• Things Robin Brownlee Implied: “No Oilers team in history has had better offensive depth than this one”

    by Tyler Dellow • October 8, 2010 • Uncategorized • 100 Comments

    Fun storylines for 2010-11, other than the apparent complete demise of the Calgary Flames: the contest that OilersNation is running to predict the scoring for the Oilers. I don’t entirely understand the rules – it seems complex – but, as Robin Brownlee explains, he doesn’t think that you need to be one of them newfangled number nerds to get anywhere with this:

    With all the advanced statistics websites out there the disciples of digits who lean heavily on them to predict future performance should clean up on rubes like me when it comes to a simple hockey pool, no?

    It stands to reason that if a person can run the numbers, extrapolating this and projecting that based on a bunch of formulas I don’t understand, or really care to, surely they’ve got a leg up on an old hockey writer who simply eyeballs the players, glances at what nerds call the boxcars and throws out his predictions.

    At the very least, the advanced stats people are making a more educated guess than the saw-him-good guys (more nerdspeak) like me, no? All this QualComp and Corsi and Desjardins jazz has to be a big advantage up against somebody who thinks taking into account even-strength ice time and power-play minutes is getting in really deep, no?

    I don’t think so. Not for a minute. No sale. That’s why I think the writers at Oilersnation should have some fun by making predictions as to who’ll be the top 13 scorers — the top nine forwards and top four defencemen — for the Edmonton Oilers this season.

    Pride on the line!

    The picks were unveiled earlier today and browsing through them, I caught a noticeable difference between the picks of young Jonathan Willis, a Fort St. John based nerd who’s never filled his nostrils with the scent of another hard night’s work for Ethan Moreau, and Robin Brownlee, who has. Specifically, Brownlee has the 9th highest scoring Oilers forward scoring 41 points; fanboy Willis has only 5 Oilers cracking the 40 point barrier. Jason Gregor, who is part nerd (he wears glasses) and part kick ass journalistic machine absorbing insight from his proximity to the players, sawed it off and went with only 7 Oilers cracking the 40 point barrier.

    This got me wondering. Has an Oilers team EVER featured nine forwards who scored 40 points? I mean, you’d think they’d have to have – that team in the 80′s was the greatest offensive team of all time. As it so happens, it’s never happened. The best they’ve ever done is 7 forwards cracking 40 points in a season. They haven’t had more than 6 in a single season since 1995-96 and that’s only happened once – 2007-08, oddly enough, when the team went on a shooting percentage binge over the final quarter.

    Last year’s Washington Capitals, who put up an historic amount of goals relative to the league, featured only 7 40 points forwards. In an admittedly cursory review, the only team that I identified that had at least 9 40 point forwards was the 1977-78 Boston Bruins. Don Cherry didn’t seem to shut up about that team when I was a kid – it was famous for it’s offensive depth, with 11 20 goal scorers. They had 10 forwards hit the 40 point mark and are generally recognized as the deepest offensive team of all time. The 1971-72 Bruins, who were the GF record holders before your Edmonton Oilers, had either 8 or 9 F reach the mark, depending on how you count Ed Westfall, listed as a D/RW.

    Assuming he isn’t just trying to game the scoring system (and maybe he is, and maybe this is the most sensible way to go about it; I can’t say – if I’d set up the contest, I’d have done it differently), which would be a dishonourable way to go about winning a test of knowledge such as this, Brownlee’s view seems pretty clear: this Oilers’ team has offensive depth at forward the likes of which has never before been seen in Edmonton and only exceedingly rarely in the NHL. At the end of the season, if his crystal ball is good, the team will join the 70′s Bruins as amongst the deepest groups of scoring forwards in history and displace all challengers for the local title. Gregor, widely known for his introspection and caution when it comes to joining the argument, doesn’t see this group as particularly historic: he sees them as having offensive depth that ranks only amongst the best in the NHL and Oilers history.

    I can, in all fairness to Brownlee, see why you might expect more Oilers than usual to hit 40 points this year. Everyone’s looking at what top rookies do and pencilling these fellows in for something similar, while expecting something like career norms from the guys who are already in place. Something has to give though, in terms of ice time – someone has to take the faceoffs in the Oilers’ end, someone won’t get the necessary PP time (Brownlee has all of Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner at or near career highs in points, which implies that they’re getting lots of PP minutes, I don’t understand how guys like Cogliano are going to score 40+ in those circumstances). I made the (roundly ignored by those who dumped on my argument) point that there’s an opportunity cost to players like Cogliano being shunted aside so that we can worship at the feet of the Holy Trinity; Brownlee apparently doesn’t think that there will be.

    As a fan, I don’t know that there’s ever been a team coming off a season in which they finished 30th that would be so obviously dominant as to have journalists with the credibiity and insight that comes from access calmly assuring us that an historic offensive season awaits. I, for one, look forward to the promised season of offensive dominance.

    About Tyler Dellow

    100 Responses to Things Robin Brownlee Implied: “No Oilers team in history has had better offensive depth than this one”

    1. Julian
      October 8, 2010 at

      Fucking brilliant.

      Not brillant : Brownlee’s pride at his own willful ignorance.

    2. October 8, 2010 at

      Comedic/ironic aside for nerds: if the contest were being judged by a mathematical criterion that rewarded getting the ORDER of the players right, then errors of scale–like, say, tacitly assuming that the Oilers are going to score about 400 goals this season–wouldn’t matter so much. Brownlee, not owning a slide rule or a pocket protector, has agreed to a testing criterion (basically, root-mean-square error) that will punish scale mistakes even if he orders the individual players correctly. Time will tell whether this was wholly wise.

