• The Captain Speaks

    by Tyler Dellow • January 14, 2010 • Uncategorized • 16 Comments

    “It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.”
    -Branch Rickey

    It’s been a weird week in the Edmonton media. The mainstream guys seem to have taken a stand and suddenly, topics that were once confined to the blogs are suitable for public discussion. I’ll just dip into one piece of it, courtesy of Jim Matheson in today’s Journal:

    He’s also a trade possibility because of his age (34) with the club in sell mode, and his hooking penalty in the Nashville Predators end in the last five minutes on Tuesday was mentioned by coach Pat Quinn in his post-game media session.

    Quinn wasn’t crazy about the timing of it, just after the Oilers made it 4-2.

    “It wasn’t a good play at all … that took us out of it (a possible comeback) right away,” said Quinn, who was thinking about pulling his goalie for an extra attacker.

    But Quinn wasn’t dwelling on the play on Wednesday. Neither was Moreau.

    “I try to turn pucks over … I don’t give it a second thought,” he said about penalties.

    This is the sort of thing that makes a fellow’s head explode. I’ve written about Moreau’s taste for penalties at some length before – see here and here. In the more recent of the two, I made a point that I thought had been overlooked (by myself as well as others) and said:

    Second – and this is mentioned in the PPro article that I linked too – the forwards have a positive penalty differential by and large, while the defencemen have negative ones. When you’re looking at Moreau’s projected -4.5 goal differential penalty cost over 82 games, you need to keep in mind that the average forward is likely to have a number in the black. Zero isn’t the right measuring stick here – I don’t know quite what it is exactly, but it’s not that.

    I went and pulled the data from the last three years from Gabe’s site and tossed it into a spreadsheet. Gabe’s data has forwards playing 850,149.20 minutes of 5v5 hockey between the start of the 2007 season and today’s date. In that time, they’ve taken 0.88 non-coincidental penalties per 60 minutes and drawn 1.10. So the average penalty differential for a forward is +0.22/60. If you take as many as you draw, you’re hurting your team relative to an average forward, although you might make up for it elsewhere.

    After pulling the data, I made a chart, as I sometimes do.

    GP – Games Played
    5v5 TOI – 5 on 5 time on ice
    TAKEN – Penalties taken
    DRAWN – Penalties drawn
    TK/60 – Penalties taken per 60 minutes of 5 on 5 ice time
    DR/60 – Penalties drawn per 60 minutes of 5 on 5 ice time
    RELDIF/82 – The difference in penalties drawn less penalties taken between the player in question and the average forward over 82 games, assuming the same level of ice time. For example, in Ethan Moreau’s case, he took 1.78 penalties per 60 minutes of play and drew 0.75 penalties. So, for every 60 minutes of 5v5 he plays, he takes 1.03 more penalties than he draws. He doesn’t play 60 minutes a night though – he’s averaged 12.03 5v5 minutes per game since the beginning of 2007-08. For him then, an 82 game season would be 986.42 5v5 minutes long. That’s 16.44 hours. He’ll take 16.9 more penalties than he draws in that time. The average forward would be at 3.6 more penalties drawn than taken. This means that Ethan Moreau has, since 2007-08, generated 20.5 more power plays for the opposition in the course of a given season than would a forward who takes and draws penalties at average rates.
    GAA/60: Goals above average/82. Minor penalties cost, on average, 0.2 goal differential. This calculation is easy: RELDIF/82 * .2. In Moreau’s case, it works out to -4.1. If you could slot Ethan Moreau’s twin into the lineup, identical in all but his penalty taking/drawing, at which he was league average for a forward, you’d expect the Oilers to be about four goals better over the course of a season.

    thegoodandthebad

    As you can see, Moreau has been one of the worst forwards in the league when it comes to his impact on special teams opportunities since 2007-08. It’s an interesting collection of names – goons, checkers and the odd star. Applying the rule of thumb that five or six goal differential is worth a win, you can see that Moreau’s penalties cost the Oilers something like 0.75 wins per 82 games that he plays relative to the average forward.

    If you accept the reasoning that hockey players – and particularly third or fourth liners – tend to make only modest contributions towards their team’s record over the course of year, then his problem with penalties is a huge drag on his value. Neither Craig MacTavish nor Pat Quinn are dumb guys and Moreau comes off as a well spoken insightful guy on a lot of issues. It blows my mind that nobody has ever sat him down and explained this to him. He has a problem and it’s been hurting the Oilers for years.

    If the Ducks are interested in Moreau, then by all means, send him to the Ducks. He seems like a perfect fit for them – they’re notorious for taking a ton of penalties and complaining about it.

    I can’t help but notice that Chris Neil makes the list of guys who hurt their team with their penalties. This is interesting to me because the Oilers were in a big hurry to throw money at him last summer – it’s like they fear the possibility of icing a lineup in 2011-12 and beyond that doesn’t feature a guy who is hurting the team with his penalties. There’s another old Branch Rickey line about your best moves being the ones you don’t make – the implication, whenever I’ve heard the reference, has been that some team avoided losing someone valuable. With the Oilers of the past few years, it seems to be that every move that’s fallen through has permitted them to avoid adding another anchor to this perpetual voyage of the damned. The real problem is that more moves haven’t fallen through.

