With the Oilers finally getting some offence, and specifically their offensive leader Ales Hemsky, many are wondering why Hemsky doesn’t play more minutes.
I don’t agree with having him play on the PK. Why put him in a situation where he has to work harder and where offence is a rarity? I’ll show you later why putting offensive players on the PK doesn’t translate to more points.
I would have agreed with the argument that Hemsky should get more ice time, but after looking at the stats you can’t blame the coach for Hemsky’s ice time. Rather, it falls on the shoulders and legs of Hemsky himself.
Before you scream, “Gregor stop smoking the hippie whiskey! Of course it is the coach’s fault, he runs the bench,” I’veve found some proof that if Hemsky wants to play 20+ minutes a game, he already has permission from his coach. So far it looks like Hemsky has chosen to play fewer minutes.
Here is the list of the top 38 scoring forwards from last year in the NHL (taken from NHL.com):
You will see that Hemsky, who finished 37th in scoring amongst forwards last season, was 26th when it came to shifts per game (last column). The reason his minutes are two to three less per game, compared to most of the other top forwards, is because his shift length is shorter.
Only five of the top 38 forwards had a shorter shift average than Hemsky. And all five of them played 30 seconds or more per game on the PK, which would tend to lead to a shorter shift. The fact is Hemsky gets only a maximum of four fewer shifts per game than the other top scorers, and in most cases only one or two fewer shifts a game.
His minutes are down because in many cases, his shift length is ten seconds shorter than other top players. If you want Hemsky to get top-end minutes he has to start lengthening his shifts.
This data also shows those playing PK minutes, which are much harder than five-on-five or PP minutes, don’t get a big return for their efforts.
Daniel Alfredsson and Shane Doan were the most productive with each having nine PK points, while Mike Richards (6) and Derek Roy (5) were the only other players to get five or more. Richards played 3:17 a game on the PK to get those whopping six points. He played 4:52 per game on the PP and registered 33 points. The bang for your buck just isn’t there on the PK for most of the league’s top scorers. Let your 3rd line checkers play those minutes.
Eight of the top nine scorers in the league last year had one or no points on the PK. In fact 26 of the top 38 scorers had one or less PK points. It doesn’t look like playing Ales Hemsky on the PK will get him more points. Wouldn’t it be more productive if he stayed on the PP for an extra ten seconds every shift?
Alex Ovechkin actually averaged fewer shifts per game than Hemsky, but of course Mr Iron Lung’s shifts average 1:05, so he is an exception. Only Patrick Kane and Mike Ribiero played less per game than Hemsky. It wouldn’t take a lot for Hemsky to average 20+ minutes per game. Five seconds here on each shift and that gives him an extra minute per game right away.
The question is, can he still be effective adding seconds to the end of his shifts? Only Hemsky knows the answer to that. I would like to see him try.
You can listen to Gregor weekdays from 3 to 6pm on the TEAM 1260 or online at www.justagame.ca