• OILERS: “DAVE BERRY WAS RIGHT”

    by Tyler Dellow • February 1, 2011 • Uncategorized • 60 Comments

    I’ve met Dave Berry, aka Pleasure Motors. It was at an event in a Legion that was closing or something, put on by a member of the transplanted Edmonton hipster scene. He wore tight pants and had a haircut that confused me. I think he was smoking clove cigarettes.

    I didn’t realize that I was in the presence of a hockey savant. But I must have been, because more than two years ago, Dave was (somewhat publicly) punted from the Oilers’ pressbox after writing, amongst other things:

    “Zack Stortini is just a disgusting hockey player.”

    I won’t wade into that debate again, although re-reading what Elliotte Friedman had to say about it irritated me to no end. Also, while Dave was rapped by Friedman for writing “We had better be good on the powerplay, because we can’t do [expletive] all at even strength: that whole sequence before the disallowed goal was just horrific”, it bears mentioning that the Oilers finished the 2008-09 season in 22nd on the PP. AND, he kind of foresaw the redemption of Dustin Penner: “Penner is the early leader for the Mike Peca Award for the player who I most wanted to spit in the face of a year ago who I now kinda like.” If any retirement home residents can comment on Paul Lorieau’s success with the ladies, we might know just how broad Dave’s expertise is.

    Back to Stortini: 161 games after Dave pointed it out and JJ Hebert defamed Zack Stortini by implying that he’s the kind of guy who might assault Dave for saying it, the Oilers have finally come to the same conclusion: Zack Stortini has been waived. (Followers of the arena debate may be interested to note that the Oilers currently have a whopping $6.75MM in one way contracts playing in the AHL: it’s not just that the team is terrible but they can’t even do that efficiently; they sign all sorts of players who are too terrible, or troublesome, to even play for the Oilers and then pay them to play somewhere else. I’m not sure how Zack Stortini, JDD, Alexandre Giroux and Sheldon Souray making NHL money to ride the AHL buses makes Edmonton a world class city but hey: it’s your tax money, not mine.)

    There seems to be some disgruntlement amongst Oiler fans on Twitter that Stortini got the axe, as it’s felt that he shouldn’t be first on the chopping block. Is Stortini the worst player on the Oilers? Not by a long shot. JFJ is clearly more useless and Steve MacIntyre is more pointless than either of them. And I’m not going to get into Jason Strudwick eating up an NHL roster spot because he’s a great guy. I agree – their continued presence on the roster enrages me too.

    With those concessions made, I’m not going to dump on management for moving Stortini out before those guys. Stortini isn’t good enough to play on a good NHL team. Full stop. The fact that a bunch of other guys on this team have the same problem doesn’t excuse his continued presence. The big picture is that this is a sign that the Oilers are cutting ties with a player who shouldn’t be here. It’s a good thing. Even if it took millionaire hockey executives spending $2.1MM in salary on him to learn what a guy filling time by writing a live blog while waiting to collect cliches (or, possibly, get assaulted) knew just from looking at the guy.

    Unsurprisingly, Bruce McCurdy disagrees. A quick rebuttal of his points:

    I really thought – and think – that there is room on a successful team for a role player of his ilk, and I was confident we were growing our own.

    I think Bruce would have a hell of a time finding some statistical comparables for Stortini on good teams.

    Stortini has been a break-even player on a truly crummy team (a net +1 over the past four seasons).

    The percentages have been in his favour, which is never a smart thing to be bet on going forward.

    He doesn’t give up much defensively, wins more than his share of board battles, takes the puck to the net, and gets in the faces of opponents – in fact right now today Zack Stortini leads the entire NHfreakin’ in penalites drawn per unit ice time.

    Bruce loves his small sample sizes. Stortini’s never been good at this in the past. As for not giving up much defensively, when he’s on the ice, the Oilers tend to be stuck in their own end getting bombed.

    Zack was never given much of an opportunity to play with skill players, and when he did (with guys like Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson), it was those guys who got promoted when the line was successful.

    Yeah, I don’t even know what to say about this. I’m not sure what Bruce thought Stortini’s upside was. Maybe they should have waived Gagner and kept Zack? Stortini got literally oodles of opportunity given what he might bring to the rink if things worked out.

    When he got solid linemates for fourth-line duties, those guys were traded (Kyle Brodziak) or allowed to walk down the QE2 (Curtis Glencross). He spent the vast majority of his time here playing with the call-ups, the slumpers, and the scrubs, and held his own in the process.

    The Brodziak/GlenX/Stortini line rode the percentage lightning like basically no other line in the past few years. Stortini wouldn’t be close to positive without that string, IIRC. Other than that, I think Bruce and I draw the “held his own” line in different places.

    The real beneficiaries of this, given management’s asinine devotion to JFJ and MacIntyre, are Liam Reddox and Linus Omark. Tom Benjamin had a good line the other day about finding good hockey players, saying “…the best way to find hockey diamonds is to sift a lot of coal.” Stortini going means that the Oilers are going to sift through some more coal this year. Complaining that it should have been JFJ or MacIntyre is akin to staring at three pieces of coal and trying to pick the one that is more coal-y than the others. IT’S ALL FREAKING COAL.

    About Tyler Dellow

    60 Responses to OILERS: “DAVE BERRY WAS RIGHT”

    1. Quain
      February 1, 2011 at

      100% agree except for one thing: why do you spit in the face of the Bobby Hill Strategy?

      “It turns out that the coach is using Bobby as a motivator for the rest of the athletes, by threatening to give their spots to Bobby when they slack off or get an attitude, nicknaming him ‘The Stick’.”

      I’m never going to forget the obvious disgust of Stoll and Torres being forced to drag Stortini around with them against Sidney Crosby. It’s one of the fond memories I have of the past few years.

    2. Coach PB
      February 1, 2011 at

      I never understood why management saw fit to keep the worst player on the Glencross – Brodziak – Stortini line. The reason Stortini looked so good with them is because they were both legit NHL players playing 4th line minutes.

