Lucky 13: Thoughts Of A Nation

Jonathan Willis
October 09 2010 11:29PM

Thinking on Robin Brownlee’s “Lucky 13” exercise, I realized that it’s more than a contest between the readers and the writers, the bloggers and the professionals, or whatever other distinction one chooses to make. It’s also a chance to see how the readers of Oilers Nation view their team at the dawn of the season.

Not counting the writers here at Oilers Nation, 93 readers submitted picks for Brownlee’s contest (giving us an appropriate total of 99), and I’ve compiled those picks to give us a composite view of where fans think this team will end up.

It turns out we are an optimistic bunch. A very optimistic bunch.

I’ve generated some goal-scoring totals for the Oilers, based on the point totals projected by our readers for Oilers players. I did that by taking the average ratio of points to goals for the post-lockout Oilers (2.75:1) and the average percentage of goals scored by the top-nine forwards and top-four defencemen (80%) to generate a team goal-scoring total, like so:

(Total points projected ÷ 2.75) ÷ 0.8 = Total goals for.

Based on that formula, some fun facts:

The average reader expects the Oilers to score 296 goals this season – a figure that would have ranked 2nd in the NHL last season behind Washington, and a 90 goal improvement over last year’s Oilers.

The average team last season scored 227 goals. Exactly three of 93 readers (Chris, Steve Smith and m@s f@s) have the Oilers projected to be a below average goal-scoring team this coming season; the other 90 project them to be above average. And of those three, m@s f@s just barely squeaked below the average number by including Alexandre Giroux in his projection and omitting Sam Gagner.

And, leaving aside the formula for a minute, it turns out that the writers (for the most part) haven’t been immune to that optimism. Four of the six prognosticators featured in the article (Brownlee, Gregor, baggedmilk and myself) predicted an above average goal-scoring team, and Wanye only missed the cut because he seems to feel the NHL is about to enact a rule allowing three assists on every goal. Only Lowetide forecast a team relatively similar in goal-scoring ability to last season’s squad; i.e. near the bottom of the league. When we go back to the formula and base projections off total points, all six writers project the Oilers to be an above average goal-scoring team, because we’ve all been guilty of overestimating the total number of assists handed out (although in fairness not one writer's projections were higher than the average fan's).

I suppose the lesson here is that we’re all a little overly optimistic, but I suspect that’s the case for the fans of every team in the league at the start of October.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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 Wanye
October 09 2010, 11:46PM
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And when the NHL does allow for 3 assists per goal mid way through the season I am going to laugh and laugh and point and laugh and laugh and point and -

Hmm.

Yeah well, did you ever stop to think that... er.

Dang.

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#2 BUCK75
October 09 2010, 11:52PM
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Optimistic -yes.

If my picks counted I was around 200 goals. Realistic I think....

We will be fun to watch, but I think I am being realistic with 3 rookies int he line-up.

@ Willis

Soooooo, did Tyler ever put his pick in? JMO it is easy to sit on the sidelines & be the backseat quarterback.

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#5 BUCK75
October 10 2010, 12:46AM
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@Jonathan Willis

THX, I think that I'm far more pessimistic than most of the readers, or even the people that posted a projection. I have never been a believer in the "stats" that you are big on, but I think that MC79 should have put a team in...

that said

AFTER the season is over & we miss the play-offs & Tyler writes an article carving up the "fun" or "optimistic" pool we held here there will be a ton of s**t flying his way. I can"t comment on his motives, but it seems almost obvious after he writes his post about how the pool was a total sham...

I'm no fortune teller @ the Capital Ex, but you have to know that is already in the works.

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#6 jeanshorts
October 10 2010, 12:57AM
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This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but why on earth is the word thirteen underneath the number 13 on that poster? Does no one in America know how to read numbers anymore? Also, this movie is called Thirteen Thirteen?

/end daily rant about the ridiculous studio system.

Something about numbers and the Oilers scoring lots of whatevers. HOCKEY!

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#7 @NateInVegas
October 10 2010, 01:32AM
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If there's a lockout do all 99 you lose?

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#8 Shapeman
October 10 2010, 01:40AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but why on earth is the word thirteen underneath the number 13 on that poster? Does no one in America know how to read numbers anymore? Also, this movie is called Thirteen Thirteen?

