clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The GlendENDING Draws Near

New, comments
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday afternoon, there was a lively discussion regarding Luke Glendening and Drew Miller and their roles on the Detroit Red Wings. Many fans have been calling for the heads of the 4th line as they have been victimized in three of the past four late game collapses. Despite their struggles at 5-on-5, many pundits have suggested that we need to think about "roles" and how Glendening and Miller excel on the penalty kill. The Wings penalty kill is operating at 83.5%, good for 7th best in the NHL.

Essentially the question at hand is - does the penalty kill work of Glendening and Miller make up for their struggles at 5v5?

Glendening And Miller At 5v5

Through the first 25 games of the season, Glendening and Miller have been atrocious at 5v5. Out of the 416 forwards who have played at least 100 minutes at 5v5 on this season, Glendening ranks 412th (37.1%) and Miller ranks 409th (38.0%) in 5v5 Corsi For% (CF%). When the two players are on the ice together, the 5v5 CF% drops to 34.3%. In the 180:04 they've been on the ice together, the Wings have scored just three goals, an average of 1.00 goals/60 minutes.

Now the biggest argument to that has been that Glendening and Miller receive the toughest minutes and start just 25% of their shifts in the O-Zone. However, the statistics reported on sites such as War-On-Ice only report the zone starts that occur off of faceoffs. Micah Blake McCurdy of HockeyViz.com weighed in on what happens when you include Glendening's on-the-fly shifts.

What you can see is that the Wings try to put Glendening on the ice when the puck is in the offensive zone, but he is driven back into his zone where a faceoff then occurs, whether it's the goaltender freezing the puck or the puck going out of play and then he's on the ice for the defensive zone faceoff. Essentially, as soon as Glendening is getting on the ice, the Wings are getting hemmed in their own zone. This is a very scary proposition. To make it worse, Glendening's luck has run out in terms of the goaltending behind him.

Last season, Red Wings netminders stopped 94.4% of the 5v5 shots they faced when Glendening was on the ice, best on the team among players who played at least half the season. This season hasn't been the same story. Despite the Red Wings having the 8th best 5v5 save percentage at 93.5%, the Wings netminders are only stopping 90.51% of the 5v5 shots they see when Glendening is on the ice, the 2nd lowest percentage on the team. Last year, people were able to defend this by saying that Glendening was on the ice for just 26 goals against and was on the ice for 29 for. This season, Glendening has been on the ice for 15 goals against and just 5 for. The 15 goals against represents 40.5% of the 5v5 goals that have been scored against Detroit this season, the highest for all Detroit forwards. The scary part is that when Glendening is on the ice, the Wings have allowed 40% of their 5v5 goals, despite him only playing 24.8% of the available 5v5 minutes.

Right now, Miller and Glendening have combined for two goals and I've demonstrated that their defense is largely absent at 5v5. However, the question at hand is whether or not their penalty killing prowess makes up for their struggles at 5v5.

Glendening And Miller On The Penalty Kill

When I think about evaluating how successful a penalty kill/powerplay will be in the future, I turn back to this piece by Lyle Kossis which talks about how the best way to evaluate the future success of a powerplay is to look at the amount of shot attempts they generate. Kossis found that Corsi For/60 was the most sustainable statistic for a team, whereas powerplay shooting percentage varied significantly.

Tying this analysis to the penalty kill, we should think that penalty kills that continue to allow fewer shot attempts against/60 will maintain a better chance at future success. Right now, the Red Wings sit in 4th place on the penalty kill, and many attribute the success to Glendening and Miller who have both played >55% of the Red Wings shorthanded time.

First 24 games '15-16 GP CA GA TOI CA/60 GA/60 OCAOn%
Drew Miller 25 154 7 77.75 118.8 5.40 48.70
Luke Glendening 25 145 7 81.51 106.7 5.15 50.34

Looking at this table, we see that Glendening and Miller are allowing shot attempts against at an exceptionally high rate. Miller's 118.8 CA/60 ranks 135th and Glendening's 106.7 ranks 110th out of 142 forwards who have played at least 25 minutes shorthanded this season. Of course, the counter argument to that is - "well Miller and Glendening may allow a lot of shot attempts, but they block a lot of opponents shots and make opponents miss the net".

To vet that, I've included that statistic in the table above, abbreviated OCAOn%. This stands for Opponents Corsi Attempts On Goal%. Essentially, it's the percentage of shot attempts by the opponent that actually hit the net. As you can see when Miller is on the ice, 48.7% of shot attempts reach the goal, and 50.3% for Glendening. Based on raw numbers you would think that's pretty good. However, if we rank them out of those same 142 forwards who have played at least 25 minutes at 5v5, you would find that Miller ranks 89th and Glendening ranks 99th. This is not a new problem. In fact, it's a continuation of how the Red Wings penalty kill finished last season.

