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How does Roszival’s ice time correlate with the Blackhawks’ results?

Several times in recent weeks I’ve heard or read someone assert that the Blackhawks’ chances of winning this season diminish when Mikhal Roszival plays and/or when he plays a lot of minutes. Thought I’d take a quick pass through the season’s game by game results and see whether that eye test checks out factually.

The Hawks have played 85 games thus far, regular season and playoffs combined. I sorted those games into three categories:

(1) #32 played at least 18 minutes
(2) #32 played 17:59 or less
(3) #32 wasn’t in the lineup

I picked 18 minutes in part because for whatever reason there doesn’t happen to be very many games in which he played close to that exact amount (like 17:52 or 18:10 or whatever). So using that cutoff mostly avoids having a lot of such near-misses distort the overall picture.

Here is the team’s record in each category, plus per-game goals for and goals against. (Note that shootouts are not included in the goals for/against figures.)

The totals thus far are 28 games where he’s played at least 18 minutes, 40 where he’s played but totaled less than 18 minutes on ice, and 17 where he’s been in the press box.

As you can see the team’s won-lost results this season do not vary in any meaningful way based on Roszival’s presence or ice time. Nor do the goals-for per game. Goals-against per game varies but in kind of an odd manner: they’ve yielded goals at basically the same rate when #32 plays either a lot or not at all, more when he plays but is limited to 3rd-pair minutes.

I also wondered whether the distribution of Roszival’s ice time has been heavily altered by score effects, that once a game gets out of hand the coach puts the 3rd-pair guys out there more. Doesn’t seem to be much effect there – for one thing there simply aren’t that many really one-sided games in today’s NHL. The Hawks have thus far played 12 games this season decided by 4 or more goals: three of those came when #32 was in the press box, in five of them he played fewer than 18 minutes, and in four of them he played 18 or more minutes. That’s roughly the same distribution as for his ice time across all games.

So overall it is not a true statement to say that the Blackhawks this season have done worse – either in terms of winning or in terms of goals for and against – when Roszival was in the lineup than when he wasn’t. They also haven’t done noticeably better when he’s in there a lot.

BUT…if you feel like the coach has been putting #32 out there a bit more lately, you’re right. From March 1st through yesterday Roszival has played at least 18 minutes in just over half the team’s games, compared to fewer than a third of games during the first ¾ths of the season. During those stretch and playoff games the Hawks are 7-3-1 when Roszival’s played at least 18 minutes, 4-4-0 when he’s played less than 18 minutes, and 1-2-0 when he wasn’t in the lineup.

Now we’re obviously splitting down to some pretty small samples here but for whatever it’s worth: since March 1st the Blackhawks  are winning more when Roszival gets heavy minutes than when he doesn’t. If that pattern continues then it may be that folks calling for #32 to be sent to the press box will continue to be disappointed.

Paul the Fossil

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