THE DAYS AND NIGHTS OF EDDIE WESTFALL

by Lowetide

If a role player scores twice in a game, your team wins. Pretty much guaranteed. A checker who can post offense tilts the game in your favor. I learned this from Eddie Westfall, a super penalty killer and two-way winger for the Stanley Bruins 1970 and 1972. Westfall (and Derek Sanderson) were the designated checkers, but they got into the offensive fun a lot, too. Mark Letestu brings an unusual set of skills—checker, faceoff man, penalty killer and power-play monster. Huh. Either way, it works. After that? Who cares. Letestu is on pace for 17-17-34 this year. Eddie Westfall would be proud. HDSCs: 7-8.

ARE WE THERE YET? 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: 3-1-3, goal differential +2
  • Oilers after 31, 2015: 14-15-2, goal differential -9
  • Oilers after 31, 2016: 15-11-5, goal differential +9

Edmonton’s goal differential year over year remains strong, but the won-loss records have tightened up. The big slide began right now, one year ago. Edmonton would go 1-6-1 over the rest of December, and 17-28-6 to end the year—to finish 31-43-8 over 82 games. Can they do better? We hope. And pray.

We agreed 15 points in 15 December games was a reasonable line in the sand (or I did, keeping with the 82 points projected in the RE). Through seven games the Oilers have accumulated nine points. This is going to be an interesting run to Christmas, with Columbus and Tampa Bay on the schedule this week.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

defense-dec-11

  • Stats via NHL.com, NaturalStatTrick and HockeyStats.ca.
  • Klefbom—Larsson had a terrific time. They went 20-12 in 15:19 together, Oscar went 1-1 in 46 seconds with Benning, Larsson going 1-2 in a couple of minutes with Sekera. Oscar scored and had five shots, all in the first period. Went 8-5 in 5:27 against Little, 6-5 in 5:48 against Scheifele. That is plenty of playing time against quality, and the numbers are good.
  • Simpson—Benning sawed things off a little better than even. Benning made a horrible back pass on the first GA, I bet McLellan is delighted to have a teachable moment for the rookie—that young man is bona fide. They went 8-6 in about 10 minutes together, Benning went 4-6 in 3:01 with Russell. Simpson was 1-1 in two minutes against Little, while he played just 2:31 against Scheifele (0-2). Benning’s numbers were 3-7 in 4:31 (Little) and 1-2 in 3:40 (Scheifele). Each man had two shots, Simpson blocked two shots, one a fairly dangerous try to my eye.
  • Sekera—Russell were not effective in possession, playing 14:03 together and going just 5-12. Lordy. Went 3-10 in 8:43 against Scheifele, 2-3 in 5:34 against Little. I am sure G’s numbers show the reasoning, but me and my Corsi would run the Swedes more. They did better against both key centers than Sekera—Russell.
  • Cam Talbot played well last night, he is at .916SP for the year. Average is .912 in 2016-17 (according to hockey-reference), so he is providing above average goaling.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

forwards-dec-11

  • Lucic—McDavid—Caggiula added Mark Letestu and dropped the rookie for about five minutes. McDavid and Lucic got assists on the PP, Letestu scored twice. McDavid went 3-10 against Scheifele and seemed to fall weird once (Laine hit). Blake Wheeler looked to really hurt himself in the third period while McDavid was in the area. Weird game for 97, this is as quiet as I have seen him. Long season, I bet he needs a breather (which will come later in the week).
  • Kassian—Letestu—Slepyshev didn’t actually play a ton together (4:40) and went 4-5. Letestu moved up to the McDavid line for a time, Kassian spent a couple of minutes with Pouliot and Leon. The 4line is kind of becoming a Borg assimilation ship with various parts that can be applied to the actual lines. This is not a crazy idea, but I do think Slepyshev has more to give.
  • Maroon—Draisaitl—Pitlick had a good night by the math and the two wingers grabbed assists. Went 2-8 in six minutes against Scheifele, that seems a lot for what should be the third line to my eye. I thought this was the most dangerous line.
  • Pouliot—Nuge—Eberle were a little shy in possession and none of the men hit the score sheet. Four shots, Nuge was solid in the faceoff circle and they looked a little closer to scoring. Went 1-3 in 3:49 against Little, 8-7 in 7:49 against Scheifele—that is good work.

RE

We are 31 games into the NHL season, a good time to take a look at how the team is going based on predictions. In my RE wrap, I posted predictions for goals for, goals against, save percentage, as well as the following:

  • Final record: 82GP, 38-36-8 84PTS
  • Finish: No. 5 in the Pacific Division, No. 10 in the Western Conference, No. 21 overall
  • All-Star Team: Connor McDavid
  • Traded by deadline: Matt Hendricks, Jonas Gustavsson
  • Source

Let’s compare those predictions with the actual numbers (on pace) the Oilers have managed so far. Projected number first, my prediction in brackets:

  • Final record: Projected 82gp, 40-29-13, 93PTS (82gp, 38-36-8 84PTS)
  • Finish: No. No. 3 (5) in the Pacific Division, No. 6 (10) in the Western Conference, No. 13 (21) overall.
  • All-Star Team: Connor McDavid, probably Leon Draisaitl (McDavid).
  • Goals For: 246 (226)
  • Goals Against: 224 (226)
  • Save Percentage: .911 (.913)

Edmonton is outperforming my predictions pretty much across the board, with goals against pegged pretty well by the RE. What did I underestimate? Not McDavid, I had his points-per-game at 1.208 and he is at 1.26. Leon Draisaitl? Yes. By quite a bit. Credit to Germany’s best player.

