Marc Pouliot Vs. The Average

Jonathan Willis
July 29 2009 01:11PM

Last season, Marc Pouliot average 10.24 minutes of five on five ice-time per game. Despite that meager role, many Oilers fans complain that MacTavish overused him and he shouldn’t even have been on the team. I believe that isn’t the case.

With that in mind, I decided to compare Marc Pouliot to other players stuck in a fourth-line role. To make it fair, I only included players who averaged within thirty seconds per game of what Pouliot did. It turns out that there are 55 such players in the NHL, almost two per team (Brodziak is the other one in Edmonton). Since this study uses Pouliot as a midpoint, it’s a little unfair to Brodziak, but I’m going to throw him in to since I imagine there’s some interest in his results.

Vs. The Average

For starters, here they are against the average player in their category:

NAME | GP | 5V5 TOI/G | PTS/60 | GFON/60 | GAON/60 |+/- 60

  • Marc Pouliot | 63 | 10.24 | 1.67 |2.32 | 2.42 | -.010
  • Kyle Brodziak | 79 | 9.82 | 1.62 | 2.48 | 2.48 | +0.00
  • Average | 60 | 10.09 | 1.32 | 1.96 | 2.40 | -0.44

Interesting stuff there. Both Brodziak and Pouliot were significantly better at scoring and saw significantly better on-ice goal totals than the average. Not only that, but they did this without allowing more goals against, finishing right near the average mark. In other words, by the raw numbers, both Brodziak and Pouliot were significantly better than players on other teams in similar roles.

More noteworthy is the fact that they managed this on a below-average team; with team strength taken into account, they likely would have finished higher.

Rankings vs. The Whole

All numbers out of 55.

  • PTS/60: Pouliot – 8th, Brodziak – 11th
  • GFON/60: Brodziak – 7th, Pouliot – 10th
  • GAON/60: Pouliot – 31st, Brodziak – 33rd
  • +/-: Brodziak – 12th, Pouliot – 17th

Fun stuff here. In the plus/minus category, it’s interesting to note that the vast majority of players ahead of Brodziak and Pouliot were from playoff teams, and only three of the players ahead of them (Ben Guite, Evgeni Artyukhin and Jesse Winchester) came from teams below the Oilers in the standings.

What am I getting at here? Simply this: the Oilers had a lot of problems last year, but fourth-liners Kyle Brodziak and Marc Pouliot don’t qualify as such.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Wainwright Dan
July 29 2009, 02:13PM
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I thought for sure Reddox was going to Europe to play after rejecting the Oils offer this month ...

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#2 Steve Thomas
July 29 2009, 02:24PM
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Reddox and Potulny signed with the Oil today!!!

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#3 smiliegirl15
July 29 2009, 02:26PM
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Sometimes I think fans expect any of the forwards, be they top 6 or bottom 6, to be a scoring fiend. Should Pouliot be better than a 4th line grinder?

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#4 scorecoff hemmercules
July 29 2009, 02:26PM
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WTF!!!

Didn't Reddox hit the road thinking he would get more money elsewhere? Stuck with him again, hope the grandpas dont decide to play him too much if ever.

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#5 scorecoff hemmercules
July 29 2009, 02:28PM
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How many contracts do we have now??

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#6 Hemmertime
July 29 2009, 02:33PM
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whew, First line LW problems solved.

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#7 ronaldo
July 29 2009, 02:34PM
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Reddox signed!?! Guess that takes care of LW1. Screw you Danny, we got things covered. Wait, what? MacT is gone, sorry Liam, no LW1 for you. Back to the phones Tambo.

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#8 OvenChicken8
July 29 2009, 02:35PM
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@ Hemmertime: Yes, Springfield will have a great 1st line LW now :)

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#9 I'm a Scientist!
July 29 2009, 02:38PM
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Good food for thought JW. Can we package the super star that Pouliot appears to be, with the newly signed Reddox and get a third line center that can win faceoffs?

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#10 Ogden Brother
July 29 2009, 02:56PM
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But he's soft, doesn't have an identity and was only drafted because he played with Sid?

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#11 Asciutto
July 29 2009, 02:58PM
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"get a third line center that can win faceoffs"

Shawn Horcoff 53.9 Kyle Brodziak 51.6 Marc Pouliot 48.3 Sam Gagner 42.0 Patrick O'Sullivan 41.4 Fernando Pisani 40.6 Robert Nilsson 40.0 Andrew Cogliano 37.2

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#12 Asciutto
July 29 2009, 02:59PM
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"drafted because he played with Sid?"

