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How success kills good teams (and why S. Gionta needs benching)


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#1 Triumph

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:48 AM

I've probably said it many times here, but often a general manager's biggest issue can be winning.  Winning isn't a formula or an algorithm  - it's a weird combination of preparation, skill, determination, and luck.  So when a team wins, a general manager thinks that it's the combination of players that helped it to do so, neglecting to observe the luck element.  

 

Stephen Gionta is killing this team.  He was great in the playoffs, and so was his line.  Against all odds, Gionta and his crew piled up points.  They've somehow done so this season, to an extent - Steve Bernier has 4 goals, Carter 2, Gionta 1 - if you think this not many, recall that the third line for most of last year was Tedenby-Carter-Clarkson, and Tedenby had 1 goal and Carter had 4.

 

I recognize that Gionta and his line also sometimes draw difficult assignments.  He's seen almost 13 minutes of Sidney Crosby, and almost 12 of Evgeni Malkin.  He's been up against John Tavares for 9 minutes and that's not counting last night.  He's only played 142 minutes at even strength, so seeing 1/10th of it against Sid is not easy.

 

But he's getting absolutely run to the woodshed.  With Gionta on the ice, the Devils are getting 37% of the shots on goal at even strength.  They are getting 40% of the shot attempts.  If DeBoer's plan is to stick Gionta etc. against the best lines in the league to free up his other players to go against lesser lights, it's not working very well.  This isn't even mentioning Gionta's play on the penalty kill - the Islanders passed around him last night to set up Ponikarovsky's penalty.  I don't understand why the coaching staff can't see this stuff, but then again, the team won a lot last year with this lineup, and sometimes it's difficult to see past that.


Edited by Triumph, 17 February 2013 - 11:49 AM.

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#2 SMantzas

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:50 AM

I've probably said it many times here, but often a general manager's biggest issue can be winning.  Winning isn't a formula or an algorithm  - it's a weird combination of preparation, skill, determination, and luck.  So when a team wins, a general manager thinks that it's the combination of players that helped it to do so, neglecting to observe the luck element.  
 
Stephen Gionta is killing this team.  He was great in the playoffs, and so was his line.  Against all odds, Gionta and his crew piled up points.  They've somehow done so this season, to an extent - Steve Bernier has 4 goals, Carter 2, Gionta 1 - if you think this not many, recall that the third line for most of last year was Tedenby-Carter-Clarkson, and Tedenby had 1 goal and Carter had 4.
 
I recognize that Gionta and his line also sometimes draw difficult assignments.  He's seen almost 13 minutes of Sidney Crosby, and almost 12 of Evgeni Malkin.  He's been up against John Tavares for 9 minutes and that's not counting last night.  He's only played 142 minutes at even strength, so seeing 1/10th of it against Sid is not easy.
 
But he's getting absolutely run to the woodshed.  With Gionta on the ice, the Devils are getting 37% of the shots on goal at even strength.  They are getting 40% of the shot attempts.  If DeBoer's plan is to stick Gionta etc. against the best lines in the league to free up his other players to go against lesser lights, it's not working very well.  This isn't even mentioning Gionta's play on the penalty kill - the Islanders passed around him last night to set up Ponikarovsky's penalty.  I don't understand why the coaching staff can't see this stuff, but then again, the team won a lot last year with this lineup, and sometimes it's difficult to see past that.

Good post. The pk with Gionta has been freaking abysmal. I'd like to see them roll JJ-Poni/Carter Elias-Henrique Kovy-Zajac
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#3 Zubie#8

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:59 AM

CBGB is  great fourth line. Until we can solidify a good third line this stuff will continue. The PK is a complete different story. I think Gionta has a place on this team, the fourth line only.


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#4 Triumph

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:17 PM

CBGB is  great fourth line. Until we can solidify a good third line this stuff will continue. The PK is a complete different story. I think Gionta has a place on this team, the fourth line only.

 

They're not a great fourth line.  They're not.  Stephen Gionta is not even an NHL player.  He hasn't been, ever.  Until he's off the team, the Devils won't have a 'great fourth line'.