LEON

Pretty much all of the Oilers regular forwards have played over 250 minutes on the season now, and we are seeing the 5×5/60 numbers get some real traction. This is the good stuff here, no way to frame this puppy (aside from linemates):

  1. Connor McDavid 2.93
  2. Tyler Pitlick 1.97
  3. Leon Draisaitl 1.92
  4. Jesse Puljujarvi 1.77
  5. Patrick Maroon 1.64
  6. Jordan Eberle 1.53
  7. Anton Lander 1.47
  8. Anton Slepyshev 1.45
  9. Mark Letestu 1.42
  10. Milan Lucic 1.35
  11. Benoit Pouliot 1.29
  12. Zack Kassian 1.22
  13. Matt Hendricks 0.81
  14. Drake Caggiula 0.80

I think the Oilers after 31 fall into four 5×5 categories:

  • McDavid: McDavid
  • Performing Well: Pitlick, Draisaitl, Letestu
  • Average:  Maroon, Lander, Slepyshev, Kassian
  • A Little Shy: Eberle, Hendricks
  • Well Shy: Lucic, Pouliot
  • Rookies: Puljujarvi, Caggiula

Fair? So, the left wingers on the two top lines are the culprits from here, although your mileage may vary. Lucic has become a power-play option deep in his career and that is sustaining him (the big man is on his way to a 21-37-58 season based on this morning’s numbers). Lucic was 2.04 5×5/60 in Los Angeles last year, we should expect a spike in production from him over the last 50 games.

HENDRICKS

I think the organization is at a crossroads with Mr. Hendricks. Anton Lander is in the minors and ready to replace him, and last night’s roster is faster and speed is a problem for Todd McLellan this year. For the first time this season, or indeed his Oilers career, I think Edmonton management may be contemplating waiving Hendricks and sending him down if he clears. Why do I think that? The things Hendricks brings are not enough to cover for his lack of speed, and twice on the road trip things went badly for the veteran. Todd McLellan showed some faith in him after the Buffalo Sabres game, keeping him in the lineup. Hendricks was dash one for each and every game of the road trip, and Edmonton lost every one of them. There may be one more life, one more chance, but Matt Hendricks is in a spot of bother in regard to his NHL career this morning. Damned erosion.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Scott Burnside, ESPN. The Pacific Division is tight, can McDavid hold off Crosby for the scoring championship?
  • Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. Crazy NFL weekend.
  • Jason Gregor, TSN1260. What do the Oilers do with Hendricks? And how about Letestu?
  • Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue/The SuperFan. Are the Oilers a playoff contender, or merely bleeding out more slowly this year?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

 

 

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Roughneck

“Lucic has become a power-play option deep in his career and that is sustaining him (the big man is on his way to a 21-37-58 season based on this morning’s numbers). Lucic was 2.04 5×5/60 in Los Angeles last year, we should expect a spike in production from him over the last 50 games.”

Deep in his career and first 31 games of his long term Oilers contract is just a very sad thing to consider: on a Tuesday morning with a mach 6 wind.

Johnny skid

Ducey:
I have not been around much or watching much NHL hockey.

Just checking in.Is Letestu still holding back Yak?

it takes time to wash off the oiler stink….just ask the one’s that left before yak.

delooper

JimmyV1965: You say this and I get where you’re going with it, and I think it works for hockey, but you make it sound like a general rule for all things. How does this apply to baseball? Someone can hit .333 on team A and score 90 runs. Someone else can hit .220 on team B and score 100 runs. And this happens all the time. Who’s better? Also, I’m taking the guy with proven sales every day of the week over the guy with the great technique and poor sales.

For a coach that question is irrelevant. A coach cares about his team winning, not about linear metrics between players on different teams.

A coach cares about deployment. If a metric helps to determine how to use a player, that would be useful.

Jethro Tull

JimmyV1965,

Because process transfer equations work on everything from your bank account to manufacturing to sports.

Woogie63

nelson88:
My son and I are coming up for the Flyers game in February. Are any of the “downtown” hotels connected to the new arena by the pedway system and does it stay open late enough that you can get back to the hotel after the game?

It has been many years since I have experienced a stroll in Edmonton in February and I would like to minimize it as much as possible.

I said at the Coast it is three blocks away

JD_Wry

flea:
v4ance,

I know lots of people hate Remenda, I don’t really like him either, but it was Louie DeBrusk doing color last night who made those comments. (I’m pretty sure)

Listen to the replay of Laine’s goal – it’s Remenda:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/mark-letestu-credited-two-goals-oilers-jets/

delooper

Last season Draisaitl started off extremely hot, and then petered-out. I wonder if we’ll see the same result this season. He’s been wonderful so far. For both him and McDavid we have little idea of how long they can keep up their pace. McDavid would appear to be a smidge “tired”. I don’t know if that’s minor injuries slowing him down or him getting used to the grind of a long season. . .

flea

v4ance,

I know lots of people hate Remenda, I don’t really like him either, but it was Louie DeBrusk doing color last night who made those comments. (I’m pretty sure)

v4ance

Loving this thread. Thank you to:

Bag of Pucks
FrJohnK
Bruce Wayne

For lots of excellent analysis.

My post was a critique of both Russell and Remenda. Unfortunately, I believe Oilers management leans towards Remenda’s reading of the situation.

In my head, I was thinking, “He lost the man, he lost the battle he lost the puck. The NHL isn’t a damn kiddie participation league where you win a ribbon and praise for working hard! Why the heck is Remenda rationalizing his crap play as being good??”

This also reminds me of Marincin and his lack of love from Oilers management. He looked like he wasn’t trying very hard and he struggled at being physical with his assignments in the high danger chance zone but his ability to disrupt sorties at our blueline were top notch.

Using Bag of Puck’s terms, Marincin was great at overall shot suppression with great gap control and stickwork but struggled at damage control. The numbers people liked Marincin but it seemed Oilers brass looked and saw another soft defenceman in the mold of Gilbert or Petry.

