• Five on Threes

    by Tyler Dellow • February 18, 2009 • Uncategorized • 16 Comments

    With the NHL collecting more data than ever, you can now drill down and find out stuff like how much team has spent on 5 on 3′s over the course of a season, as well as their results in doing so. I imagine that this is stuff that a lot of people haven’t seen, so here’s what it looks like through last night:

    Team	5v3 TOI	S/60	G/60
    ANA	9.60	81.3	25.0
    ATL	13.78	82.7	17.4
    BOS	8.23	94.7	29.1
    BUF	13.55	119.6	39.9
    CAR	17.42	99.9	13.8
    CBJ	8.30	79.5	7.2
    CGY	12.88	93.1	23.3
    CHI	14.32	83.8	25.1
    COL	8.18	95.3	22.0
    DAL	17.37	103.6	13.8
    DET	13.55	93.0	26.6
    EDM	14.40	91.7	25.0
    FLA	10.22	70.5	23.5
    L.A	21.82	85.3	19.3
    MIN	17.67	95.1	20.4
    MTL	11.75	112.3	46.0
    N.J	8.42	135.4	35.6
    NSH	8.70	69.0	27.6
    NYI	9.92	90.8	12.1
    NYR	21.37	112.3	16.8
    OTT	14.15	76.3	12.7
    PHI	10.47	108.9	22.9
    PHX	12.32	92.6	4.9
    PIT	21.78	107.4	13.8
    S.J	17.93	133.8	20.1
    STL	14.27	92.5	16.8
    T.B	18.32	81.9	16.4
    TOR	13.47	106.9	4.5
    VAN	10.15	112.3	29.6
    WSH	9.80	73.5	12.2
    NHL	404.08	96.8	20.0

    The topic came to mind after watching a simply horrendous 5 on 3 for the Oilers against San Jose last night. At the time, the Oilers were tied 2-2 and the game was about halfway through the second. It was a potential turning point in the game. The Oil spent the entire PP trying to set up Souray for the shot from the blue line, which struck me as being insane, particularly because the Sharks weren’t giving them the shot. Edmonton got but one shot on the 5 on 3 and, 13 seconds after Patrick Marleau came back on the ice to make it a 5 on 4, the Sharks scored a shorthanded goal. That was all she wrote for the Oilers.

    I’ve kind of had a sense for a while that the Oilers are an abomination on the 5 on 3. Looking at the data (which is ridiculously small sample), it seems like I might not have much to complain about; while they don’t get a ton of shots (slightly below league average), they score more goals than the league average. Not much to complain about, particularly if you know their 5 on 4 numbers.

    Just for fun, I took a look to see who takes the shots for the Oilers on the 5 on 3′s and where they’re shooting from. Here’s what the NHL.com archives show:

    GOAL EDM #13 COGLIANO(9), Wrist, Off. Zone, 8 ft.

    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #27 PENNER, Wrist, Off. Zone, 9 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #89 GAGNER, Wrist, Off. Zone, 10 ft.
    GOAL EDM #10 HORCOFF(9), Wrist, Off. Zone, 14 ft.

    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #10 HORCOFF, Wrist, Off. Zone, 15 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #83 HEMSKY, Wrist, Off. Zone, 18 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #10 HORCOFF, Slap, Off. Zone, 19 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #10 HORCOFF, Wrist, Off. Zone, 21 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #77 GILBERT, Wrist, Off. Zone, 29 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #77 GILBERT, Slap, Off. Zone, 38 ft.

    GOAL EDM #44 SOURAY(10), Slap, Off. Zone, 45 ft.

    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #71 VISNOVSKY, Slap, Off. Zone, 47 ft.
    GOAL EDM #44 SOURAY(9), Slap, Off. Zone, 48 ft.

    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #44 SOURAY, Slap, Off. Zone, 51 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #71 VISNOVSKY, Slap, Off. Zone, 53 ft.
    GOAL EDM #44 SOURAY(2), Slap, Off. Zone, 55 ft.

