EricStaal


Is Eric Staal really a second-half player?

 

A theory has formed that Eric Staal is a second-half player. Staal owners are especially hoping this is true this year, as the Carolina Hurricane is off to a bit of a slow start, at least to his standards. Staal’s 0.85 points-per-game is the lowest he’s had since his rookie season way back in 2003-04.

 

But is the slow start theory actually true? Is the Canes captain due for a better second half-this year?

 

Let’s start by looking at who Staal has lined up with this year, according to Frozen Pool.

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

19.94%

EV

28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 12 STAAL,ERIC - 19 TLUSTY,JIRI

19.51%

EV

15 RUUTU,TUOMO - 53 SKINNER,JEFF - 12 STAAL,ERIC

5.73%

EV

14 GERBE,NATHAN - 15 RUUTU,TUOMO - 12 STAAL,ERIC

3.39%

EV

28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 53 SKINNER,JEFF - 12 STAAL,ERIC

3.32%

PP

15 RUUTU,TUOMO - 53 SKINNER,JEFF - 12 STAAL,ERIC

3.12%

EV

15 RUUTU,TUOMO - 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 12 STAAL,ERIC

2.41%

EV

15 RUUTU,TUOMO - 12 STAAL,ERIC - 19 TLUSTY,JIRI

2.29%

EV

28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 12 STAAL,ERIC - 11 STAAL,JORDAN

2.21%

EV

14 GERBE,NATHAN - 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 12 STAAL,ERIC

2.16%

EV

21 BOWMAN,DRAYSON - 28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 12 STAAL,ERIC

1.99%

EV

28 SEMIN,ALEXANDER - 12 STAAL,ERIC

1.86%

EV

21 BOWMAN,DRAYSON - 15 RUUTU,TUOMO - 12 STAAL,ERIC

 

Strangely enough, it seems like everyone not named Elias Lindholm has been given a chance to play on Staal’s line. Carolina coach Kirk Muller has tried pretty much everyone on a line with Staal, which may actually be hurting Staal’s production. Just look at his line production.

 

Total Points for Eric Staal : 34

Str

On Ice Line Combination

Points

%Total
Points

EV

SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC - TLUSTY,JIRI

4

11.76%

EV

RUUTU,TUOMO - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC

4

11.76%

PP

RUUTU,TUOMO - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC

3

8.82%

EV

GERBE,NATHAN - RUUTU,TUOMO - STAAL,ERIC

3

8.82%

EV

SEMIN,ALEXANDER - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC

2

5.88%

PP

LINDHOLM,ELIAS - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC

2

5.88%

PP

RUUTU,TUOMO - SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

SH

DWYER,PATRICK - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

PP

GERBE,NATHAN - SEMIN,ALEXANDER - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

EV

MALHOTRA,MANNY - SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC - STAAL,JORDAN - TLUSTY,JIRI

1

2.94%

EV

DVORAK,RADEK - STAAL,ERIC - TLUSTY,JIRI

1

2.94%

PP

SEMIN,ALEXANDER - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC - STAAL,JORDAN

1

2.94%

EV

RUUTU,TUOMO - SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

EV

SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

PP

LINDHOLM,ELIAS - SEMIN,ALEXANDER - SKINNER,JEFF - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

SH

STAAL,ERIC - TLUSTY,JIRI

1

2.94%

EV

BOWMAN,DRAYSON - SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

EV

DVORAK,RADEK - MALHOTRA,MANNY - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

EV

BOWMAN,DRAYSON - RUUTU,TUOMO - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

EV

GERBE,NATHAN - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

SH

MALHOTRA,MANNY - STAAL,ERIC

1

2.94%

EV

SEMIN,ALEXANDER - STAAL,ERIC - STAAL,JORDAN

1

2.94%

 

No even strength line has more than four points. By mixing the lines so much, it denies Staal the opportunity to build chemistry with his line mates, like he had last season with Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty. This may hurt Staal’s chances to have a stronger second half.

 

So this begs the question: is Staal a better second-half player? The short answer is no, and the stats support this position.

