Blackhawks Problems: Jamal Mayers Deserves More Time

The Blackhawks continue trying to reinvent the wheel with their forward lines, and the success they have received from the often-random groups is a consistent as the lines have been.

One forward who hasn’t received an increased work load is Jamal Mayers. But he has certainly earned more ice time.

Through all of the ups and downs of this season, Mayers has remained consistent. Through the first half of the season Mayers is averaging only 9:29 on ice per game, which ranks 11th among the Hawks’ regular forwards. But looking deeper into the numbers shows that Mayers has been one of the better forwards on the Blackhawks’ roster.

Mayers ranks fourth on the team with 56 hits, is winning 56.3 percent of his faceoffs (including 59.6 percent at home), and has been the most likely forward to step up and drop the gloves when a teammate needed to be defended or the team needed a momentum-altering fight.

Utilizing some of the advanced statistical metrics available at BehindtheNet.ca, we find that Mayers has performed better than his ice time would indicate.

In beginning our look deeper into Mayers’ performance so far this year, we’ll focus on his performance during 5-on-5 play.

One statistic that is available is the overall team plus-minus while a player is on the ice per 60 minutes. Mayers is plus-0.18 to date; among the Hawks’ regular forwards, Marcus Kruger (-o.32), Michael Frolik (-0.91), Bryan Bickell (-0.95), Dave Bolland (-1.01) and Andrew Brunette (-1.23) are all negative.

Another intriguing statistic that is available is the average relative plus-minus of teammates, weighted by ice time together. This indicates that only three regular forwards on the Blackhawks have played, on average, with worse players surrounding them than Mayers has: Bickell, Frolik and Bolland.

Of course the numbers for those three are a function of the poor play by the three together, but the (lack of) quality of the players around Mayers amplifies his personal performance in the first statistic.

It’s interesting to see that Mayers ranks fifth on the Blackhawks in primary assists per 60 minutes (0.73), behind only Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Daniel Carcillo and Viktor Stalberg. Mayers also ranks ahead of Brunette, Bickell, Frolik, Kruger, and Bolland averaging 1.65 points per 60 minutes.

If we look at Mayers’ performance while short-handed, his numbers are even more impressive. BehindtheNet tracks the zone in which a player starts and ends his shift. Mayers has the highest percentage of short-handed shifts ending in the offensive zone (51.7 percent), an indication that the Hawks’ penalty kill is most effective at clearing the zone when Mayers is on the ice.

We’ve looked at a lot of non-traditional numbers, so we’ll circle back to a simple reality to close the discussion. Mayers has six points since the start of November. Frolik and Bickell have seven points combined in the same time frame.

Mayers is a physical, emotional leader that understands his role on the team and plays it perfectly. There aren’t many players on this roster that can honestly be associated with any of those attributes. It’s time for Mayers’ role to expand, and his ice time to increase.

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5 Responses to Blackhawks Problems: Jamal Mayers Deserves More Time

  1. Brad Stevenson says:

    Good post Tab, and true…Mayers deserves more ice time…the 4th line right now deserves more ice time…

  2. ivan says:

    Mayers is a perfect 4th liner. I don’t really want to see him anywhere else. I want to see Q role four lines like he did the year the Hawks won the cup. That would give Mayers a couple of more minutes a game.

    It seems to me that Q doesn’t really trust his depth. He leans so heavily on the top 4 to produce, and when they don’t his line juggling becomes a nightmare. Example, Frolik starts on the 1st line last night, and ends on the 4th. Does any of Frolik, Stalberg, or in the past Brouwer know where or how they are suppose to play for this coach? I don’t see him produce much in the way of a system – I don’t get the sense that the depth players know much of what is expected of them. People don’t have roles, the Hawks are a star studded team that wins on skill alone.

    How about this metric
    GF 132, NHL rank 3rd
    GA 120, NHL rank 23rd

    To me this is less telling of goal tending, and more indicitive of a team that goes as far as it’s stars will take them. Think of the teams in the NHL that do more with less. If the Hawks could have a coach come in and teach them a REAL team game, assign roles for the fringe players and iron out the special teams the sky is the limit. Until then pray that Stan can pull off something unbelievable so the skill on the ice can continue to make Q look good.

