Everything Else

Anyone who’s had the pleasure of watching the last decade of Hawks hockey is familiar with the salary cap shuffle the Hawks have to do every so often (and yes, it’ll be 10 years this year since Patrick Timothy Kane II took his first shift with the Hawks). Like a teary-eyed Lisa watching Mr. Bergstrom chug off into the distance, we’ve waved goodbye to a bevy of talented players either in or just approaching their primes. And so it goes this year, with the losses of defensive unicorn Marcus Kruger and a serviceable lower-line defensive forward in Dr. Rasmussen. One of the answers to the question, “How do we replace the defensive depth in our bottom half,” is former Flame Lance Bouma.

2016–17 Stats

61 GP – 3 G, 4 A, 7 P

45.9 CF%, 32.4 oZS%, 67.6 dZS%

ATOI: 11:21

A Look Back: The former 3rd round pick did yeoman’s work last year, with a paltry 7 points over 61 games. His ice-time average and CF% imply that he was an energy guy, somewhere between late-career ruptured hemorrhoid Raffi Torres and off-the-ice-good-guy Danny Carcillo. In fact, his CF% last year looks bad not only on its own but also relatively, with an abysmal -5.8 CF% Rel.

But there’s a massive rub in those stats: Unlike your typical energy guys, Bouma has ALWAYS lived in the defensive zone.

Last year saw him in his own zone more than two-thirds of the time, which is approximately the amount of time one would spend on the toilet after having a $5 Box and a Crave Case for lunch. And that’s what Calgary often asked him to do: consume garbage zone starts and evacuate the puck from the bowels of his own zone.

Even more interesting are Bouma’s career zone-start stats: Over 304 career games, Bouma has started in his own zone 61.8% of the time. The only year in which he had more offensive zone starts was his rookie year, and he only played 16 games that year. Compare that to Kruger’s 368-game, 70.5 dZS% clip. None of this is to say that Bouma is a one-to-one replacement for Kruger, because the comparative career CF% Rels are canyons apart (Bouma’s at -4.8, Kruger’s at -1.7), but given that Bouma was on some bad Flames teams, even those comparisons aren’t entirely square.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to look at with Bouma is a stat called Corsi Rel QoC, which, in short, ranks Corsi in terms of the quality of the guys a player was up against (negative numbers meaning he was sheltered, higher and positive numbers meaning he faced stiffer competition). From 2013–2016, which is both as current as I could find and reflective of years in which Bouma played at least half of the Flames’s games, Bouma had the following Corsi Rel QoC ratings:

Year

Games Played

Corsi Rel QoC

Points

2013–14

78

0.453

15

2014–15

78

0.838

34

2015–16

43*

-0.065

7

*The site I used only tracked him through 43 games. Bouma played 44 that year.

Looking at the table, in years in which Bouma played an assload, he spent a lot of time against his opponents’ better lines (save 15–16, where he played against essentially average guys). And 2014–15 should make the ol’ crotchal region tighter, moister, or some combination thereof for all Hawks fans. In 2014–15, Bouma not only faced higher-tier opposition but also scored 34 points (16 G, 18A) while averaging about 14 minutes a game. (While that year may be an outlier, hope springs eternal.)

Compare that to comparable Kruger years:

Year

Games Played

Corsi Rel QoC

Points

2013–14

81

1.114

28

2014–15

81

0.902

17

2015–16

39*

0.550

4

*The site I used only tracked him through 39 games. Kruger played 41 that year.

But what kind of Internet writer would I be if I didn’t come stomping and shitting all over the newfound optimism I’d set you up for? Because there’s a catch to all of this, and we can find it in another advanced stat that lives in the dungeon called Corsi Rel QoT, which is a measure of the quality of teammates a given player had while on the ice (higher numbers representing stronger teammates, lower numbers representing beer rats who “deked Montoya dat one time”).

Have a look at Bouma . . .

Year

Off. Zone Start %

Off. Zone End %

Corsi Rel QoT

2013–14

39

44.2

-0.028

2014–15

34.6

44.3

-0.745

2015–16

46.9

51.1

-0.173

. . .who did a good job of flipping the ice with teammates who weren’t world beaters.

And Kruger . . .

Year

Off. Zone Start %

Off. Zone End %

Corsi Rel QoT

2013–14

20.9

45.1

-4.824

2014–15

25

43.7

-3.425

2015–16

19

40.2

-1.044

. . . who not only turned the ice at obscene rates but also did it while skating with actual Shoot the Puck contestants.

A Look Ahead: So what does it all mean, Basil? Aside from expending over 1,000 words on a guy who might only play handful of games, it means that Bouma could be a decent turning-the-ice sieve if necessary. Yes, we had to go back a few years to find evidence, and yes, he was kind of a pit last year, but what’s the point of being a fan if you can’t be optimistic? Bouma’s underlying numbers and past performance could let slip the hogs of war (or whatever farm animal of war, Lana, shut up) on the Hawks’s lower half.

I suspect that Bouma will get a shot on the 4th line to start, albeit from a wing if we assume that Schmaltz and Working Class Kero are going to line up down the middle. It’s plausible to find him on the PK as the 2b option, behind the likes of Toews, Saad, and Kero, given that he averaged 1:36 there in Calgary last year, but that would likely speak to a supreme lack of trust and depth for the PK, since most Calgary followers say Bouma sucked at it.

It’d be silly to expect Bouma to replicate 2014–15, since he hasn’t since. But there is precedent for success there, and if he can come anywhere near it, his $1 million cap hit will look like a steal.

He may not pass the eye test, and he may be on a decline, but I’m a sucker for guys people doubt. I’ll be the first to say it: I believe in Bouma.

