Friday, November 09, 2007

Starting in Your Own End of the Rink

This is obviously a bad thing. Whether you come onto the ice on the fly with the other team already in (or taking) your zone, or you come out for an own zone faceoff, it's not favourite. The latter is easy to measure because shows who was out on the ice for every faceoff and every goal.

I tend to paint with a big brush, and this is no different. All I've done here is write a simple script to scroll up the play-by-play sheets from the bottom.
* If it hits a goal, it checks to make sure that there were five skaters and one goalie on the ice for each team, if true then it stores that info and the clock time.
* Then it continues to scroll up looking for the last even strength faceoff before the goal, and if it finds one within a minute of the goal ... it records everyone who was on the ice for the faceoff, the clock time, and the zone that the faceoff was in.

I'm just looking at 5v5 goals here, and there aren't that many of those in an NHL game to begin with, and most of them come off of changes on the fly of course. If we were able to track "shifts after a turnover at one one of the bluelines", I think we'd have a bigger number to use, and the obsession of coaches with this aspect would seem more reasonable.


If a 5v5 NHL shift starts in a team's own end, and a 5v5 goal is scored within a minute, and at least 2 of the players are still on the ice from the faceoff, so far this season the team with the defensive draw has seen:
* 84 goals-for
* 144 goals-against

That's a hell of a swing.

If a 5v5 NHL shift starts in a team's own end, and a 5v5 goal is scored within a minute, and ALL of the players, for both teams, are still on the ice from the faceoff, the team with the defensive draw has seen:
* 43 goals-for
* 90 goals-against

Hell, even Detroit is a typical +3, -6 by this last metric, and they favour Zetterberg and Datsyuk for that gig.

As for the Oilers, going just by when all the same Oiler players are still on the ice from the faceoff in their own end:
* 1 goals-for
* 9 goals-against

A post below shows that the Oilers have leaned towards the centres and the veterans for this gig. But it's the rookies that have taken the shit-kicking, Horcoff was only on the ice for a pair of these. Schremp was on the ice for one own zone draw, and it ended up in the Oiler net. Poor bastard. He can commiserate with Bryan Young in Springfield.

The Oiler plus came vs PHI with Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Staios and Pitkanen starting in their own zone at the faceoff circle. And another happened that didn't quite match the criterion, it came when the Torres - Horcoff - Hemsky troika started in their own end, but subbed off for Gagner-Stoll-Penner really quickly (presumably after getting the puck going the right way). The Oilers scored with the opposition's original six players still on the ice.

And for the Oilers, going just by when all the same Oiler players are still on the ice from the faceoff in the opposition's end:
* 5 goals-for
* 2 goals-against

And for the two against. One time there were three rookies on the ice, and one time it was just Reasoner and four rookies.

The larger problem is how most Oiler shifts are starting with the bad guys in solid possession, and how they are taking more own zone draws than ones in the good end of the rink. And short of drastic changes to the roster, there is no easy answer to that.

As an aside: Someone should send poor Marty a card, there's been a lot of similar stuff with him. Plus he's been taking the shift after the Oilers PP pretty regular, with some dubious defencemen and linemates at times. If he gets hurt this season could really spin sideways for the Oilers. Horcoff even moreso.


Blogger dubya said...

Out of curiosity, has Marty done anything at EV over the last two years to suggest he's not part of the problem?

11/09/2007 11:37 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Reasoner didn't look the same after coming back from his knee injury, that's for sure. He had a long stretch of being an effective player before that though. I thought that only Smyth and Pisani were harder on the puck then, and only Hemsky and Smyth were better at taking passes into their feet.

I was starting to give up hope, and he still isn't as good with his feet as he should be. But he's finding ways to keep the puck in the right end of the rink a lot.

He got a point the other night. The shift after the Oilers PP. And he's out there with two rookies, Brodziak and Cogliano. If he doesn't keep the puck in and get it over to Cogliano, that will be a 3on2 for for COL, they'll be hitting the Oilers blue line at speed, and the wrong guys too ... Smyth/Sakic and whoever Q throws over the boards on the fly.

You couldn't see the Oilers D on the TV, or if you could see them I didn't notice. But the shift charts say Staios was out there, he should be the weak side guy there, so he wouldn't get caught poaching ... otherwise that's even worse, a 3-1 if COL moves it out.