Georges

frjohnk,

In Spector’s article on Russell and his analytics critics, Chiarelli is quoted as saying Russell puts teammates “into position to shoot by giving them passes that lead to entries into the zone.” So the Oilers think Russell has a skill that lifts on-ice shooting percentage. I think they’re focused more on that in evaluating him; they think it’s sustainable. They might be hoping his on-ice save percentage continues but I don’t think they’re betting on it. I think they are betting his edge in on-ice shooting percentage continues.

Georges

What do we have in Adam Larsson? We have New Jersey’s #2 defenseman by ice time last year. He played on the top pair with Andy Greene in front of Cory Schneider. I posted over the weekend how both those players’ numbers have taken a hit minus Larsson this season. How’s New Jersey doing as a team?

2015-16 vs. (2016-17 so far)
SF/GP 24.4 (28.4)
SA/GP 28.6 (32.2)
GF/GP 2.22 (2.39)
GA/GP 2.46 (2.89)

We gave up a lot to get Adam Larsson. But so far this year, New Jersey has shown that they also gave up a lot to get Taylor Hall.

Adam Larsson is an NHL vet on a new team and entirely different system playing with a kid who hasn’t reached two full seasons worth of games. The vet happens to be 1 year older than the kid.

I believe in Larsson. He’s making some mistakes. But he’s the one who we’re going to play against Getzlaf, Thornton, and Kopitar when the games matter. Because he’ll give us the best chance to win.

JimmyV1965

Bruce Wayne: An intelligent person evaluates on things that can be controlled.Results are out of your control, especially in the short term, and so an intelligent person does not evaluate on the basis of results.

You should evaluate on the basis of process.Always.People who don’t do this don’t know what they are doing.Results still matter, but they matter as a way of evaluating the process, not as a way of evaluating individuals (i.e if a given process does not yield the desired results over the long term you should reevaluate the process).

Moreover, this is coaching 101 in all sports.Never evaluate athletes on the basis of results, rather evaluate them on the things they’ve been coached to do (i.e. process, the things that add up to results in the long term).

If McClellan is actually behaving as you describe (I have my doubts) then he is a terrible coach.

You say this and I get where you’re going with it, and I think it works for hockey, but you make it sound like a general rule for all things. How does this apply to baseball? Someone can hit .333 on team A and score 90 runs. Someone else can hit .220 on team B and score 100 runs. And this happens all the time. Who’s better? Also, I’m taking the guy with proven sales every day of the week over the guy with the great technique and poor sales.

Bruce McCurdy

Georges: Good on TMac for putting Letestu with McD and Lucic. I hope he tries that again and it pays off for all of them. Letestu has shown this season that if you give him a chance, he can finish. Surprisingly calm. And he has a veteran’s awareness and defensive game. Good hands. And his hands are right-handed. And McDavid is a chance generating tornado.

I’d say he has “average” hands. He’s not Colin Fraser, but he’s not Sam Gagner either. I remember a few gold-plated chances McDavid set Letestu up for last year that misfired.

A side benefit of Letestu riding shotgun with McDavid is his ability to take — or should I say, “win” — face-offs, which might be particularly helpful in a late-game situation after McLellan has shortened the bench, as happened Sunday. Hard to imagine 55 getting many games where he starts with 97, but he might get a few where they finish up on the same line.

Bruce McCurdy

Ducey:
I have not been around much or watching much NHL hockey.

Just checking in.Is Letestu still holding back Yak?

Not sure this is a straight question but I’ll give you a straight answer. Yak’s last goal was in Edmonton, way back on Oct 22. In the last month he has played 5 games, with a high in TOI of 9:17.

In the immortal words of MacT, Yak needed a second opinion and he is getting it. By refraction, so are we.

Suffice to say his NHL future is on shaky ground. Fortunately he has other options.

Hurts to watch, even at a distance.

Georges

Good on TMac for putting Letestu with McD and Lucic. I hope he tries that again and it pays off for all of them. Letestu has shown this season that if you give him a chance, he can finish. Surprisingly calm. And he has a veteran’s awareness and defensive game. Good hands. And his hands are right-handed. And McDavid is a chance generating tornado.

Nuge-Maroon-Ebs are still tilting the ice in the right direction.

Drai-Pouliot-Pitlick deserve time to show what they can do. Pitlick’s spot can go to JP, too.

Caggiula-Sleps-Kassian is a risky line though.

RexLibris

Bruce McCurdy:
Ankle ligament AND bone damage sounds like a complex injury. One hopes that he recovers 100%. It would be a shame for this player to lose some of his mobility which is one of his defining strengths.

The surgery is one part, and based on the ability of sports medicine today, I’m fairly confident they’ll do the best they can.

The rehab part is another factor altogether and that is where things can go awry, I think. Because you can’t predict how the body will respond and it is in rehab that one’s abilities are restored rather than just the physical function.

frjohnk

Ducey:
I have not been around much or watching much NHL hockey.

Just checking in.Is Letestu still holding back Yak?

Well, Letestu is playing with McDavid while Yak isnt playing with McDavid, so yup

Ducey

I have not been around much or watching much NHL hockey.

Just checking in. Is Letestu still holding back Yak?

Bag of Pucks

Jordan:
doritogrande,

Are the Oilers in last place?No

Is our Con Smythe calibre D-man requesting a trade? No

Are Low/MacT making terrible personnel decisions?No

Has Lowetide stopped including pictures of beautiful women on his blog posts?Yes

—————–

I too have noticed this and it’s NOT a welcome development.

I’ll take Diane Lane or Natalie Wood over Letestu’s ugly mug any day : )

Bag of Pucks

russ99: This is where the “prevent entry” guys completely lose me.

There are a large number of events per game where the opposition gains the zone, and teams still get shots regardless of what the defensemen do.

The best defenses at entry prevention still allow 20-30 shots per game.

So in these cases, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have some defensemen that are good at affecting shot quality?