    3. The Other John
      October 8, 2010 at

      I am from the “saw him good” school of hockey watching but find the insight of the “numbers” guys to be generally insightful. It seems to be based on much more information and in most instances more information is better.

      After tonights most impressive 4-0 I am sure many in Oiler fandom would get the +40 point producers to 11 or 12. Maybe Robin wants to revise his numbers upward?

      Thing that was most impressive tonight was that the young guys attacked at every turn……I’ve got the puck, let’s go! Skill is always impressive to watch. That is new on this team but there will be lots of beat downs over the course of the season to come as a result of youth and inexperience.

      Wonder if real problem with MSM is that they are exposed to constant sell job by the team and the allure of that constant sell job is gradual and over time it becomes insidious.

      Still a GREAT start to the first game of the new era!! …………. What the hell, 12 Oiler forwards will get 40 points this year……either SMac or Stortini just need to get off to a quick start!!!

    4. October 8, 2010 at


      Eddie Westfall would have been primarily RW, I don’t remember him playing D at all, maybe as a fillin? So that’s nine.

      Looking forward to an unprecedented year for the Oilers. It should be truly amazing. ;)

    5. Coach PB
      October 8, 2010 at

      Most 20-goal scorers in history:

      1977 Bruins – 11
      1980 Blues – 10
      1970 Bruins – 10
      1974 Canadiens – 10

    6. Coach PB
      October 8, 2010 at

      The 1980 Blues had 10 forwards score 40 points and the 1970 Bruins had 9. The 1974 Canadiens had 8.

    7. JeffJ
      October 8, 2010 at


      Bookmarked & reminder set for Apr. 11, 2011.

    8. Deano
      October 8, 2010 at

      mc and Coach – What site are you querying for this data?

      My tools would have me guessing at teams from memory and verifying.

    9. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      Deano –

      I just went through the Oilers teams and checked some other famously high scoring/famously deep teams.

    10. Deano
      October 8, 2010 at

      Okay. Using the same method, the 1990 Stanley Cup Champion Oilers had seven 20 goal scorers and eight 40 point players.(I thought it was eight 20 goal scorers.)

    11. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      One of those 40 point players is Steve Smith.

    12. lowetide
      October 8, 2010 at

      Westfall played D in the 60s, but was a RW by expansion (1967). He was certainly a winger at the time in question.

    13. Deano
      October 8, 2010 at

      Yeah, sorry. I saw that.

    14. MrMackey
      October 8, 2010 at

      You’re looking at the wrong thing.

      Check out the 81-82 Oilers for example. !0 players with 40+ points. I didn’t check out many other seasons, but I did check the 88-89 & 89-90 seasons – both with 8.

      Logic says that you have more scoring depth when you are spreading the scoring around, such as when you lose a top player or are building with youth and not bonafide top 2 lines. Look at a year or 2 before the big results in the standings… Chicago this year? 7 over 40pts. Last year? 10.

    15. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      Just to save everyone some time: before you tell me I’m wrong, count how many defenceman you’re citing as being part of the 10 40 point scorers or whatever.

    16. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at

      Man, you really have gotten under the skin of some of these guys. In terms of palpable hate, you’re close to eclipsing Dennis at this point.

      You really do go out of your way to pick on them. It’s as if you feel that your voodoo book learnin’ and fancy store-bought ties aren’t enough to make them despise you, not on their own.

      In any case, well done, sir.

    17. hosanna
      October 8, 2010 at

      there is a difference between forwards and players… big difference people. Pay attention to what you are reading before you jump in with your quips

    18. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at


      Absolute deviation is his measure there. Injury and trade are the true wildcards. With a model like that, smart money is on all the entrants who have the lowest total point projections. This format will generally be cruel to misty eyed optimists. So yeah, Brownlee is hurting his own chances.

      Someone should set up a fantasy league where we get to draft the OilersNation entrants from Robin’s contest. Make it so we can have in-season trades as well. I’d be up for that.

    19. MrMackey
      October 8, 2010 at

      My apologies. I was counting players and not forwards. You are correct that it would be something extraordinary to have 9 forwards with 40+ point seasons.

      I had guessed 6 and I thought I was being optimistic.

      Nonetheless, I’m pulling for Brownlee on this one. Would be fun to see.

    20. October 8, 2010 at

      MrMackey – I think as Oilers’ fans we are all cheering for Robin to be right, if he is then this will be one of the alltime great clubs.

    21. October 8, 2010 at

      Pretty enjoyable post, Tyler. The other odd thing about that pool is that they’ve listed G-A-P, but the scoring seems to be based only on getting the right number of points for each guy. The following won’t be so damaging because of that, but all of the entrants will probably need to have their guys score more goals than they’ve predicted to hit their point targets because right now Brownlee has 1.88 assists per goal and Willis has 1.81. Both of those numbers seem pretty high to me. I don’t know off the top of my head what the norm is in the NHL, but last year’s Oilers were at 1.70 assists per goal.

    22. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      Yeah, I caught that too, although it seemed a little esoteric. I suspect, in Brownlee’s case, that he was cognizant of how unlikely it was to have 9 20 goal scorers (note that he has 6 guys between 16 and 19) and simply made up the point difference in assists.

      Fascinating stuff.

    23. Will
      October 8, 2010 at

      I remember the mid-80s Jets being pretty deep with what felt like line after line of plumbers that could score (not that it ever stopped our own super-powered 6 or 7). According to hockeydb, the 85-86 Jets had 9 forwards with 40+ and the 89-90 Jets had 8 forwards (the folks here in Wpg really gnash their teeth about the Oil beating them that year in the playoffs).

