As the season is almost a quarter of the way finished, I felt it would be prudent to look at which forwards are producing the most for Chicago so far.
While this information will be interesting to examine, it will be from a small sample size. The best way I can convey this is by using Niklas Hjalmarsson as an example. Hjalmarsson has two 5v5 goals this season which is the best among Chicago’s defensemen. Both Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have not scored a 5v5 goal yet this season. So if I included a defensemen goal scoring chart, it would currently show Hjalmarsson as the best and Keith and Seabrook as the worst. We know this isn’t true in the long run. We know Hjalmarsson isn’t that good of an offensive player and won’t end the season as the leading goal scorer among D-men. We also know Keith and Seabrook are going to start scoring soon. When dealing with small sample sizes, always revert to what has been historically true about a player while taking note of the current results.
Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, lets discuss what charts are in this post. I created four charts analyzing how Chicago’s forwards have produced at 5-on-5 play this season. Those charts include:
- Goal Scoring Rate (average number of goals scored per 60 minutes of icetime)
- Assist Rate (average number of assists recorded per 60 minutes of icetime)
- Point Rate ( average number of goals+assists recorded per 60 minutes of icetime)
- Time On Ice (average time on ice per game)
Each chart will include four reference lines:
- 1st – This is how the average NHL first liner performs in said stat
- 2nd – This is how the average NHL second liner performs in said stat
- 3rd – This is how the average NHL third liner performs in said stat
- 4th – This is how the average NHL fourth liner performs in said stat
These reference lines will allow you to compare how the Chicago forwards are performing compared to NHL line averages.
Lastly, these stats are individual production stats only. When we examine players, the stats usually fall into either possession or production.
Possession is a buzzword term to note stats like shot differentials, expected goals, scoring chance differentials, etc. Possession stats look at how the team performs when a player is on the ice.
Production is analysis more on an individual level. How often does this player shoot, score, assist, etc. Production stats look at how the individual player has performed regardless of how the team around them has performed when they were on the ice.
I’m noting possession vs production here because a player may have a high goal scoring rate, but opponents out-shoot and out-score Chicago with that player on the ice. Even though that player is “producing”, the team does not do well when they are on the ice.
Inversely, a player could not be producing, but they are controlling play. Take Michal Kempny for example. He does not have a single 5v5 point. Therefore, he isn’t producing points. But if we look at him on a team level, Chicago is out-shooting and out-scoring opponents when he is on the ice. Even though Kempny isn’t scoring personally, he is doing things on the ice that is leading to his teammates scoring.
I wanted to point out the difference between production and possession as we are going to be looking at production stats and they don’t tell the whole story. No stat tells the whole story. When you see this player is a 2nd line and this one is a 4th liner, that doesn’t mean they are that level of a player. Below, it will simply mean the player is currently producing indiviudally at a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th line rate.
Our first chart illustrates goal scoring. This is the average number of goals a player has scored per 60 minutes of icetime. (Example:If Homer Simpson scores 2 goals and has played 120 minutes, that would be 1 goal per 60 minutes.)
With the above charts, we see many players are currently scoring higher than the average NHL first line forward. Hartman, Hossa, Motte, Panik, and Kane have been the forwards that have produced the most goals at 5-on-5 this season for the Blackhawks.
Artem Anisimov is the lone forward scoring similar to a second line forward.
Panarin and Hinostroza are currently scoring similar to 3rd line forwards.
4th line scoring forwards include Rasmussen, Kruger, Schmaltz, Toews, and Tootoo.
This doesn’t mean that Toews = 4th liner. This just means Toews is currently scoring goals at the same rate as a 4th line forward does. Eventually, he should score more and rise up the rank. The same goes for Hartman, Motte, and Hossa. As the season goes on, their goal scoring will probably drop back down to earth.
Next, we see which players are recording the most assists.
These forwards have assisted at the same level as an NHL:
- 1st liner – Anisimov, Kane, Panarin, and Motte
- 2nd liner – Toews
- 3rd liner – Kruger and Panik
- 4th liner – Hinostroza, Schmaltz, Hossa, Hartman, Rasmussen, and Tootoo
If we add together goals/60 and assists/60, we get the below points/60.
How the forwards have produced overall this season:
- 1st liner – Motte, Kane, Anisimove, Hartman, and Panarin
- 2nd liner – Hossa and Panik
- 3rd liner – Hinostroza and Toews
- 4th liner – Kruger, Schmaltz, Rasmussen, and Tootoo
Finally, here is the average 5-on-5 icetime per game for each forward. This will show how coach Quenneville is deploying his forwards.
- 1st liner – Kane, Toews, and Panarin
- 2nd liner – Anisimov, Hossa, and Panik
- 3rd liner – Motte, Kruger, and Schmaltz
- 4th liner – Rasmussen, Hartman, Hinostroza, and Tootoo
Near the midway point of the season, I will visit forward production stats again to see how they have changed.