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Opposing snapshots of Kessel's production

Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff  July 21, 2009 01:46 PM

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A few months back, we took a look at Phil Kessel's goal-scoring breakdown against playoff and non-playoff teams in the context of all Black-and-Golders with 10 or more strikes. Kessel was the low man, scoring 19.4 percent of his 36 goals against playoff clubs. This is one statistic the Bruins have been considering in setting their salary for Kessel, with the theory being that it's harder to score goals against better teams.

By applying the same breakdown to the players who scored 36 or more goals last season, Kessel brings up the rear again. Here are the top scorers in descending order of production against playoff teams:

1. Loui Eriksson, 63.9 percent
2. Dany Heatley, 61.5
3. Patrick Marleau, 55.3
4. Rick Nash, 55
5. Zach Parise, 51.1
6. Thomas Vanek, 50
7. Ilya Kovalchuk, 48.9
8. Mike Cammalleri, 48.7
9. Marian Hossa, 47.5
10. Alex Ovechkin, 42.9
11. Jeff Carter, 39.1
12. Eric Staal, 37.5
13. Kessel, 19.4

It's a significant dropoff from Staal in 12th place to Kessel in 13th.

However, let's apply another breakdown to the top goal scorers, and see how Kessel fares. This time, let's look at the theory that it's harder to score even-strength goals than power-play goals. In descending order, here is the percentage of power-play goals among total goals recorded by the league's best snipers, with average PP TOI per game noted:

1. Vanek, 50 percent (3:50)
2. Cammalleri, 48.7 (4:03)
3. Heatley, 38.5 (4:05)
4. Staal, 35 (4:15)
5. Ovechkin, 33.9 (5:24)
6. Parise, 31.1 (3:41)
7. Carter, 28.3 (2:43)
8. Marleau, 28.2 (3:54)
9. Kovalchuk, 27.9 (5:48)
10. Hossa, 25 (3:03)
11. Kessel, 22.2 (2:22)
12. Eriksson, 19.4 (3:00)
13. Nash, 15 (3:38)

Of the 13 players, Kessel averaged the last amount of PP ice time per game. So you could assume that given more man-advantage opportunities, Kessel could have added to his goal total.

ANALYSIS: While these are only two statistical snapshots of Kessel's production, they prove that there are different ways to interpret his output. Just by looking at these two examples, you can get a picture of why the two sides are not close to an agreement.

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