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Tuesday's Numbers: What are 'Cody's Minutes'?

Cody's minutes are Cody's minutes. I have got the luxury of having a Hart (winner) on our team and a Selke winner. Those guys are going to get, on most nights, 19 to 20 minutes each. There's 20 minutes left to spread out for two centremen. So on our team he is getting anywhere from 10 to 12 minutes.

I am not going to drop Hank's minutes down. I hope I am not that dumb. And I am not going to drop Ryan's minutes down. That is the reality of our situation...but his minutes are important minutes. That line when they were on the ice tonight they had some solid offensive shifts.

This is from Brad Ziemer's gamer after the game against the Anaheim Ducks, another game where Cody Hodgson scored a goal and had fewer minutes than I think that the local media would have liked to see Cody Hodgson have.

I am entirely in agreement with Coach Alain Vigneault here. I've been meaning to write this post for a bit, since a lot of fans seem pent up on the fact that, if Cody Hodgson is playing so well in the limited time that he's playing, how come he isn't getting more playing time?

Hodgson has 9 goals in 40 games, well on his way to 20, but only plays on average 12:32 minutes a night. Compared to other big-name rookies, those are pretty modest minutes. But there's a reason for it. Daniel Wagner at Pass It To Bulis has covered this topic but I'd like to take it in a bit of a different direction.

Check out the names of the rookie forwards who have played more than Cody Hodgson: Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Colin Greening, Adam Henrique, Colin Smith and Matt Read. Think of the teams that those guys play for: Colorado, Edmonton, Ottawa, New Jersey, Nashville and Philadelphia, teams who are so thin at forward that Charlie Sheen thinks they're too skinny.

The reality is that a team like Colorado is forced to use a guy like Landeskog in many situations. Vigneault doesn't have to do that yet with Cody Hodgson. Check this out, how difficult each of these player's minutes are:

Name Corsi Rel Corsi Rel QoC Ozone%
Landeskog 11.9 0.707 53.7%
Nugent-Hopkins 4.5 0.113 66.8%
Smith 3.7 0.984 49.6%
Greening 3.6 0.375 60.4%
Henrique 0.7 0.39 49.8%
Read -1.5 0.399 50.5%
Hodgson -3 0.292 40.6%

(All data in this post comes from Gabriel Desjardins' awesome website BehindTheNet. It also is not updated for Monday's games)

So, there you have it. Hodgson actually has the lowest Corsi (possession) rate among all of his rookie peers who play more minutes than him. However, when you look at Corsi Rel QoC (quality of competition) you notice something strange: not a single one of these players gets to play easy minutes. Is this because the more minutes you play, the more likely that you're going to play minutes against opponent's top competition.

And this isn't really something that Hodgson can do quite yet. Pay little attention to his small offensive-zone start rate: Alain Vigneault has long since classified that any minute spent that starts with an offensive zone faceoff is a Henrikminute. A Codyminute typically starts against second-or-third-line competition in the neutral zone, and, admittedly, Hodgson has played them very effectively. But you never know when the damn may burst. His Corsi Rel is much lower than any other forward on this list: this isn't because Hodgson isn't good at controlling play, it's just that the forwards who play ahead of him in the lineup are better at it.

The Canucks don't play Hodgson in these situations because they don't need to. They can distribute his minutes to keep them as soft as possible (Hodgson has the lowest Corsi Rel QoC among Canuck centres not named Maxim Lapierre) which maximizes Hodgson's effectiveness in those minutes. To paint a picture, let's say that you have fourteen jellybeans. But four of those are black or green jellybeans. Those ones suck and are not delicious. Instead, you'd rather take the pile with only the brightly-coloured jellybeans, because they are so much tastier.

The difference between Hodgson and Landeskog or Read are those disgusting-tasting jellybeans, and you don't quite know yet how Cody will react. Manny Malhotra, while he's taking an absolute beating in almost every measurable category this season, keeps shots off the board at an above league-average pace. It's just been the offense and shot creation that hasn't been there for the Malhotra line. Malhotra eating up the most difficult minutes in the NHL (as far as I think anway: he has a .689 Corsi Rel QoC and a 15.9% Ozone start rate) helps the Canucks third line succeed to a point people want to give them more minutes.

Doesn't this make Malhotra successful?

NAME Corsi Rel QoC Ozone
Henrik Sedin 0.697 78.57%
Cody Hodgson 0.292 40.61%
Ryan Kesler 0.378 49.15%
Manny Malhotra 0.689 15.93%

Manny Malhotra loves those green and black jellybeans. By contrast to Mannyminutes, Codyminutes are much easier to take. There are just fewer of them to go around. There's only so much time that an opposing coach will send out his inferior players, and those are the matchups that Vigneault likes to set Hodgson up for.

So, just because Cody Hodgson is doing well in his Codyminutes doesn't mean that he'll continue to be successful with the Mannyminutes. But the way, you may notice that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gets Henrikminutes for Edmonton. This is somewhat by design, but I really think that Gabriel Landeskog is, at least half a season in, the better of the first two picks from the draft because he plays much better defense. Adam Henrique is also quietly putting up a good season on New Jersey's first line. I think that the Calder Trophy race is quite interesting this season since we're starting to see rookies be put in different situations than they have before.

Back to the original point (and here I'll conclude it here), it's better for Hodgson's development, perhaps from a confidence perspective, if Manny Malhotra is the one who takes the beating in the tougher minutes rather than Hodgson. Particularly when you have a pretty unforgiving local media, the last thing you want is for Hodgson to start to be grilled a tonne after taking some of the minus-nights that Malhotra has been having. I think that, like Tuesday night, when Hodgson is having a good game you give Vigneault an opportunity to stretch out his minutes and play him up on that second line and give him some shifts on the wing with Ryan Kesler.

Hodgson is having a great season in the limited minutes he's getting. That is, however, entirely by design.