      So logically, they boot the two legit NHL players.

    3. February 1, 2011 at

      wow…spittin some venom today! I guess I would’ve let Jaques go first because he’s dead weight like you mention. At least Stortini would give you effort down the stretch and maybe you could get something for him in the off season if he continued to be a plus player. if not…who cares. Personally I like Zack, he’s won me money in some wagers I’ve had, so I have a soft spot for guy. I do agree that the players you mention should not and will not be here if we want to truly re-build and compete, but we should’ve kept the better of the three.

    4. February 1, 2011 at

      IT’S ALL FREAKING COAL.

      Well said.

      I’m about to overdose on coal.

    5. February 1, 2011 at

      Will Tambellini finally finish what he started this past offseason? We made waves by throwing out some of the trash, but a lot of it remained. Then again, you also need to recycle some of the trash and bring in some replacements. That never happened.

      Now let’s move onto Fraser, Jacques, Strudwick, Khabibulin….

    6. February 1, 2011 at

      McCurdy is cherry-picking stats. For one example, he uses 4 years when talking about +/- but just this year when looking at penalties drawn/taken.

      PDRAW/60 – PTAKEN/60:
      2010-11 +1.6
      2009-10 -0.5
      2008-09 -0.3
      2007-08 -0.1

      Is McCurdy serious? Did he really suggest that Stortini was good at this?

      While I’m at it, check out his Corsi Rel QoC. For the past three seasons he’s been used against the absolute softest opponents coaches could find.

      2010-11: -1.09
      2009-10: -0.91
      2008-09: -1.07
      2007-08: 0.18

      No way you should give a crap about being +1 when you’re playing guys that probably don’t even have hockey cards.

    7. dawgbone
      February 1, 2011 at

      I’m not so much worried about the Oilers losing Stortini but I am concerned that they probably aren’t targetting the right players.

      Hey, if Stortini isn’t good enough to play on the Oilers, get rid of him. That being said I’m going to be pretty pissed if guys like JFJ and Smac are on the club next year.

      The one thing they do benefit out of getting rid of Stortini first is that he’s got the extra year on his deal and if someone picks him up they save some room next year. JFJ and Smac are both at the end of their deals this year. There’s actually a benefit into unloading Stortini now if you don’t feel he’s one of the 13 best possible players you can dress for next year.

      All that being said, I don’t think Stortini is a bad 4th line player. Sure his Rel Corsi against the dreads isn’t great, but neither are other 4th liners (which is why they are where they are).

    8. February 1, 2011 at

      I don’t have time to really get into this now (I will return) but one thing I will say in Stortini’s defence is that his ZoneStart always seems to get overlooked.

      2007-08: 47.6
      2008-09: 43.5
      2009-10: 46.6
      2010-11: 43.9

      Other players get killed with those sorts of zonestarts by possession metrics, and we tend to cut them slack because we know what’s happening. Stortini never seems to get credit for the fact that he’s generally tossed out in his own zone, often with J-F Jacques or the goon of the week.

    9. February 1, 2011 at

      Navin – if you’re an Oilers’ fan you probably have the black lung by now

    10. February 1, 2011 at

      While I’m at it, check out his Corsi Rel QoC. For the past three seasons he’s been used against the absolute softest opponents coaches could find.

      2010-11: -1.09
      2009-10: -0.91
      2008-09: -1.07
      2007-08: 0.18

      … and with the lowest calibre of teammates his own own coach could find:

      Corsi Rel Q of T (forwards, min 20 GP)
      ————————————–
      2010-11: -5.061 (worst on team)
      2009-10: -2.474 (2nd worst on team)
      2008-09: -4.478 (2nd worst on team)

      That’s a two-sided coin. Thing about fourth liners, is that even if they play much or most of their time against other teams’ fourth liners – what Dennis calls the “Gentlemen’s Agreement” – all other match-ups are by definition against higher lines and therefore unfavourable. Fourth liners everywhere have crappy Corsi and especially Rel Corsi. Even with the most sheltering coaching, they’re going to get caught out during on-the-fly changes, after icings and in road games, and at such times the primary objective is survival. I thought Zack Stortini did pretty well at this, +1 over four seasons on the fourth line of This team. For the most part 4RW has been one of the least of Oilers’ concerns throughout his time here.

    11. February 1, 2011 at

      As for drawing penalties, I am saying he has gotten pretty good at this. Players do develop skills as their career develops, and Zack has shown some promise in this area. Yes it is a small sample size, but throughout the current season he has consistently earned the extra powerplay which the Oilers have consistently wasted. Maybe I’m overstating it – it is after all just part of one season, and your point is well taken, Robert V – but it just seems peculiar to me that a player who is currently leading the NHL in any demonstrated positive category is available for the proverbial dollar on the waiver wire. Peculiar enough to draw attention to it.

    12. RiversQ
      February 1, 2011 at

      JW: Are those ZoneStart measures filtered for icings? Stortini has a history in that regard. I recall one year (07-08 I think) where he was under 50% entirely due to his own icings. Sometimes it’s the coach making the game harder for the player. Sometimes he needs no help there.

      I have not been a Stortini fan, but unlike Tyler I take no solace in the fact that he is gone.

      Personally, I’m interested in just two things this year: 1) the kids getting better and hopefully at a rate that outstrips the negatives of burning an ELC year – no idea what that would be; and 2) Getting some hint that management has any clue about identifying legitimate NHL players. Basically, I’m jonesing for the faintest whisper of hope that Tambellini can dress himself in the morning.

      I agree that in the big picture it doesn’t matter which lump you get rid of first, but if you’re looking for hope from management (which I would argue is the only hope worth believing in – NHL players, draft picks and prospects are easily wasted) then this didn’t really get us any closer, did it? In fact it makes me wonder because they chose the “least coaly” one of the bunch.

