GIMME THREE STEPS

The Edmonton Oilers followed their New Jersey script again last night—dominate the possession numbers, play a physical game, get lots of chances but play a nail-biter on the scoreboard and win in overtime. The Oilers should have won both NJD games by a pair of goals or more, but none of that matters at all. Winning is key, and if you cannot win get that Bettman point. We can talk style and balance in the spring, right now good health and the playoffs are the only things that matter. Happy birthday to the boy King.

FREE BIRD, 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: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
  • Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in January 2017: 3-3-0, goal differential -3
  • Oilers after 44, 2015-16: 17-23-4, goal differential -26
  • Oilers after 44, 2016-17: 22-15-7, goal differential +7

That felt good, gotta say. Taylor Hall, warrior for his team, elbowed and hacked and skated like a man, and fell short only because his team, again, doesn’t have the horses. I felt for Taylor Hall last night, that is a long, long road he is facing. On the other hand, I have to say it felt good to see an awful line change, a jail break, a sweet pass, and a dagger—combining to dash the other side. There is beauty and pain in all things, the trick is to experience all of it in real time, and to hold on to that moment in our mind’s eye, in our memories forever. Sail on, noble warrior, we wish you well. Nice butt end, jerk. 🙂

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Sekera—Russell went 14-5 together in 13:31, Sekera was 8-2 against Henrique (Hall-Parenteau) and 3-3 against Zajac (Cammalleri-Palmieri). Remember, this is the pairing I hoped would come through last night, allowing the other two (promising) pairings could gel and perform at a high level. Clearly, this duo did their job, together and apart. Russell has a nice re-set move, where he fades the forechecker, does a Savardian spinarama, and starts again. Sekera is an incredible overtime player, he thinks the game at a fantastic level.
  • Klefbom—Benning went 10-12 (I think), NaturalStatTrick didn’t post the Benning numbers so I subtracted the other pairs (Oscar did play without a D partner in OT). I like this pairing, very mobile and OK got a point, too. Klefbom went 4-2 against Henrique line and 6-9 against the Zajac trio. I would like to see them again. I am a fan of both players.
  • Davidson—Larsson went 7-6 together, but Davidson didn’t play a lot. It could be performance, he didn’t cover his man at all on the first goal and got another minus on that loose play on the second GA. So, that could be it. Larsson went 4-0 with Russell, 2-2 with Sekera and 4-1 with Klefbom. He had an assist, blocked shots, and I wonder if that wrist/hand is going to give him some trouble in the immediate future. Larsson is a fine defender. Mr. Davidson is not all the way back yet, and we should (I should) note it until our view improves.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 16 of 18, .889. I don’t think he was at fault on either goal, but you may wish to argue that assessment.
  • Stats via NHL.com, HockeyStats.ca and NaturalStatTrick.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Lucic—Caggiula—Slepyshev had a very strong evening, the line combined for eight shots on goal and had some reasonable chances. I wish Slepy had a better shot, but other than that it was his strongest game as an Oiler in my opinion. Lucic had another evening of making some effective passes, still seems between the play a lot, needs to get more involved. Caggiula needs to hit the blasted net! 4-0 against the Henrique line, 1-2 against Zajac.
  • Maroon—McDavid—Draisaitl are actual fire. The line scored 2-4-6 in total and manhandled the Devils in a flurry of sorties each period. Just 3-2 against Henrique, 5-7 against Zajac, I think this means this line can pounce even on a night they are being somewhat contained. How bad is New Jersey? Blake Coleman and his line went 0-6 against 97. I don’t know Blake Coleman, but he should not be on the ice with this line.
  • Khaira—Letestu—Kassian didn’t score, but the line was effective in bringing quiet time to the game. Five shots for the trio, Kassian took a butt end from old teammate Taylor Hall, I am suspicious enough to suspect things happen for a reason. Kassian is lucky he didn’t take a larger penalty than the one handed out. 4-2 against Henrique, 2-1 against Zajac.
  • Pouliot—Nuge—Eberle had five shots, some iron and probably wonder if they will ever score again. I know Todd McLellan doesn’t read this blog, but if he did, I would encourage him to stay with this line. BP has been poor, I know, and the other two are worthy of a damned dim view. That said, McLellan needs them badly, and they can find redemption in this northern town between this day and the first bloom of spring.

