• Omark sits in Minny

    by  • October 12, 2011 • NHL • 32 Comments

    Hearing that mc79 fave Linus Omark is likely to sit out the next game for reasons related to effort, I thought I’d take a quick look at his shifts from the Pittsburgh game and see if I could pick up anything as far as effort problems. I thought he was pretty decent through the first period and, indeed, he was getting a fair amount of ice time. By the middle of the second period, he’d played 9:38 and looked to be on pace for a decent night of ice time. He only played 2:14 after that though, despite the Oilers chasing a goal for much of that time and Omark being a good offensive player. I went back and took a look at his last couple shifts to see before the ice time was turned off to see what I could see. As it turns out, there were some problems.

    The other two forwards have gone to the bench for a change. Omark, to Dubnyk’s left, has just passed the puck to Andy Sutton. That is, I think, Tom Gilbert at the top of the triangle. The Pens don’t have a ton of pressure on Sutton.

    linus6

    Gilbert heads for a change and Omark blasts up the ice in a straight line, leaving Sutton – who isn’t much of a puckhandler – facing a Penguins forechecker without any options as far as passes. Sutton decides to play it off the far boards and out, an easy turnover for the two Penguins lurking just outside the blue line…

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    …and this results.

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    In what was a running theme in his shifts this period, Omark had good position to prevent anyone getting to the net here…

    linus9

    …and loses that position.

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    Another example – Omark is right above the FACEOFF logo here:

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    He loses position to the Penguins’ player:

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    Here, Barker’s made a bit of a bizarre pinch and lost out. The puck has come back to Petry at the top left.

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    If Petry passes the puck a little quicker, he doesn’t have a problem. Omark isn’t moving his feet though, and makes the pass harder than it has to be. If he skates another five or ten feet back (and he had lots of time), Petry has a much easier angle on the pass. Petry’s pass is blocked:

    linus3

    So it’s a one on one. You can’t tell but the Pens player behind Omark wasn’t moving at a markedly different speed than Omark. It should be easy for Omark to take him and prevent an odd man chance for the Pens.

    linus2

    Again though, Omark ends up behind the guy – third time in nine minutes that he’s had position on a Penguin entering the Oilers’ zone and then given it up.

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    While we don’t have anything beyond a reference that Renney wasn’t happy with Omark’s game, it seems likely, given the time at which his time was cut, that these plays had something to do with it.

    It’s not all bad, I don’t think – Omark was pretty diligent in getting back when he was the high man in the offensive zone, he just seemed sort of clueless once he did it. There’s nothing here that isn’t fixable and it’s hard to criticize Renney for going after what does seem to have been a problem in some fashion. With that said, Omark’s still a better player than a lot of guys who will be dressing in Minnesota. One hopes that the standard Renney seems to be applying to him will be applied to others as well.

    Sort of related, I think I’ve figured out why I like Omark so much. I think he’s a good player and it does seem to me that there’s a bit of a double standard applied to guys like him but, more than that, there’s some joy in his game, a different sort of joy than you find in the games of most Canadians. He plays the game with a certain insolence that is just fun to watch. Hopefully he’s able to adapt to what the coaches want and they don’t try to beat the fun out of his soul – he’s the sort of guy who’d be fun to watch for a few years.

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    32 Responses to Omark sits in Minny

    1. Saj
      October 12, 2011 at

      Cool post! Loved the pictures to back up your statements.

      Earlier in the week, Dan Tencer also seemed to be reporting that Omark was hurt, but maybe he was out to lunch

    2. Bookie
      October 12, 2011 at

      Nice analysis – thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    3. FastOil
      October 12, 2011 at

      Thorough job. I like his spark too. At his age and experience playing pro hockey he has better training than that. We used to call that kind of player a goal suck, looking for the breakaway pass, not working hard. Hope he’s just getting used to things. He won’t have many chances to Nilsson, especially without many points.