To go Lowetide with a baseball analogy ... Reasoner is like Tommy John right now. He's become a pretty effective junk ball pitcher so far this season. But we still hope he gets his good stuff back.

He get's ignored because the Oilers have a lot of young Ankiels on the staff now. And Oiler fans who want to remain sane, they aren't talking about the hit batters and home runs surrendered. They're talking about the speed of the fastball, and the way that last curveball from Ankiel reminded them of a young Steve Carlton.

11/09/2007 12:18 pm  
Blogger dubya said...

Yeah, I remember the year Reasoner was having before he went hard into the end boards and wrecked his knee.

Nice analogy. I really want Reasoner to be the player he looked like he could be, but I don't know. Yeah, I saw the play he made on the goal, and I see him make smarty plays several times a game, especially on the PK. But still, he hasn't been a plus player since that injury. Tough competition or not, if you're not scoring you've got to keep it out of your net. You look at how a guy like Pisani makes everyone he plays with better, and hope Reasoner can have the same effect.

I want him to succeed, but I think this is it. Maybe if 34 and 18 are back the RPM line can stay above water against top competition.

11/09/2007 2:19 pm  
Blogger Jonathan said...

"If he gets hurt this season could really spin sideways for the Oilers. Horcoff even moreso."

Two points:
A) This season isn't already spinning sideways?
B) With the possible exceptions of Staios and Hemsky, the surest way for Bryan Burke to be sure of getting his lottery ticket is to pay some guy club Horc's knees with a tire-iron.

11/09/2007 3:37 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Ya, points taken on Reasoner. Still, he's an easy guy to cheer for. His NHL career is at the critical point now, solid veterans who don't score a lot ... well they aren't exactly a hot commodity at the minute. I hope that he has a good year.

I remember Stauffer interviewed him on the radio, before the 05/06 season I think. Asked him about his transformation into a solid two-way player. Reasoner's answer was something along the lines of "it was a matter of survival". I love honest answers.

11/09/2007 9:39 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Well, it couldn't be much worse on the standings page, but it has room to get worse on the ice.

Agreed on Hemsky, he's been terrific right from the start. He's taking about the right level of chances offensively, to my mind at least. Really I thought he improved his overall game a lot last season as well.

But he doesn't give up the puck at the blue line. He's always been pretty good in his own end. Now he's going wide with the puck sometimes and driving the net, chipping it in when nothing is there. When he does dangle he's harder to stop, because the defenders aren't sitting back waiting for him to try it on.

On the theme, he's added a curveball and change-up, and now his fastball, which was always great ... it's that much harder to hit. Wonderful player.

And I wouldn't want to think about losing Staios either. Especially with Pitkanen, Souray and Greene already out. Though Smid has looked pretty damn good for a 21 year old NHL defender. And Tarnstrom has played well too, to my eye. I think that the PK misses those injured D guys though.

11/09/2007 9:50 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Real good guy and a guy who ideally would be playing a little less, I think. He can contribute but because this team has so few vets who can play he is forced to do a little more then might be reasonable at this point.
I like him in a fourth line role, shepherding some kids, playing some PK; my impression of th eguy is that he would be "a great guy in the room", a guy who knows his role. Not a bad guy to have on your team.

Certainly as you say Vic, an easy guy to cheer for.

11/09/2007 9:52 pm  
Blogger dubya said...

Best guy to have mic'd up too. Funny guy, hopefully he can turn back the clock to 2003.

11/09/2007 10:34 pm  
Blogger Bank Shot said...

How much different is Reasoner's icetime then Brodziak's?

Their statlines tell an entirely different tale, but my memory thinks they have seen relatively similiar types of icetime. Your chart on the same page says they have taken the same ratio of defensive end draws to offensive end draws.

Sanderson-Reasoner-Brodziak has been the most consistent third line no? We've also seen Sanderson-Reasoner-Stortini and some other bad combinations for Reasoner, but I don't recall Brodziak gettting a diet of great linemates when away from Reasoner.

Brodziak has played more I think with the good rookies (Gagner, Cogliano), but they aren't always great at evens, and Brodziak has played exclusively with rookies outside time spent with Sanderson and Reasoner.