STANDINGS, JANUARY 13, 2017

  • The win last night was important, both because the Flames are kept at bay and because the Oilers are still in touch with the top of the standings. We are late enough in the season to know this is the good stuff, while also knowing we are laying down markers for next season. As good as today might look, Edmonton should be clear of more teams this time next season. That is a fact.

THE RW PROCUREMENT LIST

Jordan Eberle will eventually score again, and Leon looks set on RW for the rest of this season. Even with those two men, the starboard side could use a little help. Zack Kassian and Anton Slepyshev played there last night, and Jesse Puljujarvi will be back at some point in time.

I have looked at what might be available before, and no NHL team beyond Colorado and Arizona appears to be a sure seller. This time, I looked for players who fit the Patrick Maroon profile—good players, with term, who are perhaps underperforming at this time. This doesn’t mean Edmonton isn’t in on Radim Vrbata, but my list may include some names of interest to Peter Chiarelli. A reminder, Patrick Maroon was 56gp, 4-9-13 when traded to Edmonton at the 2016 deadline.

  1. R Cal Clutterbuck, NY Islanders. Currently 38gp, 3-12-15 and in the final year of a $2.75 million deal that sends him to free agency. Likely shy offensively, he is a Chiarelli type.
  2. C-R Ryan Strome, NY Islanders. He shouldn’t be on this list, but NY Islanders are a funny organization. He is 36gp, 6-8-14 and has one more year at $2.5 million.
  3. R Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers. He is 33gp, 6-5-11 this year, his $3.625 million cap hit has one more year to go after this one. He has scoring talent.
  4. R Drew Stafford, Winnipeg Jets. Well off established levels (29gp, 3-7-10) and in the final year of a $4.35 million deal, fits the Maroon buy low scheme although he is a costly addition.
  5. R Jimmy Hayes, Boston Bruins. Well off last season’s totals (36gp, 2-1-3 after seasons of 16 and 19 goals), he has one more year on a $2.3 million deal.
  6. R Teddy Purcell, Los Angeles Kings. He is in the minors currently, his $1.6 million deal expires this summer. When he was in the NHL this season (12gp, 0-2-2) things weren’t going well, but he is (as one would expect) playing well in the AHL (13gp, 4-10-14). Unlikely add due to foot speed, he is a player who has had success in Edmonton recently.
  7. C-R Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers. He has been socked by injury and ineffective play, on the way to a 21gp, 1-1-2 season. He posted three effective seasons previous to this one, cap hit is $4.1 million on a contract that runs through 2021. Lots of risk.

I mentioned Rene Bourque on the Lowdown yesterday, folks did not like that name. However, he is a RW (shoots left), and has nine goals on the year and costs very little. I will build on the list above as we approach the deadline, not certain we need to build a defense list this season. Music!

HEY CONNOR!

Happy birthday to Connor McDavid, and a sincere thanks for the entertainment provided to hockey fans across Oilers Nation. If he hadn’t come along, we would have had to invent him. McDavid sits atop the scoring charts this morning (5o points in 44 games) and he is just 20, today. I hope and pray God gives me another 20 years (at least!) to enjoy what this young man can do on the NHL ice. We will not see his kind again, and watching him from the start is a gift from the Gods.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun Friday, TSN1260, beginning at 10 this morning. Scheduled to appear:

  • Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. McDavid at 20, how high can he fly? Plus, five Canadian teams in the playoffs?
  • Derek Taylor, TSN. Darian Durant is an Montreal Alouette. Wait, what?
  • Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. We run through the NFL games this weekend.
  • Paul Almeida, SSE. What should the Oilers do at the deadline?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.

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227 Responses to "GIMME THREE STEPS"

« Older Comments
  1. frjohnk says:

    rickithebear:
    Go
    NJ
    WSH
    ARI
    GO!

    The fan in me!

    I’ll bring the beer.