      If we get anywhere near 6 or 7 forwards scoring 40+ this year, either the sh% gods will have graced us again or we’re a helluva lot better team than I thought we were. I think we’re going to see a lot more games like the two preseason ones vs. the Flames – shut down and frustrated. I wish it was otherwise, but I imagine yesterday to be more the exception than the rule.

    24. David S
      October 8, 2010 at

      Brownlee writes for effect. It’s part of his style. Apparently he’s done his job because clearly he’s gotten under your skin.

      Tyler, you do good stuff here. You’ve made me a daily visitor as a result. Having said that, I’d have alot more respect for you if instead of wasting another post demeaning the likes of Brownlee you took it as a challenge and posted up your own set of picks. Case of cigars for the winner or a public acknowledgment of the others superiority on Gregor’s show at the end of the year – something like that. I can’t believe you passed up the opportunity.

      If Brownlee and company are so poor at what they do it should be like taking candy from a baby, right?

    25. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      David -

      Don’t worry – Robin isn’t under my skin at all. If you’re going to write for effect though, you’d better not spoil said effect by predicting something ridiculous. It’s just so goddamned funny.

    26. October 8, 2010 at

      If Brownlee and company are so poor at what they do it should be like taking candy from a baby, right?

      Candy is delicious and babies are weak. I don’t see what the problem is.

    27. October 8, 2010 at

      “Brownlee has all of Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner at or near career highs in points.”

      Two out of three isn’t bad. Horcoff’s career high for points is 73, so a prediction of 62 points is a generous interpretation of at or near a career high, no? The other two? Perfectly reasonable projections.

      And if Paajarvi and Hall come in at 39 each instead of 43 and Colgliano finishes at 38 instead of 41, boy, will I look foolish.

      Deadline extended for you, Tyler. A special exemption with a game already in the books. Get your picks in.

    28. Coach PB
      October 8, 2010 at

      And if Paajarvi and Hall come in at 39 each instead of 43 and Colgliano finishes at 38 instead of 41, boy, will I look foolish.

      Purposefully obtuse or not? You make the call.

      We’ll be back with the answer after these messages.

    29. MrMackey
      October 8, 2010 at

      I assume everyone casting stones has enough of their own to get their predictions in.

    30. michael
      October 8, 2010 at

      “With a model like that, smart money is on all the entrants who have the lowest total point projections”

      I do like the lower predictions over there more than the higher ones. And you do have to take into account the player’s individual histories and discount a player with a significant chance of being traded.

      But beyond that I would project just as though the scoring system gives you a break on trades and lengthy injuries. You adjust to reduce the impact of those and you just pay even more in an absolute mean system.

    31. michael
      October 8, 2010 at

      “Candy is delicious and babies are weak. I don’t see what the problem is.”

      Libertarian joke alert!

    32. October 8, 2010 at

      I’m no math guy, but if 62 is “at or near” 73, wouldn’t a pair of 39s for Paajarvi and Hall be at or near 43, and a 38 for Cogliano be at or near 41? Like I said, pretty loose with “at or near” when it comes to the Horcoff reference, but not so much if it’s going to bugger up the story angle about the 40-point barrier.

      Still waiting on those picks.

    33. DDP
      October 8, 2010 at

      No picks from MC79? What a surprise.

      Step up or shut up

    34. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      No, you aren’t a math guy. In case it’s not clear, you’re predicting a 32 year old to put up his second best season ever in terms of points, which is why I think of it as being at or near a career high in terms of points. A pair of 39′s for Paajarvi and Hall would be at or near 43, you’re right – the part that I don’t understand is how you can expect them to come anywhere near that with Horcoff getting the TOI he needs to get to 62. Similarly, if Penner and Hemsky are near career highs, you presumably see them getting a lot of TOI on the PP. Not sure where the 7, 8 and 9 guys will be getting all of their points.

      I am, of course, intrigued by your kind offer to let me throw up some picks late. Your efforts to goad me on the basis of being afraid though are a bit silly, given that we both know that I have no problem having a strong opinion on things when I feel strongly about them.

      The problem I have in the present case is this: I think that your contest is set up in such a way that factors that people can’t reasonably predict, like injury, will swamp it. I don’t have strong feelings about who will finish where in Oilers scoring this year, outside of Hemsky/Penner likely making the top 3, or how many points a given player will get. I don’t claim any ability to predict that. I don’t really have any strong feelings on who will end up getting the PP TOI either.

      I am, as I said, quite confident that the 7, 8 and 9 highest scoring forwards on the Oilers, whoever they might be, will not score 40 points. Shit, be it ice time or injury or something else, will happen, as it always does. Some guys will be snakebitten, some guys will have everything go in like Brule last year. I don’t claim any special ability over you or anyone else to predict this. Taken on its own, every single prediction that you’ve made strikes me as being reasonable; it’s just taken as a collective that they’re undeniably unreasonable.

      So, while I’m not really interested in your contest, I’m happy to arrange some sort of side contest on the three points with which I really took issue: (a) the 7th highest scoring F on the Oilers will not score 40 points this year, (b) the 8th highest scoring F on the Oilers will not score 40 points this year and (c) the 9th highest scoring F on the Oilers will not score 40 points this year.

    35. October 8, 2010 at

      Vic: I think Tyler would have to murder someone’s pet to surpass me in the ON pantheon of hate:)

      You’ve got one guy who threatened physical violence against me because I continously – and rightfully of course – pointed out the free ride given to Lowe.