I also thought Reasoner was getting alot more PP time, but says he's only gotten 9 minutes to Brodziak's 5 which isn't really anything to speak of.
I think the difference there is that Brodziak has only gotten the end bits of the PP with Reasoner, while Marty has had a couple full PP shifts.

I'm pretty convinced that Reasoner just isn't that good anymore and his results have spoken for themselves since 05-06. I don't think he's really a net benefit nor a liability to the club. He's just a button pusher from sector 7-B.

I don't see why the Oilers would renew his contract next season when they can probably get equal results out of signing a cheaper vet player, better results out of signing a slightly more expensive vet player, or equal or better results out of one of their farm players.

11/10/2007 12:28 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

All good points, Bank Shot. As much as anything I think you're showing how useful Brodziak has been, no? He has looked really useful to me. Always back in support in his own end, and the play doesn't die with him very much in the offensive end. If would be nice to see some more creativity offensively, or just more goals created, by any means.

I think the same goes for Reasoner.

I noticed after posting this that he's got a brutal EV+/-. But he also has an atrocious save% behind him, around .830 or .840 I think. Those two soft goals Rolodon allowed vs COL are a big part of that. I mean I love goals as a stat, just that there aren't enough of them until at least the end of November to even things out. Even then, hell even at the end of the year, some buggers will have had a brutal streak of unlucky bounces and bad goals happening way more at one end of the rink.

He was on the ice for Gagner's fluky one, so maybe the worm has turned a bit for him.

In any case, it's not easy to defend Marty. The posters on this thread are probably right, Reasoner is likely a fourth line centre/utility forward/PKer type at this point. I'll still keep holding out hope that he finds his old form.

I still remember the year he changed to #19, and he absolutely rocked a couple of opponents in a preseason game. His first shift I think. I thought it was Moreau playing way too intense for a preseason game ... when I realized it was Reasoner I was floored. Damn few players reinvent themselves like that.

11/11/2007 12:20 pm  
Blogger choppystride said...

Another great article, Vic. Your last couple of posts on the statistical aspects of the game has been really outstanding.

Just wondering...for this particular metric, wouldn't it be better presented as a conversion rate? i.e. the percentage of all faceoffs in a particular zone that result in goals?

As for Reasoner, he definitely deserves a lot of credit for being willing to change his playing style. He's been pegged as a scorer throughout the amateur and minor pro levels. He even had some relative success early on in STL, who was grooming him for a scoring role. And I'sure that all NHL forwards know that the way to the big bucks - and I'm sure that their agents remind them from time to time - is to put up the numbers. And it's not like most kids dream of the being the guy to defend the 1-goal last minute lead in the final. So I'm sure it took a lot of soul searching for him to make that change. And who knows, if he hadn't had that big knee injury, perhaps he could have been another Cleary.

11/12/2007 9:00 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

If he hadn't had that big knee injury, I think he could have been another Madden. Or a less famous version of the same.

I took me a while for me to turn my opinion around on Reasoner. The first thing I google for when the Oilers get a player is comments from previous coaches, and if you understand coachspeak at all, and I think you do ... you knew what Quenneville thought of him.

The radio callers and fan messageboard guys fell instantly in love with him, and were predicting for a 'breakout' year. Nothing substantiated that, and it was like arguing with a cloud, that just pissed me off more. I would later find out that the video game programmers were the ones who had made him the star. So that just pissed me off even more.

Then he came to camp and switched from 15 to 19. In my subconscious he was my whipping boy. But fuck, he was playing a good game, he didn't make it easy. When he was sent through waivers that year, he hadn't been on the ice for a GA yet, some Marty fan on a board brought that up. And the spooky streak continued when he went unclaimed and came back.

I mean surely there's a lot of luck there, but Jesus, the dice are probably weighted quite a bit in the first place to be able to pull off that many sevens in a row.

At a couple of different times I tried to show that "shit happens", Marty's just been lucky. But it wasn't possible to make that case. I've written many times before that Pisani, by the numbers, was the guy driving the bus on the 34-19-18 line, and that Ethan (love him, btw, but facts be facts) was the guy riding it. But it's impossible to deny Reasoner's impact.

You probably should filter out my bias. I guess that once I am finally turned around on a player, that same stubbornness prevents me from turning back. I dunno.

His game isn't the same, no argument on that. But I hope he finds a way. And the guy has played some nasty icetime with some dubious characters (Pouliot, and Stortini, who, btw, I keep thinking is Pouliot on Quaaludes coming of the Oiler end on breakouts with Reasoner ... something about their skating styles is eerily similar.)