  2. hankster says:

    stevezie,

    Similar to Eberle except much faster, carried his line in Toronto, but they call him Stanley cup champion now 🙂
    For 7M I rather have Kessel.
    He needs to stay off twitter.

  3. leadfarmer says:

    Kassian is a piece of crap, has been a piece of crap and while I’m glad he got his life in order will continue being a piece of crap. I hope we replace him with a better player.

  4. frjohnk says:

    Wait until we play Calgary tomorrow and some Flame does something stupid.

    This place will be fired up!

  5. Woodguy says:

    frjohnk: I’ll bring the beer.

    He is a bear.

    test

  6. frjohnk says:

    And speaking of tomorrows game,
    we win, 5 points up on the Flames
    we lose, 1 point up on the Flames

    EDIT: And I should add that I expect NJ to beat the Flames tonight because Hall and Kassian are best of friends and Hall will win this one for his BFF Kassian. Pretty sure I read something along those lines today.

  7. frjohnk says:

    Woodguy: He is a bear.

    I shot an elk this fall.

    Just made some elk jerky

    I’ll bring that as well.

  8. Mustard Tiger says:

    frjohnk:
    And speaking of tomorrows game,
    we win, 5 points up on the Flames
    we lose, 1 point up on the Flames

    God forbid Bettman points!

  9. Chachi says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”:
    Professor Q,

    No. That is not the incident that I know about.

    And I guess I would add that I am not asking any of you to believe me. As Chachi would say, there are things that we cannot ever prove, especially as I am unwilling to get into specifics about players’ lives, nor am I going to expose the people who were involved in this situation first-hand, who are my sources.

    They do not like each other and Hall made a dirty play last night. That is probably all we can conclude together based on what we have all witnessed together.

    I hope both parties can turn the page.

    It sounds like in this situation you could prove it, but you are taking the high road because you are a good person. I trust you when you say it is personal between the two of them. That’s all I need to know and it sure fits what happened last night.

  10. VOR says:

    –hudson–:
    VOR,

    Hey VOR,

    I meant to thank you for your reply regarding an NHL draft AI.I don’t have any expertise to offer, I was just curious.I’ve gone back to school and studied Knowledge Based AI last semester, the current rage is over machine learning which is generally a black box.KBAI is more similar to human cognition and uses a variety of techniques to suss out what is the “right information” for your agent to consider (memory, learning, reasoning along with metacognition).

    One of the more recent issues with ML is the lack of trust people have of the black box, DARPA recently put out a call for papers for explanation based AI (based upon KBAI fundamentals).Will be interesting to see where that goes.

    This semester I am making the plunge and studying ML so in 4 months time I may be able to offer better advice.

    Some things to consider:
    – Will your AI follow one set of rules for all 30 teams or will you develop individual rules for each team?Furthermore maybe you can account for a given general manager/head scout that has moved teams to see if your AI can identify patterns.
    – Will your AI identify the best players in a given draft class in order or identify the order it expects each team to draft based on how a human would pick (using club reserve lists and percepts from junior hockey)?
    – How will you account for era effects, from non-Euro drafts to the availability of Euros from the early 90s onwards along with changes in the game?

    It’s a rich area to explore, well maybe not financially so, but would be an enjoyable project.

    I had conceptualized the project as a one set of rules for all teams. Your idea of different rules for different teams fascinates me.

    I also never thought of the possibility of following GMs as they change teams, my focus was always on the decisions scouts have to make not how GMs set up their boards, but I could see looking for patterns as a valuable exercise.

    The plan is to build a best player list and a likely pick list. That is to do both a machine Craig Button and a machine Bob MacKenzie.

    I would hope the changes in play (like the introduction of waves of European players) will be baked into the analysis.

    Let me give you a real world example of one of the things Homer has concluded. It is a very wise idea in the second round, well from the point consensus begins to break down until there is none left, thus largely the second round, to avoid players who are either a standard deviation bigger or smaller than NHL average in the year the player was drafted. This truer for forwards than dmen and more true of dmen than goaltenders.

