At the beginning of the season, I started charted credit (or I guess blame) for the skaters involved in all of the scoring plays in Canes games. The idea was to more directly assign credit and to some degree how much for that credit to scoring plays to see who was driving goals for and goals against. I think of it as sort of being +/- done correctly where instead of just counting who was on the ice, you count who had a role in the play and how big.

In terms of process, all I did was go through each goal and assign a level 3, 2, or 1 role for goals for and goals against and then tally up who had how many of each. There are 3 significant imperfections with doing this.

1) Assigning credit or blame is subjective and rating that as 3, 2 or 1 becomes even more subjective. It is not as simple as categorizing plays. For example, turnovers are not created equal. A turnover inside the defensive zone for a 1-on-0 breakaway is not the same as making a safe play under duress and playing the puck forward but giving it up in the process.

2) At least in this current iteration, I did not adjust for TOI and also break out power play, penalty kill and even strength. Obviously, more ice time should lead to more scoring plays for and against, and penalty kill time sees many more difficult situations that are more likely to drive negative plays for goals against. The reverse is true on the power play.

3) I actually think the biggest imperfection is that I only looked at scoring plays. So if a player makes a phenomenal move eluding players through the neutral zone and then puts the puck on a team mate’s stick for a shot at an open net and he misses, no credit is gained. Similarly, if a player makes a horrible turnover, but the goalie bails him out with a phenomenal save, no negative is earned since it was not a scoring play.

But imperfections aside, I think there is some telling and often not what one might expect information in the data.


The defensemen generally collect more negatives and fewer positives. This makes sense since defensemen do not score as much but are tasked with making the most plays defensively. Also since I only tracked direct impact on scoring plays, much of the good that defensemen do is not credited. For example, if a defenseman breaks up a 2-on-1 pass by deflecting a puck into the netting, he does not get credit since there is no goal for that results.

For defenseman (Role in goals for – Role in goals against = Net + or – on scoring plays)

Justin Faulk: 8 – 7 = +1
Ron Hainsey: 4 – 11 = -7
John-Michael Liles: 0 – 2 = -2
Brett Pesce: 0 – 3 = -3
Michal Jordan: 0 – 4 = -4
Ryan Murphy: 2 -4 = -2
Noah Hanifin: 1 – 9 = -8


A few comments:

* Justin Faulk is the only defenseman who is net positive.

* Playing a direct role in scoring plays is literally non-existent for the second pairing of John-Michael Liles with either Brett Pesce or Michal Jordan. Surely someone will now point out a play where 1 of them deserved credit that I missed, but at least in my iteration, I counted exactly 0.

* Despite that, Liles has been 1 of the better defensemen defensively being charged with having a direct role in scoring plays against only twice which is the lowest for the group.

* The combination of the 2 previous notes is really missing James Wisniewski. He theoretically would have brought more offense to the second pairing to go with Liles’ generally solid defensive play.

* The third pairing of Noah Hanifin and Ryan Murphy was only slightly better offensively with a direct role in only 3 goals for.

* The biggest negatives were Ron Hainsey and Noah Hanifin. Hanifin had the lowest net at minus 8, and Hainsey had the most plays with a role in goals against at 11 (though he had a higher offensive offset with 4).

* If you sort through these numbers and look for a disconnect with more basic statistics, I think the 1 that jumps out is John-Michael Liles at minus 7 despite being directly involved with only 2 goals against.

* I think the stats say something about the Canes 5-on-5 scoring struggles. Especially when you consider that most of Faulk’s scoring contributions have come on the power play, the defensemen are playing a role in very few scoring plays. Without a comparison to a league average, it is hard to say exactly how short the Canes are, but I feel reasonably confident saying that they need more offensively from the back end.


If I had more time to contribute to my hockey hobby (hah!), I think it would be interesting to chart other teams to compare. On the surface, the volume of roles for goals for from the Canes defensemen seems low, but without a benchmark, it could just be that even when defensemen pick up second assists their direct role in goals scored is not that much. I would also love to go through entire games and chart positives and negatives regardless of if a goal results. A horrible turnover at the blue line for a 1-on-0 scoring chance should count the same regardless of if a goal follows just as a beautiful pass to set up a team mate should be credited whether or not the team mate is able to finish.

I have the same information for the forwards and just need to add up totals for the forwards. My hope is to post that sometime this week.

If anyone else would be willing to track roles for all of the goals scored in Hurricanes games this season, please holler. I would love to compare ratings/math. All of the scoring plays are available on the team web site, so it is a bit time-consuming but pretty easy to just click through and log stats on each goal.

Go Canes!

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