Saturday, November 19, 2016

22 Games In

Tigers Defeat Red Deer 7-2
The Tigers just dismantled the  2nd best team in the Central Division: Red Deer by a score of 7-2.

Weak Central Division
Red Deer is currently in 2nd place, with a .500 record. If we compare a .500 record to the past few years, it doesn't make the playoffs since the 06-07 season. Not a knock on Red Deer but a general statement that the Central Division is unusually weak this season.

PreSeason  Expectations
Let's take a look at some of our preseason expectations for the Tigers and lets take a look at how they are performing.

In summary we knew the tigers possessed a really good veteran core who would be able to score by committee. We were a bit uncertain as to how the new import John Dahlstrom would fare. I think most of us knew that their offense was going to be one of their big strong points as they returned every impact scoring forward from the previous season.They also had a very high caliber group of rookies fighting for few spots up front.

Defence was their biggest question mark.
Defensive Expectations -  Last season they struggled. and graduated their biggest weapon in Ty Stanton. We didn't know how Kristians Rubins was going to perform, he wasn't NHL drafted but was the 6th overall CHL Import pick.

The defensive Core was a year older and their depth improved with a handful of prospects ready to step in. We were cautiously optimistic that with the improved Tigers offense,  the Defence would be capable of holding their own.

Nick Schneider played (I think 8 games) last season in the AHL.,We knew the Tigers had a championship caliber 'tender. Any questions about goal-tending would be about a backup goaltender.

Lets Jump to Current Time

Top 8 Teams (Goal Differential) - Sorted by Winning Percentage

The Tigers Off to An Amazing Start Offensively
4th in Winning Percentage. 2nd in Goal Differential. Now these stats can be misleading and mean nothing by themselves, but it gives a generalized comparison on how the Tigers are fairing offensively and defensively compared with the rest of the league. 

Highest offensive Team in the last 10 years in terms of Total Goals Scored.
 2014-15 Brandon Wheat Kings; 
Started: 5 Goals a game
Finish: 4.7 Goals per Game Rate
Right now the Tigers are higher than that.

Will Their Offense Sustain?

Tigers Historical Goals Scored Per Game
Lets check the Tigers History in terms of Goals Scored  in the first 20 games compared to where they finish.

Most seasons show a moderate slowing, but how much would this years group slow down??
Current WLL AVG = 3.12 Goals scored a game.

Projected Stats
No secret algorithm run. Just a general projection based on their production. If numbers are off it's rounding errors by excel.

It is extremely unlikely to see some of these players continuing these rates for a full season. I highly doubt the Tigers will have 4 (almost 5)-40 goal scorers by seasons end and finish with 374 goals. That is a very high total. 

It is very likely that  Rassal, Quenneville's production slows in goals scored. Zach Fischer could also see a slowing. He is a very unique player as he suddenly exploded in his 18yr old season in the last 13 games. He went from a .1 ppg player to a 1ppg player overnight. That is not often done, especially so late. Fischer is also currently the league leader in Penalty Minutes.

We may see some goal increases too. Mason Shaw, Steve Owre, Chad Butcher are just as likely to increase their goal scoring rate a little, but they are enjoying more of a playmaking role.

Matt Bradley has always been a slow starter. He doubled his goal total in the last 3 games. With back to back to back 2 goal games He is catching fire. One would think he is capable of a big point increase this year.

Despite slowing down towards the end of last season Max Gerlach is fighting for the Tigers goal scoring lead.

John Dahlstrom has been a pleasant surprise so far. 1.2 PPG is very high for a first year Euro.

I don't expect to see the Tigers suddenly drop off the map, but over the course of time as weaknesses are shored up and teams have better scouting reports on each other, their production is bound to slow a little.

The Line Combos
Zach Fischer Chad Butcher Steven  Owre  
Matt Bradley Mason Shaw  John Dahlstrom
Mark Rassal James Hamblin Max Gerlach
Ryan Jevne  Tyler Preziuso
Gary Haden/ Ryan Chyzowski  (every other game on the 4th line)

The last couple games the Tigers have been rolling these lines. I love those combos.