    This team minus Toews already has a different coach, IMHO.

  3. Tuke says:

    I was just discussing the “system” or lack thereof with some other fans last night. I distinctly remember that when the Hawks used to set up in the offensive zone they played and worked a system with a lot of cycling. You watch them now and it looks like a total mess out there with everyone just skating around looking for a piece of open ice that isn’t there.

    In the Cup season Q could roll 4 line and mismatch them anyway he chose and it would work because of the immense level of talent on the team. That is no longer a luxury for him and it is rearing it’s ugly head recently. I truly believe that if some of these players were allowed a significant amount of time on one line and were able to learn the tendencies and nuances of the players around them there would be greater success for all involved, maybe not to the degree of the Cup year but you get the point.

    As it stands now this team has 4 superstar forwards with one in a very bad slump surrounded by mediocre role players that have no clue what their roles are (Jammer, you are the exception). On the defensive end of the ice their are 2 superstar defense men, 2 mediocre D men (Leddy has played well so far but let’s not kid ourselves), 1 decent 3rd pairing D man, with an old man, a never will know, and the inept thrown in for good measure. Olsen played well his first 2 games but unfortunately that is about to end when Monty returns and Olsen is sent back down due to roster restraints. We all know that Q will never send down Scott even though he is the logical choice. As for the other 2 possibly getting sent down, all would have to clear waivers, including Scott, and with teams hungry for D men they would most certainly be swept up by somebody. It really sucks to have to keep them up but it is the smart move as OD and Lepisto may have some trade value in a package deal. I’m sure we all agree that Scott is free to leave when he wishes.

    The kids brought up have played much better than I thought they would, and as Tab has pointed out you can see Bickell kind of fading into the shadows more and more with every shift. So, after the debacle that was an embarrassing beat down by the Avalanche on home ice and with a very rough weekend on the horizon; Stan needs to begin flying through his Rolodex for a trade partner to fix a hole or 2.

    The Hawks are in a position right now where they will be able to make a deep run for another Cup but only if the right pieces are acquired, of which there aren’t many available and with possibly 20 other teams jockeying for position Stan would be wise to do this sooner than later. Other wise we all may be looking forward to next year (if there is one with the new CBA talks already headed South) sooner than we wanted.

  4. robinson says:

    We traded Soupys 7.1 to have/get 3 good players in stead of 1. We played 40 games w one, lets play the 2nd 40 w all 3. Everyones right on what we need and Bowman better/will get those players. I dont know who hes waiting for when he can get the defensemen we would want from ana/car now? Unless hes waiting for Clark/tb/salary. I thought we had plently of salary/space, unless hes thinking of more than just those 2 positions everyone talks about… Overall the team needs to compete/60min/game and well be fine. Sure there are those things we can inprove on and its a good thing we do have players that can, they just need to play (like last yr when it took until 14-12 to get 2 over and our backs were against the wall, with no role players, etc. we did it then) that way.

    Keep playing the rookies (rookie seasons next yr) they are playing w the energy we all need to play w andgetting good/exp. For now, like you said play Jamers on 2nd line until Kruggs comes back/we get our 2nd center.

    Shaw,Towes,Hossa
    Sharp,Mayers,Kane
    Stalburg,Bolland,Hayes
    Bickel,Frolik,Brunette

    Keith,Leddy
    Olsen,Seabrook
    Hljamerson,Montador

    Play more balanced lines and all 4, then put the 2&3 players of Soupys 7.1 in there. Until then lets split the games against the good teams and win! the ones bottom ten teams. We still can win division and if we dont should be the 4/5. Whatever we end up standingwise, just have the players and our kinks worked out by spring.

  5. William Bill Wirtz (@DollarBillWirtz) says:

    And at $550,000 – Jamal’s the 3rd cheapest player on the team – my kind of guy! What a value/bargain that boy is!!!

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