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Gretzky 88-89 Even Strength

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11-11-2010, 06:51 PM
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BraveCanadian
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Gretzky 88-89 Even Strength

I copied this from the other thread so we don't get modded into oblivion again because I think it illustrates a big failing that has been going on around here lately.

That being the equating of individual performance to group statistics.


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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
During Gretzky's most dominant 5-year period from a goal differential improvement standpoint, he took his teams from 1.11 without him, to 1.69 with him. (1981-1985) Best 5 non-consecutive (81, 82, 85, 87, 96): From 0.94 to 1.59.

(wanna hear something strange I noticed? 1989 was actually the beginning of the end of Gretzky as a dominant even strength player. He was a Hart winner, yet his team was 1.15 with him off the ice, and just 1.10 with him on.)
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Doesn't that just happen to coincide with Nicholls having his monster year as a fellow center???
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Nicholls' monster year is often attributed to Gretzky though. I know they played together on the PP, but didn't he also play a lot on Gretzky's wing at ES? A review of the HSP would confirm this.

If I'm wrong about that, yes, it's possible (actually, it's true) that Nicholls vs. 2nd-tier checkers was actually getting a better GF:GA ratio than Gretzky was that year.

But keep in mind that if Nicholls was indeed the 2nd line center all season, he only represents about 40% of Gretzky's off-ice comparables, not all of it. the 1.15 I quoted is based on Nicholls' line, the 3rd line and the 4th line.
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Just because it is often attributed to Gretzky doesn't mean its true.

Nicholls was a talented player in his own right and a 100 point scorer without Gretzky. Granted, they did tear it up playing together on the PP that year and that is what boosted Nicholls even higher.

In any case you're wrong about your assertion that Gretzky was no longer a force at even strength starting that year.

This is the problem with trying to boil down complex play into simple stats. They always end up missing the bigger picture.

Gretzky and Nicholls were both in the top 5 even strength goal scorers that year.

Nicholls had 41 and Gretzky had 38 so based on the fact that Gretzky was 4th in even strength goals in the league and at that point in his career was by far more a playmaker than a scorer... he was definitely still a monster at even strength.
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Your definition of a "force" is different from mine. If he was allowing just as many goals as he was producing, that's not a force.

Think about what these numbers are saying. Gretzky: 1.1 GF:GA ratio. Rest of the team combined: 1.15. You rarely see that for a team's top forward, and certainly not someone who was 2nd in the league in scoring and an MVP winner.

With the exception of 1996, Gretzky was never a major difference maker in his team's even strength regular season performance again. And the 1996 Kings were so lousy that Gretzky had no choice but to stand out there.
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
How many MVP winners have had Kelly Hrudey and Glenn Healy as their goaltenders on a team that gives up 335 total goals?

You're mixing up individual performance with group stats again.

Try having a good goal differential when you're most played goalie has a save percentage of .873

.873
I'll just add that we know from the statistics available that Wayne Gretzky was very effective at even strength that year.

We only know that the LA Kings also gave up a ton of goals. Not that Wayne was particularly bad in that manner as an individual.

He doesn't allow goals, his team allows goals.

Have at it

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11-11-2010, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
How many MVP winners have had Kelly Hrudey and Glenn Healy as their goaltenders on a team that gives up 335 total goals?

You're mixing up individual performance with group stats again.

Try having a good goal differential when you're most played goalie has a save percentage of .873

.873

You forgot the part where Kelly Hrudey and Glenn Healy sucked when Gretzky was on the ice, but were awesome when any other center was on the ice. Because that's the only way goaltending will explain away this statistical anomaly.

So unless that is the case, how does goaltending have anything to do with this? Explain.

I welcome other comments on this.

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11-11-2010, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
I copied this from the other thread so we don't get modded into oblivion again
If you aren't happy with the moderation of this site, please talk with me directly via private message. Thanks.

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11-11-2010, 07:19 PM
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If you aren't happy with the moderation of this site, please talk with me directly via private message. Thanks.
No we were justifiably moderated into oblivion

We got off topic

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11-11-2010, 07:27 PM
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No we were justifiably moderated into oblivion

We got off topic
agree. No ill will there at all.

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11-11-2010, 07:27 PM
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Ah. I'm still not sure which thread you're referring to, so maybe someone else jumped in. Carry on!

