With Daniel Sedin on pace for 81 points this season and Henrik Sedin on pace for 83, it looks like the twins will be returning to the point-per game level of production they put up in the four years prior to their consecutive Art Ross championships. And, at 13 and 15 points behind Evgeni Malkin in the points race, it seems likely that they won’t be able to keep the Art Ross in the family this June.
With Buffalo in town for a much anticipated tilt this Saturday night, I figured we’d look into the impact old friend Christian Ehrhoff had in fueling the Sedins’ Art Ross Trophy wins during his two seasons with the Canucks. When Henrik declared in the preseason that the Canucks didn’t lose anything when the speedy German defenseman signed for an absurd 40 million in Buffalo this offseason, was he wrong? Is is possible, in fact, that Christian Ehrhoff’s absence this season is a major reason for the Twins’ regression from 100-point producers back to point-per-game players?
The first thing to look at here, is even-strength performance. I went back and broke down Henrik Sedin’s last four seasons in a particular way to investigate whether there’s reason to believe that the addition (and now absence) of Christian Ehrhoff had a significant impact on the Canucks captain’s production rate.
The table below goes back to 2008-09, which, was the season before the Canucks traded a bag of magic beans for Ehrhoff. If Ehrhoff’s presence was “essential” in inflating the Sedins’ production over the past two seasons — as the twins’ boxcar stats suggest — then that should show up in some underlying metrics as well. I’ve gone with on-ice shots and on-ice goal rates per sixty, and I’ve only used Henrik to inflate the sample (more on this in a moment). Can you spot a trend?
|Henrik Sedin||On-Ice Shots/60||On-Ice Goals/60||ES Points||On-ice SH%|
You probably can’t, and I’d argue there isn’t really one.
Yes, the rate at which Henrik and his linemates produced shots on goal increased in 2009-10, but the entire team improved that season, so it’s hard to solely credit Christian Ehrhoff’s presence with that bump. More importantly, Henrik Sedin’s on-ice shot and goal rate is functionally identical this season to what it was last season with Christian Ehrhoff, and he’s on pace for 55 even-strength points despite having a slightly lower on-ice shooting percentage.
Really, the above table suggests to me that the impact of Ehrhoff’s absence on Henrik’s even-strength production has been minimal.
But let’s look into it further anyway. I’ve done a quick “with or without you” analysis for Henrik Sedin and Christian Ehrhoff. Again, I’ve used only Henrik (and not Daniel) to inflate the sample size of our data (Daniel, you’ll remember, missed a handful of games in 2009-10).
Luckily for us, Ehrhoff and Henrik were both iron-men, who chewed up a tonne of minutes during their mutual Canucks tenure. As a result: all of the below samples take into account roughly 1000 even-strength minutes (or more), so we can be pretty confident in our results:
|Game State 2009-11||Goals For/60||Corsi Events For/60|
|H. Sedin + Ehrhoff||4.46||66.7|
|H. Sedin Alone||3.46||59.4|
Now these numbers, I’ll admit, I find exceedingly interesting. They suggest that while Ehrhoff was never the guy who “stirred the drink” for the Canucks offensively, he was a particularly good match with the twins at even-strength. That the Sedins with Ehrhoff managed nearly 67 corsi events for per 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time is extremely impressive.
Still, while they were an effective match, it looks like Ehrhoff benefited more from sharing the ice with the twins than the twins benefited from sharing the ice with Ehrhoff. That’s a point emphasized by looking at their goals for and corsi event for rates this season:
|Goals For/60||Corsi Events For/60|
|H. Sedin this season||3.14||62.58|
|Hoff this season||2.57||51|
Granted, Ehrhoff has gone from a quality possession team to a middling one, but Henrik Sedin is on the ice for as many (or more) corsi-events per sixty this season than he was the two seasons previous. Ehrhoff, on the other hand, has fallen off significantly.
If Ehrhoff was largely responsible for inflating the production rate of the twins, one would think that he’d be able to drive play at least somewhat on his new team. Also you’d think that the twins would be struggling (relative to the past two seasons) to drive play – but as we can observe, neither of those things have happened.
Breaking down Christian Ehrhoff’s impact on the Canucks’ power-play is somewhat more difficult, but it’s worth pointing out that, until this season, his production rates with the man-advantage were sky-high for a defenseman. In his last season in San Jose, for example, his points/60 rate was the highest among all Sharks skaters who regularly got power-play ice-time.
In his first season with the Canucks, Ehrhoff wasn’t relied upon with the man-advantage like he was in his second season. He ate up 45% of the Canucks power-play minutes in 09-10, but last season he was on the ice for over 60% of the time the Canucks enjoyed a man-advantage.
I can’t really do a man-advantage WOWY analysis, but let’s look at the Henrik Sedin’s shots/60 rates with the man-advantage over the past four seasons and see if we can glean anything from them:
This matches the eye-test, doesn’t it? The Canucks power-play (especially the 1st unit) has taken a step back this season – but it’s still better than it was in 2009-10 and 2008-09. The Sedins have produced 22 and 24 points with the man-advantage respectively, which puts them on pace for 30 and 28 power-play points respectively this season. That’s better than their career averages with the man-advantage, but it’s a far cry from the 42 and 35 points they produced 5-on-4 last season…
Which brings us to the rub in all of this. While it’s tempting to look at Henrik Sedin’s and Daniel Sedin’s Art Ross Trophy winning seasons and group them together, that’s a fundamental mistake. Henrik Sedin’s Art Ross Trophy win was largely the result of a massive spike in his even-strength production, which itself was driven by an astronomical on-ice shooting percentage well above 13%. Daniel’s Art Ross Trophy win, on the other hand, was largely the result of a spike in power-play production.
This season, the first unit power-play has taken a small step back and the twins’ on-ice shooting % has “regressed” to a more sustainable but still elite level of 9.5%. That’s the main reason why neither will win the Art Ross this season.
It’s nigh impossible to isolate what impact the absence of Christian Ehrhoff has had on the first unit power-play, but I’d hypothesize that he has been missed in that area. I’d observe that Ehrhoff’s off-side wrist-shot and marauding, fourth-forward style added an element of unpredictabilit
Ultimately, though, there is enough data here to cast doubt on the idea that Ehrhoff’s presence is what made the Sedins “100 point players.” We can say with confidence that Ehrhoff’s absence has had little to no impact on the twin’s even-strength production. While he’s probably missed somewhat more on the man-advantage, there’s no reason to think that his presence on the first unit is worth 15 (or more) points to both twins.Christian Ehrhoff, drance numbers, Sedins, using tables to prove things