Take a look at last year's numbers so you can see what I'm talking about.

First 24 games '14-15 GP CA GA TOI CA/60 GA/60 OCAOn%
Drew Miller 24 125 9 75.2 99.7 7.18 52.8
Luke Glendening 24 111 7 73.1 91.1 5.75 52.3
Final 58 games '14-15 GP CA GA TOI CA/60 GA/60 OCAOn%
Drew Miller 58 330 21 174.1 113.7 7.24 47.3
Luke Glendening 58 377 26 201.4 112.3 7.75 45.6

As you can see, the same thing happened last season. The Wings penalty kill started hot, at 86.0% at this time last year. Glendening and Miller were credited with the success, despite the fact that they both were giving up a lot of shot attempts against/60 minutes. Their play fell off big time in the final 58 games last season and the shot attempts against increased dramatically.

Basically what I've shown you so far is that the combination of Glendening and Miller allows a lot of shot attempts against, and are in the bottom half of the NHL in making sure shot attempts don't get through to the net. This is not a new problem for them. Since the start of the 2013-2014 season, of the 164 F's who have played at least 150 minutes shorthanded, Miller ranks 138th in CA/60 while Glendening ranks 140th.

Some of you may point out the goals against/60 and how that number is low compared to the current NHL median of 7.1 GA/60. Glendening's GA/60 of 5.15 ranks 37th and Miller's ranks 45th. So screw the process, the Wings aren't allowing goals when they are on the ice, right? Well, why aren't the Wings allowing goals when Miller and Glendening are on the ice?

Among goaltenders who have played at least 30 minutes shorthanded this year, Petr Mrazek ranks #4 in the NHL in shorthanded save percentage at .913 SV%. This is despite the fact that Mrazek ranks 2nd in the NHL in shorthanded shots faced per game. Last year, of all the goaltenders who played at least 150 minutes shorthanded, only six of them finished with a shorthanded SV% of better than 90% and only one was better than 91.2%. Mrazek finished at 87.9% last year. What happens if Mrazek's SV% drops back to Earth? That's a 3.5% drop in SV%, essentially meaning you will give up almost four more goals per 100 shots faced.

What Should The Wings Do?

So what should the Wings do? Do they even have the players available to revamp their penalty kill? Let's add Darren Helm's name into the mix.

First 24 games '14-15 GP CA GA TOI CA/60 GA/60 OCAOn%
Drew Miller 24 125 9 75.2 99.7 7.18 52.8
Luke Glendening 24 111 7 73.1 91.1 5.75 52.3
Darren Helm 24 29 1 21.9 79.5 2.74 65.5
Final 58 games '14-15 GP CA GA TOI CA/60 GA/60 OCAOn%
Drew Miller 58 330 21 174.1 113.7 7.24 47.3
Luke Glendening 58 377 26 201.4 112.3 7.75 45.6
Darren Helm 51 120 12 89.1 80.8 8.08 41.7
First 25 games '15-16 GP CA GA TOI CA/60 GA/60 OCAOn%
Drew Miller 25 154 7 77.75 118.8 5.40 48.70
Luke Glendening 25 145 7 81.51 106.7 5.15 50.34
Darren Helm 21 37 6 29.11 76.3 12.37 32.43

From this, you can see that Helm is an ELITE penalty killer. His CA/60 against ranks 10th in the NHL this season and his OCAOn% ranks 1st. Going back to the start of the 2013-2014 season, of the 164 forwards who have played at least 150 minutes on the penalty kill, Helm ranks 3rd in the NHL in CA/60. Now Helm has been really unlucky in terms of the goals going in against him while he's shorthanded. I expect that number to drop significantly as Helm's career GA/60 against is 6.68.

The other piece to consider is that Helm's speed creates scoring chances. Since the start of the 2013-2014 season, Helm ranks 2nd among ALL NHL forwards in scoring chances created/60 minutes with 8.95 SCF/60. Only Michael Grabner has generated more shorthanded scoring chances. Glendening ranks 121st, Miller 143rd. Helm also converts his chances, as his shorthanded goals/60 minutes of 0.97 ranks 18th since the start of 2013-2014, compared to 0.11 for both Glendening and Miller which ranks 119th. So not only does Helm prevent shot attempts against, he also prevents those taken from getting on the goal, generates scoring chances, AND scores. It reminds me of the following Family Guy clip.

Basically, the point I'm trying to drive home is that while the penalty kill looks good now, it will not look so good in the future. The same thing happened last season and the penalty kill dropped off dramatically. When you throw in the fact that you have an elite penalty killer in Darren Helm getting underutilized, it's frustrating. Couple that with their significant struggles at 5v5 and you have to think whether or not they should even be playing right now especially considering the youngsters in Grand Rapids that are chomping at the bit.. It's a tough decision as both players work hard, but it's one that Jeff Blashill should really think about moving forward.