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Thursday's Number: 60, One Revisited

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60 is the number for today. The appeal of linking to a Bob Dylan song was too great for me, hence the fancy title. The verse never recorded by Dylan (italicized under the video) is the only thing that this song has to do with hockey:

Well Darcy Regier said to the German Prince
"I got 12 million bills I hope you can be convinced
Leave this land of Vancouver behind"
And the Prince said "no, I don't mind"
Then Darcy told Terry he had his Prince won
"He'll play on our powerplay, and he's got a gun
Playing for Buffalo just off Highway 61"


We sort of knew coming into the season that Alexander Edler would attempt to fill Christian Ehrhoff's shoes both on the number one powerplay unit and as a five-on-five option with the Sedin twins.

"He was in a spot where...we have other guys who can step up and play that role," [Henrik] Sedin said, listing countryman Alexander Edler and veteran Sami Salo. "We shouldn’t lose too much on the back end"

We all remember that fabulous quote from the offseason. Captain Henrik Sedin displayed his excellent knowledge of advanced statistics, particularly zone starts and the level of replacement players. So just how good is Alex Edler looking in his new role as the go-to point man for his Swedish brethren?

I was watching TSN last night and they had a graphic off the top of the broadcast, displaying the best offensive defensemen ranked by points early on. Well, Edler was 4th with 20 points so far, and Ehrhoff was conspicuously absent from the list. Ehrhoff's 14 points are good for 25th in the NHL, but at least we can assume that his point total isn't propped up with an elevated shooting percentage!

Before the season started, I asked if Nucks Misconduct thought Edler could get 60 points. I guess you could say he is "on pace" for just about that. But are his levels sustainable? Keep in mind, 60 points is a tough, tough task for any defenseman. Only Nik Lidstrom and Lubomir Visnovsky managed it last season, and only Doug Lidster and Dennis Kearns ever did it while wearing Canuck colours.

So, how is Edler doing compared to Ehrhoff last season, who got 50 last season. I'm neglecting to look at the quality of minutes, since the idea isn't to determine which player did better in their situation. The idea here is to figure out who will finish with more points. Let's take a look at the pace set:

Corsi Rel EV Pts/60 EV Sh% PP Pts/60 PP Sh%
2011 Ehrhoff 11.5 0.82 8.54% 5.82 18.39%
2012 Edler 11.7 0.98 7.59% 6.84 16.50%

Here's what we can take away from the graph..

A) Edler is scoring at a faster rate.

B) Edler's shooting percentage numbers are more sustainable, in fact, his EV numbers may actually increase.

C) The team is better off in possession under Edler than Ehrhoff.

D) Why wasn't Ehrhoff let go of earlier?

Edler seems to be the ideal candidate to fit this role. The team is better off offensively and defensively under Edler, giving up fewer shots against the other way.

This is sort of a no-brainer. Turns out Henrik was right. The Canucks had a guy to easily step in under those circumstances. The Canucks PP conversion rate has increased from 24.3% to 25.9%, the Canucks goals per 60 rate on the powerplay has increased from 9.3 to 9.7, and the Canucks shot rate up a man has increased from 56 per 60 to 59 per 60. Across all measures, the Canucks are a better team with Alexander Edler.