Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Items that might one day grow into a blog post

I think I'm stealing this one from Cam Cole, but I can't really remember who used to do this for the Journal back in the day...

(It's mostly being done because I don't really want to write coherent paragraphs.)

First, my game review:

- I watched the game tonight and it was more than a little depressing. The Oilers came out in the first period and forechecked like absolute demons and had the Red Wings looking very flustered. It reminded me very much of recent Oiler playoff games. Very impressive work from Smyth, Peca, Dvorak and Horcoff but all it really yielded was a handful of minor penalties by the forecheckers deep in the zone, one of which was converted by some schmuck named MacLean.

- The Oilers just struggled in the second by my eye - they toned down the heavy forecheck but were still unable to get the puck into dangerous areas for much of the period. They lost a ton of battles along the boards all game, but in this period in particular. The Oilers routinely sent two men into the corner with one Red Wing and sure enough lost almost every battle. Even Pronger lost a fair number tonight.

- In the third they come out like gangbusters on the forecheck for the first shift, the Detroit dman makes a total blunder ( a blind prayer of a pass up the right wing) that Horcoff fails to handle while Spacek makes a bizarre pseudo-pinch near the players' bench. The end result is Draper leading a 2-on-Pronger that gets buried behind Roloson. Wonderful. The Oilers mostly struggle to generate pressure in the offensive zone with the puck for the rest of the period.

- Other random observations:
  • Dvorak had a brilliant chance on that onetimer (in the 2nd I believe).
  • Torres went all-out on an offensive zone faceoff that was lost by Stoll leading to a nice chance for Samsonov.
  • Moreau had a brilliant chance on a cross-crease pass from Dvorak, but was tied up and drew the penalty.
  • Horcoff was flying tonight and had a clearcut breakaway opportunity that he couldn't slide between Legace's pads.
  • Smyth had probably the only other quality chance of the game, but Legace came across the net well and got his pad down.
  • Samsonov and Hemsky were mostly ineffective. Lots of flash and dash, but no substance.
  • Roloson played fine.
  • The PP struggled all night generating real scoring opportunities. While the puck possession is not something I've ever seen an Oiler PP capable of, they really seem stuck on a handful of set plays - the Hemsky-to-Spacek onetimer and the Pronger point shot and neither player can hit the net consistently. It lacks imagination and looks like it might be over-coached again.

Other things...

- Pouliot continues to play rather well. I'm looking forward to seeing more from him. He barely touched the ice tonight and that's probably a good idea, but when he's out there he just seems like a decent pro.

- Horcoff vs. Jokinen. I'll post about this at some point, but that is a really interesting comparison given the completely ridiculous contract that Jokinen just snagged. Before this year, Jokinen has been outperformed by Horcoff in terms of ESP/hr, PPP/hr, +/- and I imagine EV+/- as well. In addition, by looking at the 03/04 shift charts, I found that Horcoff appeared to have considerably more difficult strength of opposition. This year, even though Jokinen appears to be breaking out again they have almost identical scoring rates. So if Jokinen is worth 4yrs - $21MM, what is Horcoff going to get? Of course, Horcoff isn't a pending UFA, but I'm having trouble finding a single piece of data that suggests that Jokinen is a better player than Shawn Horcoff, so he's got some serious leverage in my opinion.

- Jaroslav Spacek probably isn't coming back. He's having a career year by every measure and he's coming off a post-lockout $2.25MM/yr contract. What hurts more is that Morris ($3.9MM/yr), Norstrom ($4.25MM/yr) and Gauthier ($2.1MM/yr) were all signed to extensions. I'm pretty convinced that Norstrom is an elite dman in this league so his number doesn't mean much. However, I'm quite certain Spacek's a better player than Gauthier and I could be convinced that he's in the same ballpark as Morris. I can't see the Oilers making a strong enough pitch to keep this guy.

13 Comments:

Blogger RiversQ said...

Just to add...

Am I the only one that has to scroll down for 30 seconds to find the sidebar? Vic, this is either an easy thing to fix or you'll probably want to kill me.

4/11/2006 11:11 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

RiversQ:
This is just great stuff. The Horcoff item is really interesting and something to follow closely moving forward.

I'm wondering if the Oilers might trade one of the young forwards (Hemsky, Torres, Stoll) in order to improve the major weakness (goal).

Horcoff's contract number probably puts him in that group and maybe even at the top even though he isn't a young gun.

Sign him for three or deal him for a G?

Seems reasonable to me, even though I think him a ton as a hockey player.

4/12/2006 7:18 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

RiversQ said...

Just to add...

Am I the only one that has to scroll down for 30 seconds to find the sidebar? Vic, this is either an easy thing to fix or you'll probably want to kill me.


I always use Firefox so I've never noticed that. Just opened this page with Internet Explorer and the sidebar is right at the bottom. WTH causes that? Try editting the template Rivers, you know more about this stuff than me I'm sure.