11/12/2007 9:58 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

In the interest of full disclosure, the thing that made me really take Marty seriously as a difference maker ... he got hurt one day and his absence moved the next game line fifteen cents. For a guy who doesn't score much, or play on the PP ... that's a whack.

I'm waiting for a Boyd Gordon pre-game-skate injury btw. there's some Pandolfoesque magic following that effer around.

11/12/2007 10:11 pm  
Blogger Bruce said...

Interesting stuff, Vic, this gives some context to our Richards-St.Louis discussion on Lowetide's blog. (I'm still finding my way around the Oilogosphere and have just added your site to my favourites)

Funny, during our discussion I was looking at the play-by-play of recent Tampa games and trying to connect BR's minuses to the previous faceoff and thought it might be cool to quantify how may goals/goals against were scored off an offensive/defensive zone faceoff. While I would have chosen a much tighter time line like <30 seconds faceoff-to-goal, I follow your reasoning for the most part (even though it still doesn't explain that -10!). Hats off for taking the time and trouble to actually follow through on the concept and gather nuts-n-bolts statistical evidence.

For the exception that proves the rule, I go back to the days when Glen Sather was one of first to use two centres for the defensive zone faceoff as a regular practice throughout games (not just as a third period protecting-the-lead stratagem). Sather's purpose was largely offensive: he would send Gretzky out with Messier and Anderson, or Messier out with Gretzky and Kurri; either way, three All-Star forwards. Messier would take the draw and play LW in the defensive zone if required; Gretzky would be the second in the circle if Messier got tossed. But if the Oilers gained possession they would have a fearsome trio (plus Coffey oftentimes) leading the rush, with the second centre only coming off on the way back to Oiler territory if the play continued that far. (Whereas the standard two-centre ploy has the second guy heading for the bench as soon as the defensive zone is cleared.)

Of course the Oilers of that era were so effective on the rush that they could often change at their leisure while the zebra pulled the puck out of the net and carried it back to centre. At times it seemed that the Oilers scored more goals off of faceoffs in their own end than in the opposition's. I don't suppose there are any play-by-plays from that era to back up this observation, and I couldn't quantify how often it backfired with a GA off the defensive zone draw, but I can say with certainty the Oilers scored a lot of goals that way.

11/13/2007 2:39 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


I meant to go back to the Lindros thread at LT's, but when I checked in that post was already bumped off of the front page. But I'll sum up:

My point is that Richards and Vinny both play centre, and rarely together unless it's just as the PP expires or the last shift in the dying moments of a period. If St.Louis plays 13 EV minutes in a game, it will probably be about 7 with Vinny and 4 with Richards. And he's favoured to go out there when the puck is headed north with one of those two on the ice.

If you check here and here you'll see some evidence that should be intuitively obvious and compelling.


I don't remember Sather loading Gretzky and Messier onto the same line for own zone draws. I may have just missed that, though it is the kind of thing that I notice. I watched a shitload of Oilers/Flames games in the 80s as well.

11/15/2007 11:39 am  
Blogger Bruce said...

If you check here and here you'll see some evidence that should be intuitively obvious and compelling.

Guess I'm slow on the uptake. If I'm reading it right Tampa dominates the play with BR on the ice, outshooting the opposition 145-98, yet has been outscored 17-8? If so, that's the sort of thing that should even out, but BR seems to be wallowing in red figures the last couple seasons.

I'll try to spend some time with these Corsi numbers and see if I can get my head around them. Is this the same Jim Corsi that used to be a hotshot goalie for Concordia University in the 1970s?

I don't remember Sather loading Gretzky and Messier onto the same line for own zone draws. I may have just missed that, though it is the kind of thing that I notice. I watched a shitload of Oilers/Flames games in the 80s as well.

I sat in the corner of the Oilers defensive zone (kitty corner from the players bench) for 2/3 of virtually every home game throughout that era, so I really noticed it. I also noticed how the second centre (Gretzky or Messier) would almost always make his change on the continuation coming back from the offensive end ... he would come in the far gate and the normal LW for the line would jump out the near gate. It was a set play from a coach who was always thinking offence. (Imagine!)

11/16/2007 11:14 am  

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