    4. Tyler Dellow
      October 12, 2011 at

      The thing is, I wouldn’t say he’s goal sucking. He was coming back. He just made a bunch of bad decisions in the defensive zone, many of which were related to not having his head on a swivel and looking to deny guys good spots on the ice.

    5. October 12, 2011 at

      I posted a similar comment elsewhere, and will post it here as it applies:

      I don’t care about simply being entertained by an individual player anymore. We have enough players that can entertain AND be effective in the likes of RNH, Hall and Eberle. Basically, what I want is players who are effective and get things done.

      I don’t need to see a smurf like Omark try to play keep away from a behemoth. I don’t need to see Hemsky piddle around with the puck and not capitilize on a dozen chances. I want to see the puck in the net, guys hammered into the boards and a succesful tick – tack – toe once in a while.

      It’s time for this shit to get real and it’s time to confess the issues this team has been surrounded by for the past few years. It’s innefective cutesy plays that I don’t care to see anymore.

      Yes, Omark may dazzle and entertain here and there. But when it’s all said and done, who really cares. I want wins and thus I want players in the line up that cater to the wins column. Do we really need an abundance of cutesy players in this line up?

    6. October 13, 2011 at

      Nice post, Tyler.

      @ Raine Snow: I’m not at all sure how anyone can come to the conclusion that right now Jordan Eberle is a superior player to Ales Hemsky. Strikes me as kind of crazy, actually.

      While we’re at it, the idea that ‘cutesy little plays’ and not ‘J-F Jacques on the top line’ or ‘regular minutes for Strudwick’ or ‘a crappy goaltending plan’ is the problem of the last few years seems off to me too. The Oilers have had plenty of problems, but an overabundance of skilled puckhandlers hasn’t been a prominent one.

    7. October 13, 2011 at

      I’d also be curious to see – and I may take a crack at it, once I get through a couple of other projects I’m working on – what Omark’s value in the shootout translates to in terms of points for the Oilers. Seems like an area where one 50% (or thereabouts) player could have a disproportionate impact on the team’s standings.

    8. E
      October 13, 2011 at

      this was extremely interesting and informative. well done, sir.

    9. godot10
      October 13, 2011 at

      I’ve said this in other places. The Wild have a lot of guys who run around and cheap shot people, more than the average number. You’re taking your prize asset, Nugent-Hopkins there for the first time. Renney wants numbers in bigger guys there so the team isn’t shorthanded matching up with the Wild’s “headless chickens”.

      That plus he wants to take a look at Petrell (doesn’t have to clear waivers) before Eager is healthy.

      Omark is low man the the small Oiler forward totem pole.

      • Darren
        October 13, 2011 at

        Match up for what exactly? Either way those ‘headless chickens’ will run around anyways. Having ‘bigger bodies’ on the bench do nothing to deter that and you can’t just grab and punch the guy.

      • dawgbone
        October 13, 2011 at

        But Clutterbuck and Powe aren’t going to fight Hordichuk.

    10. Captain Obvious
      October 13, 2011 at

      I agree with Tyler that the Oilers treat Omark to a double standard. However, it goes beyond the Oilers to the media and the officials. For a third line player with less than one season under his belt he’s brought up all the time by the national networks usually with some kind of softball designed to let an established guy take a cheapshot at him. Why is that? He also gets called for a penalty every time he breathes on someone on the forecheck but never draws a penalty when he gets crosschecked in the back.

      This is why he’s my favourite player. What is happening is textbook bullying behaviour. Until/unless someone stands up for him he doesn’t have a chance because everyone, including the Oilers, is just looking for an excuse to stomp on him. It’s pretty sickening really.

      Oh, and Raine’s post doesn’t deserve a response other than to note there isn’t enough rational thought there to respond to. It would be like responding to the bleating of a goat. The sad thing is that the bleating of a goat is what passes for thought amongst most Oiler fans.

    11. Jonathan McLeod
      October 13, 2011 at

      If Omark is in Renney’s “doghouse” I would guess it’s because of his shootout attempt. I think he needs to retire that move.