    Now it is easy to guess why this might be so. The second round is home to the coke machines and the smurfs. It is conceivable some biases begin to slip in and the rule of thumb (average size picks only) eliminates some of that bias. That would mean a team that followed the rule in the past would have an advantage but that advantage might disappear over time as more clubs moved to the new less biased approach, creating a new bias in which taking coke machines and smurfs might be the way to go. On the other hand maybe there is something more real and profound going on. Possibly it as simple as that average size players with above average talent don’t get as much attention as gigantic and tiny above average talents creating an arbitrage opportunity.

    Now imagine that sort of thing happening hundreds of times and you have an idea where I am at re this project. It is fascinating but the computer is still a fish or maybe very wise in a zen master way. Homer’s latest pronouncement is that Czech players from places with names starting in P out perform, on average Czech players from places with names not starting in P. But the program seems to have added team names to place of birth to location of team and treated them all equally. Plus it looks like a statistical artifact too boot. Maybe he is just a Hemsky fan and his bias is showing.

  11. Scungilli says:

    JDï™: Do the names Dustin Brown and Wassisname Clarkson ring a bell?

    I meant Oilers. His contract isn’t awful but it turns out it’s unmovable for value, and at 6M an illiquid asset like that is anchor.

  12. Woodguy says:

    frjohnk: I shot an elk this fall.

    Just made some elk jerky

    I’ll bring that as well.

    OOhhhhhhhh.

    Me want to please.

  13. Woodguy says:

    VOR,

    Possibly it as simple as that average size players with above average talent don’t get as much attention as gigantic and tiny above average talents creating an arbitrage opportunity.

    That’s really interesting.

  14. spoiler says:

    frjohnk: Hall will win this one for his BFF Kassian.

    Yup, I’m pretty sure that acronym will work lol.

  15. spoiler says:

    VOR,

    Are Coke Machines and Waterbugs being picked at a higher rate in the 2nd round than other rounds? Seems like a verifiable premise.

  16. VOR says:

    Spoiler,

    Great question. As you say it should be a verifiable or falsifiable premise. It is not currently in Homer’s “brain” to ask that type of analytical question. He is looking for patterns and correlating patterns to outcomes over multiple parameters. I am the one speculating that it is coke machine and water bug 2nd round preference that causes what Homer has noticed. I’ll see if I can find time to test something like, is there more size variation in any one round of the draft than any other? If both water bugs and coke machines are being drafted more in the second round than the first or the third then it should cause more size variation in the second round.

  17. hankster says:

    Woodguy: Love you too baby!

    I respect WG’s work, but those blind followers who get dazzled with a pivot table and a few macros…tsk tsk

    I understand causes for generalizations like “anyone who criticizes Eberle or Hall is dirty dumb ON fanbase.” It’s great that everyone is only trying to discuss winning strategies without true insider information. But this generalization generates more generalizations from the other side.

    We’re trying to build the ideal balanced roster for a playoff run. Yet, I keep seeing stats that says we should have Spezza, Alfredson, Eberle, Kessels of the world all of them on one team.

  18. classict says:

    hankster,

    That is an interesting list given that 2 of the 4 went to a Stanley cup final together and another just about won a Conn Smythe last year.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong. A team likely does need a bunch of different player types, I’m just wondering how you came up with that list of player types not built for the playoffs.

  19. spoiler says:

    VOR,

    Thank you, sir. This is, as Woodguy says, very interesting, and I hope you keep us up-to-date as the project progresses.

    Your hypothesis is pretty strong. It’s begging to be confirmed or eliminated lol.

    Your variance test sounds fair as long as it isn’t susceptible to two outliers taken in one round, or either CMs or WBs dominating the selections in a given round.

    What am I saying, of course you would know that. OTTOMH, I’m guessing you’d base this on something like a count of those sizes 1 sigma or more from the year’s mean in each round?

  20. PhrankLee says:

    frjohnk: I shot an elk this fall.

    What he was doing in my pajamas we shall never know.

  21. Woodguy says:

    hankster: I respect WG’s work, but those blind followers who get dazzled with a pivot table and a few macros…tsk tsk

    I understand causes for generalizations like “anyone who criticizes Eberle or Hall is dirty dumb ON fanbase.”It’s great that everyone is only trying to discuss winning strategies without true insider information.But this generalization generates more generalizations from the other side.