This is the difference between Russell and Klefbom. One is good at one thing (limiting entry) and poor at another (affecting shot quality) and vice versa. So how can we say one is great and the other is awful, considering there will be many events per game in each defenseman’s wheelhouse.

Conversely, wouldn’t it be beneficial to have D-pairs that are good at different things?

Well, my take is if you’re focusing your efforts on affecting shot quality, you’ve already lost half the battle. I think you best deny the opposition in eliminating the shot altogether, as much as reasonably possible. In the old days, this was expressed as ‘standing up at the blueline’ to prevent Ozone entry. Nowadays, it’s more often realized as a team-wide neutral zone attack to funnel the opposition into certain lanes where they’ll be outmanned to force either a dump-in or turnover before they hit the blueline. This type of ‘team defense’ is a tactic in which a smaller D like Russell could theoretically excel.

However once the opposition O crosses the line with control, well now you’re in full on ‘damage control’ mode and this is where affecting the shot quality skill becomes vital. This is why NHL HCs are so obsessed with gap control cos as long as you maintain your gap, regardless of where the opposition is on the ice, you have a chance to impact their shot quality.

Further to your point on teams getting their shots regardless, Dmen are hardwired to defend the middle of the ice and so it’s in their lizard brain if confronted by a faster player or potential outmanned situation to cede outside territory to protect the middle (i.e. collapsing to the slot). Hence, once the opposition gains the zone, likely they’re going to get some shots against because of this persistent mentality of giving up territory to protect the most vital ground.

So, in short, you’re right, you do need both skills. You need shot suppression killers in the neutral zone and at the blue. But once they’ve taken the zone with control, your focus shifts to gap control and collapsing to the slot to impede shot quality and hoover up rebounds respectively. Retrieval after the initial shot could be also be an area where the mobile KR excels. He is a good ‘pouncer’ with his stick.

In many ways, eight ball defence is a good analogy. If you hook the guy you’re playing so he doesn’t even have a viable look/shot to make, that’s your best result (assuming you can’t make your shot of course). If you can’t hook him, but leave him a very poor angle, that’s a shot quality scenario you can live with. It’s not as good as denying the shot but at least there’s an element of damage control achieved. Then there’s the worst scenario, you’ve left him an open pocket shot from in close. We’ll call this the Jultz.

Like pool, hockey is all about ‘playing the angles’ : )

theres oil in virginia

Jordan:
doritogrande,

Are the Oilers in last place?No

Is our Con Smythe calibre D-man requesting a trade? No

Are Low/MacT making terrible personnel decisions?No

Has Lowetide stopped including pictures of beautiful women on his blog posts?Yes

—————–

Travesty!

Cassandra

Bank Shot:
Where can I find raw goals for/against when a player is on the ice over a season?

Because from what it looks like judging from goals for/goals against ratios from the 13/14 season until today, Kris Russell has performed at least middle of pack compared to his teammates over the last 3.5 seasons.

If his goals for/against is fine, and his corsi is below par, would the believers in corsi for judging defensive play say that Kris Russell has been getting lucky over the past 3.5 seasons?

That seems like a long time to be beating the odds.

Over the past four seasons (well three seasons + this one) Russell has two seasons where his GF% matches his Fenwick % almost exactly, and two seasons where his GF% is significantly better than his Fenwick (14-15 and this one).

That’s not a pattern on its face. If you dig deeper it is even less of one, the xGF and xGA (basically shot distance) is pretty consistent over that period, and the reasons for the variation (shooting percentage and save percentage) don’t track even in the two outlier seasons. IN 14-15 his on-ice shooting percentage was very high, but this year it is all save percentage. But last year, when fenwick and GF% tracked, save percentage was actually below average and Russell’s GF% was buoyed by a high on-ice save percentage.

These discrepencies are always driven by variation in shooting and save percentage, and when you drill down what you find is always the same thing, they yo-yo. Russell isn’t able to increase save percentage any more than Larsson is. The Ricki box protection defender doesn’t exist. Or if it does exist you can’t see it in goals allowed and goalie shooting percentage.

frjohnk

Bank Shot:
Where can I find raw goals for/against when a player is on the ice over a season?

Because from what it looks like judging from goals for/goals against ratios from the 13/14 season until today, Kris Russell has performed at least middle of pack compared to his teammates over the last 3.5 seasons.

If his goals for/against is fine, and his corsi is below par, would the believers in corsi for judging defensive play say that Kris Russell has been getting lucky over the past 3.5 seasons?

That seems like a long time to be beating the odds.

corsica hockey. You can do a custom query.

Bank Shot

Where can I find raw goals for/against when a player is on the ice over a season?

Because from what it looks like judging from goals for/goals against ratios from the 13/14 season until today, Kris Russell has performed at least middle of pack compared to his teammates over the last 3.5 seasons.

If his goals for/against is fine, and his corsi is below par, would the believers in corsi for judging defensive play say that Kris Russell has been getting lucky over the past 3.5 seasons?

That seems like a long time to be beating the odds.

Scungilli Slushy

frjohnk:
Our top 2 D pairs

Looking at some of the against metrics

LarssonCA/60Oscar Klefbom54.18
RussellCA/60Andrej Sekera53.86

LarssonFF/60Oscar Klefbom44.08
RussellFF/60Andrej Sekera35.83

LarssonSA/60Oscar Klefbom29.65
RussellSA/60Andrej Sekera27.13

LarssonSCA/60Oscar Klefbom30.62
RussellSCA/60Andrej Sekera26.31

LarssonHDCA/60Oscar Klefbom12.5
RussellHDCA/60Andrej Sekera10.56

LarssonGA/60Oscar Klefbom3.05
RussellGA/60Andrej Sekera0.62

LarssonHDGA/60Oscar Klefbom2.72
RussellHDGA/60Andrej Sekera0.41

I dont need to do a commentary.Less bad things happen in the Oilers zone when Russell and Sekera are on the ice compared to when Larsson and Klefbom are on the ice and with some of the metrics its not even close.