Sid Lafleur? No Sid Lafleur played for the Fusiliers.

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#13 Travis Dakin
July 29 2009, 03:02PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

But he’s soft, doesn’t have an identity and was only drafted because he played with Sid?

In fairness again, he was drafted before he played with Crosby and Rimouski was the last place team in the league and Lowe said "He was the only player that didn't give up"

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#14 Jonathan Willis
July 29 2009, 03:07PM
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@ Travis Dakin:

Ogden neglected to include his tildes.

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#15 Ogden Brother
July 29 2009, 03:07PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: But he’s soft, doesn’t have an identity and was only drafted because he played with Sid? In fairness again, he was drafted before he played with Crosby and Rimouski was the last place team in the league and Lowe said “He was the only player that didn’t give up”

;)

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#16 Jonathan Willis
July 29 2009, 03:07PM
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The point here, of course, is that Pouliot's an NHL'er. Just a better-than-average 4th line guy, but still an NHL'er.

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#17 Travis Dakin
July 29 2009, 03:09PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Travis Dakin: Ogden neglected to include his tildes.

And I hit the send button too soon as I figured that out too late. ha Either way, many don't know that. Oh well.

*goes back to just READING all the blogs and lets the big boys do the WRITING*

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#18 namflashback
July 29 2009, 03:25PM
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That video clip just reminds me of how frigging aware Fernando Pisani is. Nice off the boards pass springs Pouliot. Then he goes to the net.

Nice dig off the boards by Pouliot, with Reasoner in close support. Then good distribution by Pouliot to create the gap.

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#19 Constance
July 29 2009, 03:30PM
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You guys on Oilersnation post complete garbage too damn often these days. How are you comparing the offensive production of these two deadbeats (MAP and Broadziak) with that of other 4th liners. Thats like comparing the # of fights between our 1st liners with 1st liners from other teams. Its irrelevant. The meager offensive contributions of MAP and co dont matter, what matters is there physical play, ability to shift momentum, ability to intimidate and so forth.

What a terrible post.

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#20 DanMan
July 29 2009, 03:34PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Fun fact Jonathan: Pouliot had 3 goals in 2 games playing with Rob Schremp.

They had some chemistry before the blender was turned back on

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#21 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 29 2009, 03:38PM
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@ Constance: Someone s*hit in your corn flakes? If you do not like what is on here your more than welcome to go elsewhere.

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#22 Asciutto
July 29 2009, 03:40PM
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Fun fact Jonathan: Pouliot had 3 goals in 2 games playing with Rob Schremp.

Another Fun Fact: Pouliot had 6 points in December '08 2 with Schremp on his line, 4 without

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#23 bingofuel
July 29 2009, 03:49PM
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@ Constance:

Just talking about things of interest so guys like you have something to read and provide insightful commentary on is all!

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#24 Jonathan Willis
July 29 2009, 04:00PM
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Constance wrote:

The meager offensive contributions of MAP and co dont matter, what matters is there physical play, ability to shift momentum, ability to intimidate and so forth.

Did you know that both Pouliot and Brodziak provided far more even-strength offense than Ales Kotalik?

I'm guessing not.

If you really believe that a 4th line's only job is to intimidate, you're fairly stupid. There's a reason goons get scratched in the playoffs.

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#25 DanMan
July 29 2009, 04:07PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Look at how your buddy Lemaire used his 4th line. To RUN guys.

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#26 Travis Dakin
July 29 2009, 04:07PM
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Constance wrote:

Its irrelevant. The meager offensive contributions of MAP and co dont matter, what matters is there physical play, ability to shift momentum, ability to intimidate and so forth.

HAHAHAHAHA AWESOME! Jonathan Willis wrote:

If you really believe that a 4th line’s only job is to intimidate, you’re fairly stupid

Bring the hammer Willis!

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#27 Doug
July 29 2009, 04:09PM
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I think I am starting to see where JW gets his inspiration for his next post... from arguing in the comments of his last post!

Good read!

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#28 I'm a Scientist!
July 29 2009, 04:18PM
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Constance wrote:

Thats like comparing the # of fights between our 1st liners with 1st liners from other teams.

JW...this is what i want to know next! I look forward to reading it tomorrow!! Thank you in advance!