      So far current mgmt’s greatest successes have been varying levels of damage control – dumping Nilsson, Staios, Moreau, O’Sullivan and turning Visnovsky into Whitney are really just trading big losses for smaller ones. There is nothing actually positive for them to hang their hats on.

    13. February 1, 2011 at

      You and I are in lockstep on this one. Stortini may not be the 16th best forward on this roster, but he doesn’t make the top 13 either, and hopefully the team plans on getting some better personnel before the start of next season. That means Stortini is on the way out, and as DB mentions above, it then makes sense to try to lose the contract. Even if guys like MacIntyre and Jacques are worse, the Oilers can (at least in theory) just walk away from them at the end of the year.

    14. Tyler Dellow
      February 1, 2011 at

      Stortini is RFA at the end of the year. I don’t suppose the Oilers are aware of this but they don’t HAVE to qualify him.

    15. RiversQ
      February 1, 2011 at

      Followers of the arena debate may be interested to note that the Oilers currently have a whopping $6.75MM in one way contracts playing in the AHL:

      If the Oilers sent Khabibulin down now it would be both justified and awesome. The Oilers would be pushing 20% of their cap into the AHL. That’s unreal.

      The “Oilers Model” for building a cup contender is an interesting approach, but too much work. Why file all that paperwork with the NHL? I think it could be better approximated by starting each day by lighting $10,000 on fire while you’re sucking for 3-4 years. All this roster flagellation is not needed.

    16. February 1, 2011 at

      I think Bruce would have a hell of a time finding some statistical comparables for Stortini on good teams.

      Haven’t got all day, so let’s just look at the two teams tied for first overall, Philly and Vancouver (egads):

      Zack Stortini: 32 GP, 7.06 ATOI EV
      0-4-4, -2, 76 PiM
      Goals: +1.93/-2.48 = -0.55/60
      Shots: +19.3/-25.3 = -6.0/60
      Corsi ON: -15.4
      Rel Corsi: -6.2
      —–
      Daniel Carcillo: 27 GP, 7.67 ATOI EV
      3-1-4, -6, 72 PiM
      Goals: +1.45/-3.19 = -1.74/60
      Shots: +23.5/-29.0 = -5.5/60
      Corsi ON: -17.1
      Rel Corsi: -10.5
      —–
      Tanner Glass: 48 GP, 7.62 ATOI EV
      3-5-8, -4, 54 PiM
      Goals: +1.64/-2.46 = -0.82
      Shots: +20.2/-30.2 = -10.0
      Corsi ON: -22.79
      Rel Corsi: -32.4 (!!)

      Glass is probably the better comp. Like Stortini, Glass has the worst Rel Corsi Q of C and Q of T, while Carcillo is a little better protected on the RCQ of T side of the scale. But Glass is just getting smoked on the shots and Corsi side of things. In fact Stortini has the best RAW Corsi of the three, despite the fact he plays on a >>>>>> worse team.

      I dunno, they seem pretty comparable to me. Are you saying those teams couldn’t put Zack Stortini in place of those guys and at least carry on if not actually improve?

    17. Tyler Dellow
      February 1, 2011 at

      I went and checked the penalties that Stortini has drawn:

      DAL – draws roughing minor in 3-0 game because Barch is in the mood to kick his ass
      NAS – draws hooking minor from Belak in 1-0 NAS lead
      COL – draws roughing penalty from Paul Stastny (!?) in second with COL leading 3-1
      LA – draws interference penalty from Jason Williams in 0-0 game
      COL – Cross checked by Wilson in the second period of a 2-2 game
      NJD – Drew an instigator from David Clarkson in a game Oilers were winning 2-0
      VAN – Drew an inteference penalty on Torres in the Oilers end of the ice when it was 2-0 Canucks
      CHI – Drew a high sticking penalty from Jack Dowell in a 4-1 Oilers lead
      SJS – Drew an instigator
      MIN – Drew a roughing penalty from Brodziak

      Either Gabe has a drawn misconduct in there or (more likely), I missed one. In any event, three of the ten I’ve found are guys taking penalties to start fights with him.

      Without having seen any of the penalties but the ones leading to fights, it’s tough to draw any conclusions. Two of the instigators came after Stortini threw a big hit, so good on him, but neither case struck me as one where there’d be a fight if it wasn’t something the other team’s coach would want. I suspect that the interference stuff is largely luck of the draw as is the high sticking.

      Let’s be realistic though: we’re talking about 11 penalties drawn per Gabe’s number. The average forward draws some of these anyway, which slices into the value. What are we talking about? One goal? He can be expected to give that back in spades going forward.

    18. Tyler Dellow
      February 1, 2011 at

      Bruce –

      I don’t doubt that they could carry on – I don’t think fourth liners make a ton of difference either way. I am somewhat surprised that those teams are carrying crap like that; we’ll see what sort of TOI they get in the playoffs. Look how they got them though – Carcillo was the return in a salary dump and Glass was UFA. If you need or want one of these players, they’re readily available.

      Personally, I’d rather have a fourth line that can play. Even if they can contribute to a winning team, when it comes to years like this, I’d rather have the roster spot to go through potentially more useful players. I’d ditch MacIntyre and JFJ too but Stortini’s still a start.

    19. February 1, 2011 at

      Tyler: Actually in a true results-driven analysis we’re talking about a negative value cuz our powerplay couldn’t score on any* of those 11 powerplays, while our penalty kill couldn’t kill many of the 5 penalties he’s taken.

      (* I don’t think)

      With the horrible state of Oilers’ special teams the point is indeed moot. Wheras such a skill (if real) could actually be useful to a good team.

      I’ll be surprised if he isn’t picked up, then again I’ve been surprised (a.k.a. “wrong” :) ) before. Especially given how NHL waivers (Euro imports excluded) is the ultimate Gentlemen’s Agreement these days. Still, I’d think some teams might be sorely tempted here. Young, cheap, experienced role player, yours for a dollar …

    20. Tyler Dellow
      February 1, 2011 at

      Well I wouldn’t do a results driven analysis that way because I don’t think he has any impact on the ensuing PP/PK. Credit/charge him with part of a goal and move on.

