A cull of quotes

Jonathan Willis
October 14 2008 11:34AM

Given that it’s the regular season again, there’s a ton of reporting on the Edmonton Oilers in the press, and I thought it might be nice this morning to touch on some of the quotes out there and try to get a read on what’s happening between the lines. Given that I’m writing it, I’ll also hit upon all of my favourite cowbells—my crusade for advanced statistics, my strange fascination with unheralded goaltending prospects, and of course, Kyle Brodziak.

Starting with the holy war that is advanced statistics, there’s a very interesting quote in this article by Rob Tychkowski:

"It's concerning for sure," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "Good teams don't get outplayed territorially, and that's reflected in shots on goal. It's not gone unnoticed by anybody."

MacTavish doesn’t use the term “Corsi numbers” here, but he’s certainly referring to the same concept. Corsi numbers have probably been explained better elsewhere, but basically what they are is all the shots (including missed and blocked) taken by a player’s team while he is on the ice minus all of the shots against in the same time frame. It’s meant to measure how often the puck is in the right end of the rink when Player X is on the ice, to show if he’s helping the team have a “territorial advantage” or not.

Speaking of Rob Tychkowski, he was busy this weekend, and he also had this article with yet another interesting quote from the head coach:

"The big anomaly was Shawn Horcoff, a 54% career faceoff guy who was 6-16," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who believes Horcoff, coming off of shoulder surgery, will only need a short time to get readjusted. "That will improve our numbers drastically." "We'll definitely analyze the numbers every game," said MacTavish. "Horc will have to improve, which he will, and we'll get Kyle Brodziak (4–2 against the Avs) some more faceoffs."

The article didn’t mention Fernando Pisani at all, which is surprising given that it dealt exclusively with face-offs. It does, however, mention Kyle Brodziak getting some more face-off time, which begs the question of how MacTavish would manage this. The way I see it, there are three ways:

  1. Give the fourth line more ice-time.
  2. Double-shift Brodziak.
  3. Move Brodziak up to the third line.

The first choice seems unlikely, particularly with Steve MacIntyre reportedly drawing in for Zach Stortini against Anaheim. The second choice is possible, but does the fact that Pisani wasn’t commented on mean that he may no longer be taking draws for the third line? If that were the case, Brodziak is the obvious candidate to be bumped up the depth chart.

Lastly, this wouldn’t feel like my miscellaneous article if I didn’t update everyone on Andrew Perugini. Scott Linesburgh reports that the Stockton Thunder have placed second-year ECHL’er Tim Boron on waivers, meaning that the goaltending duties will be split between Perugini and Bryan Pitton. He also offers this quote from Stockton head coach Chris Cichocki:

"It was crystal clear that the Oilers feel that both these goaltenders have a future with their organization and they want them to play," Thunder coach Chris Cichocki said. "You can't keep three. (Boron) played well for us. That's the tough part of this job, letting quality people go."

It sounds to me like both Pitton and Perugini are in the plans, and thinking about it now, I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that Perugini only got a minor-league deal, given that he’s a relatively unknown rookie pro, and that the Oilers are very close to the 50-contract limit. The fact is, he’s going to get some playing time, and if he performs, I think it’s reasonable to expect that he’ll be given opportunities to climb the depth chart.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 David Staples
October 14 2008, 01:21PM
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Hard to find an Oilers fan that doesn't think it's time for Brodziak to get a shot on the third line (other than the Cult of Pouliot members, I mean).

But it is high time. I wonder if we will all be disappointed. Sometimes Brodziak is a bit sloppy and unfocused in his defensive play (as he was on the Sakic goal), but I suspect he will be able to step up.

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#2 David Staples
October 14 2008, 01:26PM
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Oh, and forgive my shot at Pouliot. I'm just down on the kid after his bad game, which reminded me so much of how poorly he started last season.

If he wants to be an Oiler, he must do more.

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#3 SquidRx
October 14 2008, 01:31PM
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I think you missed option 4 (unless this is what you meant by option 2, but I think they are different) which would see Brodziak line up and take the face off and then haul ass to the bench at the earlist possible opportunity to get the missing winger onto the ice. They utilized this scenario very frequently last year when they were looking for a specific line match up, but wanted one of their A+ face off guys (Stoll/Horcoff) to take the draw. What do you think?