      Then there’s another guy who just the other day took a jab at Marc Pouliot out of thin air; probably because I always teased him about his love of that impact player Rick Rypien or maybe because one time our old #78 corrected him about the CBA.

    36. Hemmertime
      October 8, 2010 at

      Without making any picks Tyler you should not criticize others. Makes you look like an idiot. If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there, don’t mock those that do.

      In response to #16 Vic Ferrari Wrote:

      You really do go out of your way to pick on them. It’s as if you feel that your voodoo book learnin’ and fancy store-bought ties aren’t enough to make them despise you, not on their own.

      He does it for hits, his traffic raises on his website when he makes controversial (read: stupid) statements. He writes inflammatory things to get readers like me, the very casual Mc79 reader, to check out his site. It is a very childish tactic.

    37. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      Hemmertime –

      I don’t claim to know which Oiler will likely finish where in scoring, beyond some rough ranges. I’m willing to come to some agreement with your man Brownlee on what the 7, 8 and 9 scorers amongst Oilers forwards are likely to do, which is what I took issue with in his post. Given that he has strong feelings on the point, I’m sure he’ll back them up.

      He does it for hits, his traffic raises on his website when he makes controversial (read: stupid) statements. He writes inflammatory things to get readers like me, the very casual Mc79 reader, to check out his site. It is a very childish tactic.

      If I was after more readers, this place would have an entirely different tone. One should always be careful attributing motives to others.

    38. Ribs
      October 8, 2010 at

      You guys crack me up.

      Hemmertime- You figure Tyler needs all of those hits so that he can soak up all of that primo web advert cashola?

    39. R O
      October 8, 2010 at

      Tyler must be too scared to go up against Brown Lee, due to the trauma his backside suffered when JDD shoved something up it

    40. Coach PB
      October 8, 2010 at

      Wait – in the case of JDD, who is in what backside?

    41. Hemmertime
      October 8, 2010 at


      No, he writes all articles in the hopes people dont read them. Everything doesn’t need to be financial, people do things just to puff out their chest. He wants to be… whats the word I am looking for… relevant? Ya, I will go with that.


      My man brownlee? Ya, my man, the guy who banned me from ON for awhile. A guy I have gotten into plenty of disputes with. Keep up the generalization that anyone that thinks you aren’t a genius is a Brownlee sheep. Much easier to state that, and criticize people for predictions when refusing to make any (acting like they are beneath you, not a fun “game” which every other person does).

      One should always be careful attributing motives to others.

    42. Hemmertime
      October 8, 2010 at

      And the line
      “I don’t claim to know which Oiler will likely finish where in scoring, beyond some rough ranges.”

      Is exactly what RB did, just instead of using pussy ranges (Cogs will get between 30-40 pts, look at me, a risk taker!) the system uses a more precise system. Ranges wouldn’t work on the “game” that ON is doing due to the scoring system.

    43. Darren
      October 8, 2010 at

      Why do people only argue about what they infer someone is saying, rather than the actual points of the argument?

      Makes them look dumb.

    44. Hemmertime
      October 8, 2010 at

      My collar completely states my shepherd is Willis

    45. Ribs
      October 8, 2010 at

      Hemmertime.. You don’t think Tyler was maybe poking fun at Brownlees predictions in response to his poking fun at “nerds”?

      Maybe I’m missing something, but it appears that both articles were written in jest. It’s all good fun.

    46. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at

      Dennis / 35

      What’s the story?

    47. Chris!
      October 8, 2010 at

      Typical Toronto lawyer talk! Thinks he’s better than us with all his mathemagic and book-learnin’!

      Time to PUT UP OR SHUT UP, DELLOW!


      Etc., etc., etc.

    48. MrMackey
      October 8, 2010 at

      I don’t claim to know which Oiler will likely finish where in scoring, beyond some rough ranges. I’m willing to come to some agreement with your man Brownlee on what the 7, 8 and 9 scorers amongst Oilers forwards are likely to do, which is what I took issue with in his post. Given that he has strong feelings on the point, I’m sure he’ll back them up.

      Didn’t Brownlee already concede that his picks were more of an indication of a mid-marker of point ranges that his players could achieve than any kind of new record for the Oilers? He kind of pointed out that he’d be happy if 6 guys got over the 40 point mark and that he’d feel his guesses were still pretty good if his bottom 3 picks were a collective 11 points off the mark (the same amount you pointed out Horcoff’s best season vs. Brownlee’s prediction was at or near).

      I’m no math guy, but if 62 is “at or near” 73, wouldn’t a pair of 39s for Paajarvi and Hall be at or near 43, and a 38 for Cogliano be at or near 41? Like I said, pretty loose with “at or near” when it comes to the Horcoff reference, but not so much if it’s going to bugger up the story angle about the 40-point barrier.

      I’m not sure what he has to back up in this sense, it seems obvious that he would admit that 9 40+ forwards might be unrealistic, but for the purposes of his ON pool, why does it matter anyways?

      Kudos to Lowetide and Willis for having the balls to come forward with their guesses.

    49. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at


      Hold steady, now. I want in. How much are you putting on the table, Robin?

    50. Ribs
      October 8, 2010 at

      Now we’re talking.

    51. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at

      Mr Mackey,

      Have you ever read OilersNation? Lowetide and Willis read there because they are paid to do so. To expect a thinking person to be reading Brownlee and Gregor, without financial gain, well that’s just not sensible.

