Petry Down, Chorney Up (Updated)

The Edmonton Oilers tweaked their defence earlier today, sending down rookie Jeff Petry and recalling Taylor Chorney.

I was caught off-guard by the move, which makes no sense or makes perfect sense, depending on one’s perspective. From an NHL standpoint, the move makes very little sense: Jeff Petry’s been killing the scoring chances measure, has three points and a respectable minus-4 rating in 21 games, has been playing over 20:00 per night, including regular duty on both special teams, and hasn’t been at all a part of the problem. On the other hand, Taylor Chorney has managed a single assist and a minus-1 rating since being sent down to the farm after a mid-January recall.

However, the Edmonton Oilers have no chance of making the playoffs this season. There’s a slim chance they could overtake Ottawa for the 29th overall slot, although the team did their best to avoid that with a miserable showing against the Senators on Hockey Day in Canada, but that’s about as good as they could possibly be. At this point, there is no incentive for Oilers management to try and win.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL are having trouble of their own; as it stands they’re on the playoff bubble and need a nice run down the stretch if they wish to participate in the post-season. While ‘just missed the playoffs’ represents the high point for any of Edmonton’s recent farm teams, one assumes the Oilers would like to have a more successful season in their Oklahoma debut.

That’s the only way I can make sense of this move. It certainly isn’t a developmental decision; Petry’s played in every situation for the Oilers. The only alternative is that the Oilers were suddenly dissatisfied with Petry’s play, and that simply makes no sense. He’s been a top-four defenceman pretty much since being recalled, and last night saw his ice-time boosted rather than slashed in the third period. If that’s disappointment, the coaching staff has a funny way of expressing it.

It’s another indication, if we needed it, that Oilers management isn’t looking to win. It also shows that the team isn’t interested in giving out ice-time or NHL opportunities strictly on merit – a range of other considerations, including the ones listed above, come into the picture. That’s something to remember the next time someone says that Player X has earned a job and therefore must make the team.

A Different Take

Right after posting this, I noticed that David Staples over at Cult of Hockey has a rather different take.  In his article, entitled "Oilers make right call in demoting Petry," Staples says:

Petry’s stint with the Oilers can be broken up in two sections, the first 13 games when he looked like he was in the NHL to stay with his poised play, and the last eight, where he became increasingly jittery with and without the puck. In the last three games, he’s made five primary goal-causing errors where he was the main culprit on the goal against.

Over the last eight games, Jeff Petry has gone +44/-42 via on-ice scoring chances. Over this last weekend, where the entire team looked lost, he went +11/-11. Those aren’t the numbers of a player who has lost his game. Besides which, if the last few games are all we’re considering, half the team wouldn’t be able to crack an NHL roster.


It’s been suggested in the comments that this artical is a critical take on Oilers management, but nothing could be further from the truth.  While I do tend to view the Oilers’ front office as incompetent, as evidenced by their record and the impressive coach/player body count they’ve racked up, this particular move is precisely what a management group in their position should be doing.

Tanking may be inglorious, but at this point in the season there’s not much else to do.  There’s absolutely no reason not to make a move that helps the Barons and hurts the 2010-11 Oilers, especially as long as it looks at least halfways reasonable. 

  • @ Ducey:

    There’s a big difference between Petry this year and Chorney last year. Last year, Chorney was getting killed in the AHL before he was getting killed in the NHL; he was promoted too soon, nevermind getting left in the NHL too long last year.

    As I said, Petry, by scoring chance numbers, has been a little better than break-even over this last stretch. I’ll trust those way further than plus/minus.

    Besides, if this is about development why didn’t they send Paajarvi down when he had a far worse stretch earlier this season?

    • VMR

      Staples ISC #”s if accurate are much more telling than simple scoring chances, if they match with what the coaches were seeing then in the past 8 games his play has taken a significant downturn.

      Paajarvi has been sheltered and they were able to reduce his icetime or send him to the press box in his slump, plus they are entirely different positions and two totally different personalities lots of reasons to handle them differently.

  • @ Crash:

    If I write down the Oilers record so far under Tambellini, does that count as ‘taking a shot at management?’

    The best part is that I don’t even think sending Petry down to the AHL to help the Barons is a bad idea – it’s what I’d do if I had a crap NHL team and wanted my AHL team to have a successful season.

