Friday, November 06, 2009

The Puck Has To Be Somewhere

There is much talk about high event and low event players around the Oilogosphere. In truth there isn't much in it beyond coincidence driven by on-ice shooting and save percentages. That's why it is so volatile from season to season. Below is a chart with total shots on net that happened when a skater was on the ice at even strength last season, this for guys who played a regular shift. These numbers come from Behind The Net and display the Western Conference only. Click to enlarge. The numbers on the bottom of the chart are the total number of shots directed at net (by either team) per hour at 5v5 hockey, we'll call that 'Total Corsi Rate' for short.

Better players tend to be higher event for sure, just not by a lot. If we filtered out team effects, especially the way that teams played to the score, and also removed the last few seconds of ice time after a penalty expired, and accounted for the fact that some players start their shifts less in the neutral zone than others ... well this group would be even more tightly bunched. Some teams are a touch more shot happy as well, that contributes to the spread, just not as much as most of us imagined. Certainly much, much less than Pat Quinn imagines (unless he was blowing smoke earlier to try and make us believe that the Oilers really weren't getting outplayed and outchanced as badly as it seemed).

The Eastern Conference plays a more wide open, and generally more entertaining, brand of hockey. Their results are also tightly bunched, but shifted to the right.

The "highest event" Oiler by this metric is Ethan Moreau at 114 Total Corsi Rate.
He's just a couple of players away from Henrik Zetterberg who clocks in with a 113 score, and well clear of Rick Nash at 105.

Moreau also led the team in personal shots rate, but had a tragic Corsi +/- of -182, the worst on the team of the regular forwards, on a per game basis. There seems to be a pervasive line of reasoning amongst Oiler fans that players who aren't getting many shots just aren't shooting enough. In fact players who are shooting too much, especially from bad angles (outside the dots) are doing nothing to help their team out shoot the opposition. The opposite in fact. The puck just ends back up in their own end again.

And while a player like Cogliano doesn't get many shots, largely that's because he's playing way too much in his own end of the rink. Adding a guy like Moreau, who shoots a lot, to his line might seem like a fix on the surface, but it will just make things worse. The Total Corsi Rate is a persistent thing, it will stay about the same. The difference will be that even more of those shots at net in the game will be coming towards the Oiler goalie.

Good players tend to play more in the offensive end of the rink and to generate more chances, so their Corsi almost always looks good. And that tends to result in more shots for themselves as well. But the reverse is not true. i.e. Good EV hockey players, the type that really help you win, generally get a lot of shots at net at EV. But players that get a tonne of shots at net at EV are not necessarily the type that really help you win hockey games.

Jokinen and O'Sullivan are two of last year's poster children for the phenomenon. I think both are good NHL players, albeit overpaid. I'm not criticizing them personally. But if you rate players by the number of shots on (or at) net that they personally register ... you'll overpay for this type of player. Tambellini pursued Jokinen aggressively at the deadline according to Maloney, before being outbid by Sutter. And he was successful in landing O'Sullivan. I have this horrible feeling that Tambellini plays hockey video games, by the way.

I'm not meaning to pile on. The Oilers are ravaged with injury and sickness right now, and they had terrible roster depth to begin with. When/if their best players get fit and find their games again, the Oilers will win some games. For me, the big picture is more concerning.


Blogger RiversQ said...

Great stuff Vic. I've been thinking about this stuff too lately. As you mentioned guys like Moreau and O'Sullivan definitely take shots with no real purpose. The classic examples are the "wheel and fire and watch it carom out of the zone" or "drift a wrister on net with no one around." Neither play leads to anything - best case scenario is a faceoff, which, while way better than a turnover, doesn't really get them anywhere.

More ammo for the Corsi crew. (Oh go ahead and criticize Jokinen - he's a hack.)

11/06/2009 6:35 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I've never been particularly impressed with Jokinen. The only reason I ever even paid attention to him at all was because he would come up in trade proposals on the message boards ad nauseum (Horcoff + Pisani for Jokinen, or similar). That was back in the day.

He is taking a shitkicking by the underlying numbers and by the scoring chances that Kent is recording. Maybe he's playing injured though. In any case I'm glad that Tambellini missed out on him at the last trade deadline.

Goals are the RBIs of hockey. Obviously a stat that is damn close to winning, but acquiring players on that basis is fundamentally foolish. Opportunity and luck are such huge factors that you're bound to fail (SEE MacLean, Doug).

Adding players that shoot a shitload to address your "we're getting outshot a lot!" concerns is just a slightly different flavour of the same kind of stupid.

11/06/2009 8:29 pm  
Blogger Olivier said...

"Adding players that shoot a shitload to address your "we're getting outshot a lot!" concerns"...

That is precisely what Gainey said when people asked him why he didn't brought back Tanguay.


11/06/2009 11:10 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Wow. Some of the things these guys say is bewildering. What about the process, Mr Gainey?

In fairness to Bob though, I thought he had a pretty good summer. Gomez hasn't put up big counting numbers lately, but he helps you win. Gionta too.

