This post is from the comments section of my "Change Edition" post earlier today. I hope our friend Whitebeard feels free to supply this blog with this sort of information more often. His handle on USCHO is wetsubarcticanine for anyone familiar with the good observations he makes there. I knew as soon as I started reading it that it deserved it's own post.I’ve been playing with some numbers to see how well they stack-up against my perceptions. While you can make claims that agree with what you want by picking cherries, I think they back my observations.
UAA is actually outscoring their opponents at even strength. In goals per game, with an equal numbers of skaters, the top 5 WCHA teams are: DU (2.67), NoDak and SCSU (2.44), Wisco (2.28), Minny (2.13) followed by UAA (2.06). In giving-up goals at even ice, the order of the 5 stingiest is: Duluth (1.33), UAA (1.67), Denver (1.83), NoDak (1.89), and Kato (1.90).
Things really go craptistic with people in the box. The four teams weaker on the PP than the conference average (its a small smidgeon more than a goal per game), in order of mounting futility are: DU (0.94), SCSU (0.83), Tech (0.65), and UAA (0.44). If that weren’t enough to salt my beer, the four teams that are below the conference average at denial on the PK are: Duluth (1.11), Tech (1.30), Kato (1.50) and, lugging the red lantern, UAA (1.72).
Those following dutifully, and ready for the quiz at the end, may have spotted a really odd thing. UAA has surrendered more goals short handed than at even strength (31-30). Though I’ve not looked for such a thing, I’d expect that stat to be approaching hen’s teeth uniqueness. The 4 teams with fewer PP goals than PP goals allowed are: SCSU (-3), Kato (-5), Tech (-13), and really out there UAA (-23).
UAA still has the fewest PP’s per game in the conference (.90 less than the average) but up a lot from where they were after the ridiculous officiating in the games aginst CC here in Anchorage and I started keeping track. Also they have given-up the 3rd most opportunities (.71 more than the average), but continuing to come down. Who they have and haven’t played is a factor, and some teams are more prone to spending time contemplating the error of their ways on the other side of the ice from the team benches.
There’s stats and reality. For a while I’ve seen a complete reversal of what was happening when UAA regularly killed 2 to 3 minutes of 5 on 3 in nearly every game earlier in the season. The team was defeating their opponent at the ’Wolves blue line, almost always at one of the points. They denied entry to their zone for well more than half of the clock ticks the other team was up 2 men. (The 5 or 4 kill wasn’t as spectacular, but it was much better than things have been of late). I haven’t put hash marks on my palm to get any kind of accuracy, but it seems that other teams are in the zone and set-up with more than disturbing regularity when they come up the ice on the PP now.
Conversely, we have very little time on the PP with possession in the attacking zone, because we are being denied it, or trying to gain possession along the boards after a dump. (This weekend against the technophiles, I some improvement.)
I’d think an effective drill for gaining the zone with possession is hard to devise and work at practice. It’s also likely that the narrower sheet on campus would make any reps somewhat pointless.
What to do, what to do?