    12. Sacamano
      October 13, 2011 at

      Wait a second. Was that just some good ole fashioned ‘here-is-what-I-saw-with-my-own-eyes’ type of analysis? The same kind of analysis that those dumb old-timey coaches use? No spreadsheet? No statistics? You mean those annoyingly qualitative (and so fuzzy) concepts like ‘lazy’ and ‘lack of effort’ and ‘hockey sense’ might actually have some value, after all?

      • Tyler Dellow
        October 13, 2011 at

        This assumes, of course, that it matters all that much. How many extra goals against will be caused by Omark not properly picking up his man? Not that many I wager. I’m sure more will be caused by Ryan Jones’ inability to get the puck out of his own end of the ice. You can fix Omark’s problem though and Jones is probably a waste of time. Hopefully that’s why Renney’s going after him.

        • sacamano
          October 13, 2011 at

          Of course, we could also apply some sort of fuzzy “Broken Windows” theory to this situation. If the Coach lets Omark get away with not properly picking up his man using the justification that ‘statistically speaking’ it doesn’t cost too many goals, then this likely gives less incentive for anyone else to pick up their man . . . My guess, not backed up by any mathemagic, is that if lots of people stop picking up their man, goals against will soar.

          What? “Sending a message” might have some value too? Gawd.

          • Darren
            October 13, 2011 at

            Actually, if the coach allows Omark to keep getting away with this defensive play, you will see it in the stats as there will be more chances created against when Omark is on the ice.

          • Tyler Dellow
            October 13, 2011 at

            Sacamano

            I’m not too vexed about this, for precisely that reason. It seemed pretty clear by the end of last year that Renney preferred Linus to Jones and I assume that will end up being the case again. I do find it a bit curious that messages tend to get sent to the guys without the sterling pedigrees though. I’ll be watching tonight to see how some of the more famous young guys do when it comes to coming back and closing guys out.

            • marconiusE
              October 13, 2011 at

              Like you mentioned though: It’s not worth sending a message to a player that doesn’t have the ability to receive it. Omark’s a smart kid and if his ego doesn’t get in the way, he is more then capable of picking up what Renny is trying to tell him. Jones on the other hand…

            • sacamano
              October 13, 2011 at

              I do find it a bit curious that messages tend to get sent to the guys without the sterling pedigrees though.

              No you don’t; it isn’t curious at all, and I suspect you know that. I’m not sure why teams need to be run as paragons of equality. Some players respond better to certain kinds of medicine. And for some players, the benefits of the medicine isn’t worth the cost — either because of what it does to their individual games or what it does to the team as a whole. I don’t have any problem with Omark being treated differently than Hall.

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    13. high hopes
      October 13, 2011 at

      good luck on the enjoyment of watching omark for the “next few years”…like the fate of all European Oilers of any imagination who have made the mistake of signing with the Oil since Sather’s departure, his days are most likely numbered…

      could the sedins or ovechkin or datsyuk ever have fluorished here? doubt it….

      this is a ryan jones kind of city, meat and potatoes…

      you’re right about the joy in omark’s game, such fun to watch, but will he and the rest of the swedes want to play here for any length of time?

    14. October 13, 2011 at

      I think he’s a good player and it does seem to me that there’s a bit of a double standard applied to guys like him but, more than that, there’s some joy in his game, a different sort of joy than you find in the games of most Canadians. He plays the game with a certain insolence that is just fun to watch.

      Why Alex Semin isn’t your favorite player, as he is mine, I do not understand.

    15. Mr DeBakey
      October 13, 2011 at

      “If Omark is in Renney’s “doghouse” I would guess it’s because of his shootout attempt. I think he needs to retire that move.”

      That’s the second time I’ve heard that suggested.
      If correct, Renney should be fired today.
      That’s just insane.

      The opening was there, Omark just missed it.