    21. February 1, 2011 at

      Tyler: No of course, I’m being partly facetious when I write that. I’m just pointing a finger – and you just know which one – at one reason what should be an asset, hasn’t really turned out to be one. Our special teams are a fucking joke, and dispatching a guy who doesn’t play on either one of them seems a little off topic.

    22. Aubrey
      February 1, 2011 at

      As long as the bodies start moving out I am happy enough. Maybe it’s a sign of life from the GM’s office. Keep the ball rolling Steve, 2 or 3 defense and 5 or 6 forwards to go.

    23. February 1, 2011 at

      Oops. I guess I should have checked on the FA status instead of relying on the old memory. That makes this decision a bit worse IMO, but I’m still happy that they sent away one of the bottom three forwards on the roster.

    24. February 1, 2011 at

      Scott:
      “he doesn’t make the top 13 either, and hopefully the team plans on getting some better personnel before the start of next season”

      You, uh… were laughing hysterically when you typed that, right? I don’t see how you could be anything but.

    25. February 1, 2011 at

      Honestly, for where Stortini is in terms of ice-time I’d say he’s a pretty decent player. Just looking at Behind the Net’s info on players within 30 seconds of EV TOI, he stands out as slightly above average.

      That said, NHL teams overemphasize toughness on their bottom line, so I don’t see any reason a team can’t ice a significantly above-average fourth line at minimal cost – one that wouldn’t include Stortini.

      However, I’m also convinced that Steve Tambellini overemphasizes toughness on the fourth line, and he’s not likely to find a comparable player to Stortini at that price point and level of effectiveness. Either he’ll go the Ottawa route, overpaying for these types of players, or he’ll keep on folks from the MacIntyre or Jacques trees.

      I know I’m not really backing this up with anything other than opinion, but that’s how I see it.

    26. February 1, 2011 at

      Let’s also keep in mind that Jeff Deslauriers was roster option number 23 to start the year, and the team was only willing to risk him on waivers to give J-F Jacques a job.

      I’m a little amazed at the number of bright people around these parts who think Steve Tambellini will replace Stortini with a player superior to Stortini.

    27. February 1, 2011 at

      RiversQ:

      I remember reading that somewhere (don’t recall where, probably in the comments here). No, those weren’t controlled, because a) I don’t know how to do it and b) I’m not sure what percentage of icings are the NHL norm.

      It would not surprise me to find that Stortini’s line ices the puck more than the average NHL line, or that this was a typical pattern for fourth lines around the league, but I don’t know any of that.

    28. Pleasure Motors
      February 1, 2011 at

      They were regular cigarettes.

    29. February 1, 2011 at

      JW: you have a fact with which to back up your assertion that Tambo likes toughness on the fourth line. Stortini is heading to Oklahoma, MacIntyre still draws an NHL salary. SMac seems like a hell of a nice guy, and he sure can hit people really really really hard, but if I had to pick one or the other… Zorg laces ‘em up every day of the week and twice on Sunday over SMac.

      Not that 33 gets much playing time, but yeah.

    30. February 2, 2011 at

      Stortini’s time in the AHL will settle this dispute. If he looks really excellent, that provides strong evidence -though not conclusive proof- that he can be a decent 4th liner. If he can’t crack the AHL top 6, and really dominate, it shows he isn’t worth playing on the 4th line.

      I think toughness adds nothing. But assuming that it does, Stortini doesn’t add enough toughness to justify putting him in the lineup if he can’t play as well as a top-notch AHL’er.

      (I sometimes think the Oilers would be better running the Baron’s top 6 as their bottom 6, but that’s a different story.)

    31. February 2, 2011 at

      Thing about icings is that half the equation is under the coach’s control. If your fourth line forces the other team to ice the puck, they’re likely to get pulled off the ice to give an extra offensive zone chance to a scoring line. Or when the line before them forces an icing, the coach might well decide to skip their turn and still give that O-zone chance to a scoring line. Whereas when they ice it themselves, obviously the coach doesn’t have such a choice.

      So sure the D-zone faceoffs after icings will show up in ZoneStart. What doesn’t show, but is implied, is the coach’s preferences when he holds the hammer. On the team level it’s (roughly speaking) a zero sum game but the fourth liners are apt to get the short end of it. I expect that’s true for most teams, but haven’t researched it.

      Also, seems to me that when Vic published icing stats in the past, that the Oilers were surprisingly non-incompetent in this dept. I don’t remember 2007-08 specifically, however, and can’t remember how to access that old data now.

    32. Tom Benjamin
      February 2, 2011 at

      I’m not going to pretend that Tanner Glass is a good player, but I will state unequivicably that he is a much, much better player than Zack Stortini. Glass has good speed, he plays physically, he is good enough defensively to kill penalties and in pinch he plays centre. He doesn’t take penalties despite the fact he plays a very robust game. He’s good enough to play every game on a very good team.

      Of course his Corsi numbers are poor. He only gets good ice time when the Canucks are way ahead and protecting a lead.

    33. RiversQ
      February 2, 2011 at

      Bruce, you’re right about the old data – the Oilers back then (and probably right to today) had extremely low icing rates, especially considering how much time they were in their own end in that particular year (and probably to date). In fact, IIRC they had the lowest rate in the league. It was interpreted at the time as being a consequence of realizing they stink at faceoffs. It could also be that they’re too stupid to ice the puck when it can be better than the alternative. It’s another log on the fire for faceoff woes and one that was not captured by Matt at BOA or Tyler in their previous work about the importance of faceoffs.

      (Generally I think they’re right, but in the Oilers’ case if you’re averaging around 40-45% as a team and adjusting your game to avoid clearing the zone with reckless abandon – that’s a bigger problem than it first appears.)