Unlinked stats retrieved from hockey-reference.com

Special thanks to Behind the Net. Hopefully they all pick up tracking again soon.

Photo credit to Jeff McIntosh, via sportsnet.ca.

Previous Player Previews

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Michal Kempný

Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling

The 6th D-Man

Artem Anisimov 

Everything Else

Much like baseball, the NHL has installed its All-Star break after the middle of the season. You get why, as you wouldn’t schedule the All-Star game on Super Bowl weekend or during the NFL playoffs (though the NHL All-Star game probably makes for a better pregame show to The Big Tilt than the actual pregame show. I guess the Canadiens wouldn’t want to give up that slot thought). Much like baseball doesn’t want to put it’s All-Star game anywhere near the 4th of July. So whatever. It’s a nice marker either way.

So where are the Hawks? Well, in some ways this is the earliest the Hawks have been entrenched in their spot, aside from when they didn’t lose for half a season in 2013. The Hawks only sit four points behind the Wild, but have played three games more, and if the Wild win even one of those they’re going to be awfully hard to catch with how things work. Even if they fell off a bit, Dubnyk is going to get them into overtime just enough to prevent complete collapse. On the other side, the Predators are nine points behind, and even with their two games in hand that’s a massive gap. They’re not getting caught.

You know what’s weird? In the Q era, the Hawks have only finished second in the division once. And that was Q’s first year, when it was a conference system and that really meant being fourth in the conference. Since then it’s been 1st, 3rd, 4th, 1st, 3rd, 3rd, and 3rd last year. Just a note for all of you there.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs had themselves a hell of a season. For four months, at least.

It was another year of development for the 45 players who spent time toiling on the farm in 2015-16. There was some big rookie impact to go with some surprising veteran production over the course of the campaign.

When all was said and done, the Hogs had earned a spot in the AHL postseason for the second year in a row. A host of players had spent time in Chicago, with some becoming quite familiar with Interstate 90 along the way.

Rockford finished with a record of 40-22-10-4, good enough for third place in the Central Division before being swept from the first round by Lake Erie. However, it has to be noted that there is a very definitive point in the season where the arrow veered sharply for this team.

As we take a look at the season that was, know that for four months Rockford was very, very good. And then…they weren’t.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs opened this past week with a tough stretch of games in Texas ahead of them. With three of those four contests in the books, a four-game Lone Star sweep is within the reach of the IceHogs.

In what may be its most impressive stretch of the season, Rockford posted 15 goals in three victories. After winning a track meet against the Texas Stars Wednesday, the Hogs scored two wins over the San Antonio Rampage over the weekend. Rockford improved its season mark to 15-5-1-2 and sit at the top of the Central Division.

With several of last year’s leading scorers on the shelf, Rockford looked to be in need of some offensive punch against some good offensive teams.

Who provided a good portion of that punch? The above picture should spill the beans.

Everything Else

Dang…I hate when Mom gives us all sweaters…

The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, just finished up play for the month with a tough loss to the Milwaukee Admirals. The Hogs Central Division rival handed Rockford three losses in November. Three of the IceHogs top scorers were called up to Chicago this month and several more key players have succumbed to injury.

On paper, it reads like a month Rockford would like to forget. However, the Hogs finished November with a 7-2-1-1 mark and sit in third place in the division standings. How the heck did that happen?

Let’s take a look…

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, have yet to drop a game to Central Division rival Iowa this season. The Hogs ran their record against the Wild to 5-0 this season with a sweep in DesMoines this weekend.

Rockford is 9-3-1-1 and in second place in the Central Division. There is a lot of credit to go around for what is now a ten-game points streak. Dennis Rasmussen and Bryan Bickell (see after the jump) both had a pair of goals over the weekend. Mark McNeill is on a five game point streak and Ville Pokka has six points in his last four games.

However, not all of the IceHogs are off to a hot start.

Everything Else

After a big week of action that saw the Rockford IceHogs hold two consecutive opponents scoreless, the Chicago Blackhawks called up a forward. That player may come as a bit of a surprise. Dennis Rasmussen will be joining the Blackhawks as they head on their post-All-Star break road trip.

The 24-year-old center is in his rookie season in Rockford and has eight goals and eight assists in 44 games with the IceHogs. He’s a plus-ten and has been a mainstay on a strong penalty kill unit.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs ran their road record to 10-4-0-1 this week. The AHL’s Midwest Division leaders beat the Admirals in Milwaukee for the second time in six days Wednesday night. Rockford then split a pair of games at Lake Erie over the weekend.

Heading into another week of travel, Rockford is piling up points away from the BMO Harris Bank Center. One big factor in this road surge has been a dominating penalty kill. Come to think of it, it’s been pretty darn good at home as well.

In 2013-14, the Hogs were an absolute joke when shorthanded. They were dead last in the AHL in this department with a 72.3 success rate. Here are some numbers that show the dramatic change from a season ago:

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs saw an eight-game win streak come to an end in with two losses to the Milwaukee Admirals in the first two games of a three-game weekend. Rockford finished their first three-games in three-nights stretch of the season with a home win in front of a pseudo sell-out audience at the BMO Center Sunday.

With that win, Rockford reclaimed the top spot in the AHL’s Midwest Division. They remain in the second spot in the Western Conference standings with 23 points in 16 games.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs saw an eight-game win streak come to an end in with two losses to the Milwaukee Admirals in the first two games of a three-game weekend. Rockford finished their first three-games in three-nights stretch of the season with a home win in front of a pseudo sell-out audience at the BMO Center Sunday.

With that win, Rockford reclaimed the top spot in the AHL’s Midwest Division. They remain in the second spot in the Western Conference standings with 23 points in 16 games.