    • Crash

      If the only focus now was to help the Barons then why call up Chorney? I’d keep them both down there if all I now wanted was for the Barons to win. The move is obviously being made because one is really starting to struggle and the other has earned a call up. It’s not some off the wall theory about trying to lose. They are losing just fine without sending Petry down.

      Oh, and if you write down the Oilers record so far under Tambellini it doesn’t count as taking a shot at management….it would be a fact then rather than just your opinion.

      I could care less if you like management or not but it seems to me that you more often than not write your articles for this sole purpose. I think everybody gets it now.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Playoff push doesn’t work for me, with a body or two maybe exiting the parent club in the next week there’s little room to send Reddox or Omark back, if anything, it’s more likely we see them lose a body or two to fill holes up here for the last couple weeks.

  • Jonathan,

    Will all due respect, do you actually watch the games or just crunch the numbers? Petry’s overall body of work here has been VERY impressive, but he has faught the puck lately. Stauffer today said he had the “yips” with the puck and he’s 100% correct. He has options and if you can move him down to get his confidence back and play huge minutes in the A then no issue. He one of the reasons it’s a successful year and I have no problem with the Oilers moving him back today. Also, word is Chorney is improving so lets see it with our own eyes…

  • geoilersgist

    i hope this is done because the barons need him for a push. he has looked good since his call up minus his last couple of games. however it wouldn’t surprise me if management was continuing to mismanage but what do i know

  • @ Dean:

    I watched (most of) the games this weekend. Yes, Petry struggled. So did Gilbert. So did Peckham. So did every other member of the defence corps.

    Sure, you could just pick one guy to make an example of, but if the coaching staff agreed with you why did they increase Petry’s icetime in the third period against Anaheim?

  • Light, Sweet, Crude

    Does going to the AHL help confidence once you’ve been in the NHL? Maybe. I can see how playing against guys who aren’t the best in the world is easier, the game is slower, and easier to read, but still, couldn’t a player be twice as spooked next time up?
    I can’t tell. I guess pro sports is a tough gig.
    That said, I don’t feel this was a bad move. Petry is darn good, He’ll be back. No sense in asking him to get his ass kicked 20 minutes a night for the rest of the season.
    Where do you make that call though? Magnus got to stick around through lean times. It may well be that, as was said Chorney is being showcased – he is a little redundant in the prospect pool, right?. And If he does poorly, well, then we are in reverse first place still, who cares?

  • reaperfunkss

    Guys, why all of this the overreaction to JW’s article. Have you never read his articles.

    The reality is, Petry has been struggling lately (most of us see this) and a move to the AHL to help restore his confidence is a very common practice. And the idea that it is to help OKC get into the play-offs is absurd. As pointed out in another post, if that was the case, they would leave Chorney in the AHL and we would throw Strudwick into the line-up.

    Enjoy his article for what it is, pure comedy.

  • reaperfunkss

    Petry has played poorly lately so he needs to go down to work some more on his game. isnt this quite normal for defensemen? They typically need more time to develop than forwards and since it is not a critical year in terms of playoffs why not take your time with him? He looks like he will be a decent NHL’er down the road.

  • reaperfunkss

    Bucky on the PP duty of any kind is hilarious in its own right; forget Petry vs. Chorney. My favorite memory from Buckys career – he’s stickhandling* (relatively speaking) behind the net in Grets’ office. He looks, looks, assess the situation, stickhandles the puck only to bobble it (with no pressure on him), the puck bounces up on to the back of the net. He tries to pull it back down on to the ice – can’t, play is blown dead; threat* over. Asterisks denotes sarcasm or inverse meaning. That play pretty much sums up the oil PP and at least a probable cause for ineptitude. At least let him coach the PK and implement the choke down on the stick goalie point rush.

  • I’m loving the ‘watch the games’ brigade right now.

    How do you guys think “scoring chances” appear? Does the fairy godmother of statistics drop them off on my spreadsheet every morning?

    Someone sits down and watches the game. Every time there’s a scoring chance, he enters it into Vic Ferrari’s program, which then lists the NHL players on the ice at the time of that scoring chance.

    There’s literally no way to calculate scoring chances without watching the game.

    Frankly, it’s remarkable that this fact has eluded so many.