    52. Mike
      October 8, 2010 at


      Your jealousy kills me. Willis barely writes there anymore, and Lowetide writes historical stuff. It’s different and good. Few read your stuff, because if they question you, you jump up and down and stomp your feet and wonder how anyone can question your genius. How can anyone think that statistics don’t tell the entire story. Oh the humanity.

      You think you know everything it is hilarious. Anyone who questions Corsi numbers is an idiot. And crunching numbers doesn’t make you a thinking man. It is a very narrowminded way of thinking in fact. But considering you only think that way I wouldn’t expect much different from you.

    53. Mike
      October 8, 2010 at

      Oh and one more thing. I don’t think Willis and Lowetide get paid to READ there, I think they get paid to WRITE there. If they get paid to read stuff, that is the best job in the world.

    54. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      If anyone in this thread is posting under multiple names, don’t.

    55. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at


      You’re a saucy little one, aren’t you? I like that.

    56. Vic Ferrari
      October 8, 2010 at


      I was also posting as ‘Mike’.

      I was actually trying to post as Wyldberri, my posts came up as Mike’s though. Don’t get me wrong, a dimwitted adversary is a dimwitted adversary, regardless of the name. Still, I preferred Wyldberri.

      Oddly enough, the exact same thing has happened to me on three different Twilight messageboards within the past fortnight. Go figure.

    57. David S
      October 8, 2010 at

      @ Tyler – In all seriousness, I think it would be fascinating to see a contest between the scientific/rational approach and the intuitive/experience-based approach. Modifying the rules of the game so as to be more amenable to your point of view would spoil the test.

      You don’t have to enter the contest per se. But why don’t you make your own picks (and perhaps your method – I bet alot of us would like to see how you arrived at your conclusions) by the established rules and post them on your site. Then we could follow the progress throughout the season.

      Again, what have you got to lose? If nothing else, it should make for a highly interesting comparison.

    58. David S
      October 8, 2010 at

      ^Sorry. Should read “post your method…”

    59. MrMackey
      October 8, 2010 at


      I do read OilersNation. I don’t read everything, but anything that Gregor, Willis, LT and Brownlee write will eventually get read. I certainly don’t agree with everything, but love the balance there.

      Despite the bad blood (which is unfortunate) I get the sense that they’d be happy to bring the likes of mc79, Dennis and yourself on board as writers too. I like what they’ve done over there – serving as an alternative to the mainstream media, but palatable enough for the average fan that perhaps it can be viable as a business one day.

      I do love the numbers stuff. I wish I had the brains and the time to contribute, but don’t. I used to be way more active back in my Oilfans days (I posted under the nick ‘blueblood’ – probably doesn’t ring a bell). Nonetheless a huge thank you to all that have pushed the analytics in the game such a long way, it’s cool to see so many of the old posters there get some notoriety in their own right.

      Its just too bad there is such a lack of respect for the old guard, and especially in the cases of guys like Brownlee and Gregor, who I feel have opened a lot of doors for independent bloggers. They aren’t numbers guys, don’t pretend to be, but offer a perspective that can’t be overlooked and are willing to put their careers and reputations on the line with their opinions.

    60. October 8, 2010 at

      It’s your business Tyler, but I’m a little disappointed you won’t make picks. Just because I’d be curious to see who your choices would be.

    61. mc52tennis
      October 8, 2010 at

      Happy Thanksgiving Tyler.

    62. kinger
      October 8, 2010 at

      When is MC79Hockey brought to you by Boston Pizza, Herbal Magic, Original Joes, Rogers Wireless and River Cree Casino going to debut?

    63. October 8, 2010 at

      Yes, Tyler is not manly because he doesn’t want to engage in a poorly designed guessing game with Brownlee.

      Anyone who has paid any attention to the work that Vic, Tyler, Gabe, and a host of others have pioneered will instantly realize the problem with the contest of picking how many points a player will score.

      a.) Shooting percentages vary signigantly over single seasons. So if Hemsky’s SH% runs wild he could score 28, or he could score 18 if it doesn’t. Trying to make guesses about where it will fall is like trying to guess whether a coin flip. Anyone and everyone’s guesses within a reasonable range -established by past performance- have an equal chance of winning the game.

      b.) Qual comp, qual team, and zonestart effect the number of chances each player gets. And there’s no reliable way to predict how players will be used and what comp. they’ll face, especially with a new coach. (Especially since injuries and trades may cause Renney to use players in situations we couldn’t predict.) That is, if Penner sees 50 games of weak opposition, he’s more likely to score 30. If he sees 70 games of tough opposition, starting lots of shifts in his own zone, then he’s likely to score, say, 20. You can split the difference and guess 25, or you can guess at how the season will play out and how Penner will be used, but math and past performance alone won’t really help you make the prediction. So, again, anyone’s guess is as good as anyone else’s.

      4. Ditto point 3 but for PP time. And this is a huge deal. You can’t make predictions for Horcoff and Gagner, because how much 1st unit power play time they see will determine a lot, and it’s hard to guess who’ll get that time. Math and past performance could tell us who should get that PP time, but it won’t tell us who will, and that’s the problem.

      5. Ditto injuries. Somebody could’ve won this stupid contest last year by insanely predicting Hemsky would score 20 points. Bad prediction, but a winner in this contest.

      Some lickspittle like David S might object and say this shows the math is wortheless: It doesn’t help you predict boxcars, so who cares? This shows only the small mindedness of lickspittles.

      There are better tests for math and past performance than a stupid contest. If Brownlee wasn’t trying to be pompous, he’d realize that.

