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WIIMChat: A Luke Glendening Discussion

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A new feature we'll be trying on occasion around here is taking internal WIIM staff chats and editing them into posts when they become especially substantive. This is our first stab at it after the Glendening stuff sparked some conversation.

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JJ

So here's the thing:

We kind of wanted the Wings to use their scoring depth to be more willing to race teams up the scoreboard rather than turning each game into a grind, right?

The problem with Babcock's Glenny Magic usage was he wanted everybody to shut down everybody and for the Wings to push advantage on the margins until the sheer weight of a slightly superior system etched wins out, yeah?

Caleb

Yeah, hasn't worked out that way unfortunately.

JJ

Is it possible that the same Glenny magic plan employed with a different idea that it's ok for him to lose as long as the other guys go fuck-truckin' all over their opponents is potentially a GOOD idea, given the talent layout of the Wings?

Ideally you want to push possession over all four lines. Your top line being better than theirs all the way down to your fourth line being better.

But realistically, even when the Wings have an advantage in the top two lines over teams, how large is that advantage?

Caleb

If you HAVE to have Glendening out there, I'm perfectly ok with his job being to take d-zone draws and get the puck deep in the other end and then get off the ice until another d-zone draw comes up.

He's turned into an excellent faceoff guy.

The problem with chasing top lines is you create a ton of defensive zone draws for your scorers.

Because so many of his shifts end in mrazek/howard freezing a puck.

JJ

If you can accept a one-line disadvantage to open the advantage over the other three lines, you can race up the scoreboard fairly well. Since you're supposedly taking three rungs out of four.

Where I have a really big problem with how this idea played out in Ottawa is that I think it should be entirely abandoned when the score isn't close

That slows them down for sure, but those are also defensive zone draws against competition they're better than.

(Also, Blashill has been finding a way to give them O-zone draws anyway)

Caleb

Wings have just 9 players with more o-zone starts than d-zone.

(Z, Abby, Larkin, Nyquist, Richards, Kindl, Pulkkinen, Tatar, Green)

Actually just 8 - Z is dead even 50%.

JJ

Yeah, so all of their top scoring talent is still seeing at least 50% and better in terms of zone starts... and under the sacrificial line plan, they're doing it against opposition they should be able to force that advantage against even more.

I have to tell you honestly, I'm coming around on this plan.

(with the caveat that when you're up 5-1 you abandon it)

Caleb

I think I'm confusing what you're saying - so how exactly would you use Glendening's line?

If Blashill drops dead today and you take over

With the caveat that you can't sit him since that appears to never be an option

JJ

If Blashill drops dead and I take over, then I send Glendening through waivers and get Athanasiou up

damn, nevermind

Caleb

Hah. Yeah that's what I'd do, or at least stick Nosek or Miele on that 4C spot as guys you don't intend to ever use as top-6, and you don't mind them playing 8 mins a night

JJ

Ok, so a team like Ottawa where Kyle Turris is their top center, you waste that guy's ice time playing against Glendening, accepting that Glendening is going to lose that battle. This leaves Zetterberg against 2nd line competition, Sheahan against third liners, and Helm against the 4th.  You sacrifice one line to push a bigger advantage on three.

I would still put Zetterberg out against world-class talent like Stamkos though.

Once you run to an advantage where you're winning because your three good lines have done more damage to them than their one super-advantaged line has done to us, I'd switch things back and play it straight to better take advantage of a low-event style that the team is still capable of playing.

Not exactly sitting on the lead defensive shell stuff, but more canceling them out directly.

Caleb

My plan: I would continue playing that 4th line heavily on the PK. given that the skill players are getting a rest on the PK. When we get into a stretch of 5v5, I would skip the 4th line every other cycle through the lineup and maybe more often in the 3rd while trailing. When they do go out, I'd put them out directly after the other team's best line sits (to ensure you dodge their best players) so as to minimize the damage.

I'd do the opposite with a big lead - let the 4th line play a little more so as to not tire out the skill players.

To me, I see the 4th line as a liability, but less of a liability on special teams, which is probably the most tiring minutes out there anyway.

JJ

I might do that in the playoffs, but I fear you won't get enough big leads pushing straight-matchup hockey with the D-corps that the Wings have going out there every night.

Caleb

Maybe, but right now glendening is getting more TOI than guys like Nyquist and Tatar. those two with young legs could easily get 3 more mins a night without being exhausted. those are real scoring chances that are being left on the table.

Not to mention the knock-on effect of creating o-zone draws

JJ

Guess the entirely stripped-away consideration there is what would be their expected rate of scoring chances created per minute versus top competition compared to expected rate against competition a full line easier. If the rate supports three fewer minutes then that's what they get

Caleb

War-on-Ice right now says at 5v5, Glendening is -29 in scoring chances right now. I just can't justify giving that type of liability any more 5v5 ice time than the absolute minimum to keep the good players fresh

JJ

I think you can benefit them by giving them those easier shifts in the first two periods and then let their skill take advantage of higher-skilled opponents who are pressing more.  This is where I break with Blashill's usage

Caleb

Nyquist for example is -1, which sadly is 4th

(zero points for figuring out Larkin is best by a fair bit at scoring chances)

I guess I'd like to see the Wings play things straight-up, especially with the tweaks to the defense Blashill has done. Kronwall played a period with Green and 3 with Smith, and he looked 5 years younger in those 4 periods.

JJ

Yeah we know that Glendening is always going to lose the battle. There's evidence to suggest he's better at losing battles than replacement level, that his losses aren't as bad as losses which would be suffered by others in the same situation. It would be great to have four lines who win every battle.

Basically, I don't disagree about the TOI thing too much.  I think Glendening got too much against Ottawa on Saturday.

Essentially, I wouldn't have given him 6:28 in the third.

41% of Glendening's ESTOI in that Ottawa game came in the last 20 minutes of that game.

Caleb

Yeah. For all the talk of a system change resulting in higher shot games, Wings are producing fewer shots than last year... And the guy we know can/t generate them well is getting more ice time than a bunch of guys we've seen be good at creating offense. That's the biggest flaw right now I think.

Oh another factor of chasing top lines with 41: top lines play a lot at 5v5. It's a side effect.

JJ

Glendening had 9:11 through the first two; Zetterberg had 9:45

Caleb

I need to check shift charts in a bit to see if that was just because Turris played more in the 3rd or because he chased Turris more in the 3rd due to a big lead

JJ

Turris ESTOI by period:

4:18

4:21

6:12

Caleb

Because right now if I'm the other coach and I see 41 is chasing my top line all night, I play them a ton and hope they can connect.

Because it's a free ticket to scoring chances.

JJ

That's exactly why I would have switched that usage in the third

If you have the lead, use skill against skill because your skill guys are the ones who are adept at taking advantage of the mistakes your opponents make while pushing. You have a much better chance of opening up a wider lead against Turris while he's scrambling to make plays happen.

If you're trailing in the third, use skill against skill because you have to scramble yourself and you're forced to take the gamble that the other team isn't going to make you pay.

If you're tied in the third, strategically use skill against skill, but concentrate on making sure you don't cost yourself the loser point.

In conclusion:  vote for 40/40/20 ice time usage for Glendening in 2015-16.

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