It seems like a mighty long time since Connor McDavid thrilled the home crowd, but the good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, that will happen again tonight. If a rest was what was needed, and it did look like it, we should see some smoke on the water tonight.
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 6-2-4, goal differential +1
- Oilers after 36, 2015: 15-18-3, goal differential -18
- Oilers after 36, 2016: 18-12-6, goal differential +8
Edmonton roared through (work with me here) the first 36 games posting an 18-18 record with six Bettman points, and landed on 42 points (improvement of nine points from last season). Edmonton is +26 in goal differential year over year and (as we have discussed) the numbers are heading in a good direction pretty much across the board. G37 a year ago was a 5-3 loss to Calgary.
We talked about balance being an issue at the beginning of the year and it remains a major one. The best way to express it?
- Connor McCavid with Cam Talbot: 3.38GF-1.81GA/60 (65.1 percent GF percentage 5×5)
- Cam Talbot without Connor McDavid: 1.86GF-2.27GA/60 (44.9 percent GF percentage 5×5)
I think that is the big item for the Oilers. You will read about Cam Talbot being less than splendid, and there may come a day when Edmonton has to upgrade at the position. The power play and penalty kill have been challenges from time to time this season and injury is an issue in some areas, too.
That without number on the 5×5 is the big one, the Moby Dick. The Corsi for 5×5 without McDavid (49.2) is respectable, need that scoring number to move closer to 50 percent of all scoring results without 97. That is the nut.
- Jim Matheson: And Kris Russell, who will never win over the analytics crowd but will get offered a new contract after Jan. 1, no matter what the naysayers gripe. Source
I don’t see Russell as being an especially divisive player for the analytics crowd, beyond the fact he is playing on the wrong side and too far up the depth chart. The lefty-righty study said it costs six Corsi points (and a get out of jail free card) to play on the wrong side, but let’s say it is only three. Russell is currently 45.4 Corsi for 5×5, so three points moves him to 48.4, and you can put that player on third pair LH side and make it work.
The problem? Darnell Nurse is 53.2 Corsi for 5×5 in that role, and he is younger and can carry the puck more productively. I think you can fairly tax Nurse based on inexperience, but even then Nurse won’t cost as much as Kris Russell next season. I think the Russell signing, should it come, would signal a trade—possibly a LHD for a righty blue.
OSCAR KLEFBOM AND MATT BENNING
- Todd McLellan: “I think sometimes Klef gets unfairly put up with the elite, but he’s only played 140 games, but he probably was elite on our team, but he needs more time and experience. On many other teams everyone would be happy with him coming in and where he is at. I don’t see much difference in Benning and Klefbom, except Benning gets to come in at a much better time for the organization and expectations on him are lower.” Source
This is a fascinating quote, somewhat similar to the Nuge avail McLellan had one year ago. Oscar has struggled this season, but is also the defender (I believe) with the farthest outer marker. The injury, added to lack of experience, probably give Klefbom lower trade value than he will have at any time since arriving in Edmonton. Peter Chiarelli’s two biggest trade assets at this time—as I see them—are Oscar Klefbom and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Both men have low value currently, and the play here is to keep your powder dry.
Our man for Team USA went 0-1-1 in 20:09, leading all skaters in the contest. I spoke to Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst on the Lowdown yesterday, he commented on Jones speed and passing ability. I think Jones stays in the minors exactly as long as it takes to learn the coverage game at the higher level, and to cut back on the sorties a little. His skating is already there. Hannah Stuart has some interesting thoughts on the team here. I think Caleb Jones fits in with here high risk, high reward commentary on the entire USA blue.
OILERS FORWARDS (SCORING)
- This is each Oiler forward, their ranking among NHL forwards, along with some notes.
- McDavid has an 11-point gap between himself and Leon Draisaitl. Those worried about the gap between 97 and Leon would be shocked at the final stats from 1980-81, where Gretzky bested Jari Kurri by 89 points. Lordy. The following year, the gap was more than 100.
- A more rational comparison of McDavid-Nuge is probably Weight-Zdeno Ciger in 1996.
- Pleased for Leon Draisaitl, who is having a fine year, with power-play numbers pushing those boxcars. He is also improving his 5×5 scoring as well.
- Milan Lucic has good boxcars, they are coming mostly on the power play. All good, but he needs to post better 5×5 numbers (2.00 last season). Whatever the hitch in the 5×5 giddyup, important to get the big train moving.
- Jordan Eberle scored 28 points per 37 games in his career entering 2016-17, so he is behind his career levels by five points. A concern, but one hot streak will take care of it.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is off by 10 points compared to career, and that is a concern. Dave Keon talked about cheating for defense too much after his career was over, felt he had become so immersed in playing the checking role that he stopped pushing as hard as he could on the other side. Todd McLellan may have a similar player here.
