If you listened to this week’s podcast then you heard me geeking out on advanced statistics. For instance, we talked how SF20/SA20 is a more accurate way to measure a player’s overall impact on the ice. Or how 5v5close can help coaches decide what players to trust in tight situations. Numbers like SF20/SA20, PDO, and 5v5close should help scouting departments as much as, if not more, than +/- rating, SOG, and TOI. However, you can’t measure all hockey skills by advanced statistics. Superstars and third line players are all important when it comes to situational hockey. Here are a few effective skill sets the Golden Knights will look to add in June.
Players with speed are important to competing teams for many reasons. The more obvious are odd-man rushes, chasing down pucks, and keeping defenders at bay. More importantly fast players create scoring chances some of which you can’t measure. Andrew Cogliano may not show up on the box score but his nightly impact is felt. Cogliano is one of the NHL’s faster players, and his ability to move the puck from the defensive to offensive zone is invaluable. The time it takes the former Wolverine to receive a pass and skate it to safety is much faster than the average defenseman. Cogliano may already be off the ice before Anaheim scores but his zone speed had as much impact as the shooter. Same goes for many second or third line speedsters. Whatever team creates the most scoring chances usually ends up winning.
Another underrated skill you can’t put a number on is puck protection. The Kings organization stress puck protection with Anze Kopitar leading the way. Sidney Crosby far and away protects better than anyone, it’s magical. If George McPhee can build around players protect the puck it would create more offensive chances. Not to mention squash out defensive chances. No matter what zone the puck is in, possession is the blueprint.
Lastly, a skill that is heavily overlooked is how goalies play the puck. Some goaltenders try not to make a play and some love touching the puck. Carey Price is the best for many reasons, but his puck handling doesn’t get mentioned. Price understands when his teammates are under attack, and helps out when he can. At times, Jesus Price will shoot the puck out of the zone under heavy attack. Other times Price carefully waits and won’t panic. It’s small plays from goaltenders that can help create chances. Obviously Price won’t be available, but Ben Bishop or Mike Smith could be. Both goaltenders are highly rated controlling the puck and could be future Golden Knights.
Those are three areas that even advanced statistics can’t calculate. If a team plays fast, disciplined, and creates chances they’ll win more than they lose. If VGK addresses these three skill sets than expect the lamp to be lit. 🚨