The Tigers are more than holding their own. 3.10 GAA is very respectable for a group that gave up almost 4 GAA last season.  However it could be better. Their are spurts where they run around in their own end and are unable to relieve pressure without giving up a quality chance. Will they be able to hammer that out? Or will a defensive upgrade be looked at? 

Rubins Kirichenko
Schultz Quenneville
Forrest Macphee/Gally/MacPherson

If the Tigers decide to go for it, they could very well be looking at a defensive upgrade come trade deadline time from one of their 19's. The Tigers are likely to loose both a Schultz/Forrest due to numbers.  Instead of scrambling for an off-season 5th-6th pick, it could be worthwhile to use one as a sidepiece in a trade.

The Tigers have been heavily relying on starter Nick Schneider at this point. Backup Duncan McGovern has played 4 games, however In today's game a 16yr old is almost too physically young to handle shots from 19's and 20's.  

Nick Schneider is pulling a very respectable .910 save percentage, while McGovern is putting up typical lower 16 yr old numbers. 

Is it worth it for the Tigers to acquire a veteran backup tender?   Schneider is eligible to come back next season as a 20. The Flames goalie situation is extremely volatile. 2 NHL tenders on 1 yr deals. 3 goalies in their farm system under contract for next year, + 1 euro goalie on a 1 yr contract that the flames took a flyer on and could re-sign. Their may or may not be room for him in the flames system and we won't know until the Flames roster takes shape for next season.

Nonetheless  their is a degree of risk if Schneider carries the load and McGovern isn't able to get in some quality games.

Special Teams
The Tigers lead the league with their Powerplay clicking at 32.4%. On the road it is a staggering 36.4%

The Tigers also Lead the League on the Penalty Kill with an 86.5% Kill Rate. A very slight increase over the first ten game mark which was 85.7%

The Tigers have had a very clean bill of health so far *knock on wood*The Tigers do have a few players who have missed significant time the past couple season and so far those players have remained healthy.

Full Charge Ahead
In the Eastern Conference It appears that 3 teams  MH, Regina, Moose Jaw right now are starting to pull ahead.

Have to give props to the Tigers for not only finding these players, but having the vision of drafting veteran players and turning last years down year into a very quick up season this year.

They have both been key parts to the Tigers so far

I kinda thought the Tigers would be a team that was  above average out of the gate and a team that grows stronger  as the year wears on. They have so many players who are later bloomers combined with a bunch of young players who show lots of potential.

They have a great record and I don't believe they are playing "over their head"  I think these guys are the real deal. As long as they don't get caught running in their own zone on any given night I think they have a pretty good shot at winning.

 While it is still pretty early, and many things can change, injuries can happen etc. I think every team wants to be in a position come the trade deadline where they are considering adding to make a run.  The Tigers are on that path.

Some Stats
Tigers = 44 shots a game. Shooting Percentage 11.1%
League Leader Regina = 45 shots a game. Shooting Percentage 12.8%

PDO Factor aka The "Lucky Stat"

PDO - is a designation of how "lucky" a team is.  It has been proven that over the long term it heavily regresses to the mean of 100.
Tigers = 100.5%
Regina = 102.6%
Basically means the Tigers aren't getting overly lucky. 2% over or under means a teams shooting percentage or save percentage is likely to start declining.


Anonymous said...

It is also worth noting this group is acting like a team. Love the huddle before every game (home and away) around the net. They stand up for each other. Fischer has stepped up and sends a message to other teams. We haven't had that in a while. We have guys like Butcher, Shaw and Rassell that make goals happen when they lead their lines onto the ice. And finally the other thing I am loving about this team is the massive huge contribution the new coach has made with specialty teams. Very little is said about that. I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Actually if you have listened to post game talks Shawn has mentioned many times that he has left special teams up to Fox and Joey and that he gives them the credit. He was also quoted in the paper a couple times.
I would like to see an upgrade on defence. As far as I am concerned Forrest is a guy who should be moved. I did not think he should have returned this year. He just does not quite have it to be a good depth defenceman in the WHL. Schultz is easily replaced but I am not sure they would get much for him. He does make some decent plays but would like to see him down the depth chart.