      Your argument about the flipside on icings is valid. However, the obvious counter is that we can be pretty sure from the horrible Corsi rates back then that the 4th line wasn’t spending any time in the other zone which is a clear prerequisite for forcing icings.

    34. dawgbone
      February 2, 2011 at

      Tom, there’s a difference between being good enough defensively to kill penalties and being put on the ice to kill penalties. You don’t need to be the former to be the latter.

      Tanner Glass is utterly horrendous at killing penalties, so I’m not sure that actually equates to a checkmark beside his name. I’m sure if Zach Stortini had a rotation on the PK he too could finish dead last on the team in GA/60.

      Stortini has also played a fair bit of centre in the past 2 seasons, a heck of a lot more than Tanner Glass has, so again, I don’t think that’s a check for Glass there either.

      Darcy Hordichuk was also able to play every game for a good team. That doesn’t necessarily speak to his ability as a player, but more so to the fact that the coach wants someone like that in the lineup.

      Tanner Glass is an awful hockey player and you’d have to have some thick Nuck glasses on to even attempt to state that he’s a much, much better player than Stortini.

    35. Tom Benjamin
      February 2, 2011 at

      Tanner Glass is utterly horrendous at killing penalties, so I’m not sure that actually equates to a checkmark beside his name. I’m sure if Zach Stortini had a rotation on the PK he too could finish dead last on the team in GA/60.

      Somebody has to be last in whatever stat you throw out there and the Canucks have an excellent group of forwards. Glass has good speed, a quick stick, and he arrives hard on the puck.

      When was Hordichuk able to play every game for a good team? He was frequently a healthy scratch with the Canucks. Rick Rypien is a better player than Hordichuk and Rypien is pretty lousy. Actually Hordichuk is a pretty good match for Stortini. He was scratched for half the regular season games and every playoff game last year. He sucks and always has sucked.

      Tanner Glass doesn’t suck. He will play every playoff game this year unless he is hurt. You can throw whatever stat you want at me. If they add up to “Tanner Glass is Zach Stortini” we’ve got a pretty good argument that the stat is badly flawed.

      It probably is anyway on sample size alone. Give me some evidence that the statistic means something. I’m willing to listen to claims of empirical evidence but you have the burden of proof. Explain how your number is valid and show me the study that proves it actually means something.

      You have zero evidence to support the claim that Glass is a horrendous penalty killer. None.

      How many times have you seen him play?

    36. February 3, 2011 at

      Great thread and great to see PM chime in:)

      I still miss Covered In Oil:)

    37. The Other John
      February 3, 2011 at

      I always marvel that the Oiler management sell the fiction that we have to sit on pins and needles waiting to see if our 13 th thru 16 th best forward clears waivers. They have done such a marvelous job selling this absolute crap, which the MSM repeats that most of us believe it. Reality check we are a really shitty team.

      I bet Sam Polock shit bricks every time he had to waive anyone because they invariably got selected.

      The Oilers did this precise same dance with giving JDD. “will he get claimed”. do you guys think other GMs might just say, holy shit he cannot play any meaningful minutes for a team CRYING for a 4th line player and I am going to claim him why

    38. RiversQ
      February 3, 2011 at

      Shhh, stop posting. I want to hear more about Tom Benjamin’s kickass coal. It’s pure anthracite. Major BTUs there.

    39. Tyler Dellow
      February 3, 2011 at

      Glass has gotten hammered at ES Corsiwise two years in a row. The Canucks get outscored by -0.80 per hour at ES with him out there this year, which is bad. He got wrecked last year, although he got a .955 save percentage behind him, which will cover some sins. The year he got to play in Florida he got destroyed.

      He’s a 6th PK F in Vancouver, barely. If he plays 80 games, he’ll get 80 minutes of PK TOI or so. His SA/60 numbers on the PK are respectable but I’m leery of PK numbers, since the samples are tiny. He’s getting hammered on the GD, sure, but the save percentage behind him has been terrible, and I think most of us don’t worry about that.

      The one thing I see in his favour numbers wise is that he starts out in his own end a lot. 37.5% of his faceoffs start in the offensive zone, which isn’t that much worse than Zack.

      Tanner Glass doesn’t suck. He will play every playoff game this year unless he is hurt. You can throw whatever stat you want at me. If they add up to “Tanner Glass is Zach Stortini” we’ve got a pretty good argument that the stat is badly flawed.

      I’m hard pressed to conclude that this is true. The PK thing gives him an element that Stortini does have so there’s some separation there. I haven’t seen him enough to know if he’s any good but would accept your view. I assume you’d accept mine that he’s a pretty marginal penalty killer, in the sense of being a sixth option.

      What’s the difference between Glass and Stortini over the course of a year? I’d be shocked if it’s much more than a standings point. They’re fourth liners because they aren’t good.

    40. February 3, 2011 at

      Smoking isn’t good for you David.

    41. Pleasure Motors
      February 3, 2011 at

      Fuck you, I look cool.

    42. Vic Ferrari
      February 3, 2011 at

      Yeah, I’m neither celebrating nor shedding tears. Stortini was no hell, but he was better than most NHL fighters at playing hockey. The decision to bring in MacIntyre spelled the end for Stortini, I suppose.

      Renney seems to want a 4th line that he can play against good players, just for a short shift starting with an offensive zone faceoff. He doesn’t have the horses to do that, but he keeps trying.

      I don’t think getting rid of Stortini helps that. For that matter getting rid of Jacques and MacIntyre won’t help either, not unless they’re replaced with better players.

    43. Vic Ferrari
      February 3, 2011 at

      On Tanner Glass, overall at evens:

      Corsi% = 38.8%

      When the score is tied:

      Corsi% = 39.7%

      So he’s about 1.1% worse overall than when the score is tied.