4/12/2006 8:33 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Interesting stuff esp. Horcoff - the question is with all of the players sure to be free next summer will he get that type of contract?

To me Spacek fits in under 3MM so he may be gone but general consensus is Morris is overpaid, I think.

I think they can find an equivalent for under 3MM personally but I may be whistling dixie.

4/12/2006 8:37 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

The Horcoff thing is frightening, because I suspect that you are right. Those numbers that you use, performance by game situation, and relative to icetime ... the NHL CBA Solutions software apparently churns out the same data, so presumably this is the stuff that wins arbitration cases.

I like Horcoff, but part of his appeal is his relatively low salary and his ability to outscore.

Playing pond hockey with Smyth and Hemsky this season has pumped up his counting numbers and given his outscoring numbers (EV +/-) a shitkicking.

Looks like Lowe may have a problem now. Hell, Horcoff on big dollars probably isn't even worth much in trade. And if common sense rules next season and he takes on the tough competition with more responsible linemates ... his counting numbers will drop and fans will call for blood (Especially the ones that took him in their hockey pool :D ).

By the looks of this, a one year deal is probably best for now, letting Horcoff go UFA in July of 2007. I guess we'll have a better feel for it as more comparables get signed in the off season.

4/12/2006 8:49 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

One more thing :)

What the hell was up with the coverage on both 2 on 1 s? I mean everyone and their brother lines up 2-2-1 when the other team has the puck behind their net with time, like after a line change. Greg Millen would exclaim "They're playing the trap!", and I suppose he's right, every team does the same thing in that circumstance I think. Except, apparently, our innovative Oilers last night. WTF?!

On the first one I thought maybe Torres was just stupid beyond belief and doing his own thing. But it was exactly the same on the second 2-1, Draper's goal, but with Hemsky up there.

The camera view wasn't wide enough to see clearly, but it looked like they were playing some sort of passive 2-1-2. Strange shit. Both times the DET Dman just pounded the puck around the boards, the DET forward beat the pinching Oiler D an voila ... 2 on 1.

Strange stuff indeed. If I can figure out how to put video clips on here I'll throw it up for conversation in a post. Granted, I can't get the sidebar off the bottom of the page in IE ... so the cahnces of me figuring out video clips is pretty damn slim. :-)

4/12/2006 8:59 am  
Blogger speeds said...

Didn't think this was worth it's own post, but to me it's kind of interesting.

By midnight tomorrow night EDM can be:

(1) clinched (if VAN picks up 1 pt in 2 games, and EDM wins, or if VAN picks up 0 pts and EDM picks up 1)

(2) eliminated (VAN wins both, and EDM loses in reg)

(3) still in limbo (anything else)

Pretty interesting times, lol.

4/12/2006 9:01 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

Haha...that cracked me up Vic!!!

Raise your hand if you're sick of Spacek. The guy's playing too many minutes right now IMO. It seems like the old Staios deal where MacT would fall in love with a guy and ride him until he wore out. Wait...that sounded wrong didn't it?;)

The first solution would be to cut out his PP time altogether and give it to Tarnstrom. That makes sense on a couple of basic levels, ie Tarnstrom has better PP numbers over his career than Jaro and this would save Jaro some more wear and tear. Yet MacT hasn't made this change yet so I doubt he'll make it at all. Regarding the PP the only thing that's really fucking killing me is they're still trying to make that one time pass to Spacek. Yes Pronger isn't hitting the net but at least they've put in a new wrinkle where Hemsky shoots off the left circle. I still think it should be better though.

Horc did play a great game and so did Smyth. Both guys are out there doing what they ca right now. And I dunno if Hemsky's hurt or he's soft or what but he's the weak line on that line right now. Stoll's another guy who's disappearing, IMO. And I have to disagree with RQ because I liked Samsonov's game last night. He had at least one great scoring chance and he drew a penalty at the end of the 1st off a nothing play.

Between them all there isn't an ounce of scoring touch in the Peca line. Dvorak is pathetic at this point. And Moreau's out there laying the stick to anyone he can get near. The guy's a bull and he's tireless but he doesn't have a fucking clue how to control it. And I think we can see why Peca only scored 11 goals in '04;)

Overall I still think this team has a great chance to back into the playoffs given Van's sked. I'd be shocked if Van even gets a point in SJ tomorrow night and tonight in Van won't be easy either because the Sharks are on autopilot right now.

I have to say though that I've never been so drained being a fan. In '04 the Oilers rumbled down the stretch and just didn't get enough help, well specifically they were chasing the Preds and Blues who in hindsight were probably beating up on Chi and CBJ to the tune of a playoff spot. In '02 the Oilers rumbled down the stretch but Van decided not to lose. But this year the Oilers blow chance after chance to put some distance between them and the teams chasing them and there's nothing more I hate than feeling obligated to watch games not involving the Oilers;) But of course I do it.