    We’re trying to build the ideal balanced roster for a playoff run.Yet, I keep seeing stats that says we should have Spezza, Alfredson, Eberle, Kessels of the world all of them on one team.

    Two things:

    1) You’re really shitting on someone saying thank you and me reciprocating? Really?

    2) You’re the only one to say to build a team with those players. People were questioning Eberle’s ability and cost, and I showed it wasn’t out of line.

    I then showed his current slump is probably just a slump as the underlying numbers look close to other years.

    Taking information that I posted and then piling assumption upon assumption and attributing these assumption upon me for posting data is very poor form.

  22. jm363561 says:

    VOR: Let me give you a real world example of one of the things Homer has concluded. It is a very wise idea in the second round, well from the point consensus begins to break down until there is none left, thus largely the second round, to avoid players who are either a standard deviation bigger or smaller than NHL average in the year the player was drafted.

    ==========
    Good morning from Manila. Man this is one weird thread, or I was smoking some bad Ganga last night – which “real world” does this example come from. How many Czech players come from Prague, Prosek and Pardubice. This Homer seems quite a guy. 😀

  23. digger50 says:

    JDï™,

    Thank you

  24. digger50 says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”:
    digger50,

    It was dirty, no question. I have not seen anyone say it was not dirty, nor have I seen anyone laughing at Kassian’s plight.

    Maybe this was what was needed for the team anyway. Otherwise the spotlight would be squarely on Eberle and Nuge’s lack of production again. Maybe the distraction of Hall’s return can galvanize the team a bit.

    On the subject of snake-bitten, thank you FRJOHNK. This team is underachieving still.
    Eberle, Nuge, Kassian, Lucic could all bring more to the game offensively. They are capable of it.

    And even McDavid seems snake-bitten. Falling further off 30 goal pace now. He is racking up the assists, and the chances, but I’d like to still see him attack the net some more (this is nit-picking, he is a phenomenal player).

    I think you have an excellent point buried in here. As this thread is dying, I would like to save this item for tomorrow.

  25. Jaxon says:

    5×5 Primary Pts/60 previous 5 years 2000 minutes minimum:

    RW
    1. Tyler Seguin (2.04)
    2. Patrick Kane (2.00)
    3. Vladimir Tarasenko (1.91)
    4. Corey Perry (1.85)
    5. Jordan Eberle (1.79)

    Yup, let’s flush that asset down the toilet.

  26. Jaxon says:

    5×5 Primary Pts/60 previous 4 years 1000 minutes minimum:
    Not quite as high but still 18 other teams wish they had that production for their top RW.

    RW
    1. Tyler Seguin (2.06)
    2. Patrick Kane (2.05)
    3. Corey Perry (2.04)
    4. Vladimir Tarasenko (1.91)
    5. Blake Wheeler (1.87)
    6. Kevin Hayes (1.81)
    7. Matts Zuccarello (1.72)
    8. Phil Kessel (1.70)
    9. Nikita Kucherov (1.67)
    10. Jiri Hudler (1.65)
    11. David Pasternak (1.64)
    12. Jordan Eberle (1.62)

  27. Ryan says:

    Woodguy:
    I think the wise thing to do is get a RHC.

    Strome or Bjugstad both fit the bill.

    Bjugstad is probably more of a Chia type player.

    Wonder if he could get FLA to hold $500K-$1MM for the last 3 years?

    Also,

    WC standings via games (LAK looks worse by straight points due to games played)

    MIN +13
    CHI +11
    SJS +6
    ANA +6
    EDM +3
    STL +1
    LAK 0
    CGY 0
    – – – – – – – – – –
    NSH -1
    DAL -3
    VAN -3
    WPG -5
    ARI -14
    COL -17

    Can probably pencil in a CGY win vs NJD tonight.

    Saturday will be fun.

    Going to the game with my sister.

    We both yell at the refs fairly loudly.

    No. Taylor Hall does a solid for us.

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