The Empty Net Sweat Part II

In the first part of our series, we looked at teams’ performance with an empty net and a bit of strategy to try to exploit some tendencies. In part II we’re looking at player-specific stats when attacking an empty net and some planning around that. As before, this is taken from statistics from the 3rd period, leading, and the goalie pulled.

Attacking An Empty Net – Stats

Here are the top 5* forwards that are on the ice the most with the chance at an empty net:

Player Team TOI/GM TOI %
Ryan O’Reilly Buffalo 1.09 69.20%
Alex Steen St. Louis 0.71 59.07%
Bryan Little Winnipeg 0.99 60.65%
Ryan Kesler Anaheim 0.92 62.86%
Blake Wheeler Winnipeg 0.93 57.22%

And the top 5 defensemen:

Player Team TOI/GM TOI %
Andy Greene New Jersey 1.43 71.45%
Niklas Hjalmarsson Chicago 1.13 69.49%
Adam Larsson New Jersey 1.29 64.40%
Francois Beauchemin Colorado 1.18 81.71%
Matt Niskanen Washington 0.91 59.54%

The two tables above are populated with solid lineup guys – mostly in the 4-6k range on DraftKings where you don’t have to break the bank to have them in your lineup, and they’re all mostly good players (sorry Andy Greene). The question is, does any of this translate to points? There’s a bit of luck involved in getting the free goal, but based on opportunity these players should be near the top in EN points. Let’s expand our chart:

Player Team TOI/GM TOI % Pts Rank EN Pt %
Ryan O’Reilly Buffalo 1.09 69.20% 5 T2 25%
Alex Steen St. Louis 0.71 59.07% 3 T20 10%
Bryan Little Winnipeg 0.99 60.65% 3 T20 15%
Ryan Kesler Anaheim 0.92 62.86% 4 T6 19%
Blake Wheeler Winnipeg 0.93 57.22% 4 T6 20%

You’ll see that although they’re not at the very top for points scored, the 5 forwards from our first chart are near the top of the league (Tyler Seguin is in 1st because he’s very good) – given the opportunity to be there often enough, and you’ll get there. There’s also a third new column, where you can see the percentage of points the player scored for the number of times the net has been emptied. This combined with TOI/Gm gives a better picture of what kind of scoring threat you can expect at the end of a game – give me all the O’Reilly in an expected win, please.

Your new top-5 defensemen chart with point scoring:

Player Team TOI/GM TOI % Pts Rank EN Pt%
Andy Greene New Jersey 1.43 71.45% 3 T3 15%
Niklas Hjalmarsson Chicago 1.13 69.49% 6 1st 25%
Adam Larsson New Jersey 1.29 64.40% 1 T21 5%
Francois Beauchemin Colorado 1.18 81.71% 1 T21 5%
Matt Niskanen Washington 0.91 59.54% 1 T21 3.8%

 

The top-10 d-men point getters are filled out with your top tier players: Burns, Josi, Keith, Karlsson, etc. What this says to me is that you can’t aim for added value by getting free points with a defenseman unless you’re rostering Andy Greene or Hjalmarsson in a plus matchup. This data is more impactful on a site like FanDuel where you can throw Hjalmarsson in your lineup and get the extra plus at the end of the game.

 

Attacking An Empty Net – Strategy Examples

After hopefully reading Part I, you know the teams that are more willing to pull their goalie early, and the ones that pull their goalie often. If we combine that with our player information above, we can come up with a better plan to cash some free points in. We’ll look at a few games from tonight to figure out where to look for an advantage, and what to stay away from:

DAL @ CHI: With Chicago being the favourite, you could expect them to be ahead in this game come ENS time. Chicago throws out Toews and Hossa most often when the opposition net is empty, and reading above, Nik Hjarmalsson could be a nifty GPP play. Look into Dallas a bit more though, and they’ve only given 2 goals with their net empty. Nothing here to suggest any extra value.

TOR @ EDM: The Oiler who sees the most ice in this plus situation isn’t Leon Draisatl or Connor McDavid, but Mark Letestu. Combined with his TOI on the 2nd(?) PP unit with McDavid, his PK time, and price tag on DK, and he could be a solid value play. Highest TOI on the back end is Darnell Nurse and Eric Gryba. The Oilers score 33% of the time they get a chance at the empty net, and are favoured to beat the Leafs tonight.

ANA/CLB: I don’t expect the Ducks to win this game, full stop. If you’re in the majority that do however, remember that Columbus is a tire fire and give away the most free goals. Anaheim’s TOI leaders with an empty net are Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg, with Bieksa and Vatanen on D.

Those are just a couple ways to look at things, and hopefully are an example of how to look into the extra value ENG can bring.

Good luck with lineup decisions, you can find me on twitter @adalyfrey

 

* As to not shove too many tables in everyone’s face, I’ve cut it to top 5 at F & D. Full excel sheets are available at war-on-ice or if you get at me on Twitter

Adam Daly-Frey

Adam is the Director of Content and Lead PGA Analyst for DFSDatalytics, as well as an NHL & NFL Analyst. Adam can be reached on Twitter @adalyfrey or via email at a.dalyfrey AT gmail.com

adalyfrey has 88 posts and counting.See all posts by adalyfrey

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