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2018 Player Report Card: Patric Hornqvist

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Looking into the year that was for what many call “the heart of the Penguins”

Dallas Stars v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

Player Details: Patric Hornqvist, right wing

Age: 31 (32 on 1/1/2019)

Resume (via hockeydb):

Fancier stats:

Pittsburgh was a better team with Hornqvist on the ice than him off it. His overall numbers at 5v5 are fairly average, for a team that was inconsistent and at times snake-bitten at even strength this season. Hornqvist did very well to generate a ton of scoring chances for, yet he and his teammates didn’t have a lot of luck/success in turning that into even strength goals. (I bet you’ll wish you have $1 for every time you read that sentence in this 2018 player report card series).

One very low number is the amount of assists at even that Hornqvist had this season (just 9 ES assists in almost 1,000 minutes and 70 games). He led the team with 170 ES shots on goal, supporting the thought that what Hornqvist mainly is at full strength is a volume shooter with limited vision and playmaking ability and one that is going to get pucks on net and attempt to create havoc.

***

Trading for Patric Hornqvist in the summer of 2014 was the first major player move general manager Jim Rutherford made. The fit has been wonderful, and will continue for the rest of the Crosby/Malkin era with Hornqvist signed to a five-year contract extension that ties him with the Penguins until 2023. Currently, only Crosby is under contract to Pittsburgh longer.

2017-18 on the ice, as always was eventful for Hornqvist. He was used mainly on the right wing in many different capacities between 1st, 2nd and the 3rd line. Here’s a look at his most common 5v5 linemates and defensemen.

(Data via Natural Stat Trick)

In many ways these numbers tell common themes and narratives we will hear many times in this report card series.

-Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin were great at scoring goals (3.28 per 60 together going in the right net) but also lax at preventing them (2.85 per 60 going in the wrong net). Adding Carl Hagelin to play Hornqvist tends to help to cut the goals against down (2.01).

-Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang’s 5v5 numbers are horrible here, driven by an unbelievably terrible shooting % early in the season that never really recovered. Likewise, Brian Dumoulin+Hornqvist got caught in this storm when playing on the common 1st line with the two stars.

-Justin Schultz+Hornqvist tagged on with Malkin+Hagelin a lot and look great in driving possession, scoring goals and preventing them. Going into next season a Hagelin-Malkin-Hornqvist-Maatta-Schulz 2nd line is a great idea because this group was very cohesive and got excellent results all season long.

(via Hockey Viz)

In more graphical evidence of things your eyes already tell you: Patric Hornqvist is one of the best and most effective players in the entire league at generating shots from point-blank range right in front of the net.

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However, when you tell the story of Patric Hornqvist, you have to start and finish with the power play. Hornqvist scored 15 PPG, third in the entire NHL (behind only stars Patrik Laine and Alex Ovechkin). More than that, on a power play group of skill players, Hornqvist’s unique attributes of net-front presence, a bulldog mentality in the corners to win pucks back and willingness to absorb punishment to open up more space was sorely, sorely missed when he was out of the lineup due to injuries.

It’s easy to get a lot of unblocked shots when your position on the power play is right in front of the net, but I was surprised to see Hornqvist led the typical 1st PP group in percentage of shots. The success they had with PH72 and the struggles without him were surely no fluke, and despite being the least skilled member of that unit in many ways he probably is the most irreplaceable. He’s not going to lead rushes like Phil Kessel and Kris Letang nor is he generationally talented like Malkin and Crosby, but Hornqvist’s role and niche in the group has become absolutely vital.

Monthly Splits (via yahoo)

Fairly balanced stuff here, a bit of January/February doldrums and injury time followed by a tremendous March and April where Hornqvist was one of the strongest and most productive members of the team.

Funky stat:

The amount (and struggles) in back-to-back games were a major storyline for the Penguins this season. One player who thrived on 0 days rest was Hornqvist. Playing 16 times for the second day in a row, Hornqvist notched 12 goals + 3 assists. The endless and boundless amount of energy this man can expend is just remarkable.

Funky Stat II:

How’s this for consistency, Hornqvist’s home/road splits for 2017-18:

Home games: 35 games, 15 goals, 10 assists, 119 shots, 71 hits, 30 blocked shots

Road games: 35 games, 14 goals, 10 assists, 128 shots, 66 hits, 34 blocked shots

You probably won’t find a more balanced and even effort across the entire league. Home or away, day or night, Patric Hornqvist is such a reliable guy that you just know what to expect out of him. An A+ effort whether it’s an out-of-conference opponent at home on a sleepy Tuesday night, or in a rival division team’s barn on a Sunday afternoon, Hornqvist is bringing the heat all the same.

Stat III:

Speaking of that consistency, Hornqvist is one of just 11 players to score 20+ goals in the last 8 non-lockout seasons.

Quotes:

“No one is going to try to play like Horny. He’s kind of a unique player that is hard to find in this league.” - Conor Sheary

“He’s really an important key to this team and our success. He’s an agitator and I think opponents kind of hate playing against him.” - Zach Aston-Reese

The Grades:

Power play: A++

Even Strength: C

Durability: B

Playoffs (11 points [5g+6a] in 10 games): A

Comments: Best on team enthusiasm, one of the hardest working players in the league...Could perhaps stand to keep emotion in check at times, but better to care too much than not enough.

Overall Grade: A-

Final word: Patric Hornqvist might be considered the heart of the Pens. He definitely is their energy pack. He had a very strong season in 2017-18 and will be an important player for years to come. He was one of the league’s top power play players and helped Pittsburgh to have one of the best PP’s in league history. That’s good enough to give him a solid grade, despite unimpressive ES scoring numbers (which is in-line with many of his teammates).

Poll

How do you grade Patric Hornqvist’s 2017-18 season?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    A+ or A
    (279 votes)
  • 45%
    A- or B+
    (261 votes)
  • 3%
    B or B-
    (19 votes)
  • 0%
    C+ or C
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    F
    (5 votes)
568 votes total Vote Now