A few things to keep in mind

-Both pairings play about the same amount of time with McDavid.So no McDavid effect here.

-Russell is playing on his off hand, we know that this can have a negative impact on shot attempts and should be made note of when looking at Russell’s stats.

-Even though I and others have said that the reason Russell has poor “for metrics” is because he allows so many easy zone entries againstand is stuck in his own zone for more time than other Dmen, his “against metrics” dont seem that bad.So this is a bit puzzling.

-zone starts are basically a wash
Klefbom Larsson
19.4 O zone starts per 60
20.0 D zone starts per 60
Russell Sekera
18.0 O zone starts per 60
19.9 D zone starts per 60

And I know its not proper to look at rates to compare Dmen from other teams.

But our “top pairing” are the number 1 and number 2 worst Dmen in the league when looking at goals against from the high danger area per 60 ( 300 mins or more) out of 155 Dmen

RK..Player….HDGA/60
155 Klefbom 2.69
154 Larsson 2.52

Goals against per 60 they are bad,bad,bad,bad.
152 Klefbom 3.31
144 Larsson 3.09

high danger scoring chances againstper 60 they are amongst the leagues worst as well
127 Klefbom 11.6
145 Larsson 12.5

Sekera overall and Russell overall by themselves are basically middle of the pack in the league, not too hot, not too cold.But put them together and wowzers,

If we look at GA/60 for Sekera and Russell together, a little context to see how they place in the league.

Shea Weber is the only Dman who has a GA/60 below 1.00 as he comes in at 0.71 and that is in front of Carey Price

Sekera and Russell together have a GA/60 of 0.62
I dont know if that is the best GA/60 of a pairing in the league that have played together for many minutes, but that is elite.

If we look at goals against from the high danger area/60 we see that Beaulieu from Montreal has the best number of 0.36 HDGA/60 ( Price again) 2nd best Dman has a number of 0.52 HDGA/60

Sekera and Russell together
HDGA/60
0.41
Again elite.

Im not suggesting that Russell and Sekera are better than Klefbom and Larsson, but if we are wondering why the two Swedes are getting less icetime, its probably because bad things happen when the two Swedes are on the ice and great things happen when Sekera and Russell are on the ice.

Im not sure if they can keep this up for 1 game or the rest of the season, but I can see why the coaches are liking Russell and Sekera together for now

Imagine if Sekera had a partner better than he is?

TO10801

frjohnk,

All I want is for the coach to play this pair less once the PDO adjusts to the norm. If it doesn’t than fine we have an elite top pair, but if (it will) start to normalize than you simply play Klef-Lars more. I think we need to give Chia credit for bringing in Russell whether you like him or not. With the Nurse injury the past couple games our D would have been:

Klef-Lars
Sekera-Benning
Simpson-Musil

He has improved our depth. Now if he signs Russell to 4 x 4.5M than we can ask whether that was a smart choice. But as we stand today, the team has used 10 defensemen and it has not been an utter disaster as we are used to seeing.

Jordan

doritogrande,

Are the Oilers in last place? No

Is our Con Smythe calibre D-man requesting a trade? No

Are Low/MacT making terrible personnel decisions? No

Has Lowetide stopped including pictures of beautiful women on his blog posts? Yes

—————–

frjohnk

More data on our top pairs

Sekera with Russell
On ice shooting %
8.7%

Larsson with Klefbom
On ice shooting %
6.6%

Sekera with Russell
On ice save %
97.7%

Larsson with Klefbom
On ice save %
89.7%

Sekera with Russell
PDO
106%

Larsson with Klefbom
PDO
96.2%

New Improved Darkness

JimmyV1965: Definitely don’t understand the logic with this.

On the 630 last night, definitely heard “spot of flu, PJs, hot chocolate” (I suspect that last phrase was my lemon tree talking over the game call).

The clear subtext was that they held him out one last game after a recent flu to get him back to 100%

I really think half the AHL meme derives from the fresh Quest for Fire maxim that a watched pot never boils. Fire was old hat, but these unreliable, slow to boil, leak-free pots were a new damnation altogether.

Two solutions: the cook can leave the pot, the pot can leave the kitchen; or—modern era only—the cook can pop a cork and chill out.

—-——

History lesson.

Once upon a time, fidgety fireside finger-tappers were sent off for a fixed length of time, which always ended with expressive body language for “what, you again? already?”

Exasperated, they soon assigned a rock-shifting task (a hundred baby heads, spit to spit) to enforce a fixed duration of penance in the spit-flanked rock garden.

Gradually, because one of the Mifune/Ron Perlman types—the kind whose distant offspring would lose his spit morsel in the cheese fondue every damn time—increasingly kills himself at killing his boredom, by turning his minor labour of Hercules into a circus act, ever the shifting rocks become stacked in odder and more creative ways.

[*] Why this impresses the chicks remains of the great mysteries of the modern evolutionary synthesis—though if you had been there, and seen just how well—to the last uncanny detail—that last pile resembled the chief’s shriveled substance, you’d have laughed, too; and cried, also, when the slightly pudgy chief—the only one who couldn’t see it—flew into a rage and pounded his chest, and generally made the flap worse, until no-one could breathe. In truth, this was an amazing age of discovery, like no age since. Once the old guy finally rode off into the sunset on a torn meniscus, this story was re-enacted with such regularity around the evening campfire that several impressionable infants mistook the adult mirth and hubbub for actual conversation—the kind of conversation modern children have across the aisle in the back of a classroom, to one-up each other on the matter of which adult has the funniest walk immediately after the curious matter never explained (since renamed “funny business”)—and the rest is history.