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11-11-2010, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
You forgot the part where Kelly Hrudey and Glenn Healy sucked when Gretzky was on the ice, but were awesome when any other center was on the ice. Because that's the only way goaltending will explain away this statistical anomaly.

So unless that is the case, how does goaltending have anything to do with this? Explain.

I welcome other comments on this.
Of course I know that the goaltending was the same for all the centers.. the point being is that in essence, the Kings weren't good defensively at any time.

Therefore, why does Gretzky get taken down a notch as an even strength player by you for playing on a bad defensive team?

He had 38 even strength goals that year.. his primary job is to score.

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11-11-2010, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Of course I know that the goaltending was the same for all the centers.. the point being is that in essence, the Kings weren't good defensively at any time.

Therefore, why does Gretzky get taken down a notch as an even strength player by you for playing on a bad defensive team?

He had 38 even strength goals that year.. his primary job is to score.
The object of a hockey team is to win. Winning is a direct function of scoring and not being scored on. The two are often very conflicting efforts, for all but the very best of players. They generally do just one or the other. Those who can do both at a high level, or each at a high enough level that they still help their team on an aggregate level, are valuable. Those who do one very well and the other so poorly that it offsets the other, aren't very valuable.

If you like, I will run the numbers of some other top-3 NHL scorers over the years to see how common it is for players of that ilk to actually have a worse goal differential than the rest of their team. I haven't done the legwork on that, but it has to be very rare.

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11-11-2010, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
The object of a hockey team is to win. Winning is a direct function of scoring and not being scored on. The two are often very conflicting efforts, for all but the very best of players. They generally do just one or the other. Those who can do both at a high level, or each at a high enough level that they still help their team on an aggregate level, are valuable. Those who do one very well and the other so poorly that it offsets the other, aren't very valuable.

If you like, I will run the numbers of some other top-3 NHL scorers over the years to see how common it is for players of that ilk to actually have a worse goal differential than the rest of their team. I haven't done the legwork on that, but it has to be very rare.
And isn't that ultimately what Gretzky helped the Kings achieve? Look at how much the team improved after his arrival. Unfortunately, after 1993, the team was mismanaged and their owner was accused of being a criminal and the team went through bankruptcies and multiple owners.

But from the time frame of 1988 to 1993, the Kings achieved their greatest success, which also happened to coincide with Gretzky's prime years before he started regressing (you could also attribute his back problems resulting from Gary Suter's cheapshot).

And in breaking down all of these statistics, an important stat is missing. By how many GF and overall points did the Kings improve from 1987-88 to 1988-89? Also observe how many players achieved greater success after Gretzky's arrival. It benefited not only Nicholls, but Robitaille, Duchesne, Taylor, Tonelli, McSorley, then later on with Granato, Sandstrom, Donnelly, etc. If you watched those Kings teams, you'd realize that they were absolutely horrendous in their own end and their goaltending was average at best.

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11-11-2010, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
And isn't that ultimately what Gretzky helped the Kings achieve? Look at how much the team improved after his arrival. Unfortunately, after 1993, the team was mismanaged and their owner was accused of being a criminal and the team went through bankruptcies and multiple owners.

But from the time frame of 1988 to 1993, the Kings achieved their greatest success, which also happened to coincide with Gretzky's prime years before he started regressing (you could also attribute his back problems resulting from Gary Suter's cheapshot).

And in breaking down all of these statistics, an important stat is missing. By how many GF and overall points did the Kings improve from 1987-88 to 1988-89? Also observe how many players achieved greater success after Gretzky's arrival. It benefited not only Nicholls, but Robitaille, Duchesne, Taylor, Tonelli, McSorley, then later on with Granato, Sandstrom, Donnelly, etc. If you watched those Kings teams, you'd realize that they were absolutely horrendous in their own end and their goaltending was average at best.

So why was the team's goal differential better with him off the ice, than on it?

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11-11-2010, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
So why was the team's goal differential better with him off the ice, than on it?
Maybe because other lines didn't get as much ice time and see as many shifts as Gretzky? Did you know how often Gretzky double shifted?

Take a look at the TGF and TGA columns. Gretzky is the leader in both categories.
Also, at even strength, Nicholls primarily centered Robitaille. To start the season, Gretzky was playing with Bobby Carpenter. His linemates ranged from Marty McSorley (who was often used as a RW early in his tenure with LA), Mark Krushelnyski, Igor Liba, Mike Allison, Chris Kontos...

