What was the biggest difference in Alec Martinez's season?
YES, BESIDES NOT SCORING A STANLEY CUP-WINNING GOAL.
Alec Martinez - Ice Time by Season
|Year||GP||Shifts/GP||ES TOI/GP||SH TOI/GP||PP TOI/GP||TOI/GP||Team TOI Rank|
This table is sortable, but I'll save you some time: Martinez played more this season than ever before. Yes, Slava Voynov's arrest in October immediately forced Martinez into a larger role, but even with Voynov in the lineup for LA's first six games, Martinez was playing nearly eighteen minutes a night. What Voynov's absence really did was put Martinez in a regular rotation on the penalty kill, a role he'd held only sporadically in previous years. He was effective on the PK, as well, allowing the fewest shots per minute of any Kings defenseman (albeit with slightly easier zone starts). In fact, remove blocked shots from the equation and he looks even better.
That leads to another point, emphasized by the chart at the top of the article: Martinez has quietly become a pretty great shot blocker. Martinez was in the top 25 of the NHL in shots blocked per game this season, which is really impressive when you play for the Kings, who simply don't let other teams shoot that much. That's why Martinez's defensive stats look better when framed in a Fenwick fashion.
Finally, it would have been folly to expect Martinez to improve on his goal-scoring output, but even with his shooting percentage plummeting from 13.9% to 5.8% he still was statistically the most prolific LA blueliner at even strength. Why? Shot volume! Martinez blasted 103 shots this year, a noticeable increase from 2013-14. It's simple, really: if you shoot more than any other defenseman and don't have terrible luck, those goal totals will look pretty good.
Interesting phenomenon: sometimes, when you play more minutes against tougher competition in more difficult situations, your possession numbers get worse. We saw this at its peak in the first two months of the season, when he was not only below-average, but below-even, when it came to shot attempt differential. That led to considerable hand-wringing. He did improve from that point forward, but he never came close to the impressive Corsis of years past, or even the team-average numbers he posted last season.
A lot of these struggles were obscured by good luck. Considering Martinez allowed more scoring chances per 60 than any other King, the fact that he was only on ice for 28 goals against (less than half as many as Doughty) was incredibly fortunate. And the aforementioned goal totals helped cover up the fact that Martinez was on the ice for fewer shots for than any other regular defenseman.
The biggest concern in all that? It wasn't the Regehr effect. At least, it wasn't primarily the Regehr effect; Martinez spent more time with Regehr than any other defenseman this season, and their 52.8% CF was very close to Martinez's average. (It was well above Regehr's average, though!) The bigger problem was Martinez's partnership with Matt Greene. as they struggled mightily early in the season and never really recovered. Final CF% for the pair: 49.0%. That's not gonna cut it next year.
Finally: you can't call being concussed a negative in terms of performance. However, in the first season where Alec Martinez didn't spend a bunch of time as a Monarch and/or a healthy scratch, we missed an opportunity to see how he can stand up to a full 82-game season. That would have been especially interesting given his increased workload, which he didn't have when he played 87 games (regular season/playoffs) in 2013-14.
Will next season finally be an 82-game one? Keep reading.
Alec Martinez doesn't play by anyone's rules.
Isn't it fascinating how things work? Alec Martinez was the toast of Los Angeles at this time last year. He had finally earned the respect he deserved from Darryl Sutter, he got to drink a margarita out of the Cup with Jimmy Kimmel, and you couldn't watch an NBC Sports promo or event without watching him throw his gloves up in the air. Even a shaky start to 2014-15 season didn't change that, as he signed a six-year deal worth a cool $24 million. Talk about job security.
HOWEVER. In spite of a season-long improvement and a reassurance to management that he can handle the higher responsibility... he still might not get to be a Los Angeles King long-term. If the Kings manage to re-sign Andrej Sekera, and if the Kings are still paying Slava Voynov one way or another, can they really be content to pay their defense (fiddles with abacus) $27 million or so next season? Even with a $71 million cap, that's a lot of money for the blueline, and even a team-friendly contract like Martinez's could be moved.
That's all hypothetical, though. For now, Martinez has locked himself in to a third-pairing job and a fair amount of power play ice time. Will we get 2013-14 Greene/Martinez or 2014-15 Greene/Martinez?
Last year, we had Martinez in the C+/B- range and rounded him down. Same story this year, but with the increased degree of difficulty, he earns the B with the expectation that next year should be better.