However, long before all that transpired, this one time (at brigand camp) there was an especially muddy spring flood. Caked with mud, the Mifune mason (and all-about loose cheese) crafted the most impressive phallic resemblance yet. Which—exposed to the baking sun—hardened on the outskirts, to the great amusement of mostly the women folk, who now had something damning to point toward when the men came back from the hunt empty handed, no matter how impressive the (empty) hand language at the evening fireside re-enactment of potency, prowess, panic, and pain.

One of the men—in truth a hunter of generational talent—did not take kindly toward these (now admittedly infrequent) humiliations and, promptly—upon the first sufficiently muddy spring—outdid the village idiot on the opposite riverbank outskirt by a wide margin (involving flattened sticks for the purpose of lofting mud—lacrosse style—and a final layup capstone with a stone hardly any other man in town could even lift, much less clean—or jerk).

The womenfolk did not immediately recognize their undoing, but it soon became apparent they could no longer point at either monument—the old flap or the new, erm, what-shall-we-call-it—there’s still no polite word for it—without blushing to high heaven. Still smarting in their evolutionary subconscious from all those millions of years flushing red in the nethers, this was definitely not on.

However, the children—by which I mean all of the girls—had by then extemporized upon these newly devised rude subvocalizations of their male malefactors quite extensively [see footnote, above]; and so, as this quickened cohort took up the torch (and the girlish giggles of youth passed into the night) this new “statuesque” chapter of the eternal campfire code mutated and endured, now discretely clad in a subtle head tilt, hint-hint breathy sub-vocalization kind of way—more subtle, anyway, once everyone convinced a few of the older biddies beyond the (not so) pale rosé that pointing was no longer ‘deemed’ polite—and thus, by the end of day, everything in Mudville proceeded as it had always done, unchanged in all essentials, pretty much.

[*] This being the very first Mudville of year/year fixed address (even Ur—land of the signature grunt—came later).

[**] For the scare-quote warriors out there, try acting out ‘deem’ during a one-flashlight impromptu-charades black-out party.

———-

Four score and seven millennia would pass before it once again becomes peripherally acceptable to dispel social ennui with a motile thumb concealed in a convenient pocket or the fold of a skirt.

For today’s youth, the pressing challenge is to sit still-faced without lifting the merest me-here eyebrow while the bespectacled drone goes to auction.

[*] In a pinch, bubblegum may be judiciously deployed to obscure a breaking poker expression from the cheekbones down—though today’s inured youth now consider this to be a laughably flagrant rookie move.

———

Female DM thumb #1: Mxn JPP … [ed. Maxine just popped her pink …]

Female DM thumb #2 [down the corridor]: What, again? ???

Meanwhile:

Male DM thumb #1: I think JP should JP. [ed. JP=”just playing” co-opted as “just play”]

Male DM thumb #2 [next seat over]: Flu, dude! Can’t JP after just puking …

Male DM thumb #1: lol ?****°o°oo.o…

russ99

Bag of Pucks:
I think our perception of Russell as a capable Defenceman is very much influenced by how you perceive the role of the Dman itself. Is it the job of the Dman to eliminate shots entirely or to mitigate the danger of shots by forcing them from disadvantageous places on the ice? Some coaches will obviously disagree on this and will tailor their systems accordingly.

My feeling is the goal should be outright elimination, within reason. With the best defenceman, they can absolutely shutdown the opposition greatly reducing the overall shot output and as a result, they show up in the analytics as corsi supermen. These D are like shutdown corners in the NFL. You literally can’t complete a pass in the red zone against them, so you’re forced to direct the offense elsewhere. Lidstrom, Potvin, Orr. These kind of guys.

Unfortunately, there’s the larger swath of NHL D for whom massive shot suppression is not a realistic goal. They can’t consistently win the one on one matchups, so they rely on gap control and stick position to force the shot or pass from less than optimal territory.

For both these types, the ‘shot block’ should be the last resort. If your primary function is to take the shot away, then obviously you’ve failed to a certain extent when the opposition gets one away. At that point, the shot block is essentially damage control, particularly when you factor in that the Dman rarely controls the ricochet.

The very fact that Kris Russell is consistently near the league lead in shot blocks should tell us A) he’s not succeeding in total shot suppression, & B) he excels at the lesser value skill of damage control

The thing I don’t like about a smaller D like Russell is his game is predicated on anticipation to avoid the physical mismatch. That’s fine when he has adequate space and time, but once the opposition establishes control in the O zone, KR is is not as likely as a big man to win the battles on the wall, in the corners, in the slot.

Intuitively, I’m sure Chia knows this. He’s all about the ‘heavy’ game, so I’d be hugely surprised were he to look at Russell as anything other than a one year stopgap.

I think the one thing we can readily predict with Chiarelli, and his procurement choices consistently bear this out, is he prefers players that can win one on one physical battles. He’ll keep a player like an Eberle or KR if they provide enough of a game elsewhere, but it’s not his first choice. He wants a team that plays a heavy game.

This is where the “prevent entry” guys completely lose me.

There are a large number of events per game where the opposition gains the zone, and teams still get shots regardless of what the defensemen do.

The best defenses at entry prevention still allow 20-30 shots per game.

So in these cases, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have some defensemen that are good at affecting shot quality?

This is the difference between Russell and Klefbom. One is good at one thing (limiting entry) and poor at another (affecting shot quality) and vice versa. So how can we say one is great and the other is awful, considering there will be many events per game in each defenseman’s wheelhouse.

Conversely, wouldn’t it be beneficial to have D-pairs that are good at different things?

doritogrande

#Oilers D Darnell Nurse has ankle ligament/bone surgery. He is out up to 12 weeks.

I feel for the guy, but there’s a non-zero chance he doesn’t fully recover from this. His skillset is duplicated, he plays the most populous position on the team and may not bring more than Jason Smith in terms of offense.

