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Old 01-11-2019, 09:55 AM   #1
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Default Stat Hack: James Neal

New idea/feature for the site where I write up a quick look at a stats topic without 1000s of words of analysis slowing the process down.

Turns out I didn't keep it as brief as I aimed.

First one out ...

Stat Hack: James Neal

Carving into his rates five on five and on the powerplay to boil down the player and expectations for improvement.

Stat Hack: James Neal
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:10 AM   #2
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Good write up!
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:21 AM   #3
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Thanks, and I agree getting that second powerplay going with him in a shooting position instead of half wall passing
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:49 AM   #4
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Nice write up.
What site do you use for data?
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:06 AM   #5
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Nice write up.
What site do you use for data?
NaturalStatTrick but with a lot of excel work ...
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:25 AM   #6
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Email that to Bill and Brad.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:33 AM   #7
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Nice effort on the research Bingo.

For me personally, I think his problems this season are mostly due to his teammates. Not necessarily that it's all on them because he certainly has been weighing down most players he ends up playing with.

But I just think don't think this guy is on the right team or the right situation. The Flames are a fantastic quick strike, give and go, score on the rush type of team and James Neal isn't. We've seen him attempt the give and go and he looks like a fish out of water.

The success of his games seems to be more predicated on a half court style of game to steal a basketball term. He needs playmakers who can hold on to pucks, draw defenders and find him open where he can release his lethal shot. Just looking at his last 2 goals he scored, the 2 posts that he hit and his most recent assist, there's evidence of that.

Goal #3: Johnny Gaudreau finds him wide open off a turnover and he's able to one time it home.

Goal #4: Sam Bennett does all the work in shaking off 2 defenders, finds an open Neal and he re-directs it off his skate.

Assist #5: Johnny Gaudreau spins a couple times behind the net, loses his defender, finds an open Neal cutting to the net, he gets the puck on goal, it's stopped but Backlund is there to pot the rebound.

The 2 posts he hit, If I remember correctly, came off of plays from Jankowski. He finds Neal open on a 2 on 1 and Neal beats the goalie, but rings it off the pipe. The second one I'm a little fuzzy on, but I believe it was a turnover and Jankowski finds Neal in the slot and he backhands it off the post.

In all these instances, someone is creating a play and finding Neal open. In Vegas, he had Haula and Perron who are very good players at holding on to the puck, drawing defenders, creating space and dishing it off. If Neal could find a center of that ilk, I'm sure he would find success again on a consistent basis. But because the Flames don't have this kind of player available right now, he'll have to make do with the occasional play that someone can muster up for him.
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Old 01-11-2019, 11:36 AM   #8
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Love it, Bingo.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:45 PM   #9
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He should have 9 or 10 now, and be on pace for 16. That's the benchmark based on how he's played compared to recent seasons.

4 goals are on him / ice time.
The rest on a very odd run of bad luck and a putrid 2nd powerplay unit.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:50 PM   #10
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Nice effort on the research Bingo.

For me personally, I think his problems this season are mostly due to his teammates. Not necessarily that it's all on them because he certainly has been weighing down most players he ends up playing with.

But I just think don't think this guy is on the right team or the right situation. The Flames are a fantastic quick strike, give and go, score on the rush type of team and James Neal isn't. We've seen him attempt the give and go and he looks like a fish out of water.

The success of his games seems to be more predicated on a half court style of game to steal a basketball term. He needs playmakers who can hold on to pucks, draw defenders and find him open where he can release his lethal shot. Just looking at his last 2 goals he scored, the 2 posts that he hit and his most recent assist, there's evidence of that.

Goal #3: Johnny Gaudreau finds him wide open off a turnover and he's able to one time it home.

Goal #4: Sam Bennett does all the work in shaking off 2 defenders, finds an open Neal and he re-directs it off his skate.

Assist #5: Johnny Gaudreau spins a couple times behind the net, loses his defender, finds an open Neal cutting to the net, he gets the puck on goal, it's stopped but Backlund is there to pot the rebound.

The 2 posts he hit, If I remember correctly, came off of plays from Jankowski. He finds Neal open on a 2 on 1 and Neal beats the goalie, but rings it off the pipe. The second one I'm a little fuzzy on, but I believe it was a turnover and Jankowski finds Neal in the slot and he backhands it off the post.

In all these instances, someone is creating a play and finding Neal open. In Vegas, he had Haula and Perron who are very good players at holding on to the puck, drawing defenders, creating space and dishing it off. If Neal could find a center of that ilk, I'm sure he would find success again on a consistent basis. But because the Flames don't have this kind of player available right now, he'll have to make do with the occasional play that someone can muster up for him.
I agree with pretty much all of that. Thing is, Bennett and Jankowski always seem to have defenders around them. However, I think it's because they skate at them a lot, and in doing so, sometimes don't create enough space between them and Neal.

