I doubt anyone thought of Lars Eller‘s 2017-18 season — you know, the one in which he scored the Cup-winning goal — as a letdown. Still, he followed it up with a bounce-back outing that has me feeling real good about the future.
|16.5||time on ice per game|
|51.8||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|51.6||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|52.0||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the season. A short description of each chart:
With on-ice percentages north of 50 percent, Eller made Washington’s third line a fearsome thing again. He won most shifts in a subtle role outside the top six while also filling in with the top lines when needed. But his scoring didn’t necessarily follow the pattern of his play, and on a team as charmed with its scoring as the Caps, Eller is a curious exception. He and Kuznetsov were the only Caps forwards to score fewer goals than they were expected to based on their individual shot volume and danger. His line controlled a bigger share of expected goals than anyone on the team, but he had the lowest five-on-five point rate of any Caps forward whose name doesn’t rhyme with blandler blephenson.
That’s so odd to me. Eller generated 0.74 expected goals per hour but scored 0.61 — which we can chalk up to a 7.5 shooting percentage (nearly identical to Kuznetsov) despite having a knack for taking shots from the low slot, as per this HockeyViz chart.
Maybe that’s ephemera and luck and therefore we shouldn’t worry, but I can’t help it; I’m a worrier. The Caps of the last two seasons have required their scoring to exceed expectation (and their goalies to do the same with saving) in order to succeed. With Eller and Kuznetsov not doing that magic lately — at least individually– could that presage a coming setback? Man, I hope not.
Next season will be one of change for Eller. For the first time in three seasons, he will probably be without Brett Connolly at his flank. The centers above Eller in the lineup will have their own struggles — Kuznetsov vs diminished expectations and Backstrom vs a new contract — leaving an opportunity for a bigger role and maybe bigger scoring. If the percentages play nice, he could hit twenty goals.
What does the likely exit of Brett Connolly mean for Lars Eller’s role? Do you think Eller could slot in higher in the lineup?
Read more: Japers Rink
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