Thanks to the Blue Jackets I was given an opportunity to attend Scott Hartnell’s introduction to Columbus press conference on Tuesday. While I kept quiet for the actual press conference I did get a chance to ask him a couple questions in the media scrum after the official press conference had ended. One of the questions I asked was about how different possession metrics are being discussed by players in the locker room and if he’s noticed an increase in talk about it over his career:
“It’s kinda weird I’ve been in the league since 2000 and you know obviously phones weren’t around, they were, but not the amount of stats that are available today. It seems like the younger group of guys they’re always looking at ice time you know, especially guys around the league, and stuff like that. I’m not a big fan of that. You know, you gotta have the puck to win games, obviously. The more faceoffs you win the more you’re playing with the puck and not chasing it around. Obviously it does have some validity but, you know, you just gotta score more goals than the other team.”
It’s interesting but probably not very surprising to hear that there’s an old school vs new school mentality to some of the advanced stats from active players. Hartnell came into the league before most of these stats existed and even if they did exist there definitely wasn’t such easy (or public) access to them. While he says he doesn’t care much about the actual numbers it’s clear he understands why possession is so important.
As for the only stat he says does matter (scoring more goals than the other team), when Hartnell was on the ice 5v5 last season 58.4% of the goals scored were scored by the Flyers. This ranked him 2nd on the Flyers behind only Jake Voracek (60.7%) and would have put him first on the Jackets ahead of Brandon Dubinsky’s 57.3%.
While it’s easy to say that Hartnell’s stats in Philly were inflated by playing on a line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, the numbers actually paint a different picture.
When Giroux and Hartnell were on the ice together Hartnell posted a 55.7% CF. While this was slightly higher than Hartnell’s season CF% (54.4%) the most surprising thing is that when Giroux played without Hartnell he posted a rather pedestrian 49.5% CF. They both benefited from playing together but it would seem Giroux benefited significantly more from playing with Hartnell than Hartnell did with Giroux.
When looking at the Goals For % numbers the numbers get even more interesting. As I stated above, Hartnell’s GF% for the season was 58.4% but when playing with Giroux that actually dropped 54.4%. When Hartnell played away from Giroux his GF% numbers jumped all the way up to 66.7%. Meanwhile Giroux’s GF% without Hartnell only increased to 56.6%.
Possession aside, when it comes down to just good old fashioned scoring, our own Jeremy Crowe provided this stat in a tweet back in June:
Here's fun: Umberger 5v5 pts/60 w/ Joey: 1.33. Without: 0.96. Hartnell 5v5 pts/60 w/ Giroux: 1.76. Without: 1.79. I'll take that! #CBJ
— Jeremy (@307x) June 23, 2014
Hartnell may not be a big fan of the numbers but it seems the numbers are a big fan of his.