So back when the Devils had played 34 games, I posted a chart showing how each player was doing in relative goal differential. Essentially I looked at what players were on the ice when goals were scored for and against in 5 on 5 play. I have updated this to the Olympic Break and 59 games played.
One note. Looking at Goals against and Goals for data for individual players is not the most accurate way of predicting future Goals against and Goals for. A goal scored or an opponent held scoreless is a team effort and an individual player can only influence this so much. It also is because players and teams go through hot streaks and cold streaks in shooting percentage. Still, on a relative basis among the team, you can make some conclusions especially where statistics are extremely higher or lower than the team average.
Another note. The bottom of the chart (starting with Boucher) are players that have played less than half the team average in minutes. Making any conclusions based on their relative goal differential is probably not worthwhile.
The columns below are the following:
TOI - Time on Ice (All stats are for 5 on 5 play)
Rel GF20 - The number of additional goals scored per 20 minutes when a player is on the ice versus when that player is not on the ice - Positive numbers are good
Rel GA20 - The number of additional goals scored by the opposing team per 20 minutes when a player is on the ice versus when that player is not on the ice - Negative Numbers are good
Rel Goal Differential - The extent to which a player "moves the score." This is simply GF20-GA20. It basically describes how much a player increases the Devils score as compared with the opponents score per 20 minutes when a player is on the ice versus off the ice. Positive numbers mean the Devils' have done better when the player is on the ice; negative numbers mean the the Devils have done worse when the player is on the ice.
Lastly I added a column for change over the last 25 games.
Dark Green represents very strong performance relative to the team, light green is above average, orange is below average and red is very weak relative to the rest of the team.
Correlation with ice time
Relative Goal differential correlates strongly with ice time. Our players that are best at moving the score are getting the most minutes. Obviously injury time figures into this correlation somewhat.
One outlier to this is Andrei Loktionov. Andrei Loktionov seems to have played a strong defensive game, yet has not gotten the minutes despite being healthy. The team has not necessarily been scoring when Andrei was on the ice, but they have been doing very well at suppressing goals against. Since CBGB's role is a checking line - DeBoer may want to try Lokti in this capacity over Gionta who has improved, but still was not as good as Lokti. Even better why not have him center Patty and Ryder as a second line?
Jagr is a scoring machine. When he is on the ice the team scores more and opposing teams score less. Just look at Zubrus's numbers since being taken off that top line. He still has good numbers but they have tanked compared to when he was playing next to Jagr. Zajac and Jagr have stayed relatively stable despite being played with "scorers". I think this argues that perhaps it is best just to go with Zubrus on the top line since putting Patty, Boucher, and Whitney up there hasn't really moved the needle for Jagr and Zajac.
You really don't need any stats to know that Patty makes others better. Unfortunately, it seems that Brunner may have dragged Patty down in goals against.
Brunner is one of the few players on this team that has been on the ice alot when this team has been doing poorly. If there is a trade available, I would move Brunner. He hasn't brought the scoring he was hired for. While he has improved defensively since playing with Patty... well who wouldn't?
"Poor Steve Bernier." We have heard that lament and it continues. He is the only one among CBGB that has horrible numbers here - most likely because he has been getting double shifted along side the fourth liners and frankly CBGB hasn't been scoring all that much. Also his shooting percentage is way down and overdue for regression.
Those horrible numbers are still due to Ryane's abominable start. He gets the most improved award.
The D Men
Greene and Zids are pretty much tops here. There is no discounting Zid's impact on scoring, and frankly for all his gaffes, he hasn't been costing goals... except for maybe when he is in the box and therefore necessarily not on the ice. Mark Fayne has shown a marked decline over the last 25 mostly due to goals against. He is still very good in producing goals for. The rest of the guys are pretty even. Merrill is borderline, but mostly because the team hasn't been scoring with him on the ice. Incredibly Harrold and Salvador have been tops in suppressing 5 on 5 goals. While we all have been wincing when Sal has been playing, his weaknesses haven't been resulting in goals against... at least in 5 on 5 play. Volchenkov, meanwhile, who had a very strong season start has come down to earth. By and large amongst our defensemen, when it comes to scoring, the only notables are Greene, Zidlicky and Fayne. None of our defensemen have been significant defensive liabilities if you look at each of their entire bodies of work this season.
The Best Realistic Lineup Going Forward
So despite cautioning not to use Relative Goal Differential as a means of predicting future quality of play, I would suggest the following lineup partially based on how this team has been scoring and been scored upon (and partially based on my own impressions of watching this team play) over the first 59 games. This is also assuming no trades occur and Sal and Volchenkov have to stay in the lineup.
Zubrus - Zajac - Jagr
Elias - Loktionov - Ryder
Clowe - Henrique - Bernier - Checking Line
Boucher - Carter - Brunner
Greene - Fayne
Salvador - Zidlicky
Volchenkov(Gelinas) - Larsson - (Gelinas depending on the matchup)
So what do you think? Is analyzing goals against a worthwhile exercise? Were you surprised by any of these numbers?