Connie... you suck.

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#29 oilerbuff
July 29 2009, 04:21PM
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kind of an interesting read.......try this on for size.....promote gagner and cogs to the first line with Hemsky. Cogs sucks at winning draws, is a left handed shot and had the best shooting percentage out of anyone on the oilers top three lines. (Stortini's was much higher!) Put Cogs on the left wing with Gagner at centre and Hemmer on the right and you've got potential to find your "bonafide sniper" in Cogliano.

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#30 Travis Dakin
July 29 2009, 04:26PM
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@ oilerbuff: sweet. Zero defensive responsibility on the top line. just score, score, score.

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#31 Jonathan Willis
July 29 2009, 04:41PM
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DanMan wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Look at how your buddy Lemaire used his 4th line. To RUN guys.

That can be ONE function of a 4th line. To say it's the only function requires either ignorance of the game of hockey or abject stupidity.

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#32 Morghasm
July 29 2009, 05:44PM
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JW, normally I'm all for drinking your kool-aid, but this is a little weak.

Just because every team happens to have a couple of guys who play ~10 min a game and don't contribute much offensively doesn't mean Pouliot had a good year. I think we need to think about what standards we're using to evaluate his performance.

For me, the frustration in Pouliot last year was that he didn't score enough to be a scorer, nor was he physical enough to be a presence on ice. Most games, he was invisible. He wasn't a liability, but he also failed to contribute with any significance.

The guy's a first round draft pick who's several years into his NHL career. I expect more. Showing that he's slightly above average when compared to a bunch of fourth liners tells me he's not living up to expectations.

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#33 Death Metal Nightmare
July 29 2009, 05:46PM
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they all qualify, as a whole team, as a problem because they cant function as a consistent, disciplined hockey team. they cant execute their system properly and isolating someone like Marc Poopalot or Brodziak from that system doesnt tell us much at all for their minimal roles. "heres dudes who didnt do much and they were OK at not doing much." yeehaw.

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#34 Jonathan Willis
July 29 2009, 05:59PM
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Morghasm wrote:

Showing that he’s slightly above average when compared to a bunch of fourth liners tells me he’s not living up to expectations.

I agree; but this post wasn't to defend the progression of Marc Pouliot's NHL career.

I'm just sick of hearing "he doesn't belong in the NHL" when it's clear - by eyes or numbers - that he's an NHL-calibre player.

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#35 Morghasm
July 29 2009, 06:09PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I see. So you wrote an entire article to point out that even though Pouliot is massively underperforming, he still squeaks in above the bottom cut-off for sucks-but-not-so-bad-he-shouldn't-play-in-this-league performance levels?

God I wish there was some real hockey news to talk about. How may days till training camp? Sigh.

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#36 Asciutto
July 29 2009, 06:35PM
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"Pouliot is massively underperforming"

What does that mean?

The Oilers got an NHLer out of the 2003 first round. Something they haven't got from the 1st rounds in 2002 and 2004.

Would it be better if he were better? Yessss

But he is what he is. Massively underperformimg my ass.

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#37 linnaeus
July 29 2009, 07:22PM
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DanMan and Constance seem to be confused. Being able to score goals and out perform at even strength in no way precludes being able to hit, pardon me, run guys. Nor does it mean you will be defensively irresponsible.

What Jonathan was addressing here was the ongoing, and now demonstrably false, opinion held by so many Oiler fans that Pouliot is a tweener waste of space. He is definitely an NHL player, and a pretty good fourth line one. At least in comparison to his peers.

That really shouldn't surprise anybody who saw him good as a junior. Pre-Sidney he was a kid with no quit, high energy and really good two way skills. When the Oilers drafted him they were presumably thinking of a third or fourth line role. MacT's Guy Carbonneau comparison was probably a good indication of Puliot's top end, but what a uesful top end that would be.

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#38 rindog
July 29 2009, 10:45PM
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That is a great little article Jonathon. I never really had a problem with either of those guys (other than the fact that were very replacable should we have wanted to take a look at a Brule or someone else).

The problem with Pouliot and Brodziak last year is that we had 2 or 3 other guys that were playing ahead of them that watered our team down significantly (Moreau, Pisani, and even Reddox in some games).

I have not done the research, but I would venture to guess that the "average" you used to compare Pouliot and Brodziak with didn't have more "non-offensive minded" players playing greater roles (and minutes) on the roster?