    64. October 8, 2010 at

      The whole idea is like saying scientists who believe in global warming couldn’t predict the terrible snowstorms that hit the east coast of the US last winter, therefore predictions about global warming are all unreliable. A theory can’t tell me exactly what I want it to, so it’s worthless. Forget context, sample size, the difference between short term and long term trends, randomness, etc.

    65. slipper
      October 8, 2010 at

      How does one go about locating one of these “pussy ranges”?

      That place sounds awesome.

    66. David S
      October 8, 2010 at

      “Lickspittle”? Good one man. Whatever that means.

      Actually, I use both qualitative and quantitative analysis in my line of work, so I can assure you that I don’t think math is useless. Nor do I remember saying as much either. Damn these lickspittles putting words in other people’s mouths.

      In truth, I’m very interested to see how two different predictive methodologies would play against each other. I had hoped Tyler would take up the challenge, if only from a curious point of view.

      Bottom line “krist” is that you can crap on others as much as you want, it only makes you look bad not them. Why don’t you buck up and throw your hat in the ring. If you’re half as good as you think you are, the contest should be a cakewalk and we’ll all be bowing our heads to your superior intellect.

    67. Pete.
      October 8, 2010 at

      Ha ha, I figured this one would take off. Look at Tyler trying to get hits, so he can make more money off his fucking Hudsons ads. Oh, wait.

      I’m enjoying this pissing match: good entertainment. I’m on the non-Ed Hardy wearing side, of course.

    68. Woodguy
      October 8, 2010 at

      Slipper said:

      “How does one go about locating one of these “pussy ranges”?

      That place sounds awesome.”

      Montreal is a good place to start, Hull if you like it dirty. (if Hull still existed)

      As fun as the contest at ON is, it is as precise as guess coinflips given the amazingly small sample sizes that are being bet upon.

      As online poker grew the sheer quantity of data gave some very smart people a look at true win rates and the effect of variance.

      Some say that 250,000 hands is too small a sample size to determine if one actually wins at poker, others have argued even 1MM hands might not give a true win rate.

      Compare that to the data that is examined in hockey.

      Someone who has a HUGE sample size of games to examine is Lidstrom.

      He’s played 1412 NHL games + 247 playoff games.

      That’s a sample size of 1659. If he averaged 22 minutes a game thats 36,498 minutes as one of the biggest samples available for examination.

      If some smart people think that 250,000 pieces of data is too small to come to conclusions about one type of activity, what are we to think about 36,498?

      Or how about how many minutes Hemsky will play this year?

      If he plays 18 min/night and plays all 82 games that a whopping 1476 units of info to examine.

      There is no predictability over small sample sizes of even the most “predictable” things.

      Betting on the ON contest is pretty much like flipping a coin.

      Unless your guess is an outlier, then the coin might be weighted a little.

    69. October 8, 2010 at

      I’d be disappointed in tyler if he indulged Brownlees nerd challenge.

      He did an excellent job of denoting why his objections doesn’t indicate a higher knowledge in guessing Oilers points.

      IF there were a challenge to be issued, then I would think, for it to have any merit beyond being a fan of the dellow or brownlee camp, it would have to be in more general terms, such as team points, team goals for/against, highest PPG… etc.

      Base it on understanding and factor out the injury / slump noise.

      I guess thats all just nerd talk, but IMO thats the only way anything what Brownlee is claiming can really get any credibility.

    70. October 8, 2010 at

      As far as the contest goes, I find it fun – not in the least because it gives a really good indicator of expectations of Oilers fans as a group (something I think I’ll do an article on, if I ever have the time). I don’t think Robin takes it any more seriously than I do, given the tone of his article.

      And I’d like to see Tyler’s guesses. That’s a selfish motivation, to be sure, but I’d like to see them if for no other reason than to compare them to my own guesswork.

      Oh, and Scott: nice call on my goal:assist ratios. I hadn’t even thought to run the numbers on that, and mine are a little high – the Oilers have averaged about 1:1.75 since the lockout. In any case, I suspect my picks are going to be slightly better than the reality in most cases, if for no other reason than because it’s difficult to extrapolate for injuries.

    71. October 8, 2010 at


      I’m not certain that argument can be made while Brownlee’s picks are simultaneously derided.

      If Brownlee’s picks are poor, than clearly there’s a rationale for making better picks; if the signal to noise ratio is so high as to make the whole contest pointless, then there’s no reason to deride those picks.

      Yes, there’s a lot of noise, but that’s reality, and this is an interesting exercise in applied mathematics even if it isn’t definitive.

      Just my take.

    72. October 8, 2010 at


      why not? He wasnt objecting to any specific performances, he was saying that as a whole Brownlees predictions were ridiculous, or in lieu of that, he was gaming the system, in a competition which is supposed to shed some light on the imaginary nerds versus pros debate.

      If Brownlee wants to engage in some measure of his acumen versus a ‘nerd’ then atleast set some criteria which limits the noise caused by injury or luck.

      Otherwise whats the point?

      Its like me challenging you to a game of plinko.

    73. Tyler Dellow
      October 8, 2010 at

      JW -

      Judging by his reaction, Robin’s taking the criticism pretty personally, which leads me to think he’s got some investment in it. He’s got a comment up there right now, comment number 80, in which he says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to say Tyler did any whining about not being involved because that’s not the case.

      I do find it telling, however, that he can find his way over here to cut up Gregor and I when the mood strikes him, which is often, but when we put together a pick-’em game, he’s got no interest. It’s not worth his time.

      It’s not a surprise, so let’s not pretend. To the point, Tyler comes to Oilersnation to ridicule and criticize two writers here, sometimes in subtle ways, other times not so much. Look up his last 10 posts, 20 posts, 30 posts here. Try to draw another conclusion.

