The Huskies came into the weekend after a series against Lake State where I thought the team played very well despite a disappointing result on Friday night. St Thomas, as expected, has had another tough start to the season, but as we know from last season you shouldn’t start counting your 6 point weekend until you’re on the bus home.
Friday, November 18: Michigan Tech 6 – St Thomas 2
This xG over time chart makes things look more even than I was expecting after watching the game. I think the reason why is because Tech had control of the puck the majority of the time and had a lot more established time in the offensive zone. But, what St Thomas did well against Tech last year, they did again in this game. They played fairly defensively and waited for a lucky bounce for a breakaway or tried to cherry pick on a line change. They didn’t have many good chances, but they had a handful of excellent chances. Which you can see in the chart, there are two BIG jumps in xG about 13 minutes into the 1st and 4 minutes into the second. Those two breakaways were nearly half of the xG from St Thomas. Luckily, Blake was able to make the save on both of those chances.
Story of the game for me is Tech having tons of good chances, and St Thomas having most of the great ones. Just looking at the shot location is great when the majority of the shots come from plays during established offensive zone presence, but it is less helpful when so many of the best chances from St Thomas came from broken plays and quick rush chances. You can see the line of shots the
Thommies Thommys Tommys Tommies took on breakaways right outside the blue paint. But without seeing the game, it’d be hard to know if those came from a breakaway or shots off rebounds.
Nice to see Bronte absolutely break the chart on Friday. Topi Heiskanen continues to be a consistently good player, I believe he is the only Tech player to be at or above 50% in every game I have reviewed. Otherwise, the biggest note I have is it was a very close game and given the matchup I was hoping Tech would have looked like a clearly better team.
Saturday November 19th: Michigan Tech 4 – St Thomas 3
Holy wah what an explosion by Tech in the first period, immediately followed by Caderoth getting a 5 minute major and St Thomas getting two goals back. The rest of the game was pretty even back and forth. It’s a good thing Chris Lipe took a penalty near the end of the game to unlock our secret weapon, Shorthanded Ryland Mosley™. A real savvy move by a veteran player, that’s something you can’t teach.
I’m happy to see a lot less dangerous chances off breakaways and cherry picking this game. The first goal St Thomas scored came off an unfortunate deflection of Lipe’s stick. The second was an absolute snipe from the top of the circle, usually that’s not a dangerous shot location but if you have as much time as Luc Laylin did there it can become a problem. I guess what I’m saying here is while the xG value for those shots were fairly low, I don’t think either of them are saves I reasonably would expect Blake to have made.
I’ve been really happy with what I’ve seen from Works so far this season, both on the ice and in the numbers. Another solid game from him on Saturday is good to see. He doesn’t play a ton of minutes, but he’s been consistently good during those minutes. Something I want to look into in the future for players like this is trying to account for quality of teammates/competition and what type of ice time they are getting. I could look statistically decent if you put me on a line with McDavid and Mackinnon and then only started us on shifts in the offensive zone after the other team iced the puck. Obviously that’s an extreme example, but I think it gets the point across
I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some nice charts and graphs with me. If you have any questions about the charts, my analysis, or just want to say hello, please leave a comment or reach out to me on the THG discord server (@Augie) and I’d be happy to try and answer your questions.