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There Will Be an Eye Test on These Stats: Week 1 - Mike Green’s Poor Start to the Season

Detroit Red Wings v Minnesota Wild

Last year, I wrote a weekly series on the power play. This season, I’m going to do something similar, but I will vary the topic from week to week. Like I did with the power play series, I plan to mix statistics with video to give a full view of what is happening and why.

Another goal of this series is to try to help make sense of some of the statistics you see, but you might not really understand. Statistics are useless if you can’t understand what they are saying. For this article, I will explain them as I go, but in the future, I may change to an appendix at the end or something like that.

The first article in the series will deal with the poor play of Mike Green. It doesn’t take a close viewing of the games to realize that he hasn’t been playing very well, and it’s been hurting the team.

Stats

Keeping in mind that the season is still young, and our sample size is pretty small, we’re going to start off with a look at 5v5 Goals For %. This stat measures the percentage of goals scored for your team when a player is on the ice out of the total goals scored while a player is on the ice.

The type of plot I’m using for this article is called a beeswarm plot. Each dot represents a player, and it makes it easy to visualize the distribution of a statistic. Mike Green and Patrick Nemeth are the two lowest for the Wings, and they play together as a pairing. Green has the highest 5v5 Time on Ice for Detroit with 120 minutes, with Nemeth second on the team with 111.

You don’t have to be an expert to realize that having your top two defensemen in TOI be the worst in GF% is not great for your team.

Detroit defensemen have found themselves on the wrong side of Corsi For % so far this season, with the exception of Filip Hronek, who has been clearly Detroit’s best defensemen of the young season, in my opinion.

For those who don’t know, Corsi measures the number of shot attempts while a player is on the ice. This includes shots that are saved, blocked, miss the net, or go in the goal. (Fenwick is similar, but does not count blocked shots). This is sometimes referred to as shot share, which I personally like because it’s easy to understand. Since Green is at 47.9% CF%, that means that just under 48% of the shot attempts taken while he is on the ice are Detroit shots.

Additionally, it seems like Mike Green has given the puck away a lot this season. If you thought that was true, guess what? You’re right. Here’s a look at 5v5 Giveaways / 60 or how many giveaways a player has for every 60 minutes of ice time. This is called a rate stat and is used because it shows comparisons between players with differing amounts of ice time.

In this graph, the higher a player is vertically, the more giveaways he commits per 60 minutes of ice time. Green is near the bottom of the league in this stat, which is obviously not helping the team.

Now, it’s possible that Green could be taking the puck away at the same or higher rate, which would end up a net positive for the team.

That’s not the case.

His Giveaways / 60 is 4.04, while his Takeaways / 60 is 0.51.

Let’s Go to the Videotape

Since Mike Green and Patrik Nemeth are paired together, and are on the ice together the majority of the time each of them plays at 5v5, It’s possible that it could be Nemeth bringing Green down.

That’s something I kept in mind while watching the Vancouver game, and I don’t think that’s the case. Let’s take a look at some video to see what’s happening with Mike Green.

One of the things I noticed from doing the power play series last year is that many of Green’s miscues were because he didn’t make the correct decision quickly enough. This first clip doesn’t show an egregious error, but I think he could have played the puck to Nemeth rather than taking it into the boards, which led to a turnover.

In the next clip, he waits too long and is forced to try a hard pass, which gets intercepted.

In the play that led to Vancouver’s first goal Tuesday night, he tries a shot from the point with at least two, if not three Canucks between him and the goal, then is too soft on the pass, leading to a break the other way...

...which leads to the goal. Green misses a chance to stop the rush at the near boards, and the extra man on the rush for the Canucks means Detroit doesn’t have enough players to cover the trailer, who scores.

Here, Green loses the most dangerous player on the ice, Elias Pettersson, who sneaks in behind him to tap in the rebound.

Additionally, Green took two penalties. The first could definitely be considered soft, but at the same time Green took his hand off his stick and grabbed the Vancouver player.

The second penalty is 100% going to be called every game. Green does get the puck first, but then his stick pushes the skate out from Hughes.

The most frustrating part about seeing Green make these mistakes this season is that he still shows signs of the player he’s been in the past, a player who could be very valuable to the team.

Here, he jumps into the play and makes a really tough pass look easy.

Wrapping Up

At this point, I would love to be able to diagnose why Green is playing more poorly this season. At this point, I can’t, but I’m interested to hear ideas from our commenters.

One thing I will say is that Mike Green was making a lot of these same type of mistakes last season. From watching every power play shift for the power play series, I can say that last season he made a lot of bad passes, was slow to react to plays, and was lackadaisical with the puck far too often.

Additionally, if there is a topic you want to see me cover in this series, let me know and I’ll do my best to take a look at it. If you don’t quite understand something I wrote about statistics, please ask! Thanks for reading, and come back next week!