Monday, December 21, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh where art thou physical Ethan Moreau?

I liked him more when he took stupid penalties. This sort of stuff was part of the package.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ales Hemsky is too predictable on the PP.

It wasn't too long ago that people were questioning Ales Hemsky and his contribution to the Oilers Powerplay. I remember a particular conversation in a Lowetide comment thread about how the PP was too "static" with Hemsky. How he was overly "predictable" because he rarely "attacks the box". Let's take a quick look at how the PP has been with and without him over the last stretch.

Previous six games before 83 was injured versus LA:

Efficiency - Chances (Via Dennis)
Buf: 1/7 - 10
Atl: 0/5 - 3
Clb: 2/5 - 8
Col: 1/6 - 6
Chi: 1/2 - 4
Pho: 1/6 - 2

Totals: 6/31 19% - 33 Chances (1.06 per PP)

Compared to the last six games without 83:

Efficiency - Chances
SJ: 0/4 - 1
Van: 2/4 - 3
Det: 0/1 - 0
Dal: 0/3 - 5
Fla: 1/4 - 4
TB: 0/4 - 4
Stl: 0/5 - 2

Totals: 3/25 12% - 19 Chances. (0.76 per PP)

The sample is small but all signs point to Ales Hemsky being a positive contributor to the Oilers PP.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Scoring Chances.

Over at Dennis King is doing an excellent job compiling Oiler scoring chances this year. Since I've been preaching the big picture lately, I thought I'd go look at how his metric reflects on the Oilers even strength play this year.

EV chances (Game Number: Oilers-Opponent):

G1: 12-13
G2: 8-13
G3: 15-16
G4: 12-18
G5: 13-13
G6: 12-18
G7: 13-11
G8: 15-19
G9: 14-11
G10: 10-14
G11: 7-16
G12: 13-15
G13: 13-21
G14: 11-21
G15: 20-19
G16: 14-20
G17: 10-15
G18: 19-19
G19: 8-13
G20: 18-21
G21: 15-20
G22: 18-16
G23: 15-20
G24: 12-20
G25: 14-18
G26: 27-16
G27: 17-16 (down 4-0 10 minutes in)
G28: 25-18
G29: 21-21
G30: 15-16
G31: 18-21
G32: 19-22

Our 'chances' record: 7-22-3

Not so good.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dear Shorsightedness,

I am not particularly impressed with the 2009-2010 Edmonton Oilers. Prior to the start of the season, numerous roster issues had been discussed repeatedly throughout the blogosphere:

- The lack of a proven backup goaltender to share the load with Khabibulin.
- A center to help take some of the defensive pressure off of Horcoff.
- A top six LW that can be relied on in his own zone.
- More veterans and roles players in the bottom six.
- In general too many unproven players in the opening day roster.

This was the narrative going into the season. Most people were pessimistic of the the teams chances to make the playoffs. So what happens, we go out and win the six of our first nine games while heavily relying on the percentages.

First portion (G1-G9 | 6-2-1): Play shitty and get outshot/outchanced but fluke out bunch of wins in the first couple weeks. Percentages very much on our side (team PDO off the charts).

Second portion (G10-G17 | 2-6): Flu hits, team continues to play shitty but is now getting beaten nearly every night. Game 18 was when Smid returned to the lineup (the last guy that was reported as sick), so I used it as the 'end of the flu' marker. Predictably the team is getting outshot and outchanced.

Third portion (G18-G26) | 2-4-3): A lot of the injured guys are back in the lineup for this stretch. Team is generally healthy, as 44 returns to the lineup on G21. Upper end of the roster injuries include only Grebeshkov. Results are poor and the team is still getting outshot and outchanced on a nightly basis.

Fourth portion (G27-G30 | 3-1): After losing Ales Hemsky for the season, the team lays a huge egg on the road in Vancouver. Chances were close after the Canucks went up 4-0. A well earned victory in Detroit followed (although we certainly had some favourable bounces, we did carry the play). Then we won a squeeker in Dallas that could have gone either way, splitting the scoring chances and winning in the shootout. Next we get outplayed by a bottom feeder in the southeast yet pull out the two points in the shootout.

