Friday, January 21, 2011

Evaluating HOPE: Offence

So the Oilers lost another game where they out shot their opponent, and played well enough to deserve perhaps a different fate. Regardless, I don't know how many ways I can say 'losing is good and bad' so instead of focusing on the postgame, I decided to take a statistical look at the offence of our four promising forwards. I am of course referring to Hall, Omark, Paajarvi, and Eberle. Granted two of these guys have missed significant chunks of time because of injury (Ebs) or playing in the AHL (Omzies), but I will be looking at rate statistics mostly anyways.

Scoring Rates

The razzle dazzle factor for any forward is his ability to put pucks into the net or send sexy sauce-passes over to a cocked one-timer for an easy cash. There is a couple ways you can break a forwards offence down, but considering the discrepancies in total amounts of games, I will use rate statistics (so get out your secret decoder rings kiddies).

The first chart contains the even strength boxcar rates, in other words, based on ice time (TOI/60) how many goals (G/60), first assists (A1/60), second assists (A2/60), and points (P/60) these players have gotten, along with the team shooting percentage (Sh%), and their rank on the team (among forwards with at least 10 games):

Name TOI/60 G/60G/60 RankA1/60A1/60 RankA2/60A2/60 RankP/60P/60 Rank Sh%
HALL 15.24 0.894th 0.36 10th 0.544th 1.79 6th 8.04
OMARK 11.85 0.63 9th 0.63 6th 0.63 2nd 1.90 4th 7.95
PAAJARVI 12.97 0.55 12th 0.55 9th 0.33 9th 1.43 9th 10.27
EBERLE 14.16 0.71 7th 0.71 5th 0.35 8th 1.77 7th 8.75

Now nothing really stands out at first glance. Some stuff you already knew:
  • Hall, Eberle, and Omark have been playing at a top 6 forward level in comparison to their team. 
  • Paajarvi is scoring at the lowest rate, a bit underwhelming especially considering he's got the highest team shooting percentage. 
  • Hall is already the best goal scorer and that should improve.
  • Hall is playing a ton of EV minutes - number 1 on the team! Eberle was right up there with him until he went down.
  • Eberle generates the highest rate of first assists, indicating perhaps (I think it's true) that he is a high quality passer.
  • Linus Omark in his short stint tends to generate the most offence per ice time. 
  • The shooting percentages are team shooting percentages, so it just gives you an idea if they might have been getting some bounces. Everything is about par there, although PRV's is a tad high.
The powerplay is a smaller sample set so it is a little less reliable for determining hard facts (but still interesting):

Name TOI/60 G/60G/60 RankA1/60A1/60 RankA2/60A2/60 RankP/60P/60 Rank Sh%
HALL 2.45 1.11 5th 0.00 9th 1.11 2nd 2.22 8th 10.77
OMARK 2.41 0.00 8th 3.11 1st 0.00 5th 3.11 4th 8.11
PAAJARVI 1.28 1.12 4th 1.12 6th 2.24 1st 4.48 2nd 13.64
EBERLE 2.33 0.72 6th 2.87 2nd 0.00 5th 3.58 3rd 15.00

There are a couple more interesting things here:
  • PRV is scoring at a decent rate in comparison to the other young guns, but there is one thing to keep in mind: this is a small sample, especially for him. He gets roughly half the PP time per game as the rest, something like two short PP shifts per game on average so a couple bounces here and there would really skew his numbers. It's also interesting to note that while PRV was on the ice the Oilers were shooting at a fairly high percentage, and a bunch of his points were second assists. Still, based on pure math he looks to be more valuable than Taylor Hall at this point. 
  • Aside from Hall's ability to score goals on the PP, his touches with the puck are really not generating much at all, but the team shooting percentage is pretty low in comparison to the bottom two as well. Definitely a weak part of his game right now,but probably hasn't been getting many bounces.
  • Omark looks to be snake bitten. The team has a shooting percentage that is almost the same as his 5v5 number and he still leads the primary assists rate by a mile. Of course he came up right when the PP went sub-artic. On a more typical PP stretch you would expect Omark's PP numbers to rocket.
  • Eberle was racking up primary assists on the PP. This jives perfectly what my eyeballs have seen: he is a sublime PP passer. His team shooting percentage number is really quite high, but I see this more of a fact that with Eberle on the PP (or at least while he was on it) the Oilers scored at a more regular clip (i.e. unlike recently when we were zero for infinity).
Now for some real stats after the jump.

Corsi, Quality of Competition, Zone Start

Now we are going to start getting into the bad boy stats. Only for the hardest-core, pencil-pushing nerds. You've heard it dropped at parties. You've seen how kids rampant on drugs can abuse it: I present to you the mystical Corsi. I know some people internally groaned, either from my lacking prose or the fact that this is the 19th time they've heard it and they still don't have a fucking clue what it means. In the simplest sense Corsi is the difference between the number of shots your team directs on net (blocked, deflected, missed, and on goal) versus how many your opponent directs on net. This statistic is useful to the average fan because positive corsi differentials relate strongly to outscoring your opponent.

The idea of a relative corsi (something talked about a ton in a bit here, abbreviated to Rel Corsi) is simply measuring the corsi of a player when he's on the ice and off it. The relative corsi is a subtraction of on ice corsi versus off ice corsi. In other words how well does a player outshoot the opposition in relation to his team? This makes it much more valuable as it doesn't matter if you are on a team that always gets hammered on the shot-clock. If you are an outshooter you will still tend to perform better relatively speaking in comparison to your team mates.