All of these things are relevant reasons that you likely weren't able to discover by focusing simply on stats. Have any other questions?

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11-11-2010, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
Maybe because other lines didn't get as much ice time and see as many shifts as Gretzky? Did you know how often Gretzky double shifted?
I'm talking about ratios here. Higher ice time would explain higher goals for and against, but it wouldn't explain the ratio between the two.

Quote:
Take a look at the TGF and TGA columns. Gretzky is the leader in both categories.
Also, at even strength, Nicholls primarily centered Robitaille. To start the season, Gretzky was playing with Bobby Carpenter. His linemates ranged from Marty McSorley (who was often used as a RW early in his tenure with LA), Mark Krushelnyski, Igor Liba, Mike Allison, Chris Kontos...

All of these things are relevant reasons that you likely weren't able to discover by focusing simply on stats. Have any other questions?
Is it a good enough excuse for the greatest player of all-time to have a negative goal differential compared to the rest of his team because Nicholls centered Robitaille on the 2nd line? 7 other forwards were Gretzky's off-ice comparables, not just Nicholls and Robitaille.

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11-11-2010, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by BraveCanadian View Post
Of course I know that the goaltending was the same for all the centers.. the point being is that in essence, the Kings weren't good defensively at any time.

Therefore, why does Gretzky get taken down a notch as an even strength player by you for playing on a bad defensive team?

He had 38 even strength goals that year.. his primary job is to score.
You are missing the point. The goaltending in Los Angeles doesn't matter in this context, because this is comparing Gretzky to his teammates, not to the best players from around the league. It doesn't matter how good the team was defensively or offensively either, since once again this is a comparison between Gretzky the rest of the Kings.

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11-11-2010, 08:39 PM
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The only way a player like Gretzky prevented goals was simply by controlling the puck (though he was a good puck thief).

In his case +\- really does not apply that much (more to those who actually carried defensive responsibilities).

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11-11-2010, 08:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
I'm talking about ratios here. Higher ice time would explain higher goals for and against, but it wouldn't explain the ratio between the two.



Is it a good enough excuse for the greatest player of all-time to have a negative goal differential compared to the rest of his team because Nicholls centered Robitaille on the 2nd line? 7 other forwards were Gretzky's off-ice comparables, not just Nicholls and Robitaille.
By comparing his ice time and shifts with others, the probability of Gretzky being on the ice for a GF or GA is going to be greater than any other player on the team (besides the goalie of course).

Gretzky didn't have a regular pair of linemates in LA as he did in Edmonton with Tikkanen and Kurri. He had less support, but as I stated earlier, his presence helped others on the Kings achieve numbers they wouldn't have touched without Gretzky on the team.

He likely drew the greater defensive assignments as well, as he always did throughout his career. When Gretzky took the ice, Edmonton sent Tikkanen to shut him down, the Flames always had Joel Otto on the ice, and those two teams in particular gave the Kings fits.

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11-11-2010, 08:50 PM
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OK, did some number-crunching here. 43 seasons since expansion = 129 top-3 scorers. A few players tied for 3rd may have been inadvertently cut off.

Average R-on/R-off - 1.57

So on average, a top-3 leading scorer would see his GF:GA ratio at 1.57 if the rest of his team was at 1.00, or at 2.04 if the team was at 1.30. Or at 1.10 if the team was just 0.70.

Gretzky's poor goal differential showing is not unprecedented, let's look at what happened in the other 9 of the bottom 10 instances:

1. Bobby Hull, 1969: 0.73. It looks like this year Hull really feasted on the PP but played run and gun at even strength. Despite 107 points (69 at ES) his -7 was the 2nd-worst on the team.

2. Phil Esposito, 1973: 0.77. I'm not going to speculate on the rn/rff of a player on the same team as the greatest per-game player of all-time. With Orr, all bets are off.

3. Wayne Gretzky, 1994: 0.86. He was the league's leading scorer but was becoming a PP specialist by this point. He had 62 points at ES, and 61 on the PP. This was becoming well-known by this time. To my knowledge, he is the only ross winner to not get a Hart vote. His -25 was the worst on his team. think about how bad defensively you have to be to make that happen.

