All through October I focused a lot of my noon numbers on the Vancouver Canucks' low PDO totals. The team was performing well but failing to produce—this is quite common for a team at the start of the season to start the season cold or hot and playing well better or well worse than their record.
For the most part, teams have balanced out from their quick or slow starts and we're getting good reads on which teams belong where in the standings. Ditto goes for players, but since they play so little ice-time compared to teams, it can take months for their percentages to normalize.
Remember, a player's PDO is the addition of team shooting percentages and save percentages when he is on the ice. Trading for players with low PDOs is a great way to get cheap players in your fantasy hockey pools, or if you're trading with Dale Tallon.
What I decided to do today was to go back and find the worst Canucks PDO-wise through the month of October and determine how those players have fared since then. Along with their shooting percentage and save percentage totals, I've also added their "Corsi Tied" percentage, which is essentially the percentage of time a player spent in the offensive zone relative to the defensive zone.
The Canucks bottom-five in PDO through October among regular players included David Booth, Keith Ballard, Manny Malhotra, Kevin Bieksa, and Jannik Hansen. Here are how their underlying numbers stacked up next to their percentages:
The Canucks had a rough time earning saves in the first month of the season, a trend that was sure to reverse since Roberto Luongo is one of the all-time career leaders in save percentage. I fully believe that Vancouver Canucks management are aware of PDO, seeing as they keep trading for players from Florida with low percentages. Who knows if the knowledge has trickled down to the players as well:
That's just the way it goes. For me, nothing's changed. If you look at the film from the beginning of the year, I'm playing the exact same way. Sometimes you step on the ice and you get a plus, sometimes you step on the ice and get a minus, and the same with points and goals.
That was Kevin Bieksa, quoted in a Gordon McIntyre story on Monday, (h/t to Drance for putting the quote in a format easy to copy and paste) explaining what has happened in the first month of the season, when he was minus-7 and why he has been a plus-five ever since.
Here are those same five Canucks through November and a game in December. Look how the Corsi Tied number is so similar to the November total, but the percentages continue to vary:
Now, this is the Canucks since October, not including October. The November record, 10-5, is probably pretty close to the true talent of the Canucks team. Like I've said, I think the team is a bit better than last season. They're stronger defensively with the subtraction of Christian Ehrhoff, and the new addition of Booth, a scorer with very good possession abilities, really adds to the team's depth. He's been getting hot and we're only beginning to see the rewards.
As for Canucks that could continue to see positive regression? Booth, certainly, who is still one of the lowest in the league in PDO, has a ways to go before he normalizes, but he now has five goals, 12 points and is a minus-one since joining the Canucks, so when it does, we're looking at a very good pickup from Mike Gillis.
Bieksa is still a 97.9% PDO on the season, so his minus-2 is still very deceptive. He continues to be one of the best Canucks. As for players at the high end of the spectrum, Sami Salo "leads" all defense with a 104.2% PDO, so his early season point totals could drop. We may see some people assume that Salo is having trouble coming back from injury if his surface numbers start to struggle, but I expect for the regular Nucks Misconduct reader to be a tad more astute than that.
Finally, Alex Burrows, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, who clock in at a 104.4%, 103% and 103% respectively, but those numbers are very consistent with the Sedin's career numbers since the beginning of the "Behind The Net" era. The twins have an ability to drive shooting percentage.
Either way, as expected, a few of the Canucks real bad PDOs from the start of the season improved, and while the performance didn't necessarily improve, the production certainly did, and the Canucks are now winning hockey games. They're continuing to generate shots, which is a positive sign, and the team looks well-stocked and healthy as we head into a new month.