When I look at the season as a whole I just can't understand the logic behind these two quotes.

At least we are now seeing the team compete for 60-65 minutes, compared to the flu-ridden squad that was mailing in third periods or worse for quite a stretch there. IMO a lot of the negativity about this team fails to properly account for that.

- Bruce

[Accounting for the flu ridden period] would go against the narrative so it is not included in the factual arguement(sp) that this is the worst team in the history of history.

- bookie


For me, it's pretty clear that this is bad team with or without the stretch where we had the flu. We have not consistently carried the play at any point this season, and I don't have any reason to think things are going to change. Perhaps Dennis is right when he calls the team mediocre rather than bad, but that would be really unfortunate. It is pretty clear that being mediocre is a lot worse than being bad (draft position, confidence in management, etc).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Forward Evaluations: Week 8 (Game 27)

Now that we are a third of the way through the season, I'd like to share my thoughts on the play of our esteemed Edmonton Oiler forwards.

Dustin Penner: At what point do we accept that his play so far this year is sustainable. By all accounts, he looks like a new player. His shot totals are up, he's carrying the puck a lot more and he's among the team leaders in Corsi. I don't quite understand how a few lost pounds, some extra minutes on the PK and a new coach brought about this transformation, but I'm happy that my team is reaping the benefits.

Ales Hemsky: I absolutely find the criticism of #83 that I've been reading of late to be utterly baseless. In particular, the idea that 83 is 'underperforming' is laughable. Here's a guy who faces the oppositions best and comes out on top. That's a rare breed in the NHL, and he will be missed.

Sam Gagner: I'm seeing a lot of progress in his game. This is the strongest he has ever been on his skates and he's starting to win his share of battles down low. He needs to develop this aspect of his game, as he does not have the speed nor the shiftiness to be a difference maker without being hard on the puck. I am quite happy with how he is developing, he's proving that he's one of those guys that wants to get better and is willing to work for it.

Gilbert Brule: I'm afraid that a lot of his success so far this year is smoke and mirrors. His shooting percentage is up to 20%, and he's been picking up points in more than his share of the offense when he's on the ice. It's not all bad though, I see a lot to like in his game. While I don't think he's going to consistently hit 60-70 points in the NHL, I still believe that he can be a useful player. He hits, he skates hard, can make a pass and has a plus shot. It looks to me like he can become an outscoring 3rd line winger or tear it up in a second line soft minute role.

Patrick O'Sullivan: I'm actually a big fan of his. I think he's relatively hard on the puck, possesses some shiftiness and can win his share of battles. He hasn't had much luck so far, with the goaltending behind him posting a .888 save percentage. I think he's a useful top 6 forward that can help the PK and the PP.

Shawn Horcoff: Also having some pretty terrible luck so far this year. He's injured and when he's on the ice our goalies have put up a .872 save percentage. I think it's best for everyone if he opts for surgery and sits the rest of season out. It will certainly help improve our draft position

Andrew Cogliano: So far the hockey Gods have been kind to Andrew. His goaltenders have posted a .952 save percentage while he's been on the ice. This helps to mask the fact that he's been pretty bad so far this year. Part of that has to do with who he's out there lining up with, but I think it's pretty clear that 89 is gaining some clearance.

Dink Dumbshit: Dumbshit has been posting a lot better results lately, having found his place on a line with 13 and 16. Dink's frequent offensive zone penalties however have got to stop. He's also pretty lucky to be in the black of GF/GA, considering that when he's on the ice we manage 25 shots per 60 minutes while giving up 37.

Ryan Potulny: One of the few Oilers that knows his way around the high slot, 16 has done quite well since his call up from Springfield. He most certainly is a bonafide NHL player, and I look forward to watching him play for us for the next few years. This is the kind of cheap bottom-sixer that we need to be competitive.

