February 17 2014 03:09PM
Lots of people might be worried about the Canadian men's hockey team right now. My advice? You probably shouldn't be. As much as people are focusing on the negative, there's a lot of positive arrows - including their three wins.
I get that Canada isn't shooting 15%, but do people really think Benn, Carter, Toews, Crosby etc. will struggle to finish indefinitely?— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) February 17, 2014
They might run into a hot goalie, but the lack of finish from Team Canada forwards very probably isn't related to any structural issues.— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) February 17, 2014
Those two tweets by Thom basically describe my feeling towards what's happened thus far at the tournament. Canada is dominating the pace and flow of their games, with a scoring chance percentage around 72% through three games and 68% overall Corsi through those same three games. The goaltending has been really good as well - only two goals against on 58 shots (just a single at even strength), for a save percentage of .966.
I've been counting Corsi and at even strength they're controlling almost 75% of the shot attempts taken since their tournament started. Certainly, their opponents haven't been the most challenging but when a team is this dominant it's got way more to do with the team itself than its opponents. Most of the consternation, I feel, is related to that last point - the raw results don't look like they're there (i.e. with regards to the teams' "lack" of goals) and since that is happening against "poorer" teams people are freaking.
It's understandable, given the fact that the impact of luck on a given game is underestimated by many yet focused on so heavily by the same people. There's always talk of getting the bounces in any given game. Sometimes a team gets them, sometimes they don't. That phenomena won't occur any less in games where the skill gap is wider, but it does probably become a little less important to winning the game.
It's my personal belief that if you bring the best team, you need less luck to win than if you brought an inferior team. This team Canada, I think, is likely not the best team they could have constructed; but it's better than every other team's roster.
I also don't believe that where the team's scoring is coming from is really an issue right now. Like I mentioned above, the team is generating a lot of shot attempts and they are out-chancing their opponents. These are both things that correlate highly with winning. The defense are getting lucky with their goals - 6 on 37 shots - and the forwards are getting unlucky with theirs - 5 on 75. The high-end nature of these players makes me think that the average SH% for the forwards (in terms of their true talent level) is 12-14% and 7-9% for the defense based on their scoring histories. If we took the low ends of those totals, Canada would have 1 more goal than they currently have and the forwards would have 9 on 75.
So, basically, when it comes down to it - the goaltending has been really good, and I don't expect that to change too much in the grand scheme of things. The defense has been really good and will likely get better as P.K. Subban is inserted permanently into the line-up, so I don't expect that to change either. Thus, the only real issue is the scoring of the forwards. Which is more likely?
- thousands of games of scoring patterns and expectations are wrong or
- the team's results are being influenced by the nature of the tournament and selective sample size and nothing is technically wrong?