Way back in August, blog contributor Jagrmeister developed an analytical way to look at Grit. The initial post can be found here if you would like a refresher. In today’s post, Jagr reexamines the stats to see just how Gritty the Penguins have become.
What is GritTM? For the purpose of this post it’s a made up metric of blocked shots + hits. We talked about this over the summer noting that GMJR was hoping to make the team “harder to play against”. His big acquisition over the summer was Brandon Tanev.
Let’s see how he’s fared so far this season:
Looks like Tanev has picked up right where he left off. If you adjust last year’s grit/gm for the increased TOI he’d be around 4.71. So far he’s been exactly as advertised and even moderately more successful offensively.
Let’s have a look at another of the lightning rod players from this summer:
Another similar result. Johnson’s grit has gone down a bit and his offensive totals have gone up a little as well. He’s finally living up to the contract he signed in the summer of 2018. This season Jack is bringing more to the table than just the grit he brought last year. He’s been more effective offensively and defensively. While his relative stats generally point to him making his teammates worse when he’s on the ice, he’s been an effective bottom half defenseman.
I also called out ZAR as similar to Tanev in my previous post. He’s received a good bit of flack through the first part of the season, and looking at the stats you can see why. ZAR has fallen off both offensively and with his grit. Perhaps playing on the same line as Tanev has reduced his chances to up his grit numbers. He has been a decent bottom 6 forward, but still one that we’d like to see more from.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the silky soft gritless players (i.e. skilled players). Last year’s least gritty player in the League was Johnny Gaudreau. Not surprisingly, he’s in the same place again this year. Being allegedly 5’9” and 165 lbs in the NHL doesn’t lend itself well to a gritty game.
But who is the lowest ranked Penguin?
Yeah, our very own Dominik Kahun is the #12 overall softest player in the league. He’s even ahead of our favorite all-American, hot dog loving, poker playing, awkwardly lovable old pal Philip J. Kessel, who sits at #14.
So now let’s switch gears and talk about teams overall. Over the summer I showed how GritTM has almost no correlation to points in the standings. With about 50 games per team in the books let us have a look and see if that still holds true.
Yup, still looks like I plotted this graph with a shotgun. Tabular ratings below. As you can see, the Pens are #3 in grit per game (and tied for 2nd in hits delivered). The Islanders are first which isn’t too surprising because they are a “heavy” team and have guys like Matt Martin. Ottawa isn’t surprising either because they suck and naturally spend more time trying to get the puck and therefore hitting/blocking shots more often.
The bottom of the standings is a little more interesting. Carolina at the bottom regularly has huge Corsi numbers, so not surprising for them to be there. But let’s talk about St. Louis. The defending cup champs are thought of as a heavier hitting, big team, but the stats say otherwise.
All the stats for the analysis above are from hockey-reference.com. This time around I also checked out some stats from naturalstattrick.com. The main difference here is that the naturalstattrick stats are 5-on-5 specific, so total numbers aren’t as high. But what it does give me are hits taken. Let’s have a look, shall we?
If you compare the two tables they’re pretty similar. A little bit of movement, but the teams are generally in the same place. But the most interesting thing, which I believe I heard the broadcasters mention as well, is how many hits the Penguins are taking. With over 1,500 the Pens are almost 200 hits taken higher than the #2 team, and taking 50% more hits than the average team (974). That’s a LOT of additional hits.
Two things I read from this:
- Clearly the game plan against the Penguins is to hit them. When a team is fast, you hit them to slow them down. It worked for the Islanders in the playoffs last year and has been played out this season as well.
- Maybe it’s not so surprising that the Pens have seen so many injuries. They’re taking more abuse than anyone else in the league
Digging a bit more into point 2 above, have a look at the top hit takers so far this year. Three of the top five are Penguins! Pettersson has taken 45 more hits than anyone else in the league. Almost 1 more hit taken per game than literally anyone else! Tanev takes hits just like he’ll dole them out. But damn, Marino is right up there too! Dude’s just popping up as a top player all over the place. What a steal by GMJR and good work by Kevin Stevens to give him the tip 😉 Table goes to the top 6 so we could get former Penguin and founding member of the 2014 Penguins Mumps Club, Olli Maatta.
|Player||Team||Position||GP||Hits||Hits Taken||Shots Blocked||Grit||Grit/Gm|
Amazingly Florida defenseman Kieth Yandle has played 49 games and only taken 5 hits. I take more hits than that in a 10 game season in my no-hitting beer league. 5 hits in 49 games is an accomplishment. Even Kessel has taken 29 this year. What a stat.
Amazingly, Sid has only been hit 18 times in his 22 games. Jake must have been giving him some room since he’s taken 71 in 39 games. Of all the penguins that have played most of the games it’s Kahun again at the bottom of the pile taking just 34 hits in 48 games
What’s interesting about hits taken though, is that it is more correlated with success in the standings. Look at this graph. Still pretty spread out, but at least the trend line has enough slope you could graph it with the trusty y=mx+b where m doesn’t start with 0.0, so that’s neat.
Finally, I was also able to get my hands on a penalties drawn stat. Tanev is tops for the Pens with 13 on the season, but Geno isn’t far behind at 11. Dumoulin and Johnson have each drawn 0 which at first seems kind of crazy, but then you look at it more and only 2 defensemen have more than 2: Pettersson and Marino (4 and 7! respectively).
22 is the most penalties drawn so far this year, a tie between Winnipeg’s Nicolaj Elhers and Brad “the rat” Marchand.
For the most part it’s all forwards drawing calls which makes sense because they’re generally the ones working for pucks in the offensive zone or coming in with speed.
Grit is still a useless measure, but the Penguins are good at it. Tanev has been as advertised. Kahun is softer than Kessel. The Pens take a shit ton of hits and are nothing special when it comes to drawing penalties.
Hope all you jobbers had at least a fraction of the fun reading this as I did mining the data!