Marc Pouliot Vs. The Average

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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    @ 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.

  • Hippy

    "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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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….

  • Hippy

    @ 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?

  • Hippy

    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

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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