I think Neal's stick might be an issue as well, but man, he should have experimented with other by now. He should try Monahan's stick.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:58 PM   #11
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I like the write up.

I think some of the comments in the thread about linemates and pp unit are skewed heavily one way. Linemates are certainly a part for sure, but he's got a huge responsibility of being the highest paid player and arguably the best player on that "line" or "unit". Good players should be making those situations better, otherwise aren't they just another plug?

I like some of the thoughts on Janko above too. I think Janko had a bit of a slump to start the year and I've been noticing him breakout of late. They should keep Janko, Neal and Bennett together consistently. If Neal can't produce with Janko, and help Janko and Bennett develop, I really question Neal's value. I can't see any reason that the line shouldn't be a productive 2b line, other than it's the players themselves. A lot of excuses are made for these 3, but really at some point we've got to accept the accountability is with them not the situation or the people around them.

One thing I noticed not yet mentioned is that with better play comes more ice time and more opportunity. I think that point can be lost in the stats. If you start putting the puck away, you'll start seeing more ice time. No question.

Last edited by Camronius; 01-11-2019 at 01:04 PM. Reason: re-structured for clarity
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:59 PM   #12
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Great write up.

While it's not in the theme of the article I'd like to suggest that the eye-test disagrees that it's confidence, luck, teammates or ice-time that are the primary culprits.

Watching Neal play in previous stops he was a pain-in-the-butt to go against. It was often said that he would "drag other players into the game". What I've seen this year is a guy that is timid going into corners, often gives a half-hearted effort in one-on-one battles and is not putting up much of a fight generally. He always seems to be playing on the "back foot". Maybe some of that is due to ice-time, teammates, confidence and luck but effort is something that is largely independent of those. I'd say the vast majority of games we've seen Neal be a participant rather than someone who drives play. He certainly hasn't been pulling anyone into the fight of the game.

Maybe he's dealing with an injury, maybe he's unsettled, maybe he has no confidence. A veteran of his caliber and experience should know that to pull out of a funk the first thing required is the paradigm of a little extra effort and letting the game come to him. Instead, it looks like we're seeing a guy resigned to knowing that his season sucks. Hopefully, he pulls out of it when the team needs him most.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:59 PM   #13
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His defensive play has to be part of the picture. He's played with many different linemates but he has by far the worst +/- on the team and isn't being asked to kill penalties.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:17 PM   #14
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His defensive play has to be part of the picture. He's played with many different linemates but he has by far the worst +/- on the team and isn't being asked to kill penalties.
Agree with every thing in the article, but the +/- the last three years on positive +/- teams does draw attention.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:30 PM   #15
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Sure but the article is about goal scoring and not doing it compared to his stops in other cities.

No one was ever making a claim that he was going to be a great defensive player, or even a play driver.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:07 PM   #16
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Sure but the article is about goal scoring and not doing it compared to his stops in other cities.

No one was ever making a claim that he was going to be a great defensive player, or even a play driver.
Yes agree. Article was great and what we want out of Neal is goals, which should mean revert in the long run.

The 'eye test' crowd are seeing a player though thats been a double digit minus on three teams with large positve gf/ga numbers. I don't even know how those numbers happen.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:25 PM   #17
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My James Neal "eye test" says he's too slow to get his shots off, which is a byproduct of being too slow into high danger areas when the play develops. It seems to me that it's pretty rare that he gets a high quality shot off in the danger areas because he doesn't have enough time. The ones he does get off are blocked, shot wide or are (for the most part) rushed muffins.

Just my opinion of course.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:35 PM   #18
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Yes agree. Article was great and what we want out of Neal is goals, which should mean revert in the long run.

The 'eye test' crowd are seeing a player though thats been a double digit minus on three teams with large positve gf/ga numbers. I don't even know how those numbers happen.
I think it's easy to see why. Guy is pretty indifferent to the defensive side of the game. He's not engaged enough to get in the greasy areas of the game. His foot speed is major issue in back checking. All this kind of stuff scares me going into the playoffs.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:36 PM   #19
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My James Neal "eye test" says he's too slow to get his shots off, which is a byproduct of being too slow into high danger areas when the play develops. It seems to me that it's pretty rare that he gets a high quality shot off in the danger areas because he doesn't have enough time. The ones he does get off are blocked, shot wide or are (for the most part) rushed muffins.

Just my opinion of course.
I was expecting to see exactly that ... a huge drop in high danger opportunities because of a lack of speed/effort

Turned out that his execution rate is falling faster than his frequency of chance rate ... which is certainly suggesting some miserable luck is in play as well.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:45 PM   #20
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I was expecting to see exactly that ... a huge drop in high danger opportunities because of a lack of speed/effort

Turned out that his execution rate is falling faster than his frequency of chance rate ... which is certainly suggesting some miserable luck is in play as well.

Or it could mean he's declining.


His troubles go back to last season.
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