Monday, 9 December 2013

Douglas Murray eats his Chili

A few weeks ago, Arik Parnass of "Habs Eyes on the prize"  wrote an article asking if Douglas Murray was the worst defenseman in the National Hockey League. At the time of the article, Murray had only played a few games and the fan base was very hard on him. The article delves deep into "fancystats" to point to some of Murray's strengths and weaknesses.

On August 22nd, Habs GM Marc Bergevin announced the signing of the native of Bromma, Sweden. When discussing his signing of the man some call Crankshaft, Bergevin called Murray "an experienced defenseman with good size". He went on say that the seasoned veteran would "bring a physical dimension to our team." On Mitch Melnick's TSN 690 show, NBC Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire noted that Douglas Murray was strong at clearing the net, being a physical presence and adept on the penalty kill.

If we accept that Douglas Murray was brought in to Montreal to fill specific needs, it's fair to assess his signing in the context of filling that role. With Healthy bodies coming back, Murray has been splitting time with Francis Bouillon as a sixth/seventh defenseman - which to me, is exactly the right fit for him.

The Canadiens have played 31 games this season and have gone to the Penalty kill 103 Times. They have given up 14 goals for a PK% of 86.4%.

Douglas Murray has played 15 games for the Habs in which the team has taken 43 penalties. They have been scored upon a measly 3 times during those contests, a penalty killing success rate of 93% - a full 6.6% higher than the season average.How does that stack up against the success rate when Murray does not play? Glad you asked.

In 16 games that the Canadiens have played without Doug Murray, they have taken 60 Penalties and given up 11 goals. A success rate 0f 81.7%, which is 4.7% lower than the season average, but a staggering 11.3% lower than the success rate than when Murray plays.

As far as being a physical presence, Murray has thrown 39 hits this season - an average of 2.6 hits per game. In the 15 games that he has played, the team has thrown a total of 300 hits, of which Murray accounts for 13%. In the 16 games without Murray, the team has thrown 285 total hits. That's 20 hits per game with Murray versus 17.8 hits per game without Murray. The difference of 2.2 hits per game effectively being effectively what Murray adds.

Building a hockey team is often termed a chemistry experiment, when the Douglas Murray element is added to the Canadies mix, their record this season is 10 wins, 3 losses and 2 shootout losses or 22 of a possible 30 points. With Murray outside of the lineup 9 wins, 6 losses and 1 shootout loss or 19 of a possible 32 points.

It can be argued that the addition of Douglas Murray makes the Canadiens only marginally better than they are without him in the lineup, but every margin adds up and it's hard to argue that the team is better off with him out of the lineup.

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