On Tuesday, we looked at how the Wings' defensemen fared in the Common Sense Scoring Index rankings, showing how much the blueliners struggled with assignments that were pretty consistently over their heads. Today we're going to switch over to the forwards.
As CSSI is largely context-dependent, I'm splitting the forwards up between centers and wingers. I think this gives a better comparison for the players to see how they did and it helps illustrated how each position has different challenges and opportunities to dictate a game.
For the purpose of definition, I only went with the dedicated wingers. A few people played both wing and center this season and that does somewhat skew the numbers, which is something that I'm going to do differently next season. As it stands, Zetterberg, Weiss, Legwand, and Andersson are all missing from this analysis. Johan Franzen played a few games at center this season, but the vast majority of his playing time was on the wing, so I considered him a Winger.
Overall Season Performance
This year, the wingers scored about 64% of all the goals scored by forwards this season. That's a bit of an increase over the standard 60% pace from the previous three seasons. This was helped by injuries to the top two centers, who otherwise likely would have found themselves with a higher percentage of offensive output. Forward scoring rates were up slightly from last year, but still lagged behind previous seasons.
For overall looks, I took the performance of each winger and weighted it by the number of games played. Averaging out those figures gave us the general performance of the average Detroit winger.
|Official +/-||Adjusted +/-||G+||Cov-||Trn-||Ov+||Ov-||Plt-||Plt+||Chg+||Chg-||PP+ Lost||PK Clear||GA Clear||G Saved||Adj Diff|
For guidance on what these terms mean, please check the glossary page.
How Wingers Earn Their Way
Compared to previous seasons, the increase in relative offensive production helped the average winger earn a higher adjustment differential than in previous years. You can see this in the G+ category, which is three times higher than it was last season (and since it's weighted per game, this isn't explained away by the fact that 2012-13 was shortened). Wingers also got more breaks on goals against than the previous two seasons.
Defensively, wingers have a lot less to do than other positions, so they naturally hang lower on minuses earned for goals against. While the guys along the walls are supposed to help end the cycle and defend the rush when they can, their essential defensive duty is simply to watch the points while the center and the defensemen have much more space to cover. Despite that, the guys responsible here found themselves receiving more coverage minuses in previous years and by turning the puck over more than average in bad spots.
I also think that the increase in G+ ratings is tied to the Red Wings' general struggles moving the puck up ice. In previous seasons, defenders moved pucks more fluidly, making the wingers' jobs easier. Pushing the puck up ice on the rush is a winger's job and doesn't traditionally bring bonus adjustments. I don't have the microscopic-level view of this, but I feel that the increase in pluses is created simply by the wingers having to work harder to move the puck in the right direction.
This does bear out in looking at the individual stats. If you had to name the best two-way wingers on the squad, guys like Tatar, Nyquist, Abdelkader, Franzen, and Alfredsson would stand out. It's also important to note that CSSI adjustments are not a be-all and end-all stat for contributions, but rather a guideline to how well a player may or may not have performed in his dedicated role, especially defensively.
Speaking of Standing Out
Two-way play is a great means of earning higher ratings, but it's not the only way. Let's take a look at the weighted numbers chart
|Player||Official Plus/Minus||Adjusted P/M||G+||Cov-||Turn-||OV+||OV-||Plty-||Plty+||Chg+||Chg-||PP+Lost||PK-Clear||GA-Clear||GSaved+||Adjustment Differential|
Ok, so four of the five "two-way" wingers floated above the weighted average player and one truly defensive standout was able to push his way above the green line. Not to insult anybody's intelligence, but yes, it seems that a good way to be a good player is to do offense and defense well.
You'll notice that only three wingers on the entire season failed to earn an overall plus rating. Considering how easy it is for wingers to earn pluses and avoid minuses, these should be considered brutal underperformances.
This is a good time to bring up the fact that CSSI is a live-reviewed season-long process and that feedback from the readers is absolutely crucial to the process succeeding because otherwise, it clearly looks like a bias towards Drew Miller and against Johan Franzen is driving these ratings. What I'll offer instead is the proper orientation of the cart and the horse in this analysis. I don't adjust players this way because of how I feel about them; I feel like I do about these players because of the things they do which earn these adjustments.
What I was really happy to see was how hard Tomas Tatar worked. He played more games than and was outscored by Gustav Nyquist, but Tatar led the way for adjustments because he was consistently aggresive on the puck in all three zones. Part of it is also that Tatar had easier competition for a larger part of the season, but he handed that competition its own ass, and I like to see that.
I split the ongoing CSSI ratings into two charts to make them easier to read. These are split between top six and bottom six guys to better compare like players to like players. This time, I also blanked out games where players missed. I wanted to showcase just how many blanks there are in here.
Detroit's wingers played pretty well this season, all things considered. The youngsters were especially able to shine in their roles while the veteran Daniel Alfredsson provided solid performance. If he's not back next season, the Wings are going to need to replace him with somebody who can provide that level of benefit. When looking at what the Wings may need to do differently this season, I think that this is the spot which needs the least amount of change.