Jean-Francois Jacques: I'm getting pretty tired of watching JFJ. I love how he hits, but he is such a liability in so many ways when he's on the ice. He makes ill-advised back passes, doesn't win as many battles as he should and despite his plus size does not do a particularly good job getting the puck out of his own zone when its tossed around to his wing. I definitely would like to see him gone after this year. This is exactly the kind of shiny object (he can hit, excellent) that helps your team lose games. He's the opposite of a guy who 'executes'.

Ryan O'Marra: I think there are a lot of things to like about this kid. As long as he's willing to accept a defensive minded 4th line role this year let's see what he's got. It looks like he's gained some traction on his NHL career and perhaps a change of mindset was all he needed to become an effective player.

Colin McDonald: I saw him good in preaseason game last year. If he can bring some size to the 4th line and be hard on the puck I'm all for him being on this team long term. Since this year is all about getting a high draft pick, let's see if McDonald and O'Marra can make up 2/3rds of an NHL 4th line.

Zach Stortini: Love the guy. MacT had it right when he said that Zach is the kind of player that does everything you ask of him. His fighting is down this year but he still gets the puck deep, throws big hits and is not hurting his team defensively. Zach is an excellent energy/4th line NHL forward.

Liam Reddox: Lots of try, not so great results. If only Liam had some size to go along with his game, I think he could really cut a nice role for himself as an NHL energy forward. However, as it stands he's a call up fill in guy, and will probably remain as such for the foreseeable future.

Mike Comrie: The offense fell off after he picked up the flu/mono. I like him in a limited role (soft minutes, 2nd unit PP). He did have a nice nack for creating offense.

Robert Nilsson: With the Hemsky injury ol' Rowbert now has a chance to help us improve our draft position. I say play him a lot Quinn, it will only help us pile up the losses.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oil @ Flames: Comments From Lowetide's GDT

I thought it would be somewhat interesting for me to share my thoughts on the game from LT's gameday thread. At the very least it will bring a bit of content back to the blog.


A couple comments on tonight's game:

- 22 needs to get back to playing simple hockey. He's making the kind of mistakes that a guy in his position can't afford to make (failing to get the puck out of his zone, losing offensive battles, needless icings).

- Quinn has been slowly poaching 'real' NHL players out of the bottom two lines. Can they hold serve against Calgary's lesser forwards?

- Is the new top line for real? CBJ was missing its top two defensive stoppers (Hejda and Commodore), will these guys be able to compete against a superior Calgary blue.

- How will 91-10-19 fair? By my eye they looked pretty good in CBJ up until 18 replaced 91 on the wing. If 91 is absent and Quinn goes with 18, look for this line to get clobbered.

- Can 46 and 22 make up for the loss of beefcake in the line up (44, 32 and 24 to an extent). After opening the year with some pretty physical outings I think we've looked soft in our last few.


- Why doesn't the (bush league) NHL have a camera that sits at the cross bar level?

- 18 needs to wake the fuck up and get into this game.

- I'm not an 18 basher mostly because I really liked the physical element of his game. I could deal with the stupid penalties, as long as he finished his checks and stood up for his teammates.

Something has changed, he looks like he just doesn't give a shit on 80% of his shifts. Maybe he's pouting over the treatment Quinn has been giving him (less minutes, no longer playing a featured checking role), or maybe he's just past his due date.


- I thought 37-77 had their worst game of the season. I've always liked them as a pair (this and last season), but maybe Quinn's comments about their play is affecting them negatively. He's come out and called them soft and accused them of just keeping guys to the outside rather than trying to win battles. I actually like the way Gilbert plays D (keeps the play to the outside, uses his stick to chip the puck away and generally makes a great first pass out of the zone). Perhaps Quinn is guilty here of some undue criticism (emphasis on what style of play he wants them to play, rather than what is effective).

I did notice a strange play early in the second where Gilbert uncharacteristically stood up a guy at the blue line. He didn't get enough of that player and it led to a 2-1 down low.

My first thought was good for him for showing a physical element, my second thought was how much more effectively he normally plays those sorts of rushes.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Forward Evaluations: Week 1

It's early but I would like to share my player evaluations so far.

