My dad was
at the game last night, and as such, he wouldn’t have heard the news that
Desharnais was out of the lineup due to illness. I texted him as much and he
replied, “That’s not good, we need more offense.” Instantly I made a face at my
phone, because fact of the matter is, DD has not been a key offensive player so
far in these playoffs, and while I feel bad for the guy being out with the flu,
I didn’t find it that much of a blow to the team. But then, if that wasn’t
enough, my dad continued, “Maybe Eller will have a good game.”
responded, “You say that like he hasn’t been playing well.”
“He needs to produce offensively.”
get me wrong, my dad usually has a really good hockey sense, especially when it
comes to goalies, and I usually agree with almost all of his opinions. This
time, I instantly knew he was dead wrong. Of course, gut feelings aren’t always
right, so I looked up some stats to be sure.
In terms of
offensive production, the quickest and easiest stat to look at is points.
Desharnais and Eller each have 2. Taking that a little bit further, DD’s points
per 60 minutes played is 1.04 and Eller’s is 0.93. DD produces one tenth of a
point more than Eller per 60. Hardly significant. So, for all intents and
purposes, in terms of point production, they are equal.
at scoring chances next. DD has had 54 scoring chances in the playoffs so far,
and Eller has only had 43. However, the Habs have given up 56 scoring chances
with DD on the ice, and only 38 when Eller is playing. Taking this a little
further, DD has started 75% of his shifts in the offensive zone, whereas Eller’s
only started 32% of his shifts there. DD is constantly placed in prime position
to produce more scoring chances, and he actually gives up more scoring chances
against than he produces. Meanwhile, Eller’s playing significantly more
difficult minutes and still managing to out-chance the other team, while DD
also beats DD out in shot attempts – though a case can be made that DD is more
of a playmaker and prefers to pass. That being the case, let’s look at the
on-ice shots for and against for both of them. When Eller is on the ice, his
team has achieved 75 shots for and given up 52 shots against. With DD, it’s 63
shots for and 69 shots against. Again, when Eller is on the ice, his team
outshoots their opponent, and the same cannot be said for DD. Furthermore, the
Habs have produced more shot attempts with Eller on the ice than they have with
mention that these stats have been obtained from war-on-ice, in all situations
(including power play and penalty kill time). DD generally spends significantly
more time on the pp than Eller, and Eller has a role on the pk unit whereas DD
does not. Extrapolating from that we can see that DD is always better equipped
to produce offensively than Eller (and let’s not even talk about their
wingers), yet Eller has produced more chances and has been much more solid
defensively as well, all the while playing with less offensively-minded
linemates and facing much tougher competition.
being said, one could make the argument, well, if Eller is getting more scoring
chances, why doesn’t he have more points to show for it? That, however, then
requires an entire team comparison, because most of the team has not produced
nearly as much as they’ve been expected to. All forwards who beat Eller in
scoring chances and on-ice shot attempts either have the same number of points as him (2), or 1 more.
That’s it. This includes names like Pacioretty (3), Plekanec (3), Gallagher (2),
and even Galchenyuk (2), who has taken a lot of heat so far in the playoffs. If
Eller, the player consistently in a shutdown role, needs to produce more
offensively, what does that say of our most productive offensive players from this past season?
All this to
say, DD missing a game due to the flu did not hurt our offense. Eller’s play so
far is not what’s hurting our offense. There is much more to it than that,
but that’s for a whole other rant.