I can see him going in the offseason for a name-brand RHD.

frjohnk

Our top 2 D pairs

Looking at some of the against metrics

Larsson CA/60 Oscar Klefbom
54.18
Russell CA/60 Andrej Sekera
53.86

Larsson FF/60 Oscar Klefbom
44.08
Russell FF/60 Andrej Sekera
35.83

Larsson SA/60 Oscar Klefbom
29.65
Russell SA/60 Andrej Sekera
27.13

Larsson SCA/60 Oscar Klefbom
30.62
Russell SCA/60 Andrej Sekera
26.31

Larsson HDCA/60 Oscar Klefbom
12.5
Russell HDCA/60 Andrej Sekera
10.56

Larsson GA/60 Oscar Klefbom
3.05
Russell GA/60 Andrej Sekera
0.62

Larsson HDGA/60 Oscar Klefbom
2.72
Russell HDGA/60 Andrej Sekera
0.41

I dont need to do a commentary. Less bad things happen in the Oilers zone when Russell and Sekera are on the ice compared to when Larsson and Klefbom are on the ice and with some of the metrics its not even close.

A few things to keep in mind

-Both pairings play about the same amount of time with McDavid. So no McDavid effect here.

-Russell is playing on his off hand, we know that this can have a negative impact on shot attempts and should be made note of when looking at Russell’s stats.

-Even though I and others have said that the reason Russell has poor “for metrics” is because he allows so many easy zone entries against and is stuck in his own zone for more time than other Dmen, his “against metrics” dont seem that bad. So this is a bit puzzling.

-zone starts are basically a wash
Klefbom Larsson
19.4 O zone starts per 60
20.0 D zone starts per 60
Russell Sekera
18.0 O zone starts per 60
19.9 D zone starts per 60

And I know its not proper to look at rates to compare Dmen from other teams.

But our “top pairing” are the number 1 and number 2 worst Dmen in the league when looking at goals against from the high danger area per 60 ( 300 mins or more) out of 155 Dmen

RK..Player….HDGA/60
155 Klefbom 2.69
154 Larsson 2.52

Goals against per 60 they are bad,bad,bad,bad.
152 Klefbom 3.31
144 Larsson 3.09

high danger scoring chances against per 60 they are amongst the leagues worst as well
127 Klefbom 11.6
145 Larsson 12.5

Sekera overall and Russell overall by themselves are basically middle of the pack in the league, not too hot, not too cold. But put them together and wowzers,

If we look at GA/60 for Sekera and Russell together, a little context to see how they place in the league.

Shea Weber is the only Dman who has a GA/60 below 1.00 as he comes in at 0.71 and that is in front of Carey Price

Sekera and Russell together have a GA/60 of 0.62
I dont know if that is the best GA/60 of a pairing in the league that have played together for many minutes, but that is elite.

If we look at goals against from the high danger area/60 we see that Beaulieu from Montreal has the best number of 0.36 HDGA/60 ( Price again) 2nd best Dman has a number of 0.52 HDGA/60

Sekera and Russell together
HDGA/60
0.41
Again elite.

Im not suggesting that Russell and Sekera are better than Klefbom and Larsson, but if we are wondering why the two Swedes are getting less icetime, its probably because bad things happen when the two Swedes are on the ice and great things happen when Sekera and Russell are on the ice.

Im not sure if they can keep this up for 1 game or the rest of the season, but I can see why the coaches are liking Russell and Sekera together for now

Truth

v4ance:
Coming out of the commercial with about 14 mins left in the 3rd, Drew Remenda starts describing a narrative about “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but about the size of the fight in the dog” in reference to Kris Russell.

At the start of the clip the puck is near the blue line and Russell, Wheeler and Sekera are shoulder to shoulder in front of the net.The puck goes to the top of the right faceoff circle to an uncovered man, Sekera moves out to try to block the shot leaving Russell to cover Wheeler.

Remenda says, “First off Wheeler does a great job in front of the net. He’s gonna get into perfect position to screen, presents the stick but then Russel goes to work defensively”.In reality Russell has drifted two steps forward to the slot puck watching and LEFT Wheeler alone behind him to get into THAT perfect position to screen and tip the shot onto net.

Remenda continues ” and this is two guys battling as hard as they can to try and get inside. Wheeler comes out with it but still enough work done by Russell against Wheeler…”Wheeler has recovered the rebound and backhands a second shot on net but Russell does recover enough to block thatsecond shot. Wheeler pivots 180 to face Talbot looking for the puck but Russell has chipped it towards the boards behind Wheeler and is in better position to recover the puck.Russell tries to skate thru Wheeler but Wheeler just does another 180, takes a stride, leans Russell into the boards with his shoulder and easily recovers the puck.AT this point, he’s two strides away and moving back up to the point with clear possession while Russell gives up covering Wheeler and lets Caggiula take him.

Remenda is praising Russell for working hard while I see Russell losing his mark, losing a one on one battle in which he had a slight advantage and losing possession of the puck.

My narrative goes like this:Russell has to work so hard because he is too small to win one on one battles in front of the net or along the boards, he allows zone entries too easily, he has to block a lot of shots because he’s allowing the opponents to possess the puck for a majority of the time in OUR zone and he makes the same amount of mistakes that a less experienced defenceman does.

The coach holds up Russell as an example for the other players because Russell has to put in nearly 100% of his effort working hard on every shift just to survive.Coach Mac would love for every player to put in as much effort.

I look at the underlying numbers and would say, moral examples are nice but having a better player would be nicer, even if he’s only giving 85% on every shift.

I was laughing after Remenda’s attempted praise of Russell on this play. To paraphrase, “Russell beat Wheeler to the puck, which is great, he then battled hard but lost the puck to Wheeler, in which Wheeler quickly distributed it to a linemate for a great scoring chance. Excellent work by Russell, he failed but he tried hard and that’s why he’s such a valuable piece to the Oilers.”