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#4 Rick
October 14 2008, 01:39PM
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Maybe my leftover turkey sweats are affecting my comprehension but are you actually suggesting that MacT subscribes to the corsi number statistic or some variation of it?

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#5 Jonathan Willis
October 14 2008, 01:45PM
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SquidRx: Yeah, that's what I was suggesting. It may be the most likely option, actually. Penner - Brodziak - Pisani off the faceoff, with 51 moving off in favour of Moreau.

Rick: Well, he may or may not subscribe to corsi numbers, but he's certainly endorsing the idea behind them.

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#6 Gord
October 14 2008, 02:14PM
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I could see Brodziak center the 3rd line with Penner and Pisani. For now (until Moreau is injured in the next few games) that would mean Moreau would be moved to the 4th line with Poulliot in the middle, which might not be too bad. On the nights that Big Mac draws in you can double shift Penner on the right side of that line. Thoughts?

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#7 SquidRx
October 14 2008, 02:16PM
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Jonathan Willis: Penner - Brodziak - Pisani off the faceoff, with 51 moving off in favour of Moreau.

That's exactly what I had in mind!

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#8 Adam
October 14 2008, 02:36PM
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That is what happened Sunday. Was Brodz or Horc taking the draw and hauling ass to the bench to get the winger on.

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#9 mjsh
October 14 2008, 03:10PM
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I am having trouble figuring out what Mac T is up to with the lines as well. I still think Penner should go back with Horcoff and that Brodziak should centre Cole and Pisani on the third line. In my humble opinion, that would give the Oilers two lines that can play against anyone and Moreau can still lead from the 4th line getting extra minutes on the penalty kill.

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#10 Chris.
October 14 2008, 03:43PM
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Remember how having Adam Oates around led to increased faceoff proficiency by numerous other players. We have goaltending coaches, skating coaches, etc. Do we have a faceoff coach? If Not...Why? The Oilers want to be a puck possession team and that starts at the draw. It would be nice to see the faceoff numbers improve without having to juggle the scheme, or lines, or roster.

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#11 doritogrande
October 14 2008, 05:08PM
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If MacT is deadset on running Moreau-Pisani-Penner as the de-facto third line and Pisani struggles on draws, why isn't Penner getting a chance? If memory serves he had a pretty decent outing of it last year once Horcoff went down.

By no means am I suggesting move the big man to C and shift Pisani to wing. Just for faceoffs put Penner in the dot and then flop with Pisani once the play gets going. Complicated yes, but I think it could work.

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#12 jdrevenge
October 14 2008, 05:15PM
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I was watching the game and wondering why, once the ozone was penetrated, they were making so many passes away from the net and towards the neutral zone. Moreau was a good example of this. He'd fly down the left or right stop up in the zone try to make a pass to the d and the avs would get a stick on the puck and chip it out to the neutral zone.

It was almost like they played the whole game away from the slot. At the points or along the boards cycling the puck. Whether this was a product of the Avs playing a tight d box in their zone or because the practices the Oilers held were so focused on cycling that they forgot how to find the soft spots in the slot who knows....

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#13 jdrevenge
October 14 2008, 05:15PM
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They needed more attack is what I'm saying i guess.

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#14 Sean
October 14 2008, 05:19PM
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With 18-34-27 getting 2 goals last game I dont see that line getting split up just yet. But I am in favour of 51 or 78 (preferably 51) moving into the 3C position. Seems like I'm not alone.

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#15 Jonathan Willis
October 14 2008, 05:33PM
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We're now 15 comments in, and Robin hasn't poked fun at me for mentioning Andrew Perugini for the 38th time.

Come on Robin, if you won't play, it isn't any fun.

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#16 coppernblue
October 14 2008, 06:22PM
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Andrew Perugini will never play a game in the NHL.

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#17 Doogie2K
October 14 2008, 06:38PM
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We have goaltending coaches, skating coaches, etc. Do we have a faceoff coach?

I always assumed it was MacT, given that he was a face-off wizard himself back in the day.

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#18 Antony Ta
October 14 2008, 11:16PM
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>b>David: I wouldn't get down in the dumps about Pouliot yet, it is the first game only after all. Anybody not named Garon, Penner, Moreau, or Grebeshkov did not have particularly good showings Sunday night, either.

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