4. Phil Esposito, 1975: 0.88. Orr.

5. Gilbert Perreault, 1976: 0.94. Perreault was not much of a defensive player and would play run and gun, trying to outscore the opposition and usually his dazzling skills would win the matchup. This year he did (1.38), but his team was even better with the Ramsay and Spencer lines clicking.

6. Mario Lemieux, 1996: 0.94. Someone else want to try to explain this one? Was Francis' defensive responsibility and easier competition allowing him to post a better goal differential than Mario?

7. Peter Stastny, 1982: 0.95. Not sure. Was he playing with Goulet this season? Goulet's 1.44 goal differential tells me no.

8. Johnny Bucyk, 1971: 0.95. Orr.

9. Gretzky, 1989: 0.96. Currently in discussion.

10. Steve Yzerman, 1990: 0.96. Yzerman was not yet a defensive star at this time but was a dazzling scorer. Was he palying run and gun to the team's detriment? Quite possibly. Federko and Chabot were the next best centers with 57 and 49 points so it's not like he has tough off-ice teammates. He was getting tons of ice-time though, leading the team in all GF and GA categories. This doesn't affect ratios, as I mentioned above.


Last edited by seventieslord: 11-12-2010 at 07:21 PM.
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11-11-2010, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy Stardust View Post
By comparing his ice time and shifts with others, the probability of Gretzky being on the ice for a GF or GA is going to be greater than any other player on the team (besides the goalie of course).
Absolutely. But he's Gretzky, so his GF/GA ratio should still be better than the rest of the team's, right? Apparently not this year.

Quote:
Gretzky didn't have a regular pair of linemates in LA as he did in Edmonton with Tikkanen and Kurri. He had less support, but as I stated earlier, his presence helped others on the Kings achieve numbers they wouldn't have touched without Gretzky on the team.
Looks like he helped them achieve highgoals against figures, too...

Quote:
He likely drew the greater defensive assignments as well, as he always did throughout his career. When Gretzky took the ice, Edmonton sent Tikkanen to shut him down, the Flames always had Joel Otto on the ice, and those two teams in particular gave the Kings fits.
Of course he did. But this affects his offense, not really his defense, in fact, it should make it easier for him to avoid getting scored on facing Tikkanens and Ottos, not Kurris and Gilmours.

Did Nicholls and Robitaille have easier on-ice competition? Undoubtedly. But I ask you again: Is it a good enough excuse for the greatest player of all-time to have a negative goal differential compared to the rest of his team because Nicholls centered Robitaille on the 2nd line and played lesser checkers?

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11-11-2010, 08:56 PM
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How many of the 129 top 3 scorers are say 1.10 or less?

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11-11-2010, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
10. Steve Yzerman, 1990: 0.96. Yzerman was not yet a defensive star at this time but was a dazzling scorer. Was he palying run and gun to the team's detriment? Quite possibly. Federko and Chabot were the next best centers with 57 and 49 points so it's not like he has tough off-ice teammates. He was getting tons of ice-time though, leading the team in all GF and GA categories. This doesn't affect ratios, as I mentioned above.
Just to singlel one out - At this time Yzerman was often double-shifted, and his role was completely different on each line - all-out offense on the first line and defense-first on a checking line against the other team's top line. Not surprised at all his GA was high at this particular time.

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11-11-2010, 09:11 PM
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How many of the 129 top 3 scorers are say 1.10 or less?
1.10 R-on? Just 14. About one every three seasons. Among seasons not mentioned yet are Bure's 1998, Lemieux's 1986, Lecavalier's 2007, Modano's 2000, Savard's 1988, Mikita's 1968, Gretzky's 1992, Kovalchuk's 2004, and Dionne's 1975.

Of those, many significantly improved their team's ES fortunes. Bure's on/off was 1.56, Lemieux's 1.20, Lecavalier 1.27, Savard 1.55, Mikita 1.15, Kovalchuk 1.26, and Dionne 1.56 (what a brutal year, he was just 0.86 on ice, but the team was 0.55 without him! ) - only the Modano and Gretzky season saw them post an on/off below 1.00, and they were very close, 0.98 and 0.97.

1.10 R-on/R-off, as I was quoting above? Just 20. About one every two seasons. the 10 I listed, plus Modano and Gretzky mentioned in the above paragraph, plus the following:

1974 Esposito .98
1996 Sakic .99
1974 Hodge .99
2009 Crosby 1.05
1993 Oates 1.07
2003 Naslund 1.08
1990 Gretzky 1.10
1991 Gretzky 1.10

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11-11-2010, 09:11 PM
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The only way a player like Gretzky prevented goals was simply by controlling the puck (though he was a good puck thief).