      VAN overall: 52.1%
      VAN when tied: 55.8%

      The Canucks are a good team, they play with the lead a lot, so you expect their territorial advantage to be stronger when the games are tied.

      As a team they are about 3.7% worse overall than when the score is tied.

      i.e. This effect is NOT hurting Tanner Glass especially. The opposite in fact.

      Bad results just follow that dude around. The simpler answer is that he’s just not very good at hockey. Or maybe there are genuine extenuating circumstances, hard to imagine though.

    44. February 3, 2011 at

      I don’t think that 46 was a huge loss and I certainly don’t watch as much Dys hockey as does Benjamin but something seemed way off about his idea that Glass was So much better than Stortini.

    45. February 3, 2011 at

      @Tom Benjamin: I’ll accept your assertion that Tanner Glass is better than I think he is, if you will accept my assertion that Zack Stortini is better than you think he is.

      Many of these so-called “energy” players look like clowns from a distance, and like complete incompetents by advanced stats. Yet teams continue to employ them, and not just bad teams like Edmonton either.

    46. dawgbone
      February 3, 2011 at

      Somebody has to be last in whatever stat you throw out there and the Canucks have an excellent group of forwards. Glass has good speed, a quick stick, and he arrives hard on the puck.

      But he’s dead last by a country mile. All that stuff is wonderful but it’s clearly not working out too well for him on the PK.

      When was Hordichuk able to play every game for a good team? He was frequently a healthy scratch with the Canucks. Rick Rypien is a better player than Hordichuk and Rypien is pretty lousy. Actually Hordichuk is a pretty good match for Stortini. He was scratched for half the regular season games and every playoff game last year. He sucks and always has sucked.

      I stand corrected. Hordichuk was scratched for 4 games in 08-09… unless you want to argue the 08-09 Canucks weren’t a good team.

      And yes Hordichuk does suck but it also points to the fact that Vignault has a history of wanting players like that in their lineup.

      Tanner Glass doesn’t suck. He will play every playoff game this year unless he is hurt.

      All 6 of them? Good for him. He was on pace at this time last year to play in 76 games and wound up playing 67 plus only 4 playoff games.

      You can throw whatever stat you want at me. If they add up to “Tanner Glass is Zach Stortini” we’ve got a pretty good argument that the stat is badly flawed.

      And your stance is what? Coach plays him therefore he’s the Awesomest? Coaches have biases like everyone else.

      It probably is anyway on sample size alone. Give me some evidence that the statistic means something. I’m willing to listen to claims of empirical evidence but you have the burden of proof. Explain how your number is valid and show me the study that proves it actually means something.

      Your stance was he’s better than Stortini because he can A) Kill Penalties and B) Play Centre.

      Well let’s look at killing penalties. I don’t know about you but my definition of being able to kill a penalty is to not get scored on while killing said penalty. Tanner Glass isn’t so good at that aspect of killing penalties. Every other Canuck forward who routinely kills penalties is on for less goals than Tanner Glass is (relative to ice time) , and by a significant amount. Your ability to kill penalties is directly linked to your success rate at not giving up goals. I can’t sit here and argue that the Oilers are a good PK team, they get scored on too much for that, it would be a ridiculous argument.

      At this point he’s demonstrated that he can be a body that you throw in the ice, but he hasn’t shown to be at all effective at it.

      So again, any one can be thrown on the ice to kill a penalty, but it doesn’t make them a penalty killer. Just being sent on the ice isn’t a plus for Glass. Contributing would be.

      You have zero evidence to support the claim that Glass is a horrendous penalty killer. None.

      And you have none to show he’s not. So for now you can go all Pierre McGuire on me and talk about his active stick or whatever else floats your boat… I’ll just watch him fish the puck out of his net once again on the PK while you do it.

      How many times have you seen him play?

      I don’t track that sort of thing. I can’t even recall the number of times I’ve seen Ovechkin play.

      Who seriously keeps track of that stuff?

    47. February 3, 2011 at

      I don’t mean to pile on Benjamin here but some of those things he attributes to Glass are of the old-timey seen him good variety.

      For instance the arriving hard to the puck, I guess he never saw much of our 46 but Stortini never took many shifts off, either.

    48. Tom Benjamin
      February 3, 2011 at

      @ Dawgbone:

      There is no statistical significance in any of these numbers you are throwing out. Its all proofiness, pretend science. Objective nonsense.

      All that stuff is wonderful but it’s clearly not working out too well for him on the PK.

      Its not working out that badly for him. He’s part of a group that is one of the best PKs in the league. I guess that’s despite the fact Vigneault chooses to play someone horrendous because he has his biases, too.

      I don’t know about you but my definition of being able to kill a penalty is to not get scored on while killing said penalty. Tanner Glass isn’t so good at that aspect of killing penalties.

      Prove it. The last I heard there are three other penalty killers and a goaltender on the ice. Explain how you separate the Glass contributions (or lack thereof) from the other players on the ice when the sample size is too small to be meaningful even before you slice it up.

      I can’t sit here and argue that the Oilers are a good PK team, they get scored on too much for that, it would be a ridiculous argument.

      It is perfectly valid to declare that the Oilers PK is horrendous and the Canuck PK is excellent based on the statistics. It is not perfectly valid to split those team statistics into individual ones. You can’t prove an individual statistic by claiming a team statistic is valid.

      I want evidence that the individual stat has real meaning. Show me how the individual stats can be added up to equal the team stat. They can’t? Proofiness.

      It is an unfortunate thing, but the only way to evaluate individual hockey players is to evaluate their skillset. That’s a subjective exercise. If that’s going McGuire on you, so be it. I wish you could go Bill James on me, but Bill produced a body of work that coherently – and convincingly – linked individual contributions to the team results. That has never been done in hockey despite tons of trying. If you want to pretend that it has been done, well, whatever floats your boat…

      Just don’t expect me to buy it.

