Since other people already present us with different Corsi based Bbble Charts (the most common being CorsiRel QoC vs Offensive Zone Start), I decided to give an alternative look at player performance. For those of you unfamiliar with the terminology, HARO is Hockey Analysis Rating Offense, a rating derived from a complex calculation comparing Goals/Shots/Fenwick/Corsi for each individual player using data derived while the player is on/off ice, each teammate while the player is on the ice with him/without him, and each opponent while the players is on the ice with him/without him. The standard one of based on Goals For/Goals Against per 20 minutes of ice time, but with the limited data available in a 48-game season, we're going to go ahead and use the alternative one based on Fenwick For/Fenwick Against per 20 minutes. HARD is the related Defensive stat.
The HARO score represents a percentage increase. For example, a Fenwick HARO of +10.0 means there are 10% more Fenwick events (shots + missed shots) for while that player is on the ice. The Fenwick HARD is the opposite, in which a -10.0 means that there are 10% fewer Fenwick events against while the player is on the ice. So Offensively, a positive HARO score is a good thing, while defensively a negative HARD score is a good thing. To compare the players offensive output, I paired the HARO rating with a HARD QoC. Conversely, I paired HARD with a HARO QoC. So the best offensive players (highest positive HARO) should face the toughest defensive opponents (lowest negative HARD QoC), while the best defensive players (lowest negative HARD) should be facing the toughest offensive opponents (highest HARO QoC). For the size of the bubbles, I chose to just use a goals +/- (per 20 minutes of ice time), because ultimately your offense wants to score goals and your defense wants to prevent goals. Since Excel didn't let me choose Bubble color, the 3 negative players are black text in yellow box, while the remaining positive scores are yellow text in black box.
First up, Fenwick HARO vs Fenwick HARD QoC:
Not surprisingly, Glass, Eaton, and Vitale are incredibly non-offensive, while Crosby, Kunitz, and Dupuis are the most offensive.
Almost everybody exists within a 5-point band between -9 and -14 on the HARD QoC scale. The toughest defensive opponents are (obviously) brought out against the top line of Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis, plus Letang.
Bennett has an even higher level of HARD QoC, but this is quite likely because of his limited playing time, and it will normalize as he plays more. Niskanen also seems to face an inordinately large HARD QoC, though I don't have an explanation as to why his is so much higher than Letang.
Neal and Malkin, despite being incredibly offensive and facing a lesser level of defensive competition, have smaller bubbles, meaning that they score less often (or allows goals more often), which is actually a bit troubling for two offensive machines.
Bortuzzo has incredibly sheltered minutes, facing an extremely lesser HARD QoC than anybody else on the team. Not that it is incredibly shocking for a defensive defenseman, but just seeing his bubble out there all alone makes it more noticeable. Despres also finds himself straddling that border between sheltered minutes and regular ice time against average defenders.
Engelland, surprisingly, seems to chip in offensively better than most of the 3rd/4th liners. He faces slightly lesser competition, but the teams appears to be more able to capitalize on its offesnive chances when he is on the ice. I never would have imagine Engelland as a positive offensive asset. Of course, he doesn't see much ice time, so it could be just a factor of limited data skewing the results.
Next we have our Fenwick HARD vs Fenwick HARO QoC:
As before, click to enlarge...
The first thing to note, Mark Eaton is way off by himself, projecting as the most defensive player on the team. This has got to be due to his very limited playing time, expect it to look different as he plays more games.
Sutter and Cooke are, unsurprisingly, the most defensive forwards, and the ones that face the stiffest competition. They have remained ever so slightly positive, so they are performing well against the best the league has to offer.
Dupuis, while not being nearly as defensive, faces even stiffer competition and comes out with a significantly large bubble.
Orpik, while not anywhere near the level he was in previous years, still appears to be the best defensive D on the team. The Top 4, Orpik, Niskanen, Martin, and Letang all face about the same level of competition, with Niskanen strangely being the 2nd most defensive, although the offensively minded Martin and Letang are better at getting points on the board.