    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #44 SOURAY, Slap, Off. Zone, 55 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #44 SOURAY, Slap, Off. Zone, 57 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #44 SOURAY, Slap, Off. Zone, 58 ft.
    GOAL EDM #44 SOURAY(14), Slap, Off. Zone, 58 ft.

    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #44 SOURAY, Slap, Off. Zone, 59 ft.
    SHOT EDM ONGOAL – #44 SOURAY, Snap, Off. Zone, 61 ft.

    22 shots, 6 goals. Not bad. I don’t know that they deserve it though. For one, they seem to have incredible difficulties in generating shots from down low on the 5 on 3. More than half of those shots have been from 45+ feet from the net. They’re shooting 33% on those shots; the league shooting percentage on 5 on 3′s is 21%. I just have an awfully hard time believing that it’s real, in the sense that it’s likely to be something that can be sustained.

    In short, I tend to think that the Oilers are a legitimately bad 5 on 3 team. They’ve kind of gotten away with it because Souray has blown enough pucks past goalies AND into the net (as opposed to wide of it) but betting on him to consistently shoot 4/7 on shots from that far out seems like poor odds to me. All told, I suspect that the results on the 5 on 3 probably aren’t deserved, given what they’ve actually done on the ice.

    About Tyler Dellow

    16 Responses to Five on Threes

    1. February 18, 2009 at

      They’ve been bad on 5 on 3s for years. You could probably argue that that cost them the Cup. I’m sure they had a 5 on 3 in every game that they lost and did not score once and it was the same bullshit.

      Back to the point, back to the point, back to the point.

      Canes took it away and that was it.

      Fuck.

    2. February 18, 2009 at

      Thanks for the information and for the video. I agree with your conclusion that the 5v3 set-up just looks bad and may be unsustainable in the long run mostly because they’re not generating enough shots (regardless of their distance, Souray’s slapper seems to be quality) I think Souray shot 4/10 not 4/7 – still high of course – which is a little bit less ridiculous. They’re also 2/10 on shots under 40 feet which is about the league average. Still, these results do explain why giving it back to Souray is the game plan. It’s been working and the guys running the PP haven’t exactly shown tons of creativity. I’d imagine if something is working for them, they’ll keep right on doing it.

    3. mc79hockey
      February 18, 2009 at

      Thanks for pointing that out. Even so, 4 out of 10 is still pretty nuts for shots from the blueline. Souray is an insanely good shooter to be sure but all you can really do from there is rip it and hope for the best.

    4. February 19, 2009 at

      the second souray goal against pho, the one at pho, was a 5 on 4 not 5 on 3.

      where i thought you were going with this whole thing was that their 5 on 3 is successful, and so it should be even more so, when it runs through hemsky. really, the whole goal of any non-souray oiler on the ice 5 on 3 should be to 1) get ales the puck and 2) get open or draw a defender towards me so someone else can get open. end strategy. i don’t buy the edm sucks at 5 on 3 routine. every team’s fans says stuff like this, and the evidence, in an albeit too small sample size to say anything interesting, certainly says otherwise.

    5. February 19, 2009 at

      Interesting stuff, Tyler, and thanks for the videos. I wish I knew how to embed stuff like that.

      My favourite strategy was the one where Souray hobbled Mitchell resulting in a 5 on 2 and a half which even the Oilers couldn’t fuck up. It does seem like the down low plays kind of dried up after the first couple goals; did they stop trying it or did it stop working? My money is on Door #1.

      Interesting variation in opportunity which I expected to be much more balanced, but there’s a cluster of teams whose 5 on 3 minutes is in the high single digits, and at the other end of the scale there are three team up and over 20. That’s a way bigger disparity than one would find with powerplays generally. Is that small number statistics, or are there teams (or players) who specialize in drawing that second minor?

      That’s also quite a disparity in Sh% between Montreal (41%) and Phoenix (5.3%).

      Finally, I wonder if it would be much trouble to do a mirror study of 3-on-5 situations or do you already have the capability to just grab and reverse the existing data? The Oilers have allowed 7 goals 3v5; have they given up an inordinate number of opportunities — that would be you, Ethan — or do they just suck at killing them?

