Friday, June 16, 2006

You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe

I was over at mc79 hockey reading Tyler's takes on Games 4 and 5 and I found it kind of funny that we saw the two games so differently. Basically, if I understand him correctly, he thought the Oilers played well overall in Game 4 (despite the obvious lack of offense that everyone will agree on) and carried most of the play at even strength. His game log for Game 5, indicated that he thought the Canes actually had the advantage at ES.

I disagree with both of these assertions.

I saw game 4 as a reasonably solid win for the Canes. I thought they played a pretty complete game and stifled the Oilers' feeble attempts at creating offense. The Oilers had a lot more trouble coming through the neutral zone in this game than any other in the series and really struggled regaining puck control in the Canes' end on the dump-ins. I thought it was a solid technical game overall for the Canes. Incidentally, it was the first one I've seen from them this playoffs (Of course I should mention that I've only seen 4 Canes' games this postseason that the Oilers were not involved with - 1 against NJD and 3 against Buffalo). Let's face it, they love to run and gun.

Conversely, I thought the Oilers played their game pretty well in Game 5 and I thought they carried the play at ES for the most part. Tyler mentioned the penalties drawn by the 'Canes as evidence of their ES dominance, but I'm quite certain at least a few of those 'Canes' PPs came from penalties drawn in the offensive zone (Hemsky's for sure) and certainly some of them were flat out atrocious. ie. Stoll's penalty on Brind'Amour off the faceoff and the one Tarnstrom took.

By the numbers, the Canes mustered just 24 shots on goal and (according to CBS Sportsline's Play-by-play )12 of those came on the PP. Since I don't recall any PK shots, that means they had just 12 ES shots over 63 minutes of hockey. The Oilers meanwhile had just 3 measly PP shots, 2 SH shots (Fernando!) and 24 shots at ES.

Furthermore, the Shots Directed at Net support the way I saw these two games. In Game 4, the Oilers picked up 48 Shots Directed at Net vs. 44 for the Canes which was easily the closest margin (+4 for the Oilers) of the series. In game 5, it was back to normal in favour of the Oilers 73-56, a differential of +17 which has been typical of this series thus far. FYI, it has been +14, +20, +11, +4, and +17 for Games 1-5 by this measure, all in favour of the Oilers.


Anonymous lowetide said...

I hope tyler and you don't take this as being critical, but I always wonder about the value of viewing a game the second time for impression. Seems to me that when you view a second time you're looking for specific things as opposed to the first time when a fan should have a solid feel for how the game is going.

As for my impressions, I'm pretty much in agreement with you. Game 4 the Hurricanes were the Velvet Fog (or whatever MacT called them), effective in making it seem as though the Oilers had to skate uphill 20 miles to get anything accomplished while their forwards had the puck all night.

Game 5 the Oilers seemed to play their first real "Oiler" game of the finals. Probably just a matter of having enough of their forwards healthy enough to drive to the net and beat people one on one.

If this series goes 7, I'd bet dollars to donuts Ales Hemsky beats a dozen defenders between now and Monday when I pass out.

6/16/2006 7:06 am  
Anonymous Showerhead said...

If I may toot the Social Psychology horn, there is almost no way in which a second viewing by an impartial observer will be as accurate as a first viewing by a likewise impartial observer. Ask for it if you want some reader's digest style examples, but apparently we have a hell of a time separating the end result of an event from our perceptions of what caused that event.

On a different topic, what are the chances that Weight's injury makes the Hurricanes a better team? I ask this because it is likely Staal and Brind'amour will see their minutes rise; Staal has been coming on of late and Brind'amour's line has been their best throughout the series. Further, I suspect Vasicek can play a reasonably dangerous game with limited minutes. The one area that it might really help would be the powerplay - can anyone give a definitive answer as to how often it's been Weight stirring the drink?

God I miss posting...

6/16/2006 10:08 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

I think LT's bang on. I remember being disgusted when the Oilers lost both games in SJ and feeling pretty hopeless about the situation. So I sat down and rewatched G2 and found that the whole scoring chances battle wasn't as out of whack as I'd initially imagined.

I watched G3 of this series in an overcrowded hotel room and I couldn't really enjoy it or really pay rapt attention. I think I was so scared of a sweep that I convinced myself the Oilers really didn't play that well. On the rewatch on Sunday I saw the Oilers severly outchance the Canes and that usually leads to a victory.

As far as G5...we know the Canes piled up the chances and SOG on their PP but of course that matters. For all of our talk about if the Oilers could just stay out of the box the deal is that they can't and haven't for these entire fucking playoffs. And it's caught up to them in this series.

I like the Oilers at ES over the Canes and the numbers back that up but you can no more fault a team for it's success being predicated on ST as you can for it's netminding being better. Because we'd have never gotten past the Wings if the goalies had switched creases.

Regarding Weight missing on the makes a differenc of course but just how much I wonder? I just looked at his PPTOI from G1-5 and they use 8 forwards on their two units and Weight's jostling for 6th place with Recchi in terms of PPTOI. Williams-Stall-Whitney-BA-Stillman are their top 5, Cullen is 8th and then Recchi and Weight usually play about the same amount of time. The only aberration here is the blowout G2 when Weight played nearly 10 min of the PP but I'd imagine that was because the game was out of hand the Lavatory was saving his big ES guys for the next game in Edm.

Maybe some of the bots will show up with some cool PP/Hr stats that will show Weight to be super important on the PP but I'd imagine that if that were the case then he'd be seeing more minutes. Stillman-Staal-BA look to be the guys driving the bus...Whitney's not far behind. That's just looking at raw data though.

What I want to see is what kind of an impact Ward's had at ES and people are saying Wesley's playing banged up but I hadn't really noticed that. To finish:) it will be nice to have Tverdosky taking some of the Oilers forecheck in G6. Raffi.