Bennett is by far the least defensive forward, but as mentioned his limited playing time is going to tend to place him at the extremes.
The entire 4th line is troubling, as they are not offensive powerhouses (clearly, see the 1st chart), yet Glass and Adams are facing fairly sheltered minutes against lesser offensive opponents, are far removed from the defensive end of the chart, and all 3 have fairly large negative bubbles.
Engelland, again, not what one would consider an offensive addition, but he seems to fare better in offensive production. He faces fairly easy competition, but he is managing to get a decent sized positive bubble out of it. And it does give a good indication of why he is usually in the lineup while others get scratched, because he is every so slightly better defensively than both Bortuzzo and Despres.
Orpik and Despres are very sheltered against offensive opponents. Bortuzzo, it seems, isn't even being given a chance to prove himself, since he sees amongst the most sheltered minutes both offensively and defensively. Despres is slightly more sheltered than Bortuzzo defensively (and less skilled defensively), but gets a bit more leeway on the offensive end of the puck.
Malkin, while not as bad as the 4th liners, is one of the most sheltered forwards, as well as one of the least defensively capable forwards. Its good to see the bubble charts supporting the visual evidence that Malkin is having a bad year.
So, my conclusions... I am willing to admit that many people are right in that the 4th line has not been working this year. We don't expect much out of them offensively, but seeing the limited exposure they get against lesser quality offensive players they should be faring much better defensively. I'm not overly shocked at their negative bubbles, because they aren't going to be putting up the offensive number to counter it, but they would be much smaller if they had been functioning as a proper defensive unit.
Despite the criticism against Orpik, he is the best defensive defenseman on the roster, and one of the players facing the stiffest offensive competition. He is certainly not as good as he was in his prime, but he isn't the defensive liability many people are making him out to be. Martin seems to be more of a defensive issue, since he was billed as a shut-down D this year, but is falling back into his old offensive habits. Yes, it gives him a bigger bubble to be able to provide offensive umph, but apparently it is causing his defensive play to slip.
The most surprising D are Niskanen and Engelland. Niskanen isn't really what one would expect when looking at the best defensive D facing the stiffest offensive opponents. He hasn't fared as well as the other Top 4 D, his bubble is actually an even 0, but he is at least keeping up. Engelland, on the other hand, appears to be an asset to the offense, despite the assumption that he should be a defensive D.
The 3rd line is actually doing pretty well, with Sutter and Cooke both playing strong defensively against some of the toughest offensive opponents. Kennedy is a much bigger defensive liability, but brings the only real offense to the line. We were spoiled by having a 2nd line Center in Staal manning the 3rd line, so we look at the stats this year and think they must be doing poorly. But as a traditional 3rd line Check unit, they are actually doing fairly well. If Kennedy can't chip in more offensively though, since he is already less than desirable defensively, he will have to go. Otherwise, Cooke and Sutter's offensive production is few and far between, but not alarming when compared to other Check lines.
Malkin is struggling this year, first with the constant penalties and turnovers, then with one injury after another. It would seem his time in Russia actually hurt him more than anything else, as he got back to the NHL and still hasn't been able to properly transition to the North American play style. He does still have his amazing plays that reminds you that he is one of the best players in the world, but it seems like every highlight reel play is followed by two bad turnovers. He may be the biggest impact to Neal's declining performance this year as well. Of course, the endless string of options at Left Wing didn't help. Here's to hoping he will return from injury and find chemistry and stability with Neal and Bennett.
I would no longer be surprised to see Bortuzzo or Despres get traded. They have been doing well enough, but have yet to be tested against any quality opponents. Its good to see Bennett finally getting a real shot at Top 6 minutes, but with the way they are using Despres, especially with 8 D on the roster, it seems more and more apparent that Despres would be better off getting quality top pair minutes in WBS than sub-3rd pair minutes in the NHL. He needs to play to develop, and if they aren't going to give him any significant match ups, there is really no point in keeping him around in Pittsburgh.