This wasn't going to be about Wojtek Wolski. Honest. Thanks to hockey-reference.com, I put together some numbers on PK effectiveness - how many PPG were scored when a player was on the ice per 60 minutes of PK TOI. I was happily putting together the list below and had what was no doubt highly intellectual insight on the Highlander. I was going to rave about how surprised I was that he was #4 in PK ice time among forwards, and how his numbers were a huge improvement over his awful previous season (11 PPG in 63.2 PK TOI, or 10.34 PPG/60). And we all would have scratched our heads - or chuckled, or commented without reading, or however it is that you like to enjoy MHH - and then moved on with our dreary old work days.
And then I saw those damn Wolski numbers. Gee, thought I, those are pretty good numbers, even if this statistical study is essentially flawed in that it doesn't take into account factors like fatigue or strength of opponent. Besides, surely this was as much an aberration as McLeod's season was, right? So, I looked up the 2008-2009 numbers, and lo and behold, Wolski put up even better PK numbers with even more ice time (8 PPGA, 152.4 PKTOI, 3.15 PPGA/60).
That got me thinking - something that is usually dangerous and often painful. Sure, any bum can focus on defense for a couple of shorthanded shifts a game...clearly, Wolski's PK stats are a fluke. Since I'd already started on this little tangent, I might as well see it through. So, I took all the players on the Avs, stripped out their PK performance, and ran the numbers again (in other words, EVGA + SHGA / EVTOI + PPTOI).
Where does Wolski wrank? Wright at the top (sorry, I think my dubya key is sticking). Yep, Wolski is right up there, 4th among forwards, ahead of "defensive-minded" forwards like Radar O'Reilly, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny. Wow.
Now, why is Darcy Tucker #2 on this list, you ask? Well, you have to keep in mind who these guys are playing against. In the case of Tucker and Chris Durno, these guys are usually out there against the other team's 4th line. That's still an impressive performance, but it's why you can't totally compare apples to apples here (ditto for Brett Clark and Ryan Wilson, but Ruslan Salei was awful by any measure). Wolski wasn't playing against the 4th lines, though. He was playing against the same talent that Stastny, Duchene and Hejduk were playing against...and he was on the ice for less goals than any of them.
Does this mean he needs to get nominated for a Selke Award? Probably not. But for the second straight week I've found numbers that go against the common perception of the Baron. Last week, we professed that the inconsistent Wolski was probably more consistent than we thought, and now we dig up evidence that the defensively challenged forward may be a lot better than we gave him credit for there too. Again, it wasn't my intention to do this at all, but I couldn't help it when I saw those numbers. I'm not sure if there are any other Wolski myths left to tackle...but if there are, I may just stumble across them sooner or later.