6/16/2006 10:32 am  
Blogger Loxy said...

As for the idea of re-watching not being as impartial as the first viewing, I don't think most of the people watching this series are impartial to begin with.

Dennis was ready to get down on the Oil in game 2 of the SJ series, and that's exactly what happened. I think the second viewing of any game will just help someone be convinced of other views that are out there. Does that create unbiased-ness? No, not at all.

But it fields the opportunity to see things that you weren't looking for the first time around. That includes mistakes.

And who the hell says Toe-mah-toe?

6/16/2006 4:52 pm  
Blogger Desdemona said...

And who the hell says Toe-mah-toe?

Get off my mum's back.

The hockey gods can't be pleased with this. Or Oiler fans.

"EDMONTON — An U.S. hockey magazine editor could be eating his words if the Oilers win the Stanley Cup after he printed thousands of copies of a playoff issue declaring Carolina the victors.

"Roughly 60,000 issues of the monthly Beckett Hockey magazine with a cover featuring Cam Ward, Eric Staal and the headline "Canes Capture the Cup!" are hitting U.S. and Canadian newsstands next week."

6/16/2006 6:19 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Good stuff.

I think that the people who post online offer better insight when they watch the game for the second time. Which is something I can never make myself do, if I know the result it just isn't any fun. :-) Though that may very well be because the kind of people who do that are typically more objective, insightful people to start with, imo anyways.

I very rarely read the game day threads on the fan boards, but I remember reading one on HF a couple of years ago. It was madass, the emotional swings were crazy, a great scoring chance or a goalpost was a complete non-event unless it went in, or so it seemed, everything that happened in the game was being weighed against the current score. Big hits and nifty plays in the neutral zone that lead to nothing ... huge discussion points.

Anyhow, the Oilers came back to tie it in the dying minutes, Niinimaa took a point shot, the winger had the shooting lane so he just shot it to miss his pads, all you can do there, in this case erring towards the far post. It was going to be a couple of feet wide but it caromed in off of the knee of an Oiler. Suddenly there was elation, Janne was being hailed as an impact D, much talk of clutchness with regard to the guy who had the puck bounce in off of him. There was joy in Oilerville, and the calls for the heads of the coaching staff and a third line winger and depth Dman were put on hold for another day, as were demands for callups from the AHL. Crazy shit.

My point, and I do have one, is that the flip side to "not getting a good impression without the emotion of the game attached" when reviewing a game is that "you can be more sensible when you're not emotionally invested".

I agree with showerhead's remarks though. Just common sense really, but it's hard to separate the human element. Every team spends a lot of time and money reviewing video, and every reviewer carries bias ... because they are all human. :-) Scoring chances, and the reasons that they happened, are the main point of interest of course. But if Riversq and Dennis were being paid to review the tapes and come up with hard measures ... overall in any game one of them is likely going to give more credit to Dvorak, one of them is going to pin more blame on Greene. Same goes for any two of us, we all have our biases.

There has been a lot of work done to try and clean out the bias. Carving up the ice into a bunch of different scoring zones, to credit shots on net when a player was on the ice with different weights, etc. And that's been going on with log sheets for well over a decade, even at lower levels (i.e. before the software was around).

To my mind, over the short haul, like a playoff series or a losing or winning streak, the simplest way is to have more than one person review the tapes. A lot of coaches would hire unemployed technical coaches for additional video review in the playoffs. (Bowman hired Nielsen and Bob Johnson a couple of times, guys like King and Constantine could usually find work in the spring, and so on). Looks like the Oilers brought in Buchberger to do this for them this year, just going by a few references from MacTavish. (Apparently all of King, Constantine, Murray, etc were unavailable or underqualified ... PLUS none of them had a house in Edmonton OR had won a cup as a player here ... double whammy)

6/19/2006 10:05 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


I'm on the same page with all the games in this series. Disagree on the importance of Weight though.

It's sort of like Lang-Yzerman on Detroit's third line. Its not that they are great players any more (though Yzerman did have a terrific series) so much as the fact that that's some pretty high end skill sitting where the soft minutes are supposed to be. And with those two guys on the roster there is enough powerplay talent that both units are a real threat to score. Only Ottawa could say the same in the regular season imo. And with the addition of Recchi and Weight all of a sudden CAR looked like a poor man's DET.

To a lesser extent the addition of Samsonov and Tarnstrom did the same for the Oilers (though MacTavish's use of Dick is a headscratcher). But with Samsonov and Spacek usually slotting into the top PP unit ... suddenly the second unit has Horcoff/Stoll/Tarnstrom, they're not just killing time any more, they're a threat to score fairly often I think.

As an aside: It seems to me that usually offensive forwards don't get traded at the deadline, or at least at a fraction of the rate that solid defencemen do. And when they do they just so rarely make a positive impact on the new team. Just doesn't seem to be enough time for them to fit in to a new system and teammates. But with the trading deadline so far back this year that old axiom may have gone by the wayside. I mean none of Samsonov, Recchi or Weight played very well when they were first acquired, not for a month or so really for any of them (I haven't checked but I'd guess that all were resounding minus players at 5on5 in that stretch, and with soft minutes to boot). But all have been very useful players as the playoffs have worn on, enough to make a difference in some of the close series that have been played. But based on this playoffs, I'm thinking that there will be more bidders nest year, and that players of this ilk will command more in trade in March of 2007. We'll see.

On Ward: Laviolette seems to have a lot of good veteran NHL defensemen, but no great ones (sort of like Buffalo). I don't tend to notice D matchups while I'm watching, but by the numbers the Hedican/Commodore tandem seems to play the toughest minutes, not a helluva lot in it though.

6/19/2006 11:04 am  

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