    • Hey, fair enough JW. Obviously that’s how “scoring chances” are quantified. But what entails a scoring chance? You’ll have to excuse me if this has been covered before– I don’t frequent any of these other blogs.

      I just think saying a guy was even in scoring chances for a game equates with a decent game, especially when the “minus” scoring chances were often of the five-alarm variety, and I’m willing to bet many of the “plus” ones were weak wristers from the blueline.

    • VMR

      Staples watches the games and does exactly that but puts it down to the individual player, that’s more level of detail so it should be a better stat, correct? By Staples ISC and he’s updated the article you linked earlier to add Mccurdy’s player game ratings, by both of those stats Petry’s game has been slipping for the past 8 games at least.

      Try to defend stat usage all you want but the more detailed stats are showing exactly that Petry hasnt been playing well lately and is deserving of a stint in the minors.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Tracking a scoring chance and tracking who is responsible for that scoring chance are completely different things.

        For instance, if Team A gets a tap in goal from the side of the crease, how far back on Team B do you go to assign the error?

        Do you give it to the winger on Team B who turned the puck over at the other teams blueline, not allowing his tired defencemen to change?

        Do you give it to the centre who didn’t come down far enough for puck support on the failed clear attempt that kept them hemmed in the zone?

        Do you give it to the defenceman who, while being dead tired, gets beat in the corner to allow a 2 on 1 in front?

        Do you give it to the other tired defencemen who doesn’t do a good enough job blocking the passing lane?

        The one problem with “just watching the game” is that you miss so much because of camera angles. If you don’t get the right replay you don’t see a lot of what happens on the ice in the plays leading up to the major events. That’s why NHL teams get literally 14 or 15 hours of video for each game. They get it from multiple camera angles and don’t break down the last 10-15 seconds before a major event, but the entire shift sequence leading up to it.

        Is anyone comfortable enough to call the error stat a more detailed stat?

  • CJ wrote:

    Guys, why all of this the overreaction to JW’s article. Have you never read his articles.

    Like, remember last summer when he pulled out scoring chances and Fenwick numbers and said that the Oilers should see what Gilbert Brule would fetch on the trade market? We all knew, from WATCHING THE GAMES that Brule was an elite scorer and tried really hard and was young and no rebuilding team should ever trade a guy like that.

  • didn’t mind the post JW…i agree with some and disagree with some kinda like how a normal discussion may work. the sun will rise tommorrow (unless it dec 21, 2012 already?) and your article nor the oilers fortunes will change that….breathe people breathe…

  • reaperfunkss

    JW, you’re right, it must be a conspiracy and we are all against you.

    Not sure why you are pulling this Brule stuff out. Who watched Oiler games last year.

  • Kodiak

    I think the argument against the scoring chances for/against with Petry is that the scoring chances are created by multiple players, while Petry has been soley responsible for far too many scoring chances against.

    And there are scoring chances and then there are point blank, turn the puck over and give the opposition a breakaway or tap in. Petry’s offensive chances for have been average, decent chances. His against chances have been no chance for the goalie, break away or tap in chances for the opposition.

    • Dr. Oil

      Exactly. I was having trouble articulating this. The quality of scoring chances against caused DIRECTLY by Petry’s mistakes seemed to be high. Meanwhile, if Hall got a shot on goal while Petry happened to be on the ice, I don’t think the fact that the stats evened up really says anything.

      I have no stats to back up my sentiment, but it seems to me Petry looked like a defensive train wreck the last few games (as did the rest of the team). He certainly didn’t do anything worthy of handling him with kid gloves.

      In any case, I recognize JW isn’t against the move to the minors. I mostly just took exception to the significance being placed on the +11/-11 stuff. It just doesn’t tell a complete story.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @JW. Correct me if I’m wrong but the scoring chances you are using are a team stat while Staples try’s to pull out which players were key in the SC for/against. What I’ve seen seems to coincide with Staples numbers, ie he may have been on the ice for a resonable amount of SC for/against, but he has been responsible for more then his fair going the wrong way.

  • Ducey

    I am glad JW has “clarified” his article. It certainly came across negatively at first. I still think its incorrect though.