- Jesse Puljujarvi’s point total after his first 24 games doesn’t look impressive, but Taylor Hall went 24gp, 6-6-12 at the beginning of his career, on about 17 minutes a night. JP has just eight points, but is playing 11:39 per evening.
- If all things were equal across the NHL, Edmonton would have three forwards in the top 90 scorers (they have four) and nine inside the top 270 forwards (they have nine). I know there is plenty of heat on Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle, and with merit (5×5 needs to be better). The scoring past the top 4F above is abysmal, and has to turn around.
OILERS DEFENSE (DFF AND SCORING)
- This is sorted by minutes against elites, I think that is the best way to rank No. 1 through No. 6 on defense. There are still issues (injuries, etc) but little doubt in my mind this fits with reality.
- Andrej Sekera is inside the NHL’s top 30 scoring defenders and plays the most minutes against elites. What’s more, his success rate (DFF) is better than the other three big minutes blue.
- Adam Larsson ranks No. 2 in minutes against elites, and has the best DFF Rel among the big minutes blue. I like Rel for defensemen, always have (as you will see in a bit) and even though these numbers are still small sample sizes, I think we can say with some authority that Larsson is the best available RH defensive option on the team.
- Oscar Klefbom has struggled against the tough opposition, but his numbers are not so out of line as to suggest he be replaced on the top 4D. I do wonder if Brandon Davidson slides up the depth chart at some point, though.
- Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse play less against the elites, but when they do both youngsters have been effective. Full Stop. Edmonton’s defense is getting better, brick by brick.
- Thanks to G Money and Woodguy for sharing DFF and DFF Rel with us again today.
— Ryan McWawa (@RickNashtag) December 28, 2016
I do not know who Ryan McWawa is, but his article yesterday struck a nerve (or a chord) because several of you DM’d and emailed it to me. I rarely comment on this, for several reasons, the most important of which should be obvious if you use your head for more than a hat rack. Also, analytics is not my field of expertise—plus, the venom over these things becomes toxic and honestly I am too old to fight online battles with ghosts and broken links.
I believe you are smart enough to figure this out for yourself, and if you cannot, there is nothing I can do for you. I will re-publish what I wrote in 2010 (!!!) about an earlier version of David’s work. It still stands as how I feel about it today.
- The mistakes David refers to are “errors” which he measures on each goal. I think we’re going to have to decide which of the measures we’re going to use from here on out. Kind of a modern “VHS versus Beta” discussion. I believe counting only the events that surround goals misses most of the game and in fact punishes those who play against the best opposition too severely. I’ve always used relCorsi run through toughness of opposition, as it’s easily explained, understood and reflective of reality.
- I think David Staples is a fine person and a great writer. My interaction with him has always been positive and I wish him no ill will. I don’t think “errors” moves the conversation forward in a rational way. What am I missing?
It is not for me to tell you what to think, nor is it for me to tell David Staples what to publish. If you believe his work has merit, then you should state that, you should defend it. If you do not, then I invite you to join the church home of your own—be it Corsi, WoodMoney or any number of interesting metrics out in the ether.
If people are willing to share their ideas, and publish their findings for all to see, then we should be able to meet them halfway, hear them out, and make our decisions. If they do not, intellectual honesty compels you to shun the metric until such time as all required information reaches the offices of public domain.
There should be no rage here, only conclusions made by each of us based on the math, the logic and the reason. Every moment spent mocking, chiding, belittling or cajoling takes away from the important question at play here.
My point about VHS and Beta remains: Which one will you choose? After that, we can resume our flight, put our trays down, recline our seats and move on to the next topic of conversation. If you turn this into a war, you have lost in that instant. This is not a difficult equation, and if you make it personal then you are deliberately muddying the waters and stoking the fires of your own downfall.
Uncontrolled zone exits lead to a controlled entry only 5.5% of the time. 55.5% of the time it comes right back in to the Oiler zone.
— WheatNOil (@WheatNOil) December 28, 2016
This right here is what we call a big fly. I want to write that line out in full, as an adult learner it helps me to retain the information. Ahem. Uncontrolled zone exits leads to a controlled entry only 5.5 percent of the time. 55.5 percent of the time it comes right back in to the Oiler zone.
If you put $55.50 on the counter every 90 seconds and received no goods or service but were left with $5.50, how often would you do it before you started to use the brain God gave you? Of course, this is different, because there are times in a game when an uncontrolled exit or an icing are the best option available. That said, Wheat’s number is shocking, an absolutely miserable piece of math heading for the batter’s head at 102 miles an hour. You don’t fix that, not a helluva lot else that matters.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show today as we careen toward New Year’s Eve. 10 this morning, TSN 1260 and scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Who should play with 97, why isn’t Benning playing, and the best way to measure power-play success.
- Guy Flaming, The Pipeline Show. Changes to the Pipeline show, Oil Kings a team with a story, WJ reaction.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. The Metro Division stomps the guts out of the rest of the NHL, while the Pac-7 is rowing a boat with only one oar.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!