The Ironmen: Analyzing the Leaders in Games Played

Updated: June 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm by Alexander Monaghan

Six special players laced up their skates for all 82 games of this year’s regular season and then the maximum 25 of a grueling postseason — totaling 107 games each. These six skaters — Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Jannik Hansen — all likely played through injuries and gave everything their bodies could over that span.

Now, should you avoid drafting them next season?

The Vancouver Canucks troika all finished in the top-7 in playoff scoring despite finishing one win short of the Stanley Cup. Their gritty role player Hansen became on of their most consistent player in crunch time but despite his Game 1 heroics would not be confused with a scorer in this League.

In fact, a cursory glance into the ‘Nucks top line of The Sedin Twins and Alex Burrows indicates that they still generated the most scoring chances in 5×5 situations and that their lack of scoring during the Stanley Cup Finals likely has more to do with fatigue and tight defensive forechecking than anything else. Hansen and Kesler also continue that trend with only Mason Raymond holding a higher corsi number over those 25 games played.

Neither Sedin actually took a big drop in their overall numbers throughout the big stage although their reputations may have taken a hit. However, it should be noted that their shooting percentage took a decent drop — Henrik dropped from 12.1 percent to 6.5 percent while Daniel fell from 16.1 percent to 9.1 percent. Perhaps more notably, Daniel Sedin actually took more shots per game in the playoffs averaging 3.96 SOG/G opposed to 3.24 while brother Henrik took on average 1.84 SOG/G during the playoffs and 1.92 SOG/G in the regular season.  Combine Henrik’s drop in shooting percentage and SOG/G and it becomes much clearer why the former Art Ross winner only put three goals across the line in the postseason.

Similarly, Kesler held a similar SOG/G in both seasons with a 3.04 (P) and 3.17 (R) average. Nevertheless, his shooting percentage dropped from 15.7 percent to 9.21. In other words, the effort and scoring chances were still there but a combination of higher competition, solid goaltending and bad luck led to less production and ultimately the Canucks not winning the Stanley Cup.

None of these indicators from the Canucks side show any need to avoid these players during next season’s draft although it should be noted that Kesler suffered from a hip injury and may have something of a Cup hangover next season should that ailment not fully heal.

The two stalwart Boston Bruins in Peverley and Kaberle also showed their mettle with their 107 games played. Both players actually added depth and inspiration to the team after coming from two non-playoff teams — the Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Thrashers, respectively.

Next year’s draft value for Kaberle clearly comes with whichever team inks him during the offseason. Defensemen typically hold a reputation of breaking down easier than other skaters simply because they face a higher level of forechecking pressure on them, especially a puck-mover like Kaberle. Nevertheless, he managed to make it through the rest of the season, so his production should be a bigger question mark than his health as the 33-year-old only forced one goal over his last 40 games played.

If you are even considering taking Peverley, then you likely find yourself in a deeper league, perhaps even a dynasty. Past experience would put the speedy forward somewhere around 20-20-40 on the season and his two consecutive 82-game seasons would be a good indicator that he can stay healthy. He even performed well as a top line fill-in for Nathan Horton and has stop-gapped the position in the past as the former pivot to Ilya Kovalchuk.

Following a long grueling postseason we often have to weigh a player’s fatigue against their success. Of the six aforementioned players the only true concern should be Kesler as he clearly seemed affected by the wear-and-tear of 107 games. Regardless, see how these players fare during the pre-season before making any hasty judgments.

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