Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shift Chart Program

Matt Fenwick posted an intriguing quote from Mike Keenan the other day in a post at Battle of Alberta. This concerning the role of Lombardi, and his line, on the Flames. And Mike's vision of him being a guy that they would want out there for the first shift after the power play. Of course this is a time when the other team gets their best players out there, and your best players are usually tired from having just played on the PP unit. It's an important gig on any team. Though as you can see here, it didn't really work out that in the Colorado game on Tuesday once they got past the first period.

For those that are interested in this sort of thing, and just generally interested in the context in which hockey players get their results, I've put up a program that builds the shift charts from the NHL game number. The PP times are illustrated there as well. And you can drag and drop the player rows to see how the coaches were running the benches.

I remember hearing Roger Neilson say that the most important shifts in a hockey game are the ones just after a powerplay. That was over twenty years ago, but I recently read some Neilson quotes off of the web that extolled the importance of the first and last shifts of the period as well. In due time I'll add markers on there to show where the period ends, and if there are any other suggestions I'll incorporate them at the same time, assuming that they are achievable with my limited programming abilities. Roger was a rare bird, in that he seemed to be genuinely trying to make us understand more about the game at that level, and he never got pissed when it went straight over our heads, which separated him from guys like Ron Wilson and Pat Quinn. Some of the things Carlyle was throwing out for consumption during last year's playoff run were equally good. Hopefully Keenan, who replaced Roger in Manhattan, inheriting his mysterious and evolved statistical database, and later hired Neilson as his head coach when he got the gig as GM of the Blues ... hopefully he carries on that tradition.


Blogger Jon G said...

Wow, great program, I would have to agree that the first and last shift of the period is important. As well, as the first shift after a team scores. but, I am not so sure that I would classify the first shift after a powerplay as important because most of you shut down guys are still available for the shift afterwards as they don't play as much on the PP.

10/18/2007 6:04 pm  
Blogger UrsoBranco said...

Nice work. Sure makes it easy to see where those post-Oil-PK shifts go. At first glance, as I think most of us would have guessed, MacTavish is handing out these sweet minutes where they belong.

The Detroit game on Oct 8th (4-2 loss):

- Gagner-Cogliano-Pouliot (2 shifts)
- Torres-Cogliano-Nilsson (2 shifts)
- Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky (1 shift)
- Gilbert-Grebeshkov (2 shifts)
- Pitkanan-Staios (2 shifts)
- Greene-Souray (1 shift)

The couple of times reliable (paired with, arguably, semi-reliable) veteran linemates were out there, MacTavish was probably covering his bets a little bit. Seems like, at least this night, this mix didn't work out.

Detroit's first two goals were scored just after they had blanked on the powerplay, although Horcoff made up for the second one by bringing the Oil to back within one right after. (With Lidstrom and Rafalski on the ice, no less. Thank gawd for Horcoff.)

Edmonton's PK follow-up shifts did not hit the scoresheet, although again, Cogliano makes up for his misses with a goal late in the second.

It is, of course, probably the right mix, though. Hopefully at some point it will actually work.

10/18/2007 8:10 pm  
Blogger IceDragoon said...

Thank you very much, Vic.


10/19/2007 4:30 am  
Blogger MetroGnome said...

I've been playing around with the time on ice app a bunch this year already. Really appreciate it, thanks.

10/19/2007 10:01 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Jon G:

To me, the main reason those shifts are so important is because the other team's best players are usually on the ice. Momentum is important too, but that kind of gets beaten to death by TV analysts already, too much I think.

Mismatches in talent or level of tiredness are more likely there. I'm not so convinced of that with the last shift of the period, I'll be looking for that now though, when I think of it at least.

And if you were playing wing with Horcoff and Hemsky, and you had a huge bonus clause in your contract, who would you rather see come over the boards against you, Draper/Maltby/Chelios or Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Lidstrom? The former are all very good NHL players, and they do tend to have the puck a lot, but they don't punish your mistakes the way that the latter three do.

10/19/2007 8:36 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Really good stuff, and very good graphic. You should post more. It's a shame that we can't put pics in the comments on blogger.

I missed the first two periods of the Detroit game, but it looks like Samuelsson's goal came just at the second that the PP expired. So it's not fair to pin that on the shift-after. A couple of Oilogosphere commenters (namflashback and Louise I think) mentioned that there was some confusion with the lines after the PPs from and Oiler POV. Does that mesh with what you saw?

On the one Horcoff post-Oiler-PK shift ... it looks like Zetterberg had played only the first half of the PP, so he was thrown out on short rest against Hemsky/Gagner/Penner, and MacTavish pulled off Gagner on the fly and put out Horcoff, even though he only had about 10 seconds rest. Failing timeouts of course.

The second detroit goal came after Gagner/Cogliano/Pouliot had been trapped out there for a full minute. Cogs must have found a way to the bench and Horcoff subbed in for him.

Jesus, I hope that nobody bet on Horcoff having a +/- in the black this year.

