Thursday, April 17, 2008

Impact players and coaches that outsmart themselves

I've been following the Flames playoff series a bit, because like a lot of other Oiler fans around this corner of the internet, I've been drawn into paying closer attention to them by Matt and metrognome.

In game 3, the first on home ice for the Flames, Keenan stuck with the game plan in spite of the terrible start for them on the scoreboard.

Keenan had loaded up his big guns and pointed them at Joe Thornton, and he matched them hard. And it worked.

Jarome Iginla at even strength ...
When you can make Thornton look bad, you're probably a bit good. And we all know that Iginla is all that, with no disrespect intended to the other four Flames with the gig on this night, all excellent 5v5 hockey players.

The only blemish on Iginla's record for the night, EV+/- -2 and no points. Not to worry, shit happens, that worm will turn soon enough, he's Jarome freaking Iginla after all.

But Keenan, for reasons known only to himself, decided to change up the game plan and get Iginla some softer icetime with Huselius in the next one. He promoted Nolan (who still looks to have a lot of game left in him, to my eye anyways) to Iginla's gig from the previous game. See vsJoe EV icetime chart below. Even when Wilson started playing Marleau with Thornton, Keenan barely flinched. Marleau ended up playing about 21 of his 24 EV shifts either with Joe, or the shift immediately after him.

And it didn't go so well. In fact it could easily have gone worse.

That's one of the real benefits of having home ice advantage in a playoff series I think, the coach can screw one up by getting too cute on home ice, and still have an extra chance. And the Flames don't have home ice advantage in this series, and they are in trouble now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Odd stat on the PP

So I'm reading through a HF Post regarding the Grebeshkov signing when Dawgbone mentioned (in reply #151) that by the numbers Grebeshkov wasn't a great option on the PP this season. I wasn't sure this matched my eye (at least, when thinking about Grebeshkov at the end of the season) so I went to the behind the net site to look at the Oilers PP data.

Here were two data sets, regarding Oilers D, that caught my eye, and I'm wondering if anyone can explain the results to me:

In terms of points/60 min, he was 5th amongst Oilers D, behind, in order:

Staios 4.25 (very small sample size, 1 PPpoint in 14 PP minutes on the season)
Gilbert 3.01
Pitkanen 2.11
Souray 1.72
Grebeshkov 1.26

In terms of +/- per 60 min, Grebeshkov was 1st amongst Oilers D:

Grebeshkov 6.29
Souray 5.15
Staios 4.25
Gilbert 3.68
Pitkanen 3.28

I'm not sure what exactly causes this discrepency, if Grebeshkov contributed to it because of something he did, if he happened to be on the ice with the Oilers best PP players for a greater percentage of his PP time than other Oilers D, or if he was simply the benefactor of being on the ice while others made nifty plays to score goals. Any thoughts?

*EDIT* I now see thatJonathan at coppernblue has beat me to the punch. Wow, that's kind of weird, to have wondered the same thing like that.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Because I know speeds will read this eventually...

"Gilbert will earn $3.5 million next season with a $1.5 million signing bonus, $3.5 million in 2009-2010, $5.5 million with a $1.5 million signing bonus in 2010-2011, $5 million in 2011-2012, $3.5 million in 2012-2013, and $3 million in 2013-2014 for a salary cap average of $4 million a season."

The way I read this is:

1) $2.0M Salary + $1.5M Bonus
2) $3.5M Salary
3) $4.0M Salary + $1.5M Bonus
4) $5.0M Salary
5) $3.5M Salary
6) $3.0M Salary
ST) $21.0M Salary + $3.0M Bonus
T) $24.0M / 6 Yrs = $4M Cap hit.

If I'm correct, this makes Gilbert the most tradeable in years 2, 5, and 6. As a matter of fact one can expect Gilbert to be an absolute steal dollar wise at the tail end of his contract even if his cap value is still $4M. This would IMO make this contract fantastically astute if not for one thing: Ales Hemsky's contract ends when Gilbert is still making $5M.

I assume that Katz is willing to spend all sorts of money to win. In terms of adding players to supplement the Oilers' core, this would make Gilbert's low payout at the end simply fantastic if it were also timed to coincide with a year Hemsky is still under contract. Of course we're still a few years away and one would expect that if Hemmer is still worth his salt Edmonton will keep him around but it would be at market $ and therefore not such a budget advantage as if it coincided with Gilbert's cheap years.


Basically, I am trying to get a sense of what the advantages/disadvantages of Gilbert's deal are in terms of its structure. There has to be a reason it's laid out the way it is, true?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Projecting the Kids

There are a lot of good reasons to be optimistic about this Oiler team, and the play of the kids after Horcoff went down is a big part of that.

I think that it's always worthwhile to look at the 'hows' in this situation though, so I'll take a rough shot at it. Here is a list of the Oilers rookies from NHL game 20800 onward, when Horcoff went down, or thereabouts. You can find the data here.

The Oilers PP continued to hum along, and the PK has always been decent under MacTavish it seems. And they were getting their EV results with stellar shooting percentages.

I tacked a few of the league's best on at the bottom as well, the best I could find (excepting Doug Murray, who was a superhuman 16.7% at this in the first half of the season, and an enforceresque 6.9% in the second half).

Draw your own conclusions.

Odds 'n' Sods

Just a quick note on a recent addition to the sidebar. There is now an odds converter that takes standard American Odds (e.g. -130/+110) and outputs the percentage chance of winning, as decided by the oddsmaker. Javascript must be enabled on your browser for it to work.

The theoretical (or practical, or natural) hold is the amount that your bookie would keep if he got the balance of wagers on both sides, such that he would take the same profit either way. So, using the first round series prices from the graphic below as an example, if your bookie takes $740 on San Jose to win their series (74% chance of winning), and $260 on Calgary to win the same series (26% chance of winning), then no matter who wins he will hold onto about $36 dollars and pay the rest out in return of stake plus winnings. So a 3.6% hold.

First Round Series Prices

Now obviously the vast majority of sports bettors lose at a level larger than the natural hold.

Some comments in the blogs moved me to put this up here, the pendulum seems to swing pretty wildly depending on how the bounces have gone in the last game or two. There is a lot of parity in this league now, in any one game the home team is very likely to be the favourite, and in most games the underdog still has at least a 40% chance of winning. And even adding a superstar to your roster is only going to bump that a few percent.

Of course the bookies will want to take more than 5%, so they'll be hoping for underdogs to take series, and mostly for road wins from anybody, which they'll cheat about 1%, maybe a touch more. Casual bettors like the favourites a lot, no matter the odds.

They'll also be hoping for losses from the team with the sense of urgency in the must win games. So if a home team loses game 1 of a series, then their nuts will be in a vice for game 2, the casual bettor loves that, but it is essentially immaterial. The game line will be cheated down a smidge, maybe half of one percent, but most of the action will still come on that side of the line. Most bookies will lose a lot of money if these teams find a way to come through in the clutch, but don't cry for them, they'll get it back in time.

Personally I like all the favourites except Minnesota, but that's not much of a margin, if the Avs take one of the first two games in Minny they become the oddsmaker's faves. I like WSH over PHI, even with the Caps being favoured that much. I still like the Ranger's chances of coming out of the East, as well. That's a solid team. The odds on San Jose seem a little high to me as well, the underlying numbers for the Sharks are impressive, but I think they've been overvalued here, because to my mind, at least in part they come from Wilson's growing obsession with puck possession.

Should be a good playoffs this year, Lets hope for some wild series with lots of open ice, and for a bunch of upsets.