 

If we compare Staal’s career October, November and December numbers to his career January to April numbers, there’s not a lot of difference. We won’t use the 2012 season, since it was a shortened season not broken down into halves. And we can’t use this season, since the second half hasn’t happened yet.

 

So if you look at Staal’s first half numbers from the 2003-04 season to the 2011-12 season, he averages .84 points a game, which equals 34.44 points over 41 games. His second half numbers show his production at .94 points per game, which equals 38.54 points over 41 games.

 

So in an average year, Staal owners can expect Staal to get four more points in the second half of the season than in the first half. It doesn’t sound like Staal’s performance in the second half is that different than the first half.

 

However, there are some reasons Staal fans might be optimistic. His shooting percentage is 8.7 per cent (against a career average of 11.1 per cent), which is his second lowest total since his rookie year. And Staal has scored just one power play goal, despite averaging 3:40 of power play ice time a game. Once those two revert toward his career averages, we’ll see a slight uptick in his numbers. However, this uptick may simply make up for his normal four-point average increase in the second half.

 

So since we shouldn’t be expecting that substantial a turn-around in points, how is Staal affecting poolies in leagues with multiple categories?

 

What really hurts poolies is Staal’s plus-minus. He’s never been a strong plus-minus guy, as he’s only finished as a plus in three of his nine seasons so far, and is a career minus-44. This year, Staal is a minus-15 in just 41 games, which is tied for eighth-worst in the league. That puts him on pace for minus-30, which would be an all-time low for him. He’s only had one season when he was above a plus-five, so Staal can’t be trusted to help out in this category at all.

 

 

Staal is on pace for 20 goals, which would be his lowest output since his rookie year. However, as noted, that should rise a little as his shooting percentage increases. Staal is also on pace for 70 points, which would also match his lowest totals since his rookie year.

 

However, Staal has been a dynamo on the penalty kill. This year, he has more shorthanded goals (two) than power play goals (one) to go along with a shorthanded assist. Staal has 16 shorthanded goals since he came into the league, tying him for sixth overall in that time span. 

 

Staal has actually done a lot to improve his faceoffs over the last three years, and poolies have been rewarded so far this year. Staal was a poor faceoff guy for about seven years (his highest faceoff percentage was 48 per cent). But something changed three years ago. His last three years have seen him get 52.5%, 52 per cent and now 50.8 per cent.

 

Staal already has 46 penalty minutes, which puts him on pace for 92, which would be a career high.

 

So in the end, poolies should really expect more of the same from Staal for the rest of the season: A relatively strong faceoff guy who has a horrible plus-minus and will produce at about the same rate he currently has is, with a small uptick if his shooting percentage improves. Without consistent line mates, Staal will have trouble finding chemistry like he did last year with Semin and Tlusty.

 

Just Google “Eric Staal” and “Second half player” and you’ll get about 1,500 hits that proclaim him to be a much better player in the final 41 games. The fact is, Staal is generally a consistent player from the start of the season until the end, and the view that he is a second-half player is a myth.


Previously in Forensics:


Looking Back

Tobias Enstrom


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Comments (8)add comment

newfcollins said:

newfcollins
... Time to revisit this, but I still stand by my premise that Staal is not a second half player.

Using Ryan's stats, updated with the last two years:

09-10: Sept-Dec. 27/30 (0.9) Jan-Apr. 43/40 (1.0smilies/cool.gif
10-11: Sept-Dec. 36/36 (1.0) Jan-Apr. 40/45 (0.89)
11-12: Sept-Dec. 16/40 (0.4) Jan-Apr. 45/42 (1.07)
12-13 (lockout season): 30 points in the first 24 games (1.25), and 23 in the last 24 (0.96)
13-14: Sept-Dec. 33/40 (0.83), Jan-Apr. 25/37 (0.66)

In the last five years, only once did he have a much better second half. And in that one year, is that because he was awesome from January to April? No, it's because he was horrible from September to December.
April 07, 2014
Votes: +0

coldsquad2002 said:

coldsquad2002
... I also believe Eric Staal is a second half player. Especially with the Oylmpics this year, I expect him to explode in the second half. The problem I belive is with players like him, does it mean he does not care to exert himself for the first half ??
January 05, 2014
Votes: +1

newfcollins said:

newfcollins
... I guess it all depends on where you start using the stats from. Using Ma's stats, it looks like he's a second half player. But if you only used the last three full seasons, then it looks like he's not (just one season in those three with a much better second half in regards to points-per-game). If you used his career stats, he's not.

