• Omark’s Defence

    by  • March 23, 2012 • NHL • 9 Comments

    Nichols’ Law of Catcher Defence: “A catcher’s defensive reputation moves in inverse proportion to the quality of his hitting.”

    From Lowetide’s thread at Oilersnation about the likelihood that Omark is gone at the end of this season:

    Linus Omark is woefully terrible defensively

    While we are all excited about his ability to play in the offensive zone he is terrible in the d-zone and the neutral zone.

    Omark has not stood out at the NHL level and hasn’t seemed to improve his defensive play.

    There are a zillion examples of this every time Omark’s name comes up.

    I think of myself as a reasonably astute observer of hockey. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why his defence gets such a bad rap. His Corsi for the course of his career is respectable, despite having been shuffled all over the lineup, including some time with the black hole that is the bottom of the Oilers’ lineup. When Renney was faced with a choice between Jones and Omark last year, before Jones had the one way deal, he picked Omark. David Staples documents defensive mistakes on scoring chances – according to him, Omark’s been middle of the road amongst Oilers’ wingers this year in terms of chances on which he was at fault, with guys like Hall, Eberle and Hemsky being worse. Last year, pretty much exactly the same deal. By eye, he’s good on the boards despite being small.

    I should say, in regards to David’s numbers, that I suspect there’s a quality of competition adjustment that needs to be made – seems odd that guys like Hall, Eberle and Hemsky are the worst by that metric. If Omark was so bad though, I’d expect it to show up. It doesn’t.

    So why does he have a lousy defensive reputation? I’ve honestly got no idea. It’s a mystery to me. Thinking about the defensive responsibilities of wingers, in general, I come up with a) backcheck hard, b) don’t turn over pucks in your own end when you have a chance to get out, c) collapse towards the net when the puck’s on the other side of the ice, d) keep pucks in the other end of the ice and e) don’t get beat by your man on the point. That looks to me to be about it in the Oilers’ system.

    My best guess as to Omark’s reputation is a variant of Nichols’ Law of Catcher Defence: absent other factors, a forward’s defensive reputation moves in inverse proportion to the quality of his offence. Omark hasn’t been able to crack the Oilers full-time, his offensive ability is pretty obvious, so it must be that he’s lousy defensively. In the absence of an obvious explanation, one will be concocted. So, data be damned, he’s lousy defensively.

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    9 Responses to Omark’s Defence

    1. David Staples
      March 23, 2012 at

      Yes, the scoring chance numbers I keep are raw numbers of how many chances they help create and how many chances they make mistakes on. In rating a player, they are a start, but then Quality of Competition definitely comes into play.

      Omark isn’t so bad on defence. In fact, if you look at his mistakes for 15 minutes, he’s middle of the road. He’s not prone to nasty giveways like Hemsky is, and he backchecks at least as hard and smart as most wingers on this team, where that defensive skill is not at strength.

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0AhMC4T3agcfmdEFQb0hLRDZSeTYyd3YxcVJXSDIwYmc&output=html

    2. David Staples
      March 23, 2012 at

      I should add that one of the most disappointing things about these Oilers is their backchecking. Hall, Smyth, Hemsky, Eberle, all the big guys will all on occasion dog it back to the bench, or to their end.

      I keep going back to the first time I saw Al Arbour’s Islanders in the early 1980s, and seeing Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier utterly kick it into his gear on the backcheck. It was a thing of defensive hockey beauty.

      This Oilers team will never compete at a higher level until all these top players are as hungry to get back as they are hungry to go forward.

      I can’t say I include Omark in the slacker group, but he really hasn’t been around long enough to judge him on that count.

    3. March 23, 2012 at

      I’m not automatically excluding 23 as an option but let’s look at what you should pay for or what you should make room for:

      - can a guy murder the soft opp
      - can he drive the PP
      - can he saw off vs the toughs
      - how much do you pay him

    4. Mr DeBakey
      March 23, 2012 at

      Attitude. Bad attitude.
      I mean this Omark guy thinks the World Championships are more important than The AHL play-offs.

      Plus he’s a squirt. We [The Oilers] need size. Lotsa, lotsa size.

      • YOU DON'T SAY?
        March 25, 2012 at

        give me a player any day that takes the world championships over the AHL playoffs…that is unless you are convinced that a team of stubble jumpers is preferable to the skill and excitement of international hockey…

        poor Omark doesn’t have a chance with these clods running the team, likewise all the other swedes mcgregor has drafted…at least the others can observe Omark’s fate, and take fair warning to give this organization a wide berth…a very wide berth

    5. PaperDesigner
      March 24, 2012 at

      I am kinda at the point where the only hope I have at this point happens to coincide with my belief in a personal, miraculous God. And a fervent prayer that this management group is held accountable. Is it so hard to tell there is a difference between letting a GM finish a rebuild that he started versus letting a GM finish a rebuild that he necessitated? The former is reasonable, the latter is not. Portraying the latter is the former is simply propaganda.

      What I find bizarre is that very basic common sense observations, that it’s not about how you succeed, but simply that you do, are ignored. Omark seems to be a quality second line winger in the making, maybe more in time, but that seems like it is being ignored for some strange myth that there are too many small forwards. Actually, the problem is that there aren’t enough players who are actually better than average by NHL standards. Omark, I think, is a piece that is either good enough to be NHl average or better, or will be soon. He seems like a good player to hide on a secondary scoring line, and give plenty of PP minutes to. And they certainly have the players capable of drawing the tough opposition away (Hall, Hemsky)… So I can certainly envision a role on this team for him.

      Best case scenario, the Oilers fire Tambellini, bring in someone sane before Tambellini trades Omark for a third round draft pick, and the new GM sits Omark down, and tells him that although the prior regime may not have believed in him, that the new one does.

      Does this sound at all likely? Time to start praying, I think…

    6. David Staples
      March 24, 2012 at

      As for driving the power play, Omark had some success at that last season. He’s not going to murder soft, not sure how he will do against toughest comp. Essentially, we haven’t seen enough of this player in the NHL to know he can really do ….

    7. Mike
      March 25, 2012 at

      One thing that has left me a little disapppointed is that we haven’t seen Omark given a test drive on the PK. He’s clearly a smart and opportunistic guy with the coordination to pick off passes… For all we know he’d be a savant at killing penalties. And if he was, it’d be pretty tough to say he brings less to the table than Petrell.

      That said, maybe they’ve tested this in practice and he was godawful, who knows. But I sure hope that somebody at least asked the question.

    8. March 26, 2012 at

      Although I like the “Nichol’s Law of Catcher Defence” explanation of Omark’s rep, I’m more inclined to think it’s much simpler than that.

      It’s because he’s European. A small, “soft” Euro. And we all know that those Euros are only looking out for themselves, looking to pad their stats, stay out of the corners, avoid their own end and generally be the opposite of the best teammates: hard working, tough Canadian boys. #thumbsup

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