been on another level this year. With the addition of Craig Smith, the line has been near-unstoppable, even when held off the scoresheet. In fact, I compared the line with the Matt Duchene-Filip Forsberg-Mikael Granlund line from earlier this season here:
Forsberg-Duchene-Granlund— Bryan Bastin (@projpatsummitt) November 28, 2019
59.3 CF% (68.2 CF/60)
58.1 SF% (38.8 SF/60)
60.3 GF% (3.38 GF/60)
62.9 xGF% (2.66 xGF/60)
2. The Sissons line was bad. There’s no way around it. They didn’t have an easy assignment, getting just 13% of faceoffs in the offensive zone, but they had little to no production at all on offense and stick out like a sore thumb. I would hope this signals the end of the Olivier experience in Nashville, but given the situation with the 13th forward on the roster, who knows what will happen.
3. For some reason or another, the Stastny line wasn’t pulled into the chart this time (I’m looking into the issue) but despite their game-changing offensive output at all situations, they were pretty unspectacular at 5 on 5. The line posted an on-ice shot attempt percentage of only 32.9%, but did break even in both goals and expected goals on the ice. In fact, at 5 on 5, they didn’t have a single shot blocked and only two of eight attempts were misses. That’s how you make your limited shots count.
Shot Quality Watch
One thing I’ve been watching over the last few games is seeing how much the Predators have managed to change their propensity to take a lot of low-danger quality shots. In the last two wins over St. Louis, they had far exceeded their season average, and the hope was that this trend would continue.
Shot quality is determined by the total expected goals divided by unblocked shot attempts (Fenwick events for, or FF). Because the NHL doesn’t record shot location on blocks, expected goals can not be determined. All probabilities are at 5 on 5 adjusted.
- Total: 0.051 xG/FF (or an average probability of 5.1% per shot)
- 1st Period: 0.070 xG/FF
- 2nd Period: 0.058 xG/FF
- 3rd Period: 0.030 xG/FF
- Total: 0.049 xG/FF
- 1st Period: 0.053 xG/FF
- 2nd Period: 0.043 xG/FF
- 3rd Period: 0.046 xG/FF
At 5 on 5, even though Nashville won the battle in both unblocked shot attempts and overall expected goals, they slowly took their foot off the throttle. Each period had more unblocked shots than the one before it, yet quality of the attempts went down. Nashville was just barely over their season average at 5 on 5, a far cry from what they saw in the last two games. And due to that slowdown (hey turtle!), Las Vegas ended up with nearly the exact same average quality shot.
At all situations, however, the story was completely different: Nashville had 0.071 xG/FF while Las Vegas had 0.093 xG/FF. In fact, in the third period, Las Vegas had an impressive 2.26 expected goals at all situations, coming in with a quality shot level of 0.18 xG/FF. Sixteen attempts, each with an average probability of 18% chance of going in net. They took absolute advantage with the extra man, and it shows.
Nashville: Three Up, Three Down
Three Up - High Performers
- Nick Bonino - He had 0.42 xG at 5 on 5—he makes his shots count.
- Mikael Granlund - He finally got his goal after several great attempts, and assisted on another
- Mattias Ekholm - When you don’t hear a defenseman’s name much, that’s good. He was solid yet again, with a 64.9% shot attempt percentage on ice, and a 71% on-ice expected goal percentage. Dante Fabbro had a slightly higher amount, but his penalty was costly at the wrong time. (He still should’ve been on the ice at the end of the game.)
- Austin Watson - At all situations he had no attempts, no shots, had a single turnover, and did not have a single hit or blocked shot—all things he is said to excel in.
- Dan Hamhuis - He made a mistake. By taking the puck to the boards instead of clearing it up the ice at the end of the game, he allowed for the game-tying shot to get into place. This is a rookie mistake, not one a veteran like Hamhuis should make. He’s been decent in his third pairing position, but he lost a game in regulation tonight.
- Calle Järnkrok - Four shot attempts, one shot on goal, and one high-danger chance. Not bad, right? He also had two giveaways. One more was more important than the other—I don’t need to say which one. (Why was he on the ice in overtime? [Ed.: What, was it Olivier or Carr who was supposed to be on the ice in overtime instead?])