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An Analysis of Kyle Palmieri's Slump

Kyle is in a slump with decreased production since Jan. 1 and only 2 points in his 8 February games. In this post we look at the slump, why its happening, if he is regressing, and if it will continue.

Physical manifestation of 'slump'
Physical manifestation of 'slump'
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Though it hasn't been mentioned in columns here, and it's a taboo topic to discuss in general, Kyle Palmieri has hit a slump. To those paying attention this might be obvious, to more laissez faire fans, this might seem ridiculous. Don't believe me? Look at his Hockey-Reference monthly splits.

The Slump

For those too lazy to click on the link above -- I know you're out there -- Palmieri scored 29 points in the 38 games from the first three months and then 6 in 12 January games, and 2 in 8 February games. Furthermore, the two points in February were a throwaway goal in an out-of-control 3rd period against the Flyers on Tuesday and a secondary assist on the Adam Henrique OT powerplay goal last Saturday. And that was really a tertiary assist because it went Palmieri-Henrique-John Moore-Henrique.  Palmieri hasn't made a substantive contribution to a score in a meaningful situation since his 3-point 1st period against the Senators on January 21st. That's basically a month of inconsequential hockey.

In particular, he has just the one powerplay point in that span after scoring a PP point every 4 games in the first 4 months. This is despite playing an extra minute per game on the powerplay over this span. If you want more of an investigation into the statistics then take a look at the Excel files created for this article. Data is retrieved from War-on-Ice and you can change the date under the cell that says "Date" in the sheet labeled "Split" to find Palmieri's before and after stats for any date.

Palmieri EV Date Filter Palmieri PP Date Filter

Palmieri PP Date Filter Palmieri PP Date Filter

Palmieri TOT Date Fliter

Why Is this Happening?

Well one big reason is just the capricious nature of goal-related statistics. They are very erratic and dependent on save percentage and shooting percentage. The sum of this statistics is called PDO and this is a graph of Palmieri's over time (once again courtesy of War-on-Ice via 14-game moving average...go there, you'll see why).

Palmieri PDO

Two things to note about this graph. First is that he had an absurdly high PDO early in the year -- at one point getting over 140. That just ridiculous. However, he has come crashing down below the 100 mark lately -- hovering around 90 since the late january marker that I mentioned earlier.

What's even more curious is that Travis Zajac, his most common linemate, his actually playing pretty well. Zajac has 5 February points and 10 in his last 11. His other linemate -- Sergey Kalinin -- has no points in February, but he never has any points. So is it really chance or is he taking a step back?

No Worries.

Below is an excerpt from the files I posted above. This is set to January 22nd, i.e. the coldest section of his cold streak. But examine the stats a little closer.
G60 A60 P60 iHSC60 HSCF60 HSCA60 iSC60 SCF60 SCA60 CF60 CA60 SF60 SA60 iSF60 OZS% CF% HSF% SCF% SF% TOI/G
Before 1.44 1.08 2.52 3.24 10.72 8.70 7.26 24.74 21.79 49.48 43.37 28.34 24.24 8.42 0.56 0.53 0.55 0.53 0.54 17.38
After 0.33 0.33 0.65 3.25 9.11 9.44 8.79 23.10 24.40 48.48 48.16 25.38 28.63 8.79 0.55 0.50 0.49 0.49 0.47 18.44
Difference -1.11 -0.75 -1.87 0.02 -1.61 0.73 1.52 -1.64 2.61 -1.00 4.79 -2.96 4.39 0.37 0.00 -0.03 -0.06 -0.05 -0.07 1.06

his iSC60 (individual Scoring Chances per 60 minutes) has actually increased notably from 7.26 to 8.79. He is single-handedly producing about 1.5 more scoring chances in this span. This makes his PDO seem even more ridiculous.

Digging into this a little more, below is an excerpt from the EVENS file for all games since the new year began:
G60 A60 P60 iHSC60 HSCF60 HSCA60 iSC60 SCF60 SCA60 CF60 CA60 SF60 SA60 iSF60 OZS% CF% HSF% SCF% SF% TOI/G
Before 0.96 0.72 1.68 2.88 8.88 8.28 6.00 21.36 20.40 42.36 45.72 24.84 25.20 6.12 0.47 0.48 0.52 0.51 0.50 13.16
After 0.83 0.42 1.25 3.75 8.12 11.45 6.66 19.35 29.14 39.75 52.65 20.81 30.39 6.24 0.38 0.43 0.41 0.40 0.41 14.42
Difference -0.13 -0.30 -0.43 0.87 -0.76 3.17 0.66 -2.01 8.74 -2.61 6.93 -4.03 5.19 0.12 -0.10 -0.05 -0.10 -0.11 -0.09 1.26

Notice the exact same distribution of red/white (regression/improvement). However, a notable one to me this time was the difference in OZS%. This statistic tells us where the player is starting their shifts. A player at 50% is one who plays as many offensive zone faceoffs as defensive zones. A 100% is a player who never takes defensive zone shifts. Palmieri has lowered this statistic by 10% which means that Hynes is putting him and Zajac in increasingly difficult positions. To emphasize that point even further, Palm's ice time has increased by over a minute at evens. He's playing more shifts, and harder shifts. Despite this, his individual rates are all up with the exception of actual points.

The other thing to point out is the alternating red cells in the middle representing his team on ice getting worse rates unilaterally. This could possibly be because Palmieri is being selfish with the puck and its biting him in the tuckus. Or it could be that his teammates are playing at a slightly lower level. I haven't observed Palmieri being detrimental to teammates so I lean towards the latter.

Will It Continue?

No, almost definitely not. That being said, his production from the first few months seems a bit outlandish based on the PDO and other percentage numbers. He was hovering around a 0.76 ppg pace before 1/1 and 0.4 since. My best guess for years end would be around a 0.6-0.65 (where he is right now) which will land him at about 50 points for the season -- would have comfortably led the 2014-2015 Devils in points.

Your Thoughts?

Were you aware of the slump? Were you worried? Are you still? Is Kyle Palmieri overrated by fans? Is the slump being overblown or not discussed enough? Who's fault is it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!