/end daily rant about the ridiculous studio system.

Something about numbers and the Oilers scoring lots of whatevers. HOCKEY!

It`s for all of the illiterate Americans who can either read only letters or numbers! As strange as that sounds.. It`s like putting up a poster for blind people and expecting a deaf person to listen to a commercial.... Or is it?

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#10 treblecharger
October 10 2010, 02:05AM
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I think we're all a tad optimistic at this point!

Great read : http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/mapleleafs/article/873359--brian-burke-reveals-keys-to-leafs-success

Not a fan of the title, but Burke reveals some interesting stuff here.

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#11 Vince
October 10 2010, 05:36AM
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An Oilers blog projecting the Oilers to be a little beeter than they should...makes sense.

An Oilers blog putting a squiggly red spell check line beneath the word Oilers? ...hmmm...just kidding

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#12 Lowetide
October 10 2010, 07:57AM
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I'm comfortable with my projections and did allow for injury, etc. There's a lot of chatter about the rookies, but this is still Ales Hemsky's team.

If he's healthy, the Oilers should have a fine offensive season. I've estimated Hemsky will play 60 games, as outlined here on September 1:

http://oilersnation.com/2010/9/1/re-10-11-skill-forwards

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#13 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 10 2010, 09:49AM
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I know for myself (and I'd guess for a fair amount of the others) assumed that their would be a higher concentration of scoring this year then in previous years.

Both because I think Renney will lean heavy on his top 9/top 4 and use the bottom 3/bottom 2 sparringly.

And also because the majority of the offensive talent will be in the top 9/4.

Which is probably resonable considering the guys that will get the most time in the bottom 3/2 have career highs of: 19/13/17 and 11/24(but 12 over the last 5 years).

Also, I think we all know thiers going to be 2-3 guys hurt for a long enough time to alter the results. (ie one 40 point guy might only play enough to get 25 points and Omark or whomever might get 15 in his place).

Since we don't know who those guys are, the best strategy was to make your picks as if everyone would be healthy.... which obviously makes predictions look more optimistic.

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#15 Lowetide
October 10 2010, 10:43AM
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Jonathan: I believe my final numbers were about 1.75 (or so) when including all of the reasonable expectations. Last season, the Oilers were at 1.72 overall.

I'm completely comfortable with my projections in this area as well.

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#16 Tyler
October 10 2010, 10:53AM
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Buck,

I can assure you, I'm not going to take a run at any of the individual commenters in that thread for their picks or at anyone else for how it plays out. I rarely do a post based on a comment in a thread and, if I do, it's usually because someone said something really interesting that I thought warranted a bigger platform or a commenter who I think is pretty bright has said something worth discussing. Generally speaking, I don't troll about for silly comments in order to make blog posts out of them. If you've got a blog of your own that's reasonably serious or you're an MSM guy, your published stuff is, however, fair game, IMO.

In addition, anyone can criticize the numbers at the end of the year when they don't match up. If I were to do that, having silent at the beginning of the year, people would have a legitimate gripe.

With that said, I've said, consistently, that I have zero insight into who is going to get hurt and who will end up getting the PP time. I don't think anyone does. All I can be reasonably certain about is that it's not going to shake out anywhere near what seems to be the consensus here and that the expectations seem, based on history, to be out of line. Jonathan would appear to agree with me.

One other point - you're referring to this as an "optimistic" pool. I don't recall having seen that anywhere in the rules.

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#17 BUCK75
October 10 2010, 11:39AM
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@Tyler

It's none of my business if you don't want to post your own list of points. I am a little disappointed that you don't want to play - that is all.

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#18 Chris.
October 10 2010, 03:43PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Funny thing is: I thought I was being optimistic. I figured the Oilers would score about 30 more goals this season. I have 13 Oilers scoring a combined total of around 170 goals. Last year it took 27 different Chicago players to score 262 goals. (If Byfuglien is not considred a D, and someone chose the exact top 13 players from last season: The Chicago 13 scored around 200 goals... based on that: is projecting 170 for the young Oilers group completely off base?

*Edit* (Also last season's Oiler top 13 only accounted for about 72% of total team goals scored... not 80%.)

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