      • marconiusE
        October 13, 2011 at

        I agree 100%. Sure it looks flashy, but qualitatively, it’s no different then a wrist shot, a deke or any other move. It’s a sad comment on the general attitude that there are only a limited variety of shootout attempts that people consider ‘legit.’ The basic formula of almost any shootout attempt is to get the goalie to bite on a fake (either with a deke, a skating stride or a pump fake) and then look for the open side/corner/5-hole. Rarely do you see a shooter score with a straight-up wrister or slapper.

    16. Petrov
      October 13, 2011 at

      Nice work! would also like to see hall and hemskys many turnovers that game in a slower pace !

    17. Lobanovskyi
      October 13, 2011 at

      “Omark was pretty diligent in getting back when he was the high man in the offensive zone, he just seemed sort of clueless once he did it. There’s nothing here that isn’t fixable …”

      I think this comment relies on the false assumption that creative players** can be taught to take away space (which I would argue is the cornerstone of defensive play).

      In my opinion, smart hockey players (not to be confused with smart people) are those who understand space and have the ability to anticipate enough to take advantage of that understanding. Does Omark fit this definition of smart player? I don’t actually know. I have to confess I haven’t watched him play enough to make a judgement on this front, and there’s too much noise to determine via his advanced stats if he regularly makes plays like these. What I’ve seen of his game, I like (although I’m also biased in favour of players who are given every chance to fail), but Tyler’s analysis in pictures raises some serious red flags for me.

      Everyone has an off night from time to time, but certain on-ice behaviour is so ingrained by the time a player is 18 (or 15, or 16… pick a number – finding your check and taking away his space is basic stuff that players tend to either do or not do) that a failure to take away a lane in the D zone or on the rush has to be treated differently than general lethargy. Also, if he was diligent in backchecking but was doing it poorly, you can’t even attribute his failure to lack of effort.

      I don’t have data to back my opinion up, but I’d argue that missed assignments/60 would be the strongest indicator of defensive performance if it existed. The world being what it is, I’d watch for two things in Omark’s game when he gets back in the lineup:

      1. Does he keep blowing assignments; and
      2. How well does he use his teammates when he has the puck? It’s tempting to blame a lack of intelligent puck movement on weak linemates when a creative player is stuck with the Joneses of the world, but a player can be creative without being intelligent. Such players will disappoint in the long run.

      ** If the comment suggests that all players can be “taught” defence, I have even more difficulty with it, but I assumed that the comment related to certain kinds of players because Omark is small, quick and clever with the puck (i.e. exhibiting none of the traditional meathead characteristics)

    18. Lobanovskyi
      October 13, 2011 at

      One other thing – Renney may be going after him to fix the problem, send a message, reinforce the lesson, etc. However, one thing you can count on is the predictability of the orthodox hockey mindset. If a player isn’t counted on to make a contribution, you better believe that a few bad shifts are enough to earn that guy healthy scratch status… or worse.

      • Tom Benjamin
        October 14, 2011 at

        I think this is a really good post. I kinda like Omark from what I’ve seen of him. He’s nifty and for a little guy, he’s hard on the puck. But I keep looking for the reason why he didn’t get a chance until he was, what, 24? He has to have a hole in his game.

        He didn’t read these plays well, didn’t recognize danger quickly enough. Has anyone noticed the same issue on offense? Does he see opportunity quickly enough? Open ice usually doesn’t stay open long. I think most high draft picks who bomb out fail in this respect. They might have all the tools. The brain worked quickly enough in Junior. But the NHL pace? The hands may be quick enough, but not the head. Does he often make the right play, a beat late? If the offense is okay, then I think the defense can be taught.

        I don’t think we should decide anything on these three plays, but it’s a red flag for me, too.

        I don’t think I’d worry about Omark’s type though. Datsyuk manages to be a terrific defensive player. Now there’s a guy whose mind is churning out there. He hardly even has to check anybody because opponents keep passing him the puck.