If you have 5 or 6 of these so called "tweeners" and the coach decides to give some of them larger roles - it makes the Pouliots and Brodziaks appear less of an impact then they really are.

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#39 rindog
July 29 2009, 10:46PM
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Sorry JONATHAN - typo on your name.....

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#40 jayoilfan
July 30 2009, 07:31AM
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Good article. I like these notes and quick little analysis of players that JW does. I don't have time to do them and the result are usually intersting. like this one. I was always on the fence with Pouliot, now I think I am leaning more to being a fan of him. He has gotten better each year and I expect him to keep getting better.

One thing that bugs be about some fans and it has been said here many times is that it seems so many people expect every player on the Oilers to be the next Messier or Anderson or Coffey. Come on, we need the 3rd and 4th liners too! To make a team complete you need everyone on the same page and doing their job and accepting that job. IF Pouliot accepts his 3rd/4th line role and does it well, then I am a fan. It looks like to me he is well on his way to being a good, reliable 3rd liner...as JW said a real NHL'er.

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#41 Constance
July 30 2009, 09:08AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Constance wrote: The meager offensive contributions of MAP and co dont matter, what matters is there physical play, ability to shift momentum, ability to intimidate and so forth. Did you know that both Pouliot and Brodziak provided far more even-strength offense than Ales Kotalik? I’m guessing not. If you really believe that a 4th line’s only job is to intimidate, you’re fairly stupid. There’s a reason goons get scratched in the playoffs.

Willis, your claim that we should be enamoured with 8 goals and 23 points is laughable. I would rather have a nameless faceless banger who stirs the pot on my 4th line than a nobody, never was like Poo. The very thought that you can numerically or quantitatively define the contributions of a little used 4th liner to a hockey team using numbers is incorrect. In fact the best 4th line this team has had in the last 10 years was with guys like Dowd, Laraque and Deveroux. Guys who didn't contribute much offensively, but brought energy momentum, the odd fight... i.e. they could change the game with intangibles. The same is true of last year when our best 4th liners were Jaques and Stortini whilst playing hard and physical....

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#42 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 11:02AM
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@ Constance:

You realize that you just called Jim Dowd and Boyd Devereaux guys who "brought energy momentum, the odd fight"...

Just curious - have you ever seen either of those guys play?

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#43 Tull
July 30 2009, 11:03AM
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Interesting spin on the 4th line.

I however am of the mindset that these stats alone do not tell the whole story. I'd like to see how many time Pouliot played against the other teams top end guys - statistics can be skewed easily. So if Pouliot is playing more minutes against another teams 4th line - while the other 4th liners in the study are playing against 2nd line guys - your study is inherently flawed. You're essentially comparing apples to oranges. Easy minutes to tougher minutes.

Also I'm interested to see where Pouliot lies in comparison to a historical average (lets say until after the lockout year until 2009).

All comparing to the annual average does is tell me that Pouliot is 'above average', which doesn't really sell me. Is he the top 5%? top 25%? just over 50%? Its a huge swing depending on where he sits.

Thanks

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#44 Constance
July 30 2009, 11:28AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Constance: You realize that you just called Jim Dowd and Boyd Devereaux guys who “brought energy momentum, the odd fight”… Just curious - have you ever seen either of those guys play?

Just curious. Is posting on a blog supposed to give you some kind of legitimacy? Sorry, I meant the LINE brought energy, momentum, the odd fight. Laraque, Deveroux and Dowd were a great 4th line and no one ever compared there offensive numbers with other 4th lines across the league. Thats the point.

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#45 Clark Grizzwald
July 30 2009, 03:53PM
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I must say I agree with Mr/Mrs. Constance on this one.. Pouliot or "Poo" as he is referred to, is a very borderline nhl'er...one poster here mentioned that lowe and macT must have had in mind that his potential was a 3rd or 4th liner? Please tell me then, why would you draft a player with max 3rd line potential in the first round of one of the deepest drafts in nhl history?

Anyways, to get back on topic, Willis, it seems like summer is boring you but please trying to find meaning in numbers for a mediocre player is really pushing it.. numbers aren't going to change the fact that pouliot blows in the role he's supposed to play which is a 4th line energy player...he has clearly shown he doesn't have the nack to play in a 2nd line role...poo can grow old and tell his grand kids he played on the same team as Crosby but was never good enough to even carry his jock strap...that is all

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