Back to point though: It's like when Keenan was diminishing Luongo in FLA because he never lead them on a playoff run. WTH? Roberto's job was to stop pucks, and he has been one of the best at that his whole career. It's not his fault that the Panther's skaters were crap. Jebus.

11/07/2009 12:43 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

BTW Olivier, even though my french comprehension is poor, I read through your blog now and then.

Funny to see you call Big Georges "Georges fucking Laraque". Around here we call him LeGG (Le Grand Georges) when he was around here.

Loved that guy. I think he's finished now, though. Either that or playing he's hurt. Probably the former ... he's getting to that age for someone like him.

11/07/2009 12:46 pm  
Blogger Olivier said...

Vic: Glad to hear I have lurkers. As for George, I absolutely love him, but he again admitted a couple of days ago his back is keeping him away from the game. Good for everybody involved too. He is not a textbook Goon™ because he just doesn't fight that much. But we catched glimpse of how useful he could be, running around, hitting guys and doing his one man cycle (was it Jeff of Sisu Hockey who called it the "Unicycle"? A very apt description). But the writing is on the wall I think: BGL is done.

As for Gomez, it's an interesting decision, quite typical of Gainey. I think Bob has a fairly sound understanding of the whole financial aspect of the game: you have a certain amount of leverage that you must use to get assets, assets who will give you some value in return. That means that sometimes, you have to overpay. In that respect, the Gomez move is similar to the Hamrlik signing: both obvious overpay for solid contribution at positions who are obvious weaknesses.

Looking at Antropov the other day, I couldn't help but think that him and Plekanec would have made a sufficiently efficient 1-2 combo while allowing us to keep Tanguay. But hindisght is always 20/20, and Bob just isn't into that kind stuff.

11/07/2009 2:38 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Olivier - I didn't know you had a blog? Have to check it out.

Used to love Jeff's work, its too bad he got busy with life, I see that he comments here and there.

Good stuff Vic. Tambellini worries me as well. News today that Lowe has been following Tampa for their last four games on the road. All I can think of his three or four kids hitting the road for Vinny. Watched the game last night v. Ottawa, end of the game in overtime and Tampa has it deep in Ottawa territory. Vinny doesn't eat it or keep it low or do anything useful, he throws it out blindly, results in scoring chance and penalty which results in the Spezza gamewinner and a point in the standings lost to a club they may fight for a playoff spot.

Dummy play by a guy making enormous dough.

A little irrelevant to the specific discussion, I know, but another example of a guy overrated, imo.

11/07/2009 7:13 pm  
Blogger Olivier said...

BD: Yeah, well, it's good practice for your french if you are into that whole scoring-chances recording thingy applied to the habs. Other than that, it's really just me carping about the habs bottom 6 and raving about Cammaleri. I tought the dude was a powerplay specialist propped up by Iginla. Silly me.

11/07/2009 8:18 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...


Yeah, I'd throw him in the boat with Jokinen as well - not terrible players, but certainly far less than their reputations.

I do laugh at guys like Mirtle saying that Stamkos is clearly out playing him though. I don't watch TB at all, but just from looking at the percentages Stamkos is shooting over 20% and Vinny is shooting less than 5%, so one wonders right there. I don't know which player is doing the lifting at C there either, but despite Vinny's checkered history, I find it unlikely that Stamkos got the gig ahead of him.

11/08/2009 11:09 am  
Blogger Black Dog said...

I only caught the OT and last minute of reg. RQ but it would be interesting to see how Tocchet runs them, Halpern is the third centre, was pretty solid guy until he blew out his knee according to D. Zona.

Ohlund was a nice pickup for Tampa, I've always liked him.

The Olympic team selection should be interesting. Talk is that Vinny likely might not make it but that Stamkos may. So many of the guys who you would figure for shoo-ins or close to it have been slow out of the gate.

11/08/2009 7:21 pm  
Blogger Kent W. said...

re: Jokinen. He's actually looked thoroughly terrible since the Flames acquired him. He's not even getting the superficial shots on net these days and he's totally lost in the defensive zone. He has some obvious tools - speed, size, laser beam shot...but the computer is shit. Makes bad decisions all the time, bobbles the puck when it's not at arms length and chases it around the defensive zone in earnest but seemingly without an iota of awareness or anticipation.

Perhaps this is the bottom of the barrel for the Big Fin and he's going to turn it around at some point. But the underlying numbers aren't lying about his play thus far - he's been shit. He can't even outchance or outscore nobodies the way he's playing currently.

11/08/2009 11:45 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Apparently Lowe has been attending a lot of Tampa games lately. I fear that these cats won't stop until they land a big star.

11/09/2009 10:56 am  
Blogger Jonathan Willis said...

One possibility on the Tampa Bay front - Brownlee mentioned last year that the Oilers were very interested in Zenon Konopka. Hard to imagine Lowe spending four games looking at Konopka though.

11/10/2009 4:12 pm  

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