Cassandra

Bag of Pucks,

The most interesting thing about this love affair with Kris Russell in the media, and if true, in the Oilers front office, is that he is the kind of player those types usually hate, or at least undervalue.

Which goes to the theory that the only reason the media likes him is because stat guys don’t.

Cassandra

kinger_OIL,

I agree coaches, and general managers, are under enormous pressure to win. My point is that being under pressure to win leads to bad decisions. The exclusive focus on winning doesn’t lead to winning.

Likewise, hiring people on the basis of their track record of winning, as opposed to their track record of the things that lead to winning, is a mistake.

In this world it is very possible to achieve good results without doing the right things, and to do the right things without achieving good results, especially in the short term. It is also possible to achieve good results while doing the right things and then the world changes and the right things aren’t the right things anymore. Focusing on results is going to lead you to miss what really matters.

Diesel

nelson88,

The “pedestrian portal” that currently functions as the main (temporary) entrance to Rogers Place is only about a block from the City Centre mall entrance. The mall is fully pedway connected to other areas of downtown, as I’m sure you recall.

Bag of Pucks

frjohnk:
Mark Spector ‏@SportsnetSpec 2m2 minutes ago

#Oilers D Darnell Nurse has ankle ligament/bone surgery. He is out up to 12 weeks.

Back around mid March.
Probably wont be back up to speed until the playoffs start

Shite

Bag of Pucks

I think our perception of Russell as a capable Defenceman is very much influenced by how you perceive the role of the Dman itself. Is it the job of the Dman to eliminate shots entirely or to mitigate the danger of shots by forcing them from disadvantageous places on the ice? Some coaches will obviously disagree on this and will tailor their systems accordingly.

My feeling is the goal should be outright elimination, within reason. With the best defenceman, they can absolutely shutdown the opposition greatly reducing the overall shot output and as a result, they show up in the analytics as corsi supermen. These D are like shutdown corners in the NFL. You literally can’t complete a pass in the red zone against them, so you’re forced to direct the offense elsewhere. Lidstrom, Potvin, Orr. These kind of guys.

Unfortunately, there’s the larger swath of NHL D for whom massive shot suppression is not a realistic goal. They can’t consistently win the one on one matchups, so they rely on gap control and stick position to force the shot or pass from less than optimal territory.

For both these types, the ‘shot block’ should be the last resort. If your primary function is to take the shot away, then obviously you’ve failed to a certain extent when the opposition gets one away. At that point, the shot block is essentially damage control, particularly when you factor in that the Dman rarely controls the ricochet.

The very fact that Kris Russell is consistently near the league lead in shot blocks should tell us A) he’s not succeeding in total shot suppression, & B) he excels at the lesser value skill of damage control

The thing I don’t like about a smaller D like Russell is his game is predicated on anticipation to avoid the physical mismatch. That’s fine when he has adequate space and time, but once the opposition establishes control in the O zone, KR is is not as likely as a big man to win the battles on the wall, in the corners, in the slot.

Intuitively, I’m sure Chia knows this. He’s all about the ‘heavy’ game, so I’d be hugely surprised were he to look at Russell as anything other than a one year stopgap.

I think the one thing we can readily predict with Chiarelli, and his procurement choices consistently bear this out, is he prefers players that can win one on one physical battles. He’ll keep a player like an Eberle or KR if they provide enough of a game elsewhere, but it’s not his first choice. He wants a team that plays a heavy game.

Jethro Tull

So far, McDavid has taken on the league’s best and dominated. Now the next test, Sam G’Arnyea rolls into town. Who will be the victor in the battle of the 8pt night vs. the eternal light?

JD_Wry

Ribs:
Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers5m5 minutes ago
The #Oilers have assigned David Musil to the @Condors.

Davey Davey

Give me your answer do…

JD_Wry

jake70: Do we know what happened? Blocked shot or what??

Hunting with Dick Cheney?

Ribs

Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers 5m5 minutes ago
The #Oilers have assigned David Musil to the @Condors.

Soup Fascist

OMG, We are down to our last 8 LHD!

Very unfortunate for Nurse, though. Kid was was moving in the right direction and was a pleasure to watch play. Godspeed young man.

Scungilli Slushy

Russell ‘looks’ like a good player more than he is to me. He’s a smooth skater and fluid looking making plays, and looks to be working hard all of the time.

I also see him losing a lot of battles and giving up gap, making enough weak plays. He’s a better third pairing left side used properly.

In style that reminds me of Risto Siltanen. He’d lose the puck in the defensive zone and go berserk until he got it back. Of course Risto was no taller but probably 30 pounds heavier and had a booming slapper.

jake70

Bruce McCurdy:
Ankle ligament AND bone damage sounds like a complex injury. One hopes that he recovers 100%. It would be a shame for this player to lose some of his mobility which is one of his defining strengths.

Do we know what happened? Blocked shot or what??

Scungilli Slushy

The a big part of difference between great players and others is process, consistent high level play. Lots of players have skill but lots also can’t maintain high level play.

It’s reflected in team play. Great teams do the process of the game consistently and well, and hope their skill takes them over the top. Breakouts comes to mind given how weak the Oilers remain at it. Also o zone attack. The Oilers are much better at rush plays than cycle plays as we know.

Bruce McCurdy

Ankle ligament AND bone damage sounds like a complex injury. One hopes that he recovers 100%. It would be a shame for this player to lose some of his mobility which is one of his defining strengths.

frjohnk

Mark Spector ‏@SportsnetSpec 2m2 minutes ago

#Oilers D Darnell Nurse has ankle ligament/bone surgery. He is out up to 12 weeks.

Back around mid March.
Probably wont be back up to speed until the playoffs start

JD_Wry

Edmonton Oilers Verified account
‏@EdmontonOilers

#Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli announces Darnell Nurse underwent surgery to repair ankle ligament & bone damage. He will miss up to 12 weeks.