Before tonight's game let's take a look at how Darryl Sutter has used his forwards this season and see if we can find anything interesting.
First a quick explanation about what this chart is and how it works. Player usage charts are the brainchild of Rob Vollman and I have modified them here slightly. Basically, the usage chart is an attempt to see how a player is being used and how they have impacted team puck possession.
The main thing to note is the circles. Blue circles represent players with a positive impact on shot attempts relative to their teammates-- aka Corsi Rel. White circles represent negative Corsi Rel. The bigger the circle the greater the impact whether it be positive or negative.
The horizontal (X) axis indicates how often a player starts a shift in the offensive zone as compared to the defensive zone, aka Off. Zone %. The further a player is to the right, the more he is being used either offensively or in a sheltered capacity (i.e. you don't want players you don't trust defensively starting more of their shifts in the defensive end). I've drawn a vertical line at the 50% mark. Players to the right of this line start more shifts in the offensive end as compared to the defensive end.
The vertical (Y) axis is what I've modified. The original chart uses Quality of Competition. I've changed that to Time on Ice per 60 minutes because the Quality of Competition stat can be a little noisy in smaller samples. Time on ice is a good substitute because the Kings tend to match their best players against the opposing teams best players (I've also been tracking this and will have a post on it soon). We can reasonably assume the more time a Kings forward is getting, the harder the competition.
OK, now for the chart:
- The Kings with the hardest jobs so far this season are on the lower left section of the chart. Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner are playing close to 12 minutes a game while being put mostly in defensive situations. They are the only forwards to have an off. zone % lower than 50%. Penner (as evidenced by his blue circle) is having a more positive effect on team shot differentials than Stoll.
- In the upper right section, these are the forwards on the Kings getting the most minutes. Williams and Carter have been used in slightly more advantageous offensive situations than Kopitar and Brown. All of these players are having a very positive effect on the teams shot differentials. Williams, as evidenced by the size of his blue circle, is having the most positive impact.
- In the lower right section, we have a pretty varied group. Trevor Lewis, Dwight King and Mike Richards have been given the toughest assignments along with more minutes. Of the 3, only Richards is having a positive impact in shot differentials relative to the rest of the team.
- Among the group to the far right of this section, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan and Colin Fraser, only Clifford has a positive shot differential relative to his teammates. Nolan and Fraser have been benefiting from starting a ton of their shifts in the offensive zone yet are having among the most negative impact on possession relative to their teammates.