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Jake Virtanen
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Hockey Analytics

Five Players Set Up For Second Half Regression

by Gus Katsaros
Updated On: January 2, 2020, 1:44 am ET

I wanted to take the moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and happy 2020!

Enjoy the Winter Classic! Tune in using the link below.

WED

1/1

1:00 PM

5:00 PM

NHL

Winter Classic: Predators vs. Stars

NBC

 

On that happy note right there, let’s check out some players with the potential to regress or slow down production over the second half. Generally, I give stars the benefit of the doubt that scoring pace is fairly sustainable due to linemates, consistency and skillset. I’ve made an exception in this list due to the nature of early scoring pace and career averages.

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Let’s jump in, starting on the West coast.

 

Jake Virtanen

Strange situation in Vancouver questioning is this a breakout, or inflated metrics based on favorable circumstances? At the very least, the former Calgary Hitmen standout bet on himself before the season, and has delivered so far.

Never forget Jake Virtanen picking himself for breakout player of the league in our preseason poll. https://t.co/MlYibNuCmd pic.twitter.com/kebIGMPspQ

— Harman Dayal (@harmandayal2) December 30, 2019

The nine goals on the season, at 5v5, firing at a career best 12.68% signifies points on 94.7% of on-ice goals – an exceptionally high rate of offensive generation for a player that is shuffled around linemates on a regular basis while averaging 18.7 minutes per night. A secondary metric to watch is expected goals (ixG), outperforming the 5.42 expected goals by a significant margin.

 

Jake Virtanen Individual Counts 5v5

 

He’s clearly made an impact this season, just how much is breakout and how much bloated exceptional individual shooting metrics. His individual shot attempts per 60 (iCF/60) have actually dropped to career worst (an opposite effect when shooting percentage is high), the key metric here is the amount of individual high danger chances (iHDCF/60).

Jake Virtanen 5v5 Shotting Metrics

 

Zack Kassian

Earned an assist in the 7-5 romp over the visiting New York Rangers on New Year’s Eve, his first point in three games, the longest span between points since earning only one assist in the first four games of the season. Playing alongside the best player in the world, Connor McDavid, has been fruitful and shows particularly in 5v5 results. His 13 goals are one more than his personal best – with a half season to go – propped by career bests in high danger scoring chance rates – reflected in overall scoring chances per 60 minutes. He is getting more individual shot attempts towards the goal, but sporting an exceptionally high individual shooting percentage. If he is moved off this line, the spigot will stop and the production flow will ebb .. dependency on talented linemates makes this a tenuous situation.

 

Brett Connolly

Essentially halfway to his 5v5 21-goal career high from the Washington Capitals last season, his 11 goals have been generated on a 20.75% shooting percentage – and points on 82.6% of on-ice goals scored (his four goals at 5v4 and five points constitute 83% of goals scored with him on the ice). Shooting metrics are all deflated though, similarly among all these listed players, where inflated shooting percentages are affected by the reduced number of shots/shot attempts, influencing a coinciding decrease in shot metrics. The drop in expected goals per 60 is the troubling metric here, indicating an overproduction on a massive scale.

 

Brett Connolly Shooting Metrics 5v5

 

Playing a secondary role may make approaching career highs more difficult – even though he’s already on pace to match the scoring production. Changes in these underlying metrics – improving shot metrics for instance – would deteriorate the overall production pace and affect second half scoring.

 

Brad Marchand

Let’s state the obvious out of the gate, Marchand is a star. He’s skilled, feisty and produces exceptionally well given his age. This is to be expected of course with talented linemates in David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, who lead the Bruins scoring charge – with questions surrounding sustainability and secondary scoring. The former has been en fuego and the latter has dealt with some injury trouble this season. As an established star, Marchand should be given some leeway for sustainability, however, he’s firing at 23% at 5v5 and scored 16 goals already – with a point on 80.5% of on-ice goals. Despite the production, his scoring metrics have decreased (which can be attributed back to successful scoring attempts reducing the shots overall and compensating with a high shooting percentage), but even the expected goals per 60 has dropped.

Brad Marchand 5v5 Metrics

 

The bottom is not likely to fall right out, but a drop in production over the second half can all but be expected.

 

Roope Hintz

Lining up alongside former Sharks star, Joe Pavelski save for a handful of games prior to a seven-game absence with a lower body injury. He had scored nine goals by the time of the injury – and four upon his return. He’s also been shotless in four games during that span.

Roope Hintz Game by Game 2019-20

 

His 11 goals at 5v5 are already career highs, and his 12 points are one shy of career bests. It took a shooting percentage of 23.4% to achieve those goals scoring numbers though, and the hot start has cooled after the injury layoff.

Favorable on-ice conditions and better linemates have really enhanced the 23-year old’s value that burst into the mainstream during the 2019 playoffs. Sustaining this pace is less likely over the second half, however, and while every point will be a new career high, there’s a ceiling to be expected.

Gus Katsaros
Gus Katsaros is the Pro Scouting Coordinator with McKeen’s Hockey, publishers of industry leading scouting and fantasy guide, the McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook. He also contributes to popular blog MapleLeafsHotStove.com ... he can be followed on Twitter @KatsHockey