Anonymous said...

real impressed with this team. they have exceeded expectations. i too like the team huddle before the start of the game. everyone is committing, everyone is playing their role and everyone seems to be benefiting from this - team wise and personally. all good to see

TigerTurf said...

Tigers are off to one of the best starts in a looong time, even going back to their whl championship days. But its not the start that counts. It's how they finish and what they look like at the end.

That is what is exciting me!!!! I think they have a lot of potential to improve, rather than a regression after a hot start.

The East seems to be a 3 team race. MH, Reg, MJ. In this new playoff format it is beneficial to be a top team in a weak division. The Central is weak and the Tigers are top Dog so far.

If the playoffs started today the Tigers would face a weaker team in round 2 than in round 1. We will see if that continues by the end of season, it hasn't in the past, but we'll see.
I was going to add a section on Bobby Fox, but didn't
I see a few adaptations of the Tigers systems and I think Bobby Fox has a great deal of influence towards that. I see him providing a voice of reason that differs from their traditional style.

When everyone is winning It's easy to think everything is going great. It is also very easy to become overconfident. Their defensive coverage while doing well so far needs to improve. That 2nd bronco shootout goal was pretty.

Anonymous said...

I agree with comments regarding defensive play. GLARING errors on three Broncos goals by defense last night. Those types of lapses will cost the Tigers dearly in the playoffs. Tigers out shot Broncos by more than 2 to 1 but finished regulation tied. Why? A significant number of Tiger's shots were not quality shots and easily handled by Child. For sure three of Broncos goals, Schneider never had a chance plus he made some amazing saves to keep Tigers in the game. Whatever they need to do, Tigers need to tighten up defensively.

longtimefan said...

I would agree with the sentiments of those that feel they need some defensive help. With Guhle gone to PA the next high end guy that may be available is Caleb Jones out of Portland but his price may be even higher than what PG paid for Guhle. Personally I don't think they need a real high end guy, a solid 3-4 guy would fit in well with what's here now. Wouldn't mind seeing them add a depth type forward as well, a third line guy with some size and a physical presence.

Anonymous said...

More McPhee, less Gally and Forrest.

Anonymous said...

Trade Forrest please!!
Also, have to admit, is Schneids over rated? He is on a winning team but his numbers are not outstanding. He igoals against is so-so. I am not talking about one game in particular but I have just been noticing he faces, generally, lower numbers of shots then we put on the opposition and most games the other goalie, even if they let in more goals, would have a better save percentage. Is this reflective of defence? Can we blame just defence? Or is Schneids good but not outstanding?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many goalies face 3 or 4 breakaways a game like Schneider does. I don't think the defence is terrible either. The tigers play a run and gun game which means they will give up a lot of high quality chances which will reflect in the goalies stats. Tigers also give up a lot of odd man rushes. i think Schneider is 23 and 5 in his last 28 games going back into last season. Not too shabby.o

longtimefan said...

I wouldn't say Schneider is great but he seems to have the ability to make key saves at critical times, as he did in ot last night. While he normally doesn't face a lot of rubber he does see lots of quality chances. And the most important stat is wins, which he leads in.

TigerTurf said...

I agree that the Tigers defence isn't terrible and defense isn't strictly related to defenceman. If the forwards are out of position it creates positional gaps that can be exploited.

Odd man rushes are a combo forwards not covering properly, coughing the puck in dangerous areas, or defenceman not aware of the dangers/flatfooted.

That is probably their biggest area they could improve upon.