And it's been hard to get used to this Oilers team...it's different than what we last saw. The ST are both top 10 so that's different. The Oilers suck at home and that's different. The Oilers are good on the road and that's different.

The only thing that's the same is the netminding's usually sub-standard.

4/12/2006 11:34 am  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Dennis: I guess we'll disagree on Samsonov. His only scoring chance was due to a Herculean effort by Torres after a lost faceoff (Keep in mind that I hate admitting this because I think Torres is a total knob) and he tried to stickhandle into a forest of Red Wings at almost every opportunity. I thought he played alright, but he was definitely ineffective to my eye.

The PP needs a little something. Obviously a set play that results in a shot on net would help a ton. Regardless, it's hard to criticize a PP unit that gets setup and toys with the PKers as often as the Oilers do. The problem is, as often as they manage to do that, it should result in more goals.

Vic: I didn't notice the 2-on-1 coverage, but I think the 2-on-1 goal was mostly just bad luck. They were gambling on the forecheck but Horcoff stayed high and the dman took the bait and rifled it right at him. If he manages to knock that down, the Oilers get a premium scoring chance at the very least. Of course, both wingers were trapped down low and I don't know what Spacek was thinking with that pseudo-pinch - he had nothing to gain by selling out for the puck there especially when Horcoff is the high man and only 10-15ft in front of him just inside the blueline and the wingers are at the goalline.

4/12/2006 1:51 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

[quote]Vic: I didn't notice the 2-on-1 coverage, but I think the 2-on-1 goal was mostly just bad luck. They were gambling on the forecheck but Horcoff stayed high and the dman took the bait and rifled it right at him. If he manages to knock that down, the Oilers get a premium scoring chance at the very least. Of course, both wingers were trapped down low and I don't know what Spacek was thinking with that pseudo-pinch - he had nothing to gain by selling out for the puck there especially when Horcoff is the high man and only 10-15ft in front of him just inside the blueline and the wingers are at the goalline.[/quote]

I must have deleted the game off of PVR, so I can't do the clip thing. Maybe Dennis can help us out here, I think he records a lot of games. He watches more non-Oiler games than me too, so maybe he's seen some other teams employ this tactic, strikes me as strange stuff though, I've never seen it.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but it was odd by my eye. On the first one, before the 2 on 1 evolved from Bergeron's aggressive play, I was thinking "what the hell is Torres doing up there standing around next to the other forward (Stoll I think)? Unreal, this fucker must be too stupid to ie his own skates". Then on the second one it was another winger, Hemsky I think, in the exact same position. So it probably wasn't just player error, or was it? Helluva gamble if it was intentional.

4/12/2006 2:24 pm  
Blogger MetroGnome said...

I don't really see the Horcoff comparison to Jokinen...

Olli is on pace for nearly 40 goals this season. he had previously scored 26 goals (03/04) and 36 goals (02/03) on a pretty bad Florida team.

In contrast, Horcoff is on pace for 22 goals this season (a career year). In three season's previous, his highest goal total was 15. Further, it looks like Horcoff is going to best his previous career high by about 30 points, which could indicate a statistical abberation rather than a true break-out season.

Jokinen, however, is a proven 30+ goal scorer which is obviously a highly coveted commodity in the NHL these days...thus the fat contract.

4/12/2006 4:29 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Metrognome: If all one does is look at the counting numbers, then yes Jokinen seems rather impressive. What should not be ignored here is icetime in my opinion. If you normalize for icetime, then Horcoff's scoring rates are superior with significantly more difficult icetime over the past couple of years. Jokinen has never really put up impressive scoring rates for a "so-called" 1st liner until this year and when he did, Horcoff matched him stride for stride. Jokinen is a classic case of a guy whose counting numbers are pumped by obscene amounts of icetime. He normally is around 1200 ESmin/yr and nearly 400 PPmin year. Same goes this year and this time he's not killing penalties anymore. (Horcoff still does though)

Jokinen's somewhat weak opposition in 03/04 is odd - how he didn't draw Sundin, Thornton and Richards more often last year on that crappy FLA team is beyond me.

BTW, the Flames were only rumoured to get Jokinen. He didn't actually arrive, so Flames fans should be able to let this one slide. ;)

As for Horcoff's record scoring totals... They are records but the majority of that increase is made up of extra PP icetime. Horcoff had just 101 PPmin in 03/04 and just over 100 PPmin combined in the two seasons previous. This year, he will surpass 300 PP min and he's coupled that with an impressive rate of 5.0 PPP/hr, hence the high counting totals.

One good indicator of a statistically anomalous year IMO, is SH% - Horcoff is actually just a shade below his career average. I'm not sure Horcoff will approach 1 PPG again, but his career path suggests he shouldn't too far off decent production as long as he doesn't get put through the icetime wringer.

4/12/2006 9:42 pm  
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