        • Lobanovskyi
          October 15, 2011 at

          This is not at all the point I was making. Orthodox hockey management requires a player’s successes in any competition except those that are broadcast on TSN (not including the Spengler Cup or the World Championships, which are also excluded) to be rationalized, minimized, or disregarded into oblivion. He didn’t get a chance because he’s not tipped for greatness as Eberle (to use his closest statistical comparable on the Oilers) is. This guy has done well offensively so far in his career – 3rd in scoring in the Swedish Elite League as a 21 year-old, 3rd in scoring on a decent Dynamo Moscow team as a 22 year-old. He’s earned the chance to show what he can do as a scoring forward in the NHL much more than a first-rounder out of major junior has, but he’ll need too many breaks to realistically expect to ever get that chance. His apparent lack of positional awareness causes me concern, but I highly doubt that it’s the reason he played more than 20 games in OK City last year.

          The defense can’t be taught. If the understanding of space is there offensively and he doesn’t continue to blow defensive assignments, maybe we’ve judged Omark unfairly on the basis of three shifts and some nice pictures. The team’s defensive system can be taught and his habits refined. His fundamentals are either there or they aren’t.

          You have to be kidding. Datsyuk to be good defensively. That’s kind of like saying I manage to put my pants on correctly in the morning. He’s the greatest defensive forward in hockey history (and probably a prophet sent by the hockey gods to enlighten us); his understanding of space is extraordinary. Saying that he and Omark share a type is flat-out wrong based on the analysis Tyler has presented. Why would they share a type? Because they both have sick hands, because they’re both euros? That’s poor.

          Datsyuk wins pucks. He’s not just really lucky.

          One more thing: Omark was not a high draft pick (4th round).

          • Lobanovskyi
            October 15, 2011 at

            Shit. Sorry for failing to us the HTML tags correctly. How do you italicize? I lost all my quotes and the word “manages” in the first line of the 3rd paragraph.

    19. Tom Benjamin
      October 15, 2011 at

      I restarted the thread:

      You have to be kidding. Datsyuk to be good defensively. That’s kind of like saying I manage to put my pants on correctly in the morning. He’s the greatest defensive forward in hockey history (and probably a prophet sent by the hockey gods to enlighten us); his understanding of space is extraordinary. Saying that he and Omark share a type is flat-out wrong based on the analysis Tyler has presented. Why would they share a type? Because they both have sick hands, because they’re both euros? That’s poor.

      Datsyuk wins pucks. He’s not just really lucky.

      I absolutely agree with your assessment of Datsyuk, although the best in history may be a tad overboard. It is because Datsyuk reads the play so well that the puck follows him around. Guys pass it to him because they think they see an opening but between the time they see it and they make the pass, Pavel pops into the open space and gratefully accepts the puck. Larionov was like that too.

      (It’s interesting that the league tracks guys who give the puck away and guys who take the puck away. The data doesn’t show much. I’d like to see them track the recipients of the giveaways and who lost the puck on the takeaways. Both might be more illuminating. I’ll bet Datsyuk year in, year out is given the puck more often than anybody. To me that’s a compliment. Before Kesler, Larionov was the best defensive forward the Canucks ever had and his greatest skill was an ability to convince opponents to hand him the puck.)

      All I meant is that a lack of “the meathead characteristics” doesn’t have to prevent Omark from being good defensively. He does have to be able to read plays and beat his man to the open ice. It’s one thing if he fell asleep on these three plays. It’s another if he simply doesn’t anticipate the play well. The answer to the first problem is a kick in the butt and a reminder to keep his head in the game. There isn’t a good answer to the second.

      There are different ways to be great defensively though. Datsyuk and Kesler have entirely different games but they are both turnover machines. Kesler does it with his closing speed and aggressiveness. Datsyuk does it by being first to open space all over the ice. Kesler does it by being on top of the puck so fast, opponents don’t have the time to find any open space. Datsyuk fills open space, Kesler doesn’t afford teams the time to use open space.

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