Beyond the eye test: Buffalo vs. Montreal 10/5/17
One of the things that was very important to me in launching The Buffalo Star was bringing you smart information about your favorite teams. A big part of that is getting you some real data which can bring more context to what you saw during the game.
With that in mind, I have some points of interest from last night’s opener I wanted to share. The format for how we’re going to do this is a work in progress. I’d like to get some feedback from subscribers (and potential subscribers) on what you’d like to see, as well as what you don’t think is important enough to see.
For now, here are some things from last night’s game:
– There’s a prevailing mentality that the Sabres outplayed the Canadiens and deserved to win but were shut down by Carey Price. While Price certainly was outstanding, scoring chances data shows that the game was actually pretty even. While Buffalo outshot Montreal 35-29 at even-strength, the Canadiens actually had more even-strength high danger scoring chances (Habs 10, Sabres 8).
– The Rasmus Ristolainen-Nathan Beaulieu defensive pairing was on the ice for four of Buffalo’s eight high danger scoring chances. The Marco Scandella-Matt Tennyson pairing was on the ice for six of Montreal’s ten high danger chances.
– No, Sam Reinhart did not have an awful game. Yes, he did miss on a good scoring opportunity or two. But he and linemates Zemgus Girgensons and Seth Griffith had a solid night. That line produced eight even-strength scoring chances while only allowing one. In fact, they played together at even-strength for around 11 minutes and allowed only three shot attempts. Now here’s the disclaimer: in terms of even-strength ice time, the forwards they faced the most were Paul Byron, Ales Hemsky and Phillip Danault. Phil Housley didn’t have this line seeing Montreal’s big guns very much.
– Shutting down the Canadiens’ top line of Max Pacioretty-Jonathan Drouin-Brendan Gallagher was a task assigned to the Benoit Pouliot-Ryan O’Reilly-Kyle Okposo line, and they held up pretty well. Those lines faced each other at even-strength for around nine minutes, and scoring chances were about even at around five each (numbers aren’t exact here because the lines were broken up for a few partial shifts).
– Housley seemed to make an effort to have Scandella and Tennyson on the ice playing with Jack Eichel’s line (with Evander Kane and Jason Pominville). Ristolainen-Beaulieu were out there most often with Pouliot-O’Reilly-Okposo.
– Risto Watch: Always a hot topic with the analytics crowd, Ristolainen had positive even-strength Corsi numbers (21-18, 53.85%). Now, it’s really important we keep this stuff in context here. For one thing, the Sabres are being told to shoot the puck with much greater frequency. Also, Ristolainen’s numbers were good but they could’ve been better had he been sharper with his passes. It’s going to be very interesting to see how his game progresses under his new head coach.