I guess to separate and join the two thoughts together in regards to defence

IMO I feel that the Tigers have a bunch of good defenceman. However I feel for a championship team it isn't good enough. A defensive breakout stud like a stanton/burroughs type would go a long ways.

However a move right now is a bit risky because it is too early.

With goal-tending I like Schneider. He is mobile and making the critical save like longtimefan said. I don't have any qualms about him. I do wonder about running him tired, and not having a backup that could give him rest. Nothing on McGovern but a 16 is very young, and not many goaltenders can cut it at 16.

Anonymous said...

What are the chances Schneider plays on Wednesday? I've been trying to watch him for years, but he never gets the start in Brandon. Wondering if the second game of a back to back is once again when he will get the night off or if I will finally get lucky and they will just keep putting him out night after night.

Anonymous said...

I like Schneids, I really really do. But I can't sort this in my head. The other goalie sees 54 shots, there is going to be a good percentage that are tough shots. Schneids sees 20, and lets in 2-3..... how is the other team producing more "good shots" on 20 or so shots then then 54 shots the tigers are producing. It would seem that there must be an average that per x shots there are y good ones/high percentage ones. So should that not mean that Schneids should be letting in less that 2 goals or so on 20 shots compared to the goalies who are facing our 54 and letting in 5? The numbers don't add up to make him an elite goalie. Wins IMO are not just a goalie stat, they are a team stat, so Schneids can not own all of that stat. I like him, he is great, but I am just saying, it concerns me he sees realitively few shots per night in comparison to the competition and his save percentage is much lower. We often dominate the other teams so it can't be just that the other team gets more high percentage make a deep run I don't know if he can carry the team.

Anonymous said...

WoW Tigers crushed Moose Jaw, thought it would be closer.

TigerTurf said...

I think McGovern will play at least one game on their roadtrip but it may come against PA.
Anon @ 9:23 I don't completely understand it either...I'm having difficulties wrapping my head around it.

Look up a hockey stat called PDO.

I'm gonna try to explain and talk it out, to see if it turns a lightbulb for me.

It says save percentage + shooting percentage = 100
This is normally calculated 5v5 only.

Statisticians say over the course of the season this stat proves to heavily regresses to the Mean. In other words; the more games a team plays the closer to 100 this stat will become and the harder it will be to maintain higher or lower numbers.

ELI5: When a team has a good shooting percentage ( Above 10%), their save percentage will be lower.(under .900) Over the long-term

When a team has a lower save percentage(under .900) their shooting percentage will be higher (above 10%) Over the Longterm.

This is difficult to wrap my head around.

.900 save percentage and 10% shooting percentage is just a benchmark that is usually considered average.


Hockey Statisticians consider PDO as one of the most influential and correct stats in hockey. It's essentially called "the lucky stat" it will show if a teams performance is inflated or not.

I don't believe player shot data is public information in the WHL, but I can estimate the Tigers PDO including PK, and PP

Tigers save percentage = 89.2%
Tigers Shooting Percentage = 11.1%

89.2+11.1 = 100.3

PDO stat says the Tigers are scoring goals over the 10% benchmark figure, they should be stopping pucks at slightly under .900. 100.3 is close to the mean of 100 so they aren't getting overly lucky or unlucky.

I don't completely understand how the 2 link either, but it potentially explains why scheinders save percentage is .906. and not higher, he has played most of the games.

Kinda confusing,

Anonymous said...

So confusing but thanks! Glad I am not the only one. And again, not at all knocking Schneids. He is good. I just dont understand the numbers and kinda feel we might think he is better then we think.
As for the win last night it was a big one. Hope we can keep rolling. Will have to tighten up defence with McGovern in net, whenever that will be. I like his play, he is just 16 and needs practice, time and puberty.

Anonymous said...

Not the best start in Brandon but they figured out a way to win. 7 in a row, not bad!

Anonymous said...

Love the way the team is playing but would love to see them add an 18 year old Dman that can help us this season and next season as we are going to be losing some big pieces next year.

Anonymous said...

When can we see Williams play ?