    6. February 19, 2009 at

      … and to answer my own question about down low plays, I just noticed the details on the unsiccessful shots between the video clips of the goals, and noticed that the first 8 shots were taken by forwards and the last 14 by defencemen. If that list is in chronological order that’s not so much a trend as it is tipping the pitches. Change it up a little, men.

    7. mc79hockey
      February 19, 2009 at

      @Bruce – It’s not chronological, organized by shot distance.

      @rajeev – I’ve looked in the past and there’s a very strong relationship between shot distance and chances of going in. You don’t score on 40% of shots from 45+ feet. I have an awfully hard time believing that that can be sustained. That to me is the crux of this: either you believe that’s a winning strategy or you don’t.

    8. David Staples
      February 19, 2009 at

      (Is it just me or is everyone else having trouble loading this post onto their computer?)

      The Oilers aren’t open down low, IMO, because teams aren’t forced to cover anyone but Souray up high. Hemsky doesn’t make himself a shooter, and the Oil had Gilbert on his right point, as oppposed to his offpoint on that 5 on 3, making it impossible for him to get off a one-timer shot.

      If Gilbert had been on his offpoint, or up top, with Souray on his offpoint to his right, then that would have opened up things enough to create space for Penner and Horcoff down low.

      So on this terrible powerplay, Gilbert was simply useless out there, not really in the play, not threatening.

      This is such a basic tactical issue that it calls for the powerplay coach to be subjected to a bag skate for not getting this right.

    9. February 19, 2009 at

      MC: Right-o. Just noticed that in the harsh light of morning. I guess that explains the F/D dichotomoy rather easily, doesn’t it.

      A 55-footer by Souray has a better chance than a 55-footer by just about anybody. But I don’t like it as The strategy on a 5 on 3 or even the PP generally. The lack of an option between 20 and 45 feet is glaring.
      Hemsky himself should have far more than one shot in this situation, rather than defaulting to “I’m a passer first last and always” mode. Shoot the puck, Ales! at least one time in 20.

    10. David Staples
      February 19, 2009 at

      @ Pat Mc.

      It’s funny you mention the Oilers 5 on 3 against the Canes. That’s when I first noticed that Pronger wasn’t on his offpoint, and it his inability to get off a one-timer as a result was killing the Oil’s chances.

      A powerplay should be like a basketball offence. When the puck comes to you, you must be a shooter, you must be threatening, or the defence will sag off of you, pack it in, take away your ability to executive.

      The Oil’s powerplay has too many guys who are not shooters, who don’t have the angle to get off a shot, because they are in he wrong position on the ice.

    11. David Staples
      February 19, 2009 at

      Of course, I meant “execute,” not “executive.”

    12. mc79hockey
      February 19, 2009 at

      A 55-footer by Souray has a better chance than a 55-footer by just about anybody. But I don’t like it as The strategy on a 5 on 3 or even the PP generally. The lack of an option between 20 and 45 feet is glaring.

      Yeah, this jumped out at me, and ties into what David is saying. If you look at the Horcoff goal, he kind of reads the situation as Hemsky drops down low and drops back, creating a seam. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of that kind of movement on the Oilers 5 on 3 generally.

    13. February 19, 2009 at

      I’ve looked in the past and there’s a very strong relationship between shot distance and chances of going in. You don’t score on 40% of shots from 45+ feet. I have an awfully hard time believing that that can be sustained. That to me is the crux of this: either you believe that’s a winning strategy or you don’t.

      Right, but have you looked at the relationship between shot distance and chances of it going in for Souray’s shot when on a 5 on 3? Obviously, those long shots only make sense if Souray’s the one doing the shooting (or perhaps MacInnis or Iafrate). I don’t think that’s the Oilers’ strategy if Souray went down at the beginning of the year and it was Visnovsky and Grebeshkov back there. The long shot strategy in that case would not make sense and any success would probably not be sustainable.