      @ Tyler

      What’s the difference between Glass and Stortini over the course of a year? I’d be shocked if it’s much more than a standings point. They’re fourth liners because they aren’t good.

      True enough. Glass is not a good player. He’s a useful role player who does not hurt the team because he doesn’t make any money, he skates, he hits and he plays with discipline. The Canucks could improve the PK marginally by using the Sedins over Glass and Raymond. Vigneault thinks – and I agree with him – the team is better off using the Sedins on the first shift after a penalty.

      Using Glass on the PK gives the Sedins a couple of extra offensive shifts a game, often with a good matchup. The Canucks will probably give Glass another contract next year. Stortini was waived. Does that say anything?

      @ Bruce

      I’ll accept your assertion that Tanner Glass is better than I think he is, if you will accept my assertion that Zack Stortini is better than you think he is.

      This is a valid point. If I saw Zack Stortini play for a couple of years on a good team my view of him might be different. I’ll listen to an argument that says I’ve undestimated Stortini. Aside from being a good fighter – not an important skill, IMO, – I don’t see what he brings to the table.

      What else does he do well?

      The good news for Oiler fans is that whichever lug they dumped, it means Omark is staying, right? He’s got a chance to be a diamond, IMO.

    49. February 3, 2011 at

      For instance the arriving hard to the puck, I guess he never saw much of our 46 but Stortini never took many shifts off, either.

      @Dennis: Yes, that is the exact basis of my comment #45 above. Sometimes you have to see a lot of a guy to appreciate what he brings. I respect Tom’s opinion, but more about guys who play for the Canucks for the reason that he sees them more. The Oilers, not so much (if he’s lucky!).

      I’ll listen to an argument that says I’ve undestimated Stortini. Aside from being a good fighter – not an important skill, IMO, – I don’t see what he brings to the table.

      @Tom: We agree absolutely that being a good fighter isn’t that big a deal. I would actually rate that at the bottom of Stortini’s skill set – he’s a lousy fighter. What he brings to the table is a willingness to engage, to stand up for his mates even against the biggest and the baddest, to get in the faces of his opponents, to take the body consistently but not recklessly, to value possession of the puck over and above landing a hit and being willing to take a hit as a cost of doing business, to work the end boards on the forecheck, to (try to) take the puck hard to the net, to move his ass just as hard on the backcheck as the forecheck, to play his position responsibly, to use his fucking head out there and keep his composure, to lead with his chin if it might earn a powerplay.

      Precious little of that sort of stuff shows up even in advanced stats. But it’s stuff I for one appreciate as both a fan and an observer of the game. I daresay the game’s insiders appreciate many of those same things, even when they add up to – as in Zack Stortini’s case – a big fat zero. (Actually, +1 over his four “full” seasons in Edmonton, but let’s call it zero) Hey, zero beats the crap out of minus-20, and when you’re talking about fourth liners, to me that zero has value. (Tyler will tell you it’s unsustainable, and he may well be right. But four years is pretty good sustain in my books.)

      Alas, shortcomings as an athlete (including but not limited to, as a fighter) are the elephant in the room in Stortini’s case. He had trouble handling the puck, and a few too many clearing passes went through his stick this season especially. Tom Renney had trouble getting past that. When he pressboxed Stortini the game after Zack had played what I had considered a near-”perfect” game for a player in his role (in Ottawa), the writing was on the wall.

    50. Tom Benjamin
      February 3, 2011 at

      Yes, that is the exact basis of my comment #45 above. Sometimes you have to see a lot of a guy to appreciate what he brings. I respect Tom’s opinion, but more about guys who play for the Canucks for the reason that he sees them more. The Oilers, not so much (if he’s lucky!).

      I think you do have to see a lot of guys, but it still comes down to the skillset. I wasn’t talking about work ethic. That has to be a given in a role player. I’m not talking intangibles.

      The best thing about Tanner Glass is his skating. He’s probably an above average skater which makes him way above average for a fourth liner. He plays his position well. As a result he puts pressure on the puck, he is quick to loose pucks along the wall and he arrives all elbows and knees. Opponents don’t get a lot of time to make plays. I don’t expect offense from the fourth line. I expect them to make it difficult for the opponents to move the puck and Glass is good at getting in the way.

      Stortini has size and a willingness to use it, but that’s about it. Unless I’m missing something in his game, I don’t think that’s enough.

    51. Tyler Dellow
      February 3, 2011 at

      Only in Canada could a post about a fourth liner being waived evolve into a fifty comment thread discussing the relative merits of Zack Stortini and Tanner Glass.

      Tom – I don’t mean this aggressively but if Glass is such a good player, why does the other team get 60% of the shots when he’s on the ice?

    52. Vic Ferrari
      February 4, 2011 at

      Bruce

      Don’t forget that the on-ice scoring chances for Zach line up almost exactly with his on-ice shot proxies. At least over the previous two seasons, I haven’t checked for this year. Surely it’s the same (quain?).

      But Tyler has already provided a whack of evidence. Surely he has already won the argument with anyone who can be reached with reason.

      You hear music with this player that nobody else does, Bruce. Hell, you’re internet-famous for it. Having said that, there are no shortage of terrible fourth liners in this league right now. When injuries strike and some of these guys move up a line or two … they’re boat anchors. So we’ll wait and see if the player that replaces him is any better. The Oilers want an enforcer, so I doubt it.

      And, going off topic a bit … talk radio callers are obsessed with hockey fights and hockey fighters. They keep calling Stortini a ‘middleweight’. That’s a huge guy, if Zach Stortini is a middleweight … we’re living in frightening times.

    53. Tom Benjamin
      February 4, 2011 at

      He’s not a good player. He’s a useful fourth liner as opposed to a useless fourth liner.

      First, he is not a good offensive player and neither are his linemates usually. That’s why they play on the fourth line. Whenever he does play against better offensive players – most of the time, except when he ends up out there against other fourth liners – he’s probably going to get outshot.

