Chemistry by the Numbers

by Chelsea

The reason behind there being no reviews whatsoever for the last three games is not actually the manifestation of disappointment at the team’s inability to win important games (though that wouldn’t be all that bad of a reason…).

The reason is actually this post.

I decided to set up a numbers system and figure out exactly who benefits from who on the Stars’ team. For example, getting a primary assist on someone’s goal gets both players more points for each other than secondary assists do. I also wanted to see how players’ primary/secondary assist ratios evened out, and the team’s win % when that player scores at least 1 point.

Naturally, this took a long time to gather the data for. Every player, every point, every game.

The findings were both surprisingly obvious and surprisingly insightful.

Short Points Explanation:

For the sake of avoiding confusion, “points” means what it always means in hockey (goals and assists), while “chemistry” will refer to the number between two players according to my system.

As of right now (66 games into the season), the highest chemistry is 44. The lowest is 0. Anywhere between 20-45 points is notable chemistry, but for some players the highest they have with another player is only 10-15.

Loui Doesn’t Miss Richie:

Possibly the biggest upset I found had to do with Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards. When Richards went out with his broken wrist, the concern was whether or not Eriksson would continue to produce without his main playmaker.

While the two did have undeniable chemistry (33), everyone seemed to have forgotten just how well Ribeiro and Eriksson connected at the beginning of the season. So well, in fact, that they’ve since picked up right where they left off, with their chemistry up to 31 already.

The surprising part, though, is that despite Richards having a hand in the majority of the power play goals scored by Ott, Ribeiro, or Modano, he barely had significant chemistry with any of them (14, 19, 18 respectively). Nobody else on the team comes anywhere near having the chemistry with Richards that Eriksson had.

So would Richie miss Loui more than Loui misses Richie?

However, the PP Misses Richie:

Going back a little bit, almost all of Richards’ points came off power play goals. The people he showed spikes of chemistry with (Robidas, Modano, Eriksson, Ott, Ribeiro) are all people he played with on the man-advantage. Even rookies Neal and Brunnstrom, who he rarely played with at even strength, showed more chemistry than some of his past linemates (Sutherby, Lundqvist).

If you take a power play that was still trying to find its wheels, and remove the person who held it all together, you get a big sloppy mess. This is kind of stating the obvious, if anyone saw the game against Montreal.

Mike Modano and Mike Ribeiro need to learn how to build chemistry as a group of five if they want to pick up the pieces.

Maybe Landon Wilson could provide an unexpected power play fix.

Somehow, though he almost always plays on a line with Krys Barch and whatever center has been moved to the fourth line, he has more chemistry with Ribeiro than Conner does with Modano.

5 of his 6 assists have been primary assists.

In the game against Montreal, only his second since returning from a rib injury, Wilson had a couple nice steals in the offensive zone that might have led to something if his linemates had been prepared to capitalize.

It might be interesting to see what a PP with Wilson and Ribeiro would come up with. Maybe throw Niskanen and Modano out with them, and either Ott or Eriksson?

Modano and Friends:

Modano has come out and said he likes playing with Conner. Everyone loves Conner. He’s small, he’s speedy, he’s always surprising the opponent with a rush through center ice.

So why is it that he only his chemistry with Modano is only 8? Modano had more chemistry with Morrow than that. He’s got more with Brunnstrom than that.

The two players that Modano has the most chemistry with are Neal (22) and Eriksson (19). Following those two are Richards (18), Ribeiro (17), and Brunnstrom (11).

I just don’t get the insistence to play Conner (8), Sutherby (2), and Parrish (3) with Modano, when he performs much better with someone who can convert his passes. Let’s face it: Modano has lost an aggressive edge, and is going to pass the puck rather than shoot it when he can.

Is it Modano’s job to carry his linemates, no matter who they are? Or is it Tippett’s job to give him skill he can work with?

The Curious Case of Mike Ribeiro:

Maybe one of the most interesting studies is Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars point leader and currently the one non-Turco player who has the ability to drag the team into the playoffs.

He holds the unchallenged title of Most Chemistry, thanks to the explosive spark between him and Ott that resulted in a whopping 44.

If you fully expect his chemistry to be impressive with Lehtinen, you’d be right. It’s at 28. However, he actually has more with Eriksson, at 31.

In the 18 games before Morrow was hurt, their chemistry had already reached 18. One can only imagine how high that number would have gotten, but it was on pace to be at about 66.

Given that the top 3 players that Ribeiro has chemistry with are his long-term linemates, it brings concern about his ability to mesh with a group on the power play.

His numbers with potential PP teammates:

  • Modano (17)
  • Robidas (16)
  • Niskanen (13)
  • Neal (10)
  • Sydor (9)
  • Brunnstrom (8)

Why is it so important that Ribeiro find chemistry on the power play? Besides the obvious fact that if Richards isn’t carrying that load, somebody needs to, there’s the fact that the Stars generally don’t win when Ribeiro is off his game.

Dallas is 26-7-4 when Ribeiro gets at least one point. More importantly, Dallas is 5-20-4 when he doesn’t. In fact, he was the cornerstone of the team’s success in January; they won every single game he had at least 1 point in that month.