      No picks? No problem. Didn’t expect any. Let’s try to somehow get along without them, shall we?

      That’s in response to a comment from a fellow named GSC. GSC’s a bit of a odd duck himself – has a bit of a fixation on me. A Jekyll/Hyde fellow. I appreciate Robin’s accurate interpretation that I wasn’t whining about being excluded. Oddly, he’s defended me from that nutter before. Odd.

      Anyway, I point out that comments saying, in essence, “I agree” suck. I also pointed out that I agreed with virtually everything in his post, save his assertion that Khabibulin is fine and we don’t have to worry, his use of the phrase “short sample size”, some comments about toughness which I could give two shits about and the comment that the Oilers might contend sooner than “tall foreheads” think, which is awfully vague when tagged with his comment in the same thread that 85 is the max they’ll do this year.

      I also pointed out that his apparent determination that I have a fixation with him is awfully lame, given that, to the best of my recollection, I’d had about two disputes with him there this year – once over Hall/MPS where he chimed in on my discussion with someone else to call me arrogant in six different ways and then, after I pointed out the basis for what I said, seemed to back down, and the Deslauriers thing from earlier this year. That doesn’t seem like a vendetta to me or at least, it’s an awfully specific one, limited to when he makes silly points.

      One final stab to explain my point as I did in 34, with the suggestion that the loser picks up the tab next time we have lunch and I was done.

      Then, a guy who claims to have thick skin and who wasn’t being attacked personally deletes both comments. He was happy to basically call me a pussy without the balls to back up what I was saying all over the internet this afternoon, so I am shocked, SHOCKED that when I defend my position, things gets deleted.

      One final post to point out that he would have made a fine communist and c’est tout.

      That post has since been deleted.

    74. Tyler Dellow
      October 9, 2010 at

      If Brownlee’s picks are poor, than clearly there’s a rationale for making better picks; if the signal to noise ratio is so high as to make the whole contest pointless, then there’s no reason to deride those picks.

      JW –

      Well, to an extent. I think in a contest involving nine forwards like that, chaos is going to overwhelm any skill involved. If I were to look at this year’s Oilers, I’d guess the order of scoring to look something like this:


      You and I are pretty similar. I think virtually everyone who allows for the ice time problem I’m pointing to has about an equal shot, because of the extent to which randomness swamps things and because of the extent to which health matters.

      In order to really have some sort of a test, I’d want to do something like this, with some sort of rate stats and say a cut-off for qualification. Tango had those guys forecast the rates for 32 players, selected specifically because they had been so damned inconsistent, and then compared the performance of the group to a baseline as well as various forecasters.

      His conclusion, by the way, was this:

      All the individual forecasters did a good job, and there’s really not much to pick between them. Individual readers should not be trusted, though as a group, they are very intuitive. Go with the monkey. There’s little accuracy to be gained beyond that.

      I suspect if you got a group of people together who’d really thought things through, you’d come to the same conclusion here.

    75. October 9, 2010 at

      Not like there was a game on to write about or anything


    76. Tyler Dellow
      October 9, 2010 at

      Thanks for the comment. The two posts below this deal with the game in question.

    77. October 9, 2010 at


      That study you linked to was almost precisely what I was planning to do with the results that were turned in at the end of the season. I probably still will.

      As for the contest, I don’t disagree with any of your points – I was just curious to see your predictions. No worries.

    78. upper-deck-drunk
      October 9, 2010 at

      First and last time I come to this site. Aren’t you all grown men? Waahhhhh

    79. Tyler Dellow
      October 9, 2010 at

      Your adult contributions will be missed, “upper-deck-drunk.”

    80. kris
      October 9, 2010 at

      curious to see your predictions.

      Are guesses predictions? If I guess that such a such a number will win the lottery, am I trying to predict what number will win the lottery?

    81. October 9, 2010 at


      Aren’t all predictions educated guesses of one sort or another?

    82. Vic Ferrari
      October 9, 2010 at

      So what’s the story, here. Is Brownlee setting his balls square and putting money on the table?

      If so, I’m all over it. If not, I don’t care.

    83. Vic Ferrari
      October 9, 2010 at


      Re the link you provided — you’ve misintrepretted the result. In fairness, so did the author.

    84. Tyler Dellow
      October 9, 2010 at


      How should it have been interpreted? I’m genuinely interested in this topic and I’d be interested to hear what you think.

      I would guess “no” on the money thing, by the way. I’m not as militant on that as you are but when a guy does radio ads in which he trumpets the fact that he tells it like it is, he should clarify that he means that in a “1984″ sense not a “I make superior arguments” sense.

    85. michael
      October 9, 2010 at

      “Gregor, widely known for his introspection and caution when it comes to joining the argument, doesn’t see this group as particularly historic: he sees them as having offensive depth that ranks only amongst the best in the NHL and Oilers history.”

      Gregor predicted 7. As he points out like those historic record holders the 2009/10
      Blues & Kings and the 2008/9 Leafs & Flames.

      Introspection and caution. They do keep one from idiotic sneering.

    86. Tyler Dellow
      October 9, 2010 at


      (Testing something; ignore)

    87. mc52tennis
      October 9, 2010 at

      Halftime: Oregon State 17 – Arizona 7. Sellout 57,000 fans. Exciting but not as crazy as Toronto FC. Temperature low 70′s.great day in Tucson. I guess I should sign for Twitter, eh?

