2009-02-19

Post-Lubo goal scoring: a new paradigm? :)


Of all the numbers that seep into my life, from recreational mathematics to classical astronomy to baseball and hockey statistics, one of my favourite diversions is the field of small number statistics. One can find all sorts of interesting and extreme examples and draw all sorts of bizarre conclusions just for the fun of it. The key is not only sample size, but choosing exactly where to constrain that sample.

Here's an example that is entirely current and factually correct. There are even some grains of meaning to be found therein.

The Oilers have had to change their game since the unfortunate loss of their slick puckmoving defencemen, first Lubomir Visnovsky followed all too quickly by Denis Grebeshkov. Suddenly a defence crew that provided four of the club's top eight scorers was a double amputee in the manner of the Black Knight. Just as suddenly, the onus fell much more squarely on the shoulders of the forwards to light the lamp.

The Oilers have played 7 games since Lubo went down, 6 of them on the road, and have posted an impressive 4-2-1 W-L-L record. The club has scored a creditable 20 goals in those games, even without counting a pair of ersatz shootout "goals". Here is the distribution of goal scorers over that span:

Stortini 3
Souray 3
Penner 3
Hemsky 2
Horcoff 2
Gagner 2
Cole 1
Pouliot 1
Cogliano 1
Brodziak 1
Reddox 1
Nilsson 0
Moreau 0
All D but SS 0

For the love of mike, there's Zack Stortini leading the Oilers in goal scoring. Who knew?

I care more about how the lines are faring as a group, not as much about who is finishing the job. The forward lines have been pretty stable over that period of games, even as the defence has been shuffled. Here's the goal scoring line by line:

1. Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky - 7 goals

2. Nilsson-Gagner-Cole - 3 goals

3. Moreau-Cogliano-Pouliot - 2 goals

4. Reddox-Brodziak-Stortini - 5 goals

So our so-called fourth line has equalled the offensive production of the second and third units combined over this two-week stretch. Moreover, the first of Penner's goals was scored when Dustin was demoted to the fourth line -- assisted by Zack Stortini, come to think of it -- suggesting that over this 4-2-1 stretch the fourth line has equalled the output of the First line, in a helluva lot less ice time.

The underlying numbers -- shots and Corsi data -- don't paint such a rosy picture of the grinders' performance, but shots don't tell the whole tale either. Last year much was made of the "unsustainable" shooting percentages that the Crosstiniaks maintained. Yet this year I look at the same data and there is Zack Stortini leading all non-Schremps with a team Sh% of 12.0% when he's on the ice, and leading all the non-SMacs in individual Sh% at an astonishing 28.6%. 4 goals in 14 shots, but still. As a unit those guys plainly don't waste a lot of shots, they try to bull it to the front of the net and when they succeed in getting it there a one-foot shot has a better than average chance of going in. Or so the small number statistics suggest. :)

10 comments:

Unleaded said...

Nice little post Bruce.

Just out of curiosity, hows that rock of yours? Had a chance to do some compositional analysis yet?

Bruce said...

Unleaded: Thanks. I love the tongue-in-cheek stuff, esp. when there's just enough truth in there to start a fire.

When it comes to analytical science I'm just a facilitator, but yes the work has been done and the experts agree it's an H4 chondrite.

Much more at my recently updated website.

Ribs said...

I don't know what gets into these guys. If Zorg and Brodziak can keep up their crash-the-net-with-no-mercy style of play they've displayed in the last few games here, the loss of Glencross really won't seem like such a big deal anymore.

I just wonder why they weren't doing it until now? I'll have to keep a better eye on it but it seems like it might have something to do with when they are getting on the ice.

Whatever it is, please continue to do so. Pretty please. Maybe show some of our more skilled players how effective the plain ol' hustle can be.

Nice updates on the rocks! That stuff is pretty wild.

raventalon40 said...

I hate to quote myself Bruce, but here's what I said about the effect of Hemsky on team mates:

Often times, the Oilers rely too much on Hemsky and though at first glance Hemsky looks like a ballhog, it soon becomes apparent that the other Oilers, such as Horcoff (who was good at faceoffs tonight but atrocious at all other things hockey-related) and Penner become spectators who expect him to set them up perfectly or find them in a tough situation. Sometimes that means Horcoff stand on the half-boards waiting for a one-time pass that has no business being tried; sometimes this is Penner along the corner boards waiting for the cycle that was defeated at the blue line (due to lack of puck support which provides passing lane options to Hemsky, the puck-carrier). The outcome of this is Penner and Horcoff (two players who can skate) becoming spectators in what is not a spectator sport.

I think it's similar with Visnovsky just that with Hemsky out there was nobody who could play his role and the team suffered in a bigger way.

Though Grebskhov is injured as well, Gilbert, Smid, and Souray are more than ample at making up extra ice time in the absence of Vis and Grebs.