Another important thing to note about Ribeiro (and in comparison to Richards) is that out of his 45 assists this season, 29 of them have been primary assists. Only 16 have been secondary assists. Richards comes in a very distant second place with 17 primary and 15 secondary.

Other Primary/Secondary Anomalies:

Almost every single player has the same amount of primary and secondary assists, give or take a few. There are a handful of Stars that break that mold entirely, though.

Matt Niskanen is one of them, as 15 of his 22 assists are actually secondary assists. He’s the only player on the team whose ratio is tipped so much in that direction.

Toby Petersen, on the other hand, tips entirely in the other direction. All 7 of his assists are primary.

There’s also Landon Wilson, with 5 of 6 assists being primary.

Darryl Sydor might be the reason for Niskanen’s unbalance, as 7 of his 10 assists are secondary. Monkey see, monkey do.

Things That Are Really Obvious:

The majority of Stephane Robidas’ chemistry is with people who frequent the power play, like Ribeiro and Richards.

Modano has more chemistry with James Neal than anyone else, and vice versa.

Brian Sutherby mostly has chemistry with Eriksson and Brunnstrom.

Eriksson has a ton of chemistry with both Richards and Ribeiro, and a fair amount with Modano.

Chris Conner mainly has chemistry with Modano, but that isn’t even close to being mutual.

Lehtinen has oodles of chemistry with Ott and Ribeiro.

Andrew Hutchinson has chemistry almost exclusively with Grossman.

Steve Ott + Mike Ribeiro = wow.

Joel Lundqvist has chemistry almost exclusively with Swedes. The only non-Swedes he has chemistry with are Robidas, Turco, and Richards.

Fabian Brunnstrom mostly has chemistry with Modano and Richards, with a little bit with Neal and Ribeiro.

Things That Are Really Not Obvious:

Both Grossman and Niskanen have notable chemistry with Neal.

Niskanen also has 10+ chemistry with Lehtinen and Ribeiro.

Trevor Daley has more chemistry with Loui Eriksson (17) than any other defenseman has with anyone.

Toby Petersen doesn’t have a chemistry higher than 6 with anyone.

Neal has more chemistry with Niskanen (10) than with Brunnstrom (8).

Sutherby has almost no chemistry with Modano (2).

Eriksson and Ribeiro both have more chemistry with defensemen than any other forwards even come close to.

Andrew Hutchinson has points in 4 games, and the Stars won all of them.

Steve Ott has almost no chemistry with Eriksson (4).

Mark Parrish has a little chemistry with Neal (6), Ribeiro (7), and Richards (7), but almost none with Modano (3).

The Stars depend far less on Modano getting a point than they do Richards or Ribeiro, but they still get at least a point in the standings 60% of the time when he does.

The Stars get at least 1 point in the standings 77% of the time when Niskanen gets at least 1 point.


Maybe the thing that stands out the most, though, is the sudden lack of depth. While a few choice pairs are putting up points, the rest of the team is struggling to connect. As understandable as this is with all the injuries and new additions, there isn’t enough time left for the team to hide behind that excuse. 

It will be interesting to see if new bonds develop during this last stretch, or if the ones that are already there will just be reinforced. Either way, people have got to find that connection if this team wants to see Morrow back before next season. 



11 Responses to “Chemistry by the Numbers”

  1. It’s quite possible that you two could be called hockey geniuses. If for no other reason that you acknowledge that “Everyone loves Conner”. I love Conner and I hope to see him become a full time member of the team at some point.

    I’ll have to read this post many times to fully absorb the point system and your theories about chemistry. You’ve really got something here.

    Super Stars Fan

    • Aww, thanks! Blushing over here. Hockey geniuses might be taking it a little far. 🙂

      I’m really glad you like the post. Chels spent a lot of time on it and I think it’s brilliant. It says a lot about the importance of line chemistry (ahem, Tipp…).

      Thanks for commenting! Hope to see you around here again.

      P.S. Your jewelery is adorable!

  2. What a great concept! And it’s so well-written. I’m going to have to agree with Judy that’s it’s genius. 😀


  3. Thanks to both of you! 😀

    Like Kristine said.. genius? Maybe not so much. It’s great to hear that people like the post though, and it wasn’t just me being a stats nerd that found it interesting!

  4. Really interesting post! Love the in-depth analysis. It looks like a lot of hard work.
    I’m glad I stumbled onto yall’s blog. I’m totally linking to you.


  5. Wow, amazing work girls! Some of these numbers are truly eye opening and give some great work into the insight going on between the lines!

  6. Wow. Really good and interesting but my brain hurts now.

  7. Seriously, this is probably one of the most well thought out and highly detailed posts coming from a fan where a sytematice breakdown of statistics actually makes logical and practical sense.

    I’ve no other words than…Bravo!

  8. To everyone that commented:

    Wow! Thank you! I never imagined this post getting a response like this, and it means a lot that you all took the time to comment on it. 😀

    And a big thanks to the people who linked to it, too! It’s really, hugely flattering!


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