I didn't use last year's stats, because of the shortened season, but for the record, he had 30 points in the first 24 games, and 23 in the last 24.

I simply don't think he's a second-half guy. If he doesn't do great this year in the second half, that would mean he's only been a second-half guy once in four years (four-and-a-half if you include the shortened season). I guess this year will go a long way to determining if he is or not.
January 05, 2014
Votes: +0

Teh Doktor said:

Teh Doktor
2nd half Nice work and a good read.

I'm not buying the argument though.

This is the third year I've had Staal, and I can tell you that this 2nd half thing is something I noticed too. It could be the numbers you're using, or something... but he has started off really slow - like, "Why did I pay nearly a fifth of my salary cap for this guy!?" and finished with, "Wow! He really picked it up. I'll keep the guy, maybe if he plays the way he finished up, I'll actually have a guy who is undervalued."

I also traded Z Parise - exact same contract length and salary as Staal because of the way I preceived him to finish up. None of that is scientific or supported by numbers, I know, but that's the way I preceive it.
January 05, 2014
Votes: +1

Maaaasquito said:

Maaaasquito
+/- Also another point is his weakness in the +/- also seems to be a "first half" thing.

07-08: -1, -1 (differential: 0)
08-09: +12, +3 (differential: -9)
09-10: -5, +7 (differential: +12)
10-11: -3, -7 (differential: -4)
11-12: -22, +2 (differential: +24)
13-14: -16, +1 (+17)

So I would probably argue that a lot of his poor +/- numbers is done in the 1st half. If you pick up Staal now, the worst part of the storm is probably past him so you'd get all the benefits of the sunny days ahead.

Now is the best time to toss the look at Staal's poor numbers sales pitch at his owner... and if you're an Staal-owner you hang on for dear life...
January 03, 2014
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
Staal Also if you look at the big 3 factors for point production...

% of team PP, SOG and TOI, it does indicate that Staal should be improving a little bit in the 2nd half.

63.4% of the Canes' PP chances, 2.8 SOG/G while garnering 20:15 in TOI/G, those numbers should point towards closer to a point-per-game pace than 0.8...

Compare his numbers to Toews... 60.8%, 2.6 SOG/G and 20:28 and Toews is 0.95 and they're essentially identical. Toews does have a little more support with Kane, Hossa and Sharp, but Semin is healthy and Skinner seems to be blazing, so the 2nd half could very well be a similar 1.04 pace for him moving forward.

As long as you're not expect Crosby (1.5 points-per-game) or Malkin (1.2) type numbers, then something along a point-per-game or slightly above (40-45 in 41) pace probably is reasonable.
January 03, 2014
Votes: +0

Ryan Ma said:

Maaaasquito
Staal Interesting how numbers can change if you start playing around with them.

Dobber is right, if you knock out the "older" seasons and look at the data from 07 onwards the numbers speak a different story.

07-08: Sept-Dec. 35/41 (0.85), Jan- Apr. 47/41 (1.14)
08-09: Sept-Dec. 29/38 (0.76) Jan-Apr. 46/44 (1.05)
09-10: Sept-Dec. 27/30 (0.9) Jan-Apr. 43/40 (1.0smilies/cool.gif
10-11: Sept-Dec. 36/36 (1.0) Jan-Apr. 40/45 (0.89)
11-12: Sept-Dec. 16/40 (0.4) Jan-Apr. 45/42 (1.07)

Totals:
Sept-Dec. 0.77
Jan-Apr. 1.04


So I would argue that there probably is a case in point that Staal is a 2nd half guy.


January 03, 2014
Votes: +3

Dobber said:

Dobber
... I don't believe the trend started early. I believe the trend started about five years ago. So I'm curious about the stats since 2007-08 1st vs. 2nd half, and again since 2008-09. One of those years, it started. Trust me - it's won me leagues two different years
January 03, 2014
Votes: +1
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