    About Tyler Dellow

    16 Responses to The Captain Speaks

    1. Schitzo
      January 14, 2010 at

      Great work Tyler. Honestly, I’m surprised he isn’t first. Just from a quick glance it certaintly seems like the list is primarily made up of guys who have lost a step in the last few years and are having trouble compensating.

    2. David Staples
      January 14, 2010 at

      Good solid post. And to think we could have Chris Neil here on a four-year deal if Tamby had had his way.

      BTW, I’ve been keeping track of who is in the box when a powerplay goal is scored against the Oilers. I know this is governed by luck, though the more minors you take, the more chance you have of being on the list.

      Last year, Moreau had 31 minors, nine goals scored against.

      Souray had 23 minors, 10 goals scored against.

      Staios, 23 minors, 8 goals scored against.

      Smid had 17 minors, just 1 goals scored against.

      So far this year, Horcoff has been in the box for 5 powerplay goals against, Moreau, 4, Penner, 4, Grebeshkov, 4.

      Of course, when Moreau is in the box, the Oil have a better chance of killing it off, because he’s not part of the penalty killing team, a job he can no longer do.

    3. January 14, 2010 at

      It’s been a weird week in the Edmonton media. The mainstream guys seem to have taken a stand and suddenly, topics that were once confined to the blogs are suitable for public discussion.

      We had to suffer through Staples tweeting yesterday about how good it is that the MSM is finally writing these stories. Just reminded me of the old Chris Rock bit on fatherhood:

      “A nigga will say some shit like, “I take care of my kids.” You’re supposed to, you dumb motherfucker! What kind of ignorant shit is that? “I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!”

      Great piece, Ty.

    4. freeze
      January 14, 2010 at

      The headline is gold: “Moreau doesn’t think about penalties”

      Exactly the problem.

    5. David Staples
      January 14, 2010 at

      And now I’m bored . . .

    6. January 14, 2010 at

      And now I’m bored . . .

      Thank God. We’ve been waiting two years for you to say that.

    7. mc79hockey
      January 14, 2010 at

      Of course, when Moreau is in the box, the Oil have a better chance of killing it off, because he’s not part of the penalty killing team, a job he can no longer do.

      Plus he can’t turn it into a 5v3.

    8. Vic Ferrari
      January 14, 2010 at

      “With the Oilers of the past few years, it seems to be that every move that’s fallen through has permitted them to avoid adding another anchor to this perpetual voyage of the damned.”

      That’s some terrific writing Tyler.

      The Vanek and Nylander signing attempts are the ones that scared us the most, I shudder to think what other near misses we haven’t heard about. These dudes just keep making bad gambles, and now they’ve got the chip stack they deserve.

      For the chance of winning the draft lottery, would Lowe and Tambellini would rather the Oilers finished second last or third last? Based on their past actions with player evaluation … I think I know the answer to that question, and it would be funny if it wasn’t so damn sad.

      The Oilers haven’t been much worse than their usual selves lately, to my eye. They are a mediocre team when fully fit, a bad team with the injuries, and if you mix bad luck to that the results are disasterous. In fact if, in a parallel universe, there was a head to head matchup of this squad and the one that finished the 07/08 season 14-5-1 … the smart money would be on this team imo, but not by much.

      I suspect that they still have a winning streak in them yet. They aren’t going to start outplaying teams, but they’ve got some wins in them. I’m curious to see how Lowe and Tambellini react to it when and if it happens. I suspect that the guys who bury their chances in that stretch will be handsomely rewarded, and whichever of Dubnyk or Deslauriers is minding the net when it happens … he’ll become the goalie of the future, the other will be done as an Oiler and as an NHLer.

      Personally, I’m hoping that Stone and Potulney put up some counting numbers “in the clutch”, otherwise they’ll end up as Flames or Canucks depth forwards.

    9. Vic Ferrari
      January 14, 2010 at

      Has anyone summed the Oilers scoring chances numbers for the PK? Last time I checked the first unit was doing well, Horcoff especially. And Cogliano was an unmitigated disaster. Moreau to a lesser extent, though his numbers sans Cogs were actually pretty decent.

      Cogliano seems like a player who should be great on the PK, great speed and acceleration. But it’s just the same shitshow as at evens. Dude can’t get the puck out of his own end to save his life in either case. I mean he can’t keep it in the opponents end either, that’s his biggest problem as an NHLer I think, but that doesn’t matter as much on the PK.

      Also last I checked SC/60 and shots-against/60 were a perfect match for the forwards, to the point that it was creepy and they could have only meshed that well be coincidence. But not so much for the defensemen, who seemed to be having a small but measurable impact on shot quality against. Interesting stuff.

    10. mc79hockey
      January 14, 2010 at

      In fact if, in a parallel universe, there was a head to head matchup of this squad and the one that finished the 07/08 season 14-5-1 … the smart money would be on this team imo, but not by much.

      You think? I think that the goaltending makes the difference. Unless we’re talking about healthy teams.

