This is the fourth part of the Habs players analysis series for the season 2017-18. Be sure to check out parts one through three below.
To build a team, you must have players who are capable of throwing their bodies around and who can get under the skins of their opponents. This is exactly what Andrew Shaw and Nicolas Deslauriers do best.
For these reviews, only players who played at least half of the season will be covered. I’ll use some traditional statistics but mainly the advanced analytics eSAT metric, especially the eSAT Diff, eSAT FAR and eSAT AAR. If you are still unfamiliar with this advanced statistic, I suggest you read the article introducing the eSAT that will give you a better understanding of the metric.
In brief, eSAT Diff (effectiveness-of-the-Shot-Attempts Differential) shows the level of impact the player had on his team, therefore influencing the impact on the team rankings. It can also be use as a measurement to determine an MVP player.
The eSAT FAR (effectiveness-of-the-Shot-ATtempts-For-Above-Replacement) describes the quality of the offensive supply or the capacity to convert it into successful attack. The league average is at fifty percent, so top three forwards should be over 55 percent and top six should be over 50 percent.
Finally, the eSAT AAR (effectiveness-of-the-Shot-ATempts-Against-Above-Replacement) shows the quality of opportunities allowed to the opposition. Therefore, an eSAT AAR over the fifty percent mark would suggest a higher ability to shutdown the opponent’s offense.
But there’s more to the eSAT AAR, it will also tend to increase when players are in possession of the puck. On that account, it connects perfectly with the adage ‘the best defense is a good offense.’
Andrew Shaw‘s season was unfortunately rife with injuries. His season was put to an end after he delivered a questionable hit on Greg Pateryn. Shaw inflicted most of the damage on himself, receiving a concussion as well a knee injury for which he required surgery. Some fans consigned Shaw to oblivion after that injury wishing for his departure from the team. However, he has been one of the rare players that has had a positive impact on the team in recent years.
In terms of points, Shaw has been maintaining the same pace that he has had since the beginning of his career at .42 points per game. However, his season can be separated into three different phases to determine where he had most of his success.
In the first eight games, where the Canadiens had one win, Shaw and the rest of the team did not seem ready to start the season. Early on Shaw had Phillip Danault at center with a revolving door of players on the left wing, that included Alex Galchenyuk, Charles Hudon and Paul Byron. It resulted in a poor eSAT FAR of 20.4 percent for Shaw, an eSAT AAR of 38.8 percent and an eSAT Diff minus 9.46.
After an unsuccessful string of left-wingers, Claude Julien decided to put Max Pacioretty with them, and the results were very impressive. In the next 24 games, Andrew Shaw and his new line-mates at five-on-five maintained an eSAT FAR of 57.0 percent, an eSAT AAR of 48.3 percent and obtained an eSAT Diff of 6.15. From an individual perspective, Shaw got eight goals and seven assists during that period.
However, Claude Julien sent the Habs captain back to play with Drouin after he had found success again in the hope of creating chemistry between the two. With Shaw’s injuries added to the mix, it left little opportunity to assemble the trio again for the rest of the season.
Andrew Shaw will miss at least one month at the beginning of next season. Nikita Scherbak or Daniel Carr will certainly try to fill the empty spot on the team.
Nicolas Deslauriers was acquired in exchange for defenseman Zach Redmond before the first day of the season. At the time, the probability of seeing Deslauriers with the Canadiens was very slim. In fact, popular belief was that he would be in a role to protect the young players in Laval.
But after playing 14 games with the Rocket, Deslauriers was recalled by the Canadiens. Obviously, Deslauriers wasn’t called up for his capacity to create offense, but to bring a spark to a team that badly needed it. By delivering few big hits and dropping the gloves, it is clear that this is exactly what he had in mind during his first game.
Apart of being consistent at delivering hits, Deslauriers had the best game of his career against Detroit. The Canadiens won 10-1, with Deslauriers collecting a career high of one goal and three assists.
This was the beginning of a tremendous month for Deslauriers and his two line-mates Byron Froese and Daniel Carr. This wasn’t the trio with the best raw talent, but they were certainly the most efficient for the Canadiens at five-on-five. With an eSAT FAR of 86.8 percent, and a perfect eSAT AAR of 100 percent, there’s no doubt about it.
This allowed Deslauriers to win the honor of the Molson Cup for the month of December. Not to take anything away from Deslauriers, but when a fourth line player is the most valuable player for a month, it shows how poorly the team has played. Regardless, it seems there were two Deslauriers who showed themselves in that season, the Deslauriers prior his contract extension and the other one after it.
Prior to his contract signing, Deslauriers was delivering an average of 4.4 hits per game. Plus, he was one of the most reliable player on the penalty-kill helping his team maintaining a save percentage of 90.32. This helped to raise his all-strength eSAT AAR to 66.7 percent. Combined with an eSAT FAR of 44.4 percent, which is greatly appreciated for a fourth liner, this brought a positive impact on his team with an eSAT Diff of 11.93.
Following his contract signing, Deslauriers lowered his hits per game to 3.5, but what caught the most attention is that he wasn’t helping any longer on the penalty-kill. In that situation the save percentage was now at 72.73, compare to 84.75 percent when he wasn’t playing. This hurt his all-strength eSAT AAR at 41.6 percent. Adding this to a lower eSAT FAR of 31.9 percent, this made sure that the positive impact he had was gone, as his eSAT Diff was at minus 20.12 after the signing of his contract.
Deslauriers can’t bet on the success he had prior his contract extension to secure his spot in Montreal. He will have to prove that he deserves to stay.
Edited by Cate Racher, All Habs Hockey Magazine