Shawn Horcoff: He's had an admittedly slow start to the year. I have noticed that both he and Hemsky have not been able to get in sync. It is popular opinion that having Jacques on the line is part of the problem; however, I tend to think where Hemsky goes this line goes, and he has not been going anywhere.

Ales Hemsky: He has not been sharp in the first three games of the season. It looks to me like he's trying to do too much individually and not utilizing his teammates. Numerous neutral zone turnovers and offside inducing dipsy doodles come to mind when I think of his play.

Jean Francois Jacques: I think he's played well. The bar is far lower for him that his other two line mates, and while his toolbox is limited, he has made good use of it. He looked both sheepish and hesitant in the game versus Dallas; perhaps this had something to do with the petulant looks Hemsky threw his way a few times during the season opener.

Mike Comrie: I am pleasantly surprised with his play. I love his ability to find the soft spots on the ice and put himself in scoring position. This is a very underrated ability that not many players possess. A bit concerning to me is that he looks like he has lost a step or two, and his conditioning may not be up to par. Regardless, he has done his job.

Patrick O'Sullivan: I hear concerns about shooting percentage but frankly I like a guy that throws the puck at the net. The ugly goals count for the same amount as the end to end ones, and the best way to score ugly goes is to throw the puck at the net. Another thing I've noticed is that he has excellent acceleration but just above average top speed. A number of times I have thought that he was going to break in alone only to be caught from behind.

Ryan Stone: I'm going to go against the grain of most of what I've read so far and come out praising this young player. I read that he scored the highest on the VO2 max during training camp and I think it shows. While never to be mistaken for a speedy hockey player, Stone keeps up with the play just fine. Further, he has landed some thunderous hits in limited minutes. I've also noticed that he is excellent at protecting the puck through the neutral zone and getting it deep. On a couple different occasions he bailed out his pinned line by bulldogging the puck out of the zone.

Andrew Cogliano: I'm fairly indifferent to his performance so far this year. To my eye he has been mostly ineffective. Perhaps when Quinn decides to reunite him with 89 he will be able to elevate his play.

Gilbert Brule: I think he has shown that he belongs on an NHL roster. Both his speed and shot are all world. Sometimes I think he tries to do too much physically, going in for hits against players of far greater size. I like how he carries the puck through the neutral zone and he seems competent in his own end. My hope is that Quinn takes him aside and has him focus on the defensive side of the puck. Brule strikes me as the type that will never be a big difference maker offensively, but could be successful as a physical checking center with some scoring upside.

Dustin Penner: He looks faster and to be in far better shape. Although I did notice him dogging it a bit in the second Calgary game, his fitness has certainly improved. Before the season I was supportive of him on the top line, now I am not so sure. I don't think 13 and 67 can get it done without 27. Despite the praise, I'm not quite ready to celebrate the turn around, and would like to see a few more games.

Sam Gagner: He has had a great start to the year. The Coach's comments about how the young 40 point guys don't do enough was obviously directed at Sam, and has he ever responded positively. From challenging Conroy to elevating his linemates (perhaps Ales could learn a lesson here), 89 is playing with a lot of fire in his belly. In Dallas I was particularly fond of how he went after Robidas and caused a scrum in front of Turco. This is one smurf that's not taking shit from anyone (including his coach).

Zachery Stortini Esquire the III: The Animal is playing the best hockey of his career. He's winning battles in the corners, pushing guys around in scrums, throwing big hits and having an impact offensively. He's also reliable in his own end, winning battles along the boards and clearing the puck.

Ethan Moreau: A lot of people are unfairly critical of Moreau. Certainly he deserves to be chastised for the undisciplined penalties, but I've seen numerous people call him soft and accuse him of not standing up for his teammates. I do think Moreau plays a selfish game (by my memory he always has) and I also believe he belongs on the fourth line. Yes he is overpaid, yes he takes bad penalties; no he is not soft, nor is he a detriment to winning games when playing on the 4th line.

Robert Nilsson: Not a lot of jam, he's toast.