    JW says That’s the only way I can make sense of this move. It certainly isn’t a developmental decision; Petry’s played in every situation for the Oilers. The only alternative is that the Oilers were suddenly dissatisfied with Petry’s play, and that simply makes no sense. He’s been a top-four defenceman pretty much since being recalled, and last night saw his ice-time boosted rather than slashed in the third period. If that’s disappointment, the coaching staff has a funny way of expressing it.

    1) It was a developmental decision as set out in my post above and as pointed out by the majority of posters that have noticed Petry struggling lately.

    2) His ice time was boosted because it was a blow-out – ANA was putting moops out on the PP etc. Its a perfect time to give a rookie some extra time. It doesn’t change the fact they play Dallas next and you don’t want Petry to go -1 again for the fourth straight game.

  • Kodiak

    There are two huge issues with individual scoring chances.

    First, it is highly subject to observer bias.

    Second, even if there were no observer bias there are no baselines to evaluate the numbers.

    In order to transform it into a meaningful stat you’d need to do three things.

    First, you’d need to have a number of observers making independent judgements and then take a mean of them.

    Second, you’d have to do it for every team and every game in order to produce a large enough sample to produce NHL level baselines.

    Third, you’d have to normalize the numbers to average.

    If you did all of these things then this method would have the potential to produce meaningful data.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I don’t think taking a mean of them is anymore accurate than one persons take.

      Providing the definition of a scoring chance is static for that one user (regardless of their criteria), it has value within itself. The ability to compare physical numbers between teams is poor (as is things like Corsi, Fenwick, etc…), but in terms of ranking and comparing players on the team there is plenty of value.

      The reason why all of the “Real Time” stats that the NHL tracks are completely useless is because of the fact that there are 30 different standards and the numbers get thrown together. Hits, Takeaways, Giveaways, etc… are all completely useless stats due to the fact that rink bias numbers are combined together, which is the last thing you want.

      Observer bias isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not bad if the bias is whether or not it’s a scoring chance. It is bad if you start changing your criteria based on who is on the ice.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Captain Obvious wrote: “There are two huge issues with individual scoring chances.

    First, it is highly subject to observer bias.”

    I agree that this is a concern, but “objective stats” like goals and plus minus are not without their problems, either.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    It doesn’t matter if Gilbert or Peckham or any vet has a bad game, because the fact is they can’t go to the minors and get their confidence back.

    This happens across the NHL, but when the Oilers decide to send down a struggling rookie it’s some sort of consiparcy theory.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @dawgbone: Staples is pretty consistent about what he considers the start of a scoring sequence, which basically is when the defensive team loses control of the play. This can be as far back as the faceoff or occasionally before that, more often the last time a guy had the puck in a reasonably safe position or the other guys have possession in an undangerous position outside the attacking zone. In your example given he would likely assign an error to all guys you name because they are all involved in the sequence. He also tries to single out one player who made the key mistake, which I would guess would be the winger who committed the turnover at the far end.

    Needless to say, the assignment of the primary error, or of any error at all, is a judgment call and David will be the first to tell you he doesn’t get them all right. Then again who does? Not the dudes who count stuff for the NHL, that’s for sure, thus in my mind all stats are suspect to greater or lesser degree. In my experience – and I’ve been vetting David’s work for awhile now – he gets many many more right than wrong; I would agree with his assignments probably 85-90% of the time. There are frequently 60/40 decisions of course, and occasionally we discuss them, but many of the mistakes are fairly easy calls.

    It should be worth noting that David has extended his original “Errors” project of assigning personal responsibility to team results, to include the offensive end of the ice and identify all players involved in a “goal for” sequence as well. It’s got its advantages over points in that there are no limits rather than the arbitrary three, and it can credit guys who never touched the puck but contributed directly to the goal. But it doesn’t just blindly credit everybody on the ice. Further, he’s extended the system by an order of magnitude to measure not just goals but all scoring chances.

    Now I also place a lot of stock in Dennis’s team scoring chance numbers but they answer a different though certainly valid question, how did the team do with Player A on the ice? which like traditional plus/minus credits everybody equally whether they were involved in the play or not. Whereas David is trying to measure what is Player A’s direct involvement. To me they both provide valuable information, neither is entirely reliable but certainly add to the overall picture.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Jebus, Jonathon, should you really be so self-righteous?

    What’s your next move, JW? Maybe move to a dark corner of Arkansas and be appalled by all the cousin shagging?