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#5 DJ Eco

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:18 PM

Interesting point of view, might have to agree with you here that, while Carter and Bernier seemed to have elevated their game this year, Gionta might be the weakest link moving forward. I think he may be replaceable soon with a Josefson or Loktionov, at least for a trial period.


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#6 CarpathianForest

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:19 PM

They're not a great fourth line.  They're not.  Stephen Gionta is not even an NHL player.  He hasn't been, ever.  Until he's off the team, the Devils won't have a 'great fourth line'.

Hyperbole much?


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#7 DevsMan84

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:21 PM

Hyperbole much?

This.

How is this thread different than bartholomew hunts post the other day about JJ?

Edited by DevsMan84, 17 February 2013 - 12:21 PM.

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#8 Triumph

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:34 PM

Hyperbole much?

 

No - Stephen Gionta is not nor ever has demonstrated himself to be an NHL caliber player.  His AHL stats don't suggest an NHL-level player (363 GP, 61 goals, 80 assists, 141 points, and his pro career didn't start until he was 22).  His NHL level microstats don't suggest an NHL player - in the playoffs last year he probably ended up at around 40% of the shots (I have him around 44% through 3 rounds, and the Devils got absolutely hammered against the Kings), and that's where he's at this year.


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#9 Zubie#8

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:41 PM

Well at least he signed a 2-way during the lockout so he can be sent back easily. I like his work ethic on that line with Carter and Bernier. I think they can do well when they do not have the responsibility of shutting down a top line.


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#10 coldply123

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:47 PM

I'm relieved Tri had the courage to start this post, because I was surprised there hasn't been one before this.  Most Devils fans I talk to seemed to have had their brains glazed over when looking at Gionta due to the fact that hes an underdog type who is small and looks like he's always hustling, and that he's Brian's little brother.  Personally, I think he's a big negative when he's on the ice.  Just because he looks like he moves well when skating, doesn't mean he's actually playing well or doing anything substantive.  I've seen him lose I think just about every board/puck battle he's been in, and he simply doesn't do enough in the defensive zone to warrant continued playing time.


The guy is simply not an NHL player.  Lou caught a bit of lightning in a bottle (and luck) with the 4th line last year, and that was partially a creation out of familiarity with Deboer (Bernier and Carter in FLA) and desperation with the 4th line before that being terrible, but it's over for Gionta playing a role in that this year. 


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#11 NJDevs4978

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:58 PM

I'd still like to see them as the actual fourth line in the regular season before I make any final determinations on any of them.  They were good as a fourth line in the playoffs, whatever numbers you want to throw out they were a net positive by any 'eye test' standard.  They aren't going to be a good third line in the long haul and I worry they'll get broken up before they can get shifted back to the fourth line.

 

I'm not sure in the long haul Stephen's an NHL player but he's more suited to the fourth-line role than say, Loikotonov.  The problem is right now the Devils have two fourth-line centers in the lineup and one of them has to play third line.  


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#12 Daniel

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:03 PM

Well, fourth liners that can contain elite offensive talent don't grow on trees. Sounds like baseball fans that complain about how bad their team's bullpen is, without realizing that virtually every team's bullpen sucks. Very similar to complaints that a football team's secondary gets torched all the time.

While I can't speak to Gionta in particular, the Devils are clearly doing something right.
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#13 SterioDesign

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:06 PM

They cant see it because coaching staff doesnt strictly look at shooting % like you are.

Numbers will show you what YOU want to see but we all know that looking at the real game its showing something different.

From what i saw Gionta is giving a lot more trouble to the other teams and helped us so far A LOT more than what i saw from your mighty Josefson and i dont care what numbers could tell me about that fact

Edited by SterioDesign, 17 February 2013 - 01:07 PM.

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#14 devilsrule33

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:07 PM

I agree mostly with your thoughts. I think Gionta can stick in the league as a 4th line guy playing 7-8 minutes, But he shouldn't be on the PK ever, and he shouldn't be matched up against any top lines. It's crazy. A great run by the three of them shouldn't mean they should be bumped up a line and get extra responsibility. I think most people here could see Gionta and Carter were playing the games of their lives.

