Nichols’ Law of Catcher Defence: “A catcher’s defensive reputation moves in inverse proportion to the quality of his hitting.”
From Lowetide’s thread at Oilersnation about the likelihood that Omark is gone at the end of this season:
Linus Omark is woefully terrible defensively
While we are all excited about his ability to play in the offensive zone he is terrible in the d-zone and the neutral zone.
Omark has not stood out at the NHL level and hasn’t seemed to improve his defensive play.
There are a zillion examples of this every time Omark’s name comes up.
I think of myself as a reasonably astute observer of hockey. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why his defence gets such a bad rap. His Corsi for the course of his career is respectable, despite having been shuffled all over the lineup, including some time with the black hole that is the bottom of the Oilers’ lineup. When Renney was faced with a choice between Jones and Omark last year, before Jones had the one way deal, he picked Omark. David Staples documents defensive mistakes on scoring chances – according to him, Omark’s been middle of the road amongst Oilers’ wingers this year in terms of chances on which he was at fault, with guys like Hall, Eberle and Hemsky being worse. Last year, pretty much exactly the same deal. By eye, he’s good on the boards despite being small.
I should say, in regards to David’s numbers, that I suspect there’s a quality of competition adjustment that needs to be made – seems odd that guys like Hall, Eberle and Hemsky are the worst by that metric. If Omark was so bad though, I’d expect it to show up. It doesn’t.
So why does he have a lousy defensive reputation? I’ve honestly got no idea. It’s a mystery to me. Thinking about the defensive responsibilities of wingers, in general, I come up with a) backcheck hard, b) don’t turn over pucks in your own end when you have a chance to get out, c) collapse towards the net when the puck’s on the other side of the ice, d) keep pucks in the other end of the ice and e) don’t get beat by your man on the point. That looks to me to be about it in the Oilers’ system.
My best guess as to Omark’s reputation is a variant of Nichols’ Law of Catcher Defence: absent other factors, a forward’s defensive reputation moves in inverse proportion to the quality of his offence. Omark hasn’t been able to crack the Oilers full-time, his offensive ability is pretty obvious, so it must be that he’s lousy defensively. In the absence of an obvious explanation, one will be concocted. So, data be damned, he’s lousy defensively.