Reasoner's line took the shift after Oiler PPs, mostly against Z's line. They looked good doing it in the third as well. I'm really impressed with the way Marty has bounced back so far. Maybe I should be giving more credit to his linemates, though. I'm really warming to both Sanderson and Brodziak as well, and I didn't think I would be back in September.

10/19/2007 9:09 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Edit for comment in reply to Jon G. That should read: "...and you had a huge bonus clause in your contract for +/- ..."

10/19/2007 10:42 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

What wiuld be really exciting to watch and follow, would be a team that was driving to develop it's talent.

It seems almost pointless to wait until January or February to publicly admit what we all already know: that this is a complete rebuild year. After that time they'll completely embrace the development minutes. Until then though we are going to have to endure alot of ugly games in Lowe's/MacT's vain attempt to save face.

10/19/2007 11:02 pm  
Blogger The Crazy Flip said...

Hi...This is an excellent program! Thank you very much for the work you put into it!

10/20/2007 2:08 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

Almost spooky how timely this post turned out to be...

10/20/2007 10:53 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

How is that, Matt?

10/21/2007 11:26 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


I don't know. Cogliano and Gagner are logging most of the primo offensive minutes already. They are playing in situations where they are most likely to have success (that turn of phrase is another Keenanism btw). They aren't playing against good opp, they aren't out there for own zone draws, etc. If they were then I think they would appear to be struggling, and their confidence would be an issue.

I mean it's not like they can say "damn the points!" and piss away the season, because it will be Burke at the podium with the result of that, not them.

10/21/2007 11:32 am  
Blogger namflashback said...

Vic, Fantastic work. Thanks so much.

The shift chart for the game Edmonton versus Calgary is fascinating. Game 20112.

MacT didn't seem to be hard matching D-pairs at all -- and was even not too rigorous on forward lines.

Crazy stuff. To my eye, the game wasn't as awful for the Oilers as I thought it would be. If not for lazy fouls by Penner, this game stays close in both score and chances.

10/22/2007 11:57 am  
Blogger Matt said...

Timely because Iginla scored the GWG on the shift after an EDM PP, when Horcoff (among others) was recovering.

10/22/2007 8:02 pm  
Blogger walkinvisible said...

i'm sortof in love with you for this... i've been bitching lately about's decision to remove it from the game summaries... metrognome alerted me to your gift to the chartlovers... thanks !!!!

10/23/2007 12:42 pm  
Blogger Slipper said...

Vic, since you're most often right, I'll take your word that Gagner and Cogs are getting rightfully sheltered.

But everything else I've been watching seems so screwed up it blows the mind. Souray as the de facto number one penalty killing defender? So who do you send over the boards after the kill? In bizarro world, the answer is Steve Staios.

With glaring examples of inadequate bench managing bleeding over from last season, than why should I trust the shortening of a bench after one and a half periods to protect a one goal lead against PHX?

It just doesn't seem like the guns are all pointed in the same direction.

10/23/2007 1:56 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I don't know, slipper. And frankly I haven't been watching the Oilers all that closely. MacTavish seems losy now. I would guess that the game plan is largely hope-based right now.

Maybe injuries are playing a part. I do know that there was a long stretch in the last one that Huddy was running Grebeshkov/Gilbert at Iginla's line. I mean he's not hard to find, every three shifts, maybe just one shift's rest if there is a TV timeout. Huddy has to know when he's over the boards, everyone else in the building usually does.

Thing is, MacTavish has never hesitated to play injured guys in key roles before, we've been bitching about that for years. Seems unlikely to me that he just changed his spots last week.

He seems to be looking for salvation from Souray, expecting him to magically become something he has never been. And in a group of rookies as well. Maybe that explains the Mass. Transit as well ... I mean they're just never as pretty in the morning.

If that's the case, then he'd be better off just playing the cards in his hand sensibly. And then pray for the hockey Gods to chip in a bit.

And the type of players that Lowe covets aren't the ones who can stop the bleeding. This probably won't end well.

10/23/2007 6:11 pm  
Blogger IceDragoon said...

They aren't playing against good opp

Sorry, Vic. I don't follow...

I see the rest... MacTavish utilizing opportunities to feed them some sweet shifts and avoiding own zone draws. But your charts confirm that Gagner hasn't been getting a lot of sheltering in the match-ups. When playing with Horcoff it's understandable, because he hauls the mail. But I expected MacTavish to do some spoon feeding with Stoll as his centre.

Your head-to-head TOI is 5x5, right? 9.3 minutes against Sakic for young Sam. The Stastny shifts were covered mainly by Horcoff(6.1), Torres(6.0), Hemsky(6.7), Staios(6.7) & Tarnstrom(6.6), but Gagner(5.9) had a respectable showing against him too.

Also, after matching up against Iginla on Saturday, Gilbert played 9.3 and Grebeshkov 8.4 against Sakic.

To me it looks like MacTavish is trying to speed up the learning process with deep end of the pool coaching. He must think (hope) these kids are smart enough to survive. Then again... What are his alternatives right now?

Thanx again.

10/24/2007 1:12 pm  

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