      I don’t think that they’re as bad as they’ve looked. Since the 6-2-1 start and my bleary eyed post from the airport in Vienna about smoke and mirrors, they’ve collected points at a .333 clip. I don’t want to make a big deal about it though, particularly now that the MSM has decided it’s ok to refer to things discussed in the ‘sphere because I don’t want anyone making an argument that the Oilers have been legitimately snakebitten this year and getting Lowe and Tambo off the hook.

      With that said, I was down with that Vanek offer sheet. His numbers since then look an awful lot like Ryan Smyth at the same age though, so the $$$ would have been pretty depressing.

    11. mc79hockey
      January 14, 2010 at

      But not so much for the defensemen, who seemed to be having a small but measurable impact on shot quality against. Interesting stuff.

      This the PK you’re talking about? If so, I’m intrigued. I looked at the on-ice save percentages on the PK one year and was surprised at how many star defencemen did well. I never pursued it but it stuck in my mind.

    12. January 14, 2010 at

      Good stuff, Tyler. My blood pressure went up by 30:20 when I read that quote this morning. Thecaptain spends lots of time thinking about how the powerplay may be hurting the cause, but doesn’t give a second thought about he is himself directly hurting the team. Obviously he doesn’t think about what he says, either, because that just comes across as nine shades of stupid.

      Alas, Chris Neil is well down the list of moves wwe didn’t make (but not for want of trying). Vanek, Nylander, Hossa, and Heatley all spring to mind as things management tried to do and didn’t. My personal opinion is the Oilers were better off in all four instances that they did fall through, but would have been much better off still if they hadn’t been tried. They proved to be distractions with no small collateral damage.

      Then there was the Perry deal which got undone through the actions of management, which would have helped the team if it had gone through.

      UFA offers are more fluid and it’s a little harder to distinguish between rumour and fact, but certainly Oilers expressed interest in both Neil and Laraque, who didn’t exactly float my boat either. Relatively speaking, though, they’re small change.

    13. January 14, 2010 at

      Hmmm, when I started writing that we were on comment #7; sorry for any redundancy.

      I like Vanek just fine, but what I didn’t like about the offer sheet was the double indemnity of cap hit + compensation. 7 years @$7.14 MM, and FOUR first rounders? I was a lot happier with the Penner offer because term, salary and compensation were all way lower. Given Vanek hasn’t come close to his contract season production since, it’s hard to imagine he would have had the Oilers finish much higher in the standings than we’ve been with Penner.

      Imagine Vanek and his 25 points in Penner’s spot today, but with no Eberle or MPS in the pipeline and no impending lottery selection either. The situation would be beyond hopeless.

    14. Mike W
      January 14, 2010 at

      I am pretty close to voting Moreau as Worst Captain in Oilers History edging past Shane Corson, and not just based on his recent headline media “items,” but also because of his hackneyed “insights” to the press (this being Exhibit A), and of course, his terrible, terrible on-ice performance.

    15. January 15, 2010 at

      @Vic: Quain posted these on LT’s today. I think this is what you were looking for?

      =====

      Defensemen:

      # – SC – TOI – SCD/60
      37 – 1/47 – 0:52:32 – (52.5)
      77 – 5/66 – 1:25:35 – (42.8)
      05 – 4/51 – 1:10:58 – (39.7)
      43 – 7/51 – 1:08:33 – (38.5)
      24 – 6/45 – 1:02:46 – (37.3)
      44 – 7/35 – 0:57:10 – (29.4)

      Forwards:

      # – SC – TOI – SCD/60
      13 – 4/43 – 0:39:34 – (59.1)
      18 – 3/55 – 1:11:11 – (43.8)
      19 – 7/51 – 1:08:53 – (38.3)
      16 – 2/29 – 0:42:55 – (37.7)
      27 – 7/54 – 1:15:29 – (37.4)
      10 – 4/42 – 1:09:15 – (32.9)

      SC is Scoring Chances For / Scoring Chances Against. SCD/60 is just Scoring Chance Differential per 60. Anyone with minimal PK time was excluded.

      Cogliano is a shitshow on the PK, it’s incredible.

      =====

      Yowch. Moreau’s bad enough, but Cogliano’s scraping the bottom of an even deeper barrel.

    16. Vic Ferrari
      January 15, 2010 at

      Thanks Doogie.

      Well, a quick cut and paste of behindthenet.ca shots and corsi data for the PKers, plot against Quain’s sum of Dennis’ PK scoring chance (which are incomplete, so this is a rough mix of postdictive and predictive assessment).

      It’s like a bunch of ants marching off to war in a line.

      Correlation r=.96 to shots diff/60
      Correlation r=.61 to corsi diff/60

      So shots is everything so far.

      Corsi makes things dramatically worse, the opposite of even strength hockey. In fact the relationship between (missed+blocked) rates is strongly negative to scoring chances.

      We’ll no more by season’s end and a proper analysis. But right now, all the smart money says that the PK is all about being in the shooting lanes. The shot quality effect, if it exists at all, is negligible. And missed and blocked shots against on the PK are good things (the polar opposite of EV hockey).

      We’re almost done here, methinks.

      Correlation to shots is an alarming high

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