But I 100% agree with your thoughts on winning. No matter how wonderful last year was, they almost got knocked out in the 1st round. It took two OT wins to get by a borderline playoff team. But there is a comfort level with those 3 right now from Pete, and they are going to stick as the third line with Gionta for a while now. Pete doesn't have that with anyone else, especially with Josefsson being sent down.
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#15 Triumph

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:11 PM

Well, fourth liners that can contain elite offensive talent don't grow on trees. Sounds like baseball fans that complain about how bad their team's bullpen is, without realizing that virtually every team's bullpen sucks. Very similar to complaints that a football team's secondary gets torched all the time.

While I can't speak to Gionta in particular, the Devils are clearly doing something right.

 

Contain offensive talent?  The Devils got 9% of the shot attempts when Crosby and Gionta were on the ice together.  That means for every 10 shots the Penguins got, the Devils got 1.  That's totally unacceptable.  I'm sure there's some bad luck for NJ in those numbers, but it's still absurd.

 

Now yeah, Gionta and company are suppressing shots against a little, but they get none of their own.  I find it hard to believe that Gionta is the linchpin in this shot suppression, either.

 

Furthermore, this '4th line' isn't playing 5 minutes a night.  Gionta's almost at 15 minutes a night.


Edited by Triumph, 17 February 2013 - 01:13 PM.

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#16 CarpathianForest

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:17 PM

Contain offensive talent?  The Devils got 9% of the shot attempts when Crosby and Gionta were on the ice together.  That means for every 10 shots the Penguins got, the Devils got 1.  That's totally unacceptable.  I'm sure there's some bad luck for NJ in those numbers, but it's still absurd.

 

Now yeah, Gionta and company are suppressing shots against a little, but they get none of their own.  I find it hard to believe that Gionta is the linchpin in this shot suppression, either.

 

Furthermore, this '4th line' isn't playing 5 minutes a night.  Gionta's almost at 15 minutes a night.

I believe our shot totals are down as a whole which is troubling. We had over 30 shots last night, but I believe that is an outlier.


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#17 Daniel

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:23 PM

Contain offensive talent? The Devils got 9% of the shot attempts when Crosby and Gionta were on the ice together. That means for every 10 shots the Penguins got, the Devils got 1. That's totally unacceptable. I'm sure there's some bad luck for NJ in those numbers.

Now yeah, Gionta and company are suppressing shots against a little, but they get none of their own. I find it hard to believe that Gionta is the linchpin in this shot suppression, either.

Unless you have something to compare that to (how well other team's lower lines do against the best player in hockey) it's a useless point. And as you said, it opens up more opportunities for the top lines to get paired against weaker competiton, so there are more variables than you're letting on.

Again, I can't speak to Gionta in particular, and maybe there's someone else available that would do a better job. However, the Devils are a first place team more than a quarter into the season. When any team's success doesn't fit someone's particular theory of what makes a good team, it's always "luck" or something else, except when it isn't.

ADDENDUM: This also encapsulates why I'm very skeptical of statistical analysis in sports like hockey where there are so many variablles. People say +- is useless, since it doesn't account for how good the goalie is, or whether the guy getting the +or - did anything to deserve it. They say instead, look at the shot total. Others say it doesn't account for how good those shots actually are, who's doing the counting, whether the guys on the ice are directing the other team to make lower percentage shots, whether it's the fault of a teammate that the opponent got a scoring chance.

Edited by Daniel, 17 February 2013 - 01:35 PM.

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#18 NJDevs4978

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:26 PM

Plus if you're PK'ing against those great players obviously the shot totals are going to be skewed the other way.


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#19 coldply123

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:37 PM

I believe our shot totals are down as a whole which is troubling. We had over 30 shots last night, but I believe that is an outlier.

 

Believing something doesn't make it true.


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#20 Triumph

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:39 PM

Plus if you're PK'ing against those great players obviously the shot totals are going to be skewed the other way.

 

This doesn't count the PK (obviously)


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