In his case +\- really does not apply that much (more to those who actually carried defensive responsibilities).
Yeah this is the thing that people repeatedly don't get about trying to use stats like this.. defense is not done by one player.

Gretzky is largely only controlling one side of the equation here.. the GF for the most part. Although he was great at breaking up plays and takeaways he was by and large an offensive player.

Add to that the fact that the best winger on the team had more chemistry and therefore played with Nicholls, and the fact that Gretzky most likely faced the better checkers it adds up to a situation where you get a ratio like this..

The fact that he was keeping up at all with the way they were letting them in is pretty remarkable in itself.

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11-11-2010, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Absolutely. But he's Gretzky, so his GF/GA ratio should still be better than the rest of the team's, right? Apparently not this year.



Looks like he helped them achieve highgoals against figures, too...



Of course he did. But this affects his offense, not really his defense, in fact, it should make it easier for him to avoid getting scored on facing Tikkanens and Ottos, not Kurris and Gilmours.

Did Nicholls and Robitaille have easier on-ice competition? Undoubtedly. But I ask you again: Is it a good enough excuse for the greatest player of all-time to have a negative goal differential compared to the rest of his team because Nicholls centered Robitaille on the 2nd line and played lesser checkers?
Those are only a few factors that can lead to an explanation, but there are so many others we aren't observing or taking into consideration. How many EN goals did the Kings allow where Gretzky was on the ice trying to tie a game? How many PP goals were scored against the Kings when Gretzky was on the ice?

The Kings were one of the worst defensive teams in the league that year (6th worst in fact). Did Gretzky contribute to that? Unlikely, as the season prior to Gretzky's arrival, the Kings were a league worst with 359 GA.

Gretzky took the tougher shifts (and longer shifts) than any one of his linemates. And while he had to face the likes of Tikkanen and Otto, those players also had strong support and were overall better defensively than the Kings were. The attention Gretzky drew enabled Nicholls to have an easier time blasting shots past goalies.

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11-11-2010, 09:23 PM
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Add to that the fact that the best winger on the team had more chemistry and therefore played with Nicholls, and the fact that Gretzky most likely faced the better checkers it adds up to a situation where you get a ratio like this..
.
No. Sakic/Forsberg, Malkin/Crosby, Yzerman/Fedorov is how how add up to a situation like this. Nicholls is not an all-time great, not a top-100 player or anything close to it. He's not an "excuse".

Let's look at this revolving cast of wingers Ziggy Stardust says Gretzky had:

Marty McSorley. 1.07 on, 1.14 off. Practically identical to Gretzky. Not much can be concluded here.

Bobby Carpenter. Played just 39 games with the team. 1.14 on, 1.12 off. Very similar to Gretzky.

Mark Krushelnyski . Same as Carpenter.

With better goal differentials than Gretzky, who was operating at a 1.10 clip, if they each played with Gretzky half the time, the most likely scenario was that they were 1.18 without him and 1.10 with him, to average out at 1.14.

Mike Allison. 1.25 on, 1.1 off. He was outperforming the team average. Knowing that Gretzky was a 1.1 on the season, Allison had to be achieving a better even strength goal differential when he wasn't with Gretzky, than when he was.

Igor Liba. Dude played 27 games.

Chris Kontos. You're bringing up a guy who played 7 games, and based on stats, almost certainly not any of them with Gretzky?

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11-11-2010, 09:24 PM
  #24
seventieslord
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Originally Posted by RabbinsDuck View Post
Just to singlel one out - At this time Yzerman was often double-shifted, and his role was completely different on each line - all-out offense on the first line and defense-first on a checking line against the other team's top line. Not surprised at all his GA was high at this particular time.
That affects the raw totals and explains why they are so high. It doesn't make a good enough apology for the actual ratio of GF to GA being worse than the rest of the team.

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11-11-2010, 09:37 PM
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That affects the raw totals and explains why they are so high. It doesn't make a good enough apology for the actual ratio of GF to GA being worse than the rest of the team.
He was an offensive player on the top line, playing little defense, and a checker on bottom lines against the opposing top line. Pretty unique situation - and certainly no other Red Wing was double-shifted like that.

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