      Second, like all fourth liners he gets more ice time in blowouts when his team is running out the clock. I’d guess that Vancouver as a team is usually outshot in those circumstances, not because they play Glass, but because they stop forechecking and focus on preventing good chances. Luongo gets to fatten up the save percentage on perimeter shots and everybody goes home happy.

      Third, unless it is a blowout, Glass doesn’t get offensive zone faceoffs.

    54. February 4, 2011 at

      @Vic: Derek Zona did listed scoring chances as at the all-star break here:

      http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/1/30/1963137/oilers-scoring-chances-at-the-all-star-break

      Stortini actually ranked 7th of 13 Oiler forwards in scoring chance differential per unit ice time, and 8th in SC for:against ratio. Not as good as it sounds, essentially there are 6 good guys and 7 bad ones, so rather than be “middle of the pack” Stortini is near the top of the second pack. And it’s not exactly what you’d call a real accomplished group.

      Surprisingly to everybody but me, he leads the entire club in limiting scoring chances against (click the header of the CA/15 column). Same thing happened last year as I recall. He’s a low-event player. QC speaks to part of that, but only part. Obviously he doesn’t create much either, but he’s actually third from the worst on the club in CF/15.

      And even I will admit he had a tough year, couldn’t gain traction with Renney at all. Wasn’t hurting the club, just wasn’t doing enough to help it. But I will still maintain he wasn’t the worst player of the club, and brought elements that are in even shorter supply in his absence. (Exhibit A: 12 Oilers forwards combining for a Total of 3 hits vs. Kings. I know you don’t rate that stuff very highly, which is why we’ll never agree in discussions like this.)

    55. February 5, 2011 at

      What’s this hockey shit doing on your soccer blog?

    56. February 5, 2011 at

      I bet Sam Polock shit bricks every time he had to waive anyone because they invariably got selected.

      I bet he didn’t, because instead of waiving them, he’d trade them for California’s first pick or something insane like that. ;)

    57. Vic Ferrari
      February 5, 2011 at

      Thanks for the link, Bruce. I’m a bit behind in my blog reading.

      Damn, it’s like picking up the bill after dinner at a nice restaurant … you know it’s going to be bad, but it’s still always a surprise when you see the number.

      The correlation of scoring chance ratio to fenwick ratio is r=.68, history tells us that will be above .9 by season’s end, at least for the population of players with over 30 games played.

      Hell, take away Omark and it goes r=.88 right now.

      Fenwick% is a terrific predictor of future scoring chance% … so all the smart money should be on Omark improving his scoring chance% from here on out. Just a bit unlucky that outplaying hasn’t turned into outchancing for Linus just yet. That worm will turn eventually.

      That meshes with what we see, I think. It turns out small guys can win puck battles in this league. Like Lindy Ruff says, get there first and you’ll probably win the puck. Of course that’s easy for Ruff to say, he’s standing comfortably on the bench. There are a lot of large, violent men playing in this league, especially at D. So I’m not sure I’d sell career health insurance to either Omark or Reddox, but so far so good.

    58. February 5, 2011 at

      @Vic: FWIW, I was expecting the Oilers to take the path of least resistance and send down Omark because they had options on him. In my view that would have been a mistake. I also didn’t want them to waive Reddox, and again to their credit, they didn’t. I just thought, and think, they sent out the wrong guy from the bottom of the roster.

      So they didn’t make the worst choice, just not the best either.

    59. Vic Ferrari
      February 5, 2011 at

      Yeah, Bruce, I don’t really disagree with that. But the guys who are worse aren’t much worse. And (as stated) Omark has been playing in bad luck, they made the right choice to keep him up. I was expecting nothing from that guy, but so far at least, it looks like he can play. Same for Reddox. Liam was a mess after a Sabre (MacArthur?) tried to murder him last year, but before that he looked like a player, so we shouldn’t be shocked.

      And Brule was bad last year by chances too, plus he’s been hurt, plus he’s being paid a lot and was a lot of Oiler fan’s choice for ‘best Oiler’ last year. Percentages are a fickle bitch.

      Paajarvi was a mess earlier, but he’s still so young, and been playing better lately. Plus he’s on the ‘hope for the future’ poster. He was going nowhere.

      Jones is useless, but the Gods have favoured him this year. I suspect the folks at OilersNation rate the guy highly, perhaps I’m wrong. Hell, I’m sure Lowe rates him. That will end badly.

      Fraser is probably a really good guy, but he’s terrible. I mean everyone in the NHL is good relative to me, but that’s not the fair comparison. I make him to have played the softest opp in the league last year, and with good linemates, a rarity for depth players. The Chicago depth evaporated as soon as Toews and Kane got paid, but damn, they had an obscene number of good forwards last year.

      Scott Reynold’s shift-by-shift analysis of Fraser in a CHI vs CGY game was damning. He was right. We’ve been overvaluing zone-start, and underestimating quality of competition, or so I think.

      In any case the guy is going nowhere, he was a Tambolowe acquisition.

      Plus the fans love it when the Oilers dump a scapegoat. Tambellini made this team considerably worse in the off-season … Oiler fandom applauded every decision.

    60. Vic Ferrari
      February 5, 2011 at

      On the off chance anyone is still reading this, I’ll offer up my theory of the left-handed-Irishman. It sounds terrible, but I think that eventually the Genome Project will prove me right.

      I think Stortini could have been that guy. Unfortunately he fought Rypien, the league’s best example of LHI. There’s no winning when you fight a guy like that.

      We forgive Ivanans for getting crushed by MacIntyre, we forgive MacIntyre for getting crushed by Godard, we forgive Godard for being crushed by Laraque.

      If I were the size of two people, like Jody Shelley … I wouldn’t mind fighting MacIntyre (who is also the size of two people). Because if I lost, it would be forgiven. I wouldn’t be interested in fighting Stortini, not at all. And I wouldn’t go near Rypien … because it’s a no-win.

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