First Line LW

Jonathan Willis
November 28 2008 09:27AM

We’ve observed a revolving door on LW throughout the season so far. Have you ever wondered which of the various disappointments (Penner, Cole, Nilsson, Moreau) did the best job in the role?

Thanks to Vic Ferrari’s awesome tool, Timeonice.com, we can compare and contrast the left wings to play on that line. Keep in mind that this doesn’t allow for quality of competition, but given that Horcoff and Hemsky are together in all situations, I don’t imagine that there is much variance. We’re looking at three different numbers here –- goals for and against, Corsi, and shots ratio. While the first two are common terms, shots ratio is the number of shots for per every 100 shots against. In other words, 150/100 would mean that the Oilers were generating 150 shots on net for every 100 shots against.

Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner

Goals For/Against: 5/2= +3

Corsi: +29

Shots Ratio: 185/100

Horcoff, Hemsky and Cole

Goals For/Against: 0/2= -2

Corsi: +2

Shots Ratio: 103/100

Horcoff, Hemsky and Nilsson

Goals For/Against: 2/2= 0

Corsi: +16

Shots Ratio: 180/100

Horcoff, Hemsky and Moreau

Goals For/Against: 1/1= 0

Corsi: -9

Shots Ratio: 70/100

Those are some startling numbers. With either Penner or Nilsson, the Oilers top line was dominant –- outshooting the opposition almost two to one isn’t something that happens by accident. With Erik Cole, they were close to even, and with Ethan Moreau, they were getting outplayed rather badly.

 

All things considered, it’s good that MacTavish has put Penner back on the top unit, and hopefully he doesn’t change that up anytime soon.

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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 Ender the Dragon
November 28 2008, 09:35AM
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Somewhat interesting, but the sample size on some of these figures is just to small to draw any hard conclusions. A lot of other factors come into play when you're talking about lines that were only together for one or two games; who was the opposition? road game or home? back-to-back tired or fresh? did your goalie have an off night?

I would be a lot more interested in these numbers after 82 games than right now. I think just watching the boys play will give you a good idea who needs to roll on the top unit. Still, nice thought to look at the numbers, JW.

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#2 Gord
November 28 2008, 09:54AM
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Nice work, and I agree that Penner should be on the top line with Hemsky, but I agree with Ender. The sample size is simply way too small.

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#3 Moony
November 28 2008, 10:02AM
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This is very interesting. I was never a fan of putting Moreau on the top line as he is a lot more effective in a 3rd line checking role then a first line offensive role. Just another example of Mac-T not getting the most out of his players.

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#4 The Towel Boy
November 28 2008, 10:08AM
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I like the Horpensky line. Why mess with a good thing.

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#5 Jonathan Willis
November 28 2008, 10:09AM
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The sample size is small, especially given where we are in the schedule, but with the exception of Nilsson, we're talking significant minutes for everyone involved.

I don't doubt for a second that the shooting ratio would flatten a bit, but 180/100 as opposed to 70/100 isn't a coincidence.

I don't think that there is an argument to be made that Moreau/Cole should be on the top line.

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#6 heed
November 28 2008, 10:14AM
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penner as it should have been since the day he got here. he may not be the hardest worker in the world but dude knows his way around the net.

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#7 Clayton
November 28 2008, 10:33AM
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If only it could be Ryan Smyth, Hemsky and Horcoff, eh Willis?

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#8 swany
November 28 2008, 11:03AM
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Like i said before they still haven't replaced Smitty on that line, I don't know what Klowe was thinking bringing in Cole who was a RW to play on that line Mact was doing what the GM wanted he stated that Cole was brought in to play with Hemmer and Horc it's not Mact's fault that they brought in a RW to play LW with those two. But the other moves like Pies at centre were all his baby

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#9 Skidplate
November 28 2008, 11:11AM
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If Cole can't play LW, then why not try Hemsky there? The type of game Alex (I refuse to can him Ales) plays, he zigs and zags, so does it matter which side he lines up on?

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#10 Fish
November 28 2008, 11:18AM
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By the way..Glencross scored again last night from the wing..also game winner

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#11 swany
November 28 2008, 12:30PM
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Skidplate, I think they asked Hemmer he told them he rather play RW and when he said that that's it

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#12 misfit
November 28 2008, 12:37PM
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There isn't much of an argument to support keeping Moreau on the top line, but Cole only spent a handful of games there at the begining of the season. Players coming to a new team with new linemates under a different system should be expected to take a couple games to get into the swing of things. The underlying numbers were pretty good. They were only on for 2GA, and they were still outshooting their opponents (granted, not at the rate they should be).

During preseason (I missed the first couple of games) it was obvious every time Hemsky or Horcoff had the puck, they were looking to get the puck to Cole regardless of whether or not there was a play there. I still believe that line could work if they just stop trying to force the puck onto the "new guy"s stick. Now that Cole has been with them for a while, I think that line would have better success.

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#13 misfit
November 28 2008, 12:41PM
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With all this talk about how it was such a huge mistake to play Cole at LW (which he's played significant time at the NHL level), am I the only one who's noticed he hasn't been any better on the right side?

and Skidplate: Why would you refuse to call him Ales? That's his name, afterall.

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#14 Skidplate
November 28 2008, 12:46PM
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Misfit,

Alice just doesn't sound like an NHL hockey players name to me. Maybe if he was a Flamer.......... :)

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#15 Skidplate
November 28 2008, 12:48PM
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swany,

I didn't know that Hemsky was asked to play LW. I guess if the star of the team wants to play RW, he plays RW.

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#16 Ender the Dragon
November 28 2008, 01:59PM
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Skidplate, Maybe you're pronouncing his name wrong; it's 'Al-esh', not 'Al-iss'.

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#17 swany
November 28 2008, 02:05PM
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misfit I don't think cole has played anytime on LW and if he did it was for a very short time, He has played RW for his whole career for the Canes.

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#18 swany
November 28 2008, 02:06PM
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Skidplate, it was during preseason and it was done with Geno on sportsnet, he asked Hemmer if he could play LW and Hemmer stated I am a RW

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#19 Fiveandagame
November 28 2008, 03:02PM
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It's interesting that that Oiler scouts were at Toronto Atlanta game. If they need to improve scoring AND need a left winger. Atlanta has one of the best, and rumors suggest he could be available for the right package.

The Oilers having an abundance of mid level players and NHL ready D (example SMID on left wing) they might be able to entice a trade for Kovalchuck.

Send - Cole - Nillson, Grebeshkov and a pick for a 5O goal scorer who has a season and a half left in his contract.

A trade like that would put us out of the Hossa sweepstakes for this summer, but we'd have Kovy.

What does the Nation think about that?

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#20 The Towel Boy
November 28 2008, 03:07PM
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I'd go for any trade involving Kovalchuk coming our way.

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#21 swany
November 28 2008, 04:27PM
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Kovie and Hemmer would be sick, you would have to keep Horc as centre for those two, they would be leaving the D-zone so fast we would need someone to watch there back. 100 points apeice.

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#22 Yo' Mama!
November 28 2008, 07:43PM
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Skidplate Says: November 28th, 2008 at 11:11 am If Cole can’t play LW, then why not try Hemsky there? The type of game Alex (I refuse to can him Ales) plays, he zigs and zags, so does it matter which side he lines up on?

Yo' Mama says...

I have wondered the same thing. Then with Cole on the RW I think that would be a great line. Hemmer spends way to much time on that side anyways. What is the big deal where you start a faceoff at.

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#23 Dennis
November 28 2008, 09:03PM
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JW is just like Johnny Depp as a member of 21 Jump Street.

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