One other problem corsi has when you try to examine it for individual players is that it is very dependent on some things that are out of the players control. One of those things is the zone start statistics: basically how many times they are sent to line up in the defensive zone versus the offensive zone. It's pretty obvious that if you are constantly being sent out for D zone faceoffs, and your team sucks at them, you are going to be smelling the vapour trails off a few point-shot bombs. Another thing outside of the players control is who he plays with; playing with the Sedins is going to be quite a bit different than Todd Marchant when it comes to tabulating anything to do with puck possession.

So in the end you have 4 basic measures that give you a good idea idea of how good the player is at puck possession, and how many factors they have working for or against them: Corsi Rel QoC (relative corsi of opponents), Corsi Rel QoT (relative corsi of teammates they play with), Corsi Rel (their own relative corsi on the ice versus when they are off it), and Offensive Zone starts (Each net offensive zone start is worth about +0.8 corsi):

Name Corsi Rel QoC Rank Corsi Rel QoT Rank Corsi On Corsi Off Corsi Rel Rank Ozone%
TAYLORHALL 0.427 4th 2.943 3rd -1.25 -17.38 13.5 2nd 51.5
LINUSOMARK 0.308 6th -3.445 11th -4.11 -8.85 4.7 5th 49.6
MAGNUSPAAJARVI 0.491 2nd 0.026 7th -14.76 -7.59 -7.2 11th 51.9
JORDANEBERLE 0.587 1st 3.200 2nd -2.12 -17.38 15.3 1st 48.2

Well, tons of very interesting information here.
  • Eberle has sublime corsi numbers. He has faced the very best competition and still managed to outshoot relative to his teams performance.
  • All of the players have basically been thrown into the fire. The competition is 1, 2, 4, and 6 toughest on the team. See the below point.
  • Its pretty obvious that if you are facing out shooters you spend less time in their zone and this hurts your offence. In other words if Tambo had built a checking line or ran veteran power on power, you'd like see better scoring rates 5v5 for Eberle and Hall.
  • Hall and Eberle clearly feed off each other, and their corsi on values are number one and two respectively. In other words both kids manage to keep the puck in the opponents zone roughly as much as their opponents keep the puck in theirs. 
  • It's also pretty obvious the Oilers are a pretty bad team if the guy with the best corsi value is negative.
  • Linus Omark gets a special mention here as he's faced top 6 opposition with some of the worst outshooters on the team flanking him. Considering he has a positive relative corsi in light of this, it means he likely is actually very adept at: getting the puck into the offensive zone and directing shots on net. I have harped on this point several times: Omark seems to be able to produce with below average line mates, and even though that has been changing recently, he's still not paired with guys who are really driving offence. based on these numbers he should be getting looks with the likes of Penner and Hall quality players to see if he can boost their performances.
I just want to reiterate, Hall and Eberle's relative corsi's are sick. Datysuk and Zetterberg, in comparison, are guys with rel corsis around 12. Their team of course outshoots everybody but their relative performances are a bit worse from an outshooting perspective in comparison to two Oilers rookies. That bodes well for the future. If you want to get an idea of where that performance ranks in the league, amongst forwards who play at least 10 EV mins per game and with 10gp minimum, Ryan Clowe is the best at 24.7, with Grabovski and MacArthur close behind (indicating how good they have been for the Leafs). Eberle is 21st and Hall is 32nd. Guys in their range? Malkin, Eric Staal, the Sedin's, Kesler, Kopitar. Crosby is 142nd (3.3), so lets keep everything in perspective here. It's a good stat (just look at those names in near the top), but it's not the end all.

One thing that you can clearly take from all this: the kids are learning how to play top opposition right now. This is no sheltered Gagner/Nils/Cogs line. They are getting right into the the thick of NHL pressure. I think some people worry about this stunting the growth of a player, but considering their numbers they seem to be handling it at least as well as our veteran players.


Lots to digest for sure, and there will be even more when I go over the defensive side of the puck. In general here are some of my thoughts based on advanced stats:
  • Linus Omark: needs a shot with better linemates. He's a relative outshooter even playing with guys who can't out shoot, and has good scoring rates on both the PP and 5v5. Considering how early he is into his career we need to find out if this is fluke, or if he can really flourish with better weapons at his disposal.
  • Jordan Eberle: may be the most complete player the Oilers have from an offensive perspective. He's playing the toughest competition at EVs, dishing off a lot of primary assists, and scoring at a decent rate both on the PP and 5v5. He's a only a rookie and already is showing he has the attributes to be a powerhouse all-situations player.
  • Taylor Hall: should probably have been sent to PP#2 a while ago. His PP numbers are troubling but the team has not been shooting great with him on the ice, and he's at least potting goals as well as the other rookies with the extra man. 5v5 he is clearly already an excellent outshooter and has been facing pretty tough opponents already. The underlying numbers are clearly there for a dominant, star, power-on-power forward.
  • Magnus Paajarvi: may be being underutilized on the PP. The team's PP shooting percentage has been running high for him but even that considered he should probably be putting up points at least at the same rate as Hall. His 5v5 scoring numbers are definitely the least impressive, but keep this in mind: he's playing the second toughest competition (a 19 year old! wtf Tambellini, where is our checking line to take pressure off the kids?), and has average outshooters as linemates. His 5v5 scoring rates will improve with better outshooters and/or lesser competition. All things considered, he really is playing fairly well.
In other words, the kids are alright.

Stay tuned for the follow up defensive outlook.

P.S. all numbers from


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