    88. Vic Ferrari
      October 10, 2010 at

      Personally, I don’t read Oilersnation very often. Once in a blue moon, and then usually just a Lowetide article. Plus I’ll skim down to see who is going to be performing at the casino, just for the ‘what ever happened to … ?’ aspect.

      If it weren’t for this site, I would have no idea that Tencer, Brownlee, Gregor, Stauffer, etc. were saying goofy things. Personally I don’t know why you care. In this case Brownlee is clearly provoking you. I don’t understand why he did that, either. It might be just the way he is, perhaps when he’s on the street he throws rocks at big, angry dudes. I dunno.

      I think the lesson for the kids is:
      If you plan on provoking an argument with someone smart, you should first check and make sure you’re not a dumbass.

      Still, these are worlds that don’t need to collide.

      On the mathy stuff, did you read a bit I wrote called Likelihood And The Way Humans Think? If so, did that resonate at all? If the mood strikes, and I’m feeling particularly mathy, I may go further down that road.

      It’s not so much about big math, it’s about sound reasoning and critical thinking.

      I’m not sure how many people would be interested, beyond serious gamblers, so I don’t know if I want to go down that path or not.

    89. Schitzo
      October 10, 2010 at

      I’m not sure how many people would be interested, beyond serious gamblers, so I don’t know if I want to go down that path or not.

      Well, I’d read it for sure.

    90. Pete.
      October 10, 2010 at

      Vic: that post you refer to was, in my opinion, the most interesting piece on your site. I got a lot out of it.

      I’m not a gambler at all, but I’d certainly read more along those lines.

    91. Darren
      October 10, 2010 at

      More please. One of the most interesting pieces I have ever read on a blog.

    92. October 10, 2010 at

      Have their ever been more self stroking posts in a blogs talkback? I think not

    93. Pete.
      October 10, 2010 at

      ^ That’s “blog’s”, not “blogs”. It’s a possessive, not a plural. Also you missed the period at the end of your second sentence (fragment), and the “talkback” is usually referred to as a comment thread, or at least something similar. Finally, “self stroking” should probably be hyphenated (that means there should be one of those horizontal lines between the words self and stroking).

      Keep up the good work, though.

    94. Forain
      October 11, 2010 at

      “Your adult contributions will be missed, ‘upper-deck-drunk.’”

      Beauty. I laughed so hard when I read this that I actually cried.

      Great post, Tyler.

    95. roddie
      October 12, 2010 at

      Vic — Hopefully you continue the topic sometime. I have my own question about the birthday scenario. Something isn’t sitting right with me.

    96. October 12, 2010 at

      I’m a little unsure why the response to a statement that “this contest seems designed to cause bad predictions and requires perfect luck to create the conditions for any single guess to come close to the mark” is “why don’t you participate and show how smart you are”?

      If you could get a promise from Tambelini and Renney on which players they would trade and who would be on the PP/PK units for how often all season long, you could probably do well on this by applying ES/60 rates and all that jazz. Until then, you have to make a few wild assumptions and then hope the Oilers don’t have any external circumstances dictate deviations from that plan.

      Oh, right sorry. Um… Horcoff will get 54 points this year. I would guess closer to 60, but this is done Price Is Right style, non?

    97. E
      October 12, 2010 at

      this seems like the kind of discussion that no half-sane eastern conference fan would voluntarily wade into, but fuck it, here goes.

      i think this whole debate really gets to the core of what people want from hockey expertise. for a long time, traditional hockey media personalities have treated predictions of the future as the holy grail of hockey knowledge. the implicit idea has always been that if you really understand the game, you should be able to anticipate it. the possibility that hockey (on a season scale) might be fundamentally unpredictable undermines their whole claim to special knowledge. simultaneously, this prediction-fixation leads them see statistical thinking as horribly flawed, because thus far hockey stats haven’t been able to come up with any huge, money-ball-style predictive insights.

      the interesting thing to me is that the competitive obsession with predictions persists, despite everyone being wrong almost all the time. it’s considered a standard of expertise even though almost no one ever meets it. people seem to have a mysterious way of forgetting how shitty all their previous predictions have been.

    98. October 12, 2010 at

      E: I largely agree with that sentiment. I enjoy doing playoff predictions and such because it’s fun. I think as soon as you start taking things seriously and assume larger implications regarding hockey knowledge and what-not is where you run into all kinds of trouble. I mean, if you can consistently spot the playoff darkhorses, for example, I guess that says something positive about your methodology, but even that is prone to a lot of small-sample issues, given only four to seven games at a time (Chicago was the better team than San Jose, but not four-game-sweep better). Something as mired in uncontrollable/unpredictable circumstances (“luck”) as scoring boxcars? Meh, you might as well be predicting the Stanley Cup in August. Too many factors between now and then.

    99. The Other John
      October 12, 2010 at


      Surely by now we have all learned to look at San Jose’s roster and regular season performance, get into the playoffs and ask….how are they possibly going to screw ip up this year???…..the masters of 1 million different ways to underperform when it matters

    100. October 16, 2010 at

      Meanwhile, we’ve all seen firsthand the predictive genius of the dumb guesser. In one of our fantasy pools a few years back, one guy signed up but let the computer autodraft for him. He then proceeded to never log into modify or even check his roster as he was busy working overseas. When his players were in a slump, he didn’t bench them. If a top player was out 8 weeks with an injury, he didn’t bench them. If a bench pick got traded to Pittsburgh and went on a scoring spree, he didn’t unbench him.

      He won the damned pool. 15 other people, many of whom obsess over knowing hockey, got their ass kicked by a random computer pick.

    Leave a Reply

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