I think because our blue line is so good right now (ignoring injuries) in terms of offensive production, one of Gilbert or Grebeskhov has to be moved in the off-season. Gilbert and Vis are favorite Oilers D but Grebs is clearly a younger D-man than eventually may be better than even Souray or Visnovsky. Gilbert is a top end guy but with the NTCs and NMCs presented by the contracts of #44 and #71, traded options are slim.

If the Oilers go with the "tried, tested, and true," they will move Grebeskhov. If they think, like me, that his solid play must rise above the organizational attachment to Tom Gilbert, then the Oilers are meritocratic and will resign Grebs long-term.

Trust me, it will be hard for all of us. I will have to hang up my Tom Gilbert jersey after only a few seasons... but some things must be done.

Regardless with how the blue line shapes out next season though, our best players are undoubtedly Hemsky and Visnovsky. Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Horcoff, and Roloson are the supporting cast.

Bruce said...

Horcoff (who was good at faceoffs tonight but atrocious at all other things hockey-related)

RT: Say what?! That's not how I saw it. The stats sheet says 26:07 TOI (3+ minutes more than Iginla, Cole, Hemsky or any other forward), 2 primary assists, 4 shots, 2 hits, 2 shot blocks, and that awesome night on the dot (23-9, 72%). He was even on the night, but really got hosed there, having just come on the ice on line changes for BOTH Calgary goals -- 3 seconds the first time, 4 the second, while being directly involved in both Oiler tallies. Moreover, he made Ugly look bad in several one-on-one battles, including the play that led directly to Cole's first goal. He was huge on the PK, and while the PP as a whole was definitely Atrocious -- cost us the frickin' game -- to lay all that on Shawn Horcoff would be a mistake. That's part of the game where I expect Ales Hemsky to shine ... and last night, he sure didn't.

I don't know WTF you want; Horc was named second star of the game, and if anything I thought that was a low ball. He was a horse.

One thing we do agree is on Grebs; I sure hope we can find a way to keep him around.

raventalon40 said...

That seems to be the attitude around the Oilers fan base that Horcoff played a big game. I dunno, I don't know why but I felt like I noticed a lack of desire on his part on the PP when the Oilers could've put the Flames away. But upon reflection, the whole PP unit was guilty of this.

Oilman said...

At this moment I realized I was simultaneously holding one of the oldest rocks on Earth, and one of the newest. Little did I know that in the days and weeks after touching and being touched by this undeniably extraterrestrial object, I would wind up making contact in some form or other with intelligent life from all over our own exquisitely fragile globe.

You certainly have a way with words Bruce....but be careful - this is exactly how Spiderman turned evil!:o)

David S said...

"At this moment I realized I was simultaneously holding one of the oldest rocks on Earth, and one of the newest. Little did I know that in the days and weeks after touching and being touched by this undeniably extraterrestrial object, I would wind up making contact in some form or other with intelligent life from all over our own exquisitely fragile globe."

Bruce - I've been to your meteor rock site. Interesting stuff. What I can't quite figure out is how a chunk of heavy meteor rock falling at ridiculous speed to earth (I saw this event BTW) came to be embedded ever-so-gently in a pond. No real indications of impact, no pieces driven into the ice, no real indication anything happened other than some hot pieces of rock were placed on the ice and melted a bit in place. How is this possible? Was there a primary impact crater in the vicinity and these were secondary fragments? The simple M x V equation tells me this should have been a much more dramatic impact site. Thoughts?

Anyways, I am wondering why you haven't done an updated piece on the emergence of Zack as a bonafide player. The guy is starting to come on strong and I'd be interested to hear an intelligent take on this.

Bruce said...

Oilman: Thanks.

David S: The meteoroid hit the atmosphere at some 14 km/s but experienced atmospheric drag on the way down which slowed it considerably, "similar to firing a bullet into water". Ultimately a meteoroid of that size, especially after breaking into fragments, will lose its cosmic velocity and achieve a terminal velocity on the order of 100-200 m/s, only about 1% of its original speed.

The biggest chunk known to be recovered (13 kg) landed on solid ground and left a pit about 10 cm deep.

I am wondering why you haven't done an updated piece on the emergence of Zack as a bonafide player. The guy is starting to come on strong and I'd be interested to hear an intelligent take on this.

I've been writing on and off, mostly on other blogs, about that emergence. This piece meant to touch in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner on his emerging prowess as a goal scorer, which is certainly an encouraging development. A huge goal against the Wild last night on an actual Shot put an exclamation point on a solid February (13 GP, 4-2-6, +2), very decent production for an 8-minute a game player. If only we could get our "second line" guys scoring like this!

raventalon40 said...

If there's one thing that Stortini has is hockey smarts. He's not the best player skills wise or in terms of toughness, but at the end of the day he gets the job done.