A Look at Ian Laperriere

After the story I wrote defending Braydon Coburn, beatniche said, "I’m curious if we might see something similar as far as opinions on who isn’t taking enough flak. The defending articles are great, but I think I’d like to hear some analysis on who deserves to be taking more heat as well."

Well, here is one.  I'm well aware how popular Ian Laperriere is - especially at one specific site - but he's just not having a good year.  In fact, he's on pace for his lowest point total in over a decade.

Lappy was obviously brought in here for reasons other than his scoring touch, so let's take a look after the jump.

So far this season, here are Laperriere's stats:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009 - Ian Laperriere 41 2 6 8 -2 82 0 0 0 0 34 5.9

Generally not bad, but there are a few things here that I'd like to point out:

  • Lappy is definitely a streaky scorer.  He has only hit double-digits in goals three times, most recently in 05-06 with Colorado.  However, he's averaged 7.5 goals per year over his 16-year career, yet is only on pace for 4 this year.  If you want to look at it per game, his current 0.05 scoring rate is drastically down from his career 0.12 scoring rate.  The same is true with his shooting percentage (career 10.5%).
  • He's seeing slightly less ice time than he has in the past - down anywhere from 30-45 seconds per game - which might explain why he's taking fewer shots on net.

As I said earlier, Laperierre wasn't brought in here to score.  So while those numbers are down - and a little upsetting - the most important part of Laperierre's game is in his own end.

GP Hits BkS TkA GvA
Ian Laperriere 41 80 37 6 14

 

These numbers tell a much different story.  Laperriere is second on the team in hits (behind only Dan Carcillo), first among forwards in blocked shots, and has a great 0.429 giveaway-to-takeaway ratio.  All of these rates are better than they were in Colorado last year, and only his giveaway-to-takeaway ratio is worse (slightly) than the year before last.

So why do I say that Laperriere is having a bad year?  First off, he's only finished the year in the minus category once in the past four years (a minus-5 in 07-08) and he's on pace to be a minus-4 this year.  Most importantly, Laperriere's advanced numbers show someone having a much worse year.

Last year in Colorado, Laperriere faced tougher competition with worse teammates, and had a much better year:

2008-09 GP QualComp QualTeam G/60 A1/60 A2/60 P/60
Ian Laperriere 74 -0.031 0.059 0.54 0.69 0.15 1.38

 

This year:

2009-10 GP QualComp QualTeam G/60 A1/60 A2/60 P/60
Ian Laperriere 41 -0.043 0.240 0.29 0.00 0.74 1.03

 

As you see, he's facing a slightly worse opposition with drastically better teammates, yet he's scoring at nearly half the pace he did last year, he has yet to set up a single goal himself, and his points per 60 has slipped below that of linemate Blair Betts.  But again, it's his defensive game that is troubling.

2008-09 GP GFON/60 GAON/60 +/-ON/60 GFOFF/60 GAOFF/60 +/-OFF/60
Ian Laperriere 74 1.92 1.99 -0.08 1.89 3.08 -1.19

 

Compare that to this year:

2009-10 GP GFON/60 GAON/60 +/-ON/60 GFOFF/60 GAOFF/60 +/-OFF/60
Ian Laperriere 41 1.62 2.35 -0.73 2.40 2.36 0.04

 

Notice the difference in goals while he's on the ice.  Last year, his team scored 0.30 more goals per 60 minutes with him on the ice, and this year his team is giving up 0.36 more goals per 60 with him on the ice.  That's a 0.66 goals/60 swing in the wrong direction.  One caveat though:  these numbers are purely 5-on-5, so it's difficult to understand how Blair Betts and Dan Carcillo lead the team in +/-ON/60 at 1.49 and 1.11 respectively while Laperriere finds himself sandwiched between Danny Syvret (better) and Darroll Powe (worse).  [Eds. note:  This may be explained by a contradiction between the numbers at Behind the Net and NHL, crediting Laperriere with being on the ice for 11 rather than 14 goals for.]

The problem is fairly simple to see:  The Avalance were a far, far better team at 5-on-5 with Laperriere on the ice last year than when he wasn't while the Flyers are a far better team at 5-on-5 with Laperriere off the ice.  Now, in case the contradiction in numbers puts a doubt in your mind, I'll turn to stats outside of purely goals.

Again, comparing simply to last year:

2008-09 GP CorsiRel SFON/60 SAON/60 SFOFF/60 SAOFF/60
Ian Laperriere 74 -0.5 24.2 24.6 27.0 25.7

 

And this year:

2009-10 GP CorsiRel SFON/60 SAON/60 SFOFF/60 SAOFF/60
Ian Laperriere 41 -13.9 24.4 25.7 30.3 26.5

 

For a quick post on CorsiRel, go here.  But what these numbers tell you is that even though Laperriere is producing the same number of offensive opportunities this year as he did last year, he's allowing over one extra shot on goal against per 60 minutes this year.  While that might not seem like much, he's giving up the 7th highest amount of shots on goal among forwards this year while ranking sixth out of those seven in shots for - better than only David Laliberte.

Also of note is the huge discrepancy with his CorsiRel:  Last year, he was slightly below his team's average while he's far behind the average Flyer this year.  Some of that can be attributed to how many pucks the Flyers throw at the opposition's net and some of it can be attributed to where he starts his shift, but going back to his qualcomp and qualteam, this number still bothers me.

Conclusion:

At 5-on-5, Ian Laperriere is largely under-performing.  But the good news is that there are many possible explanations.  First, Behind the Net may just have made a mistake and Laperriere's numbers are more manageable.  Second, most of Laperriere's troubling numbers may be explained by how his coaches are using him this year:  he has an offensive zone start of just 40.9% this year compared to 43.9% last year in Colorado.  If that's the case, Laperriere's numbers may be explained by the simple fact that if you start in your own end enough times, you're going to give up shots and consequently goals.  Third, he did take a puck to the face.  That could easily change a player for at least a few games, potentially resulting in a lasting effect.  Lastly, Laperriere's bad numbers may simply be skewed by his lack of offensive production.  If that was the case, his defensive game has arguably improved - judging by his hits, blocked shots, and giveaway-to-turnover ratio. 

No matter what the explanation, Laperriere is not having the year the Flyers hoped for when they signed him.

Feel free to disagree with me.

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