      A 55-footer by Souray has a better chance than a 55-footer by just about anybody. But I don’t like it as The strategy on a 5 on 3 or even the PP generally. The lack of an option between 20 and 45 feet is glaring.

      Well, those shots are not occurring in a vacuum. Neither are they occurring right off the draw, or without the puck being worked down low for a bit. They are occurring after and because Hemsky does his thing down low, forcing all the defenders to back in, get very non-aggressive (“ah crap, what’s this bastard going to do now”), forcing the goalie to retreat deep in his crease and generally focus on people without the puck as much as what Hemsky’s doing with it (“who’s he gonna set up for the tap in this time”). By the time the puck gets back to Lubo and Souray to do their thing, the defense tries to readjust but is still essentially tethered to their cover positions Hemsky’s song and dance forced them into. Souray bombing it from 60 feet immediately after a won draw or after gaining the zone wouldn’t be nearly as successful (any success would not show sustain), and that’s probably why you don’t see them doing that.

      The Oilers, or any team, have to use the weapons they have to be successful on offense. On the 5 on 3, Hemsky and Souray are their biggest weapons. It makes sense to use them. I’ve been betting against Souray sustaining his point scoring numbers the whole recent part of his career. I’m ready to admit theyre not going anywhere; fool has a bomb and it’s effective.

      If you look at the Horcoff goal, he kind of reads the situation as Hemsky drops down low and drops back, creating a seam. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of that kind of movement on the Oilers 5 on 3 generally.

      This just strikes me as a fan overanalyzing his team’s play outside the context of how other teams play it. Excepting the fringes on either side of the spectrum, most teams play it the exact same way on the 5 on 3, with either better or worse results depending on personnel and luck. It’s hard to get midrange chances with the puck because that’s where the pk’ers are that’s where they don’t want the puck to go. Most teams defend it now with two high and one low, and theyre not going to let a puck carrier or a pass breeze gently into the slot area. Horcoff’s goal happened directly from Souray’s maiming of Willie Mitchell with one of his hope-play bombs from 50 feet, and because Horcoff had the sense to get open and Hemsky the skill to put it there. There’s not a lot of “movement” – I’m assuming you mean player movement, because their puck movement looks fine and is certainly in line with other teams’ – on most teams 5 on 3. The Oildrop has its fare share of problems, I’m not sure the 5 on 3 is one of them.

    14. mc79hockey
      February 19, 2009 at

      Horcoff’s goal happened directly from Souray’s maiming of Willie Mitchell with one of his hope-play bombs from 50 feet, and because Horcoff had the sense to get open and Hemsky the skill to put it there.

      To a certain extent, sure. If Mitchell moves up to take away the pass to Horcoff though, he leaves the front of the net open to Hemsky. 14 can drop down to take that away, which would open up both Penner and Lubo. From where I sit, it’s about forcing movement out of the PK guys, which will open up holes. If I’m coaching the opposition, I’d be willing to give up the point shots, which are much more likely to miss the net, one would think.

    15. February 19, 2009 at

      From where I sit, it’s about forcing movement out of the PK guys, which will open up holes.

      Of course, I dont think anyone disagrees with this. Even those Souray goals benefited from prior movement opening up holes. They were less dangerous holes than the one opened on the Horcoff goal, but holes nonetheless. One of the ways to force movement is to take the puck to dangerous areas of ice. It’s not easy to do, however.

      If I’m coaching the opposition, I’d be willing to give up the point shots, which are much more likely to miss the net, one would think.

      Sure. And if you’re coaching the team with the advantage, you’d rather take those point shots than have passes sent into skates and sticks of defenders.

    16. namflashback
      February 20, 2009 at

      Well, to help uncover the low play options, I think they need a player who is a pretty nifty passer from behind the net. Needs to be good at changing directions to get the goalie changing directions and slippery enough to avoid the invevitable poke check attempts by the D men who will stick by their goalposts.

      They have a couple of those guys in Gagner and Nillson. Shots from the D can come from slots out to top of circle. Shots from the wingers from top of crease out to outside of circles.

      It’s got to be better than what they are trying.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *