Getting A Handle On Yandle: Ice Time Matters

(Icon SMI)
(Icon SMI)

So as fan of the Coyotes and a Keith Yandle owner in several of my fantasy leagues I couldn’t help but notice the slow start of Phoenix’s premiere point getting pointman.  Heading into Friday’s game against Anaheim, he had notched one lonely assist and only 13 shots.  Every player has his ups and downs but was there more to this?  For the sake of my ever dwindling fantasy league chances I did a little checking and discovered Yandle may be suffering from the team’s success.  Let me explain.

[Also: Free entry – $500 in prizes for a single day fantasy draft, come check it out]

I first looked at ice time and was surprised to see through 7 games that his average time on ice per game was at its lowest since the 2009-10 campaign when he was playing 20:13 a night.  Since then he has played 24:22, 22:20 and 22:14 per game in each of the following seasons.  This year he is back under 21:00.

But a minute a game shouldn’t make that much of a difference until I looked at where that minute is coming from — the power play.  In fact it’s more than a minute.  On average this year Yandle is playing only 2:08 on the PP per game.  That compares to previous years of 3:30 in 2013, 3:27 in 2011-12, and 4:05 in 2010/11.  Almost a minute and a half less in fact.

So I thought maybe Phoenix as a team has spent less time on PP. But, alas, no.  Phoenix is averaging 3.42 man advantages a game for about 5:10 per game this year.  Only slightly less than last year’s 3.52 and 5:46 and right about the same as two years ago.

The difference in the power play lineup has been felt early in this season.  Usually a bottom dweller in the PP percentage category of the NHL, this year they are a respectable 13th at 20.8%.  So if the power play is successful why break it up.

Obviously this is a small sample size.  The team is trying out up and comers David Runblad and Michael Stone and once the season moves along the experience of Yandle will be called on and he will likely see his PP time inch upward.

However, this is also a sign of something positive in the Phoenix organization.  The emergence of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, David Runblad, and Michael Stone has given the coaches a talented core of blue-liners that most teams around the league can only wish for.  The young trio shows the organization has done well in cultivating its prospects and that the future looks bright.

So if this trend continues, fantasy owners should dampen expectations on Yandle’s point totals, but fans should be happy because it’s a sign of good times ahead  and success on the ice.