Oilers Defensemen By Scoring Chances, 2011-12

There’s a clear gap between the Oilers defensemen getting the job done, and those drowning in the shallow end of the pool.

Dennis King has been recording scoring chances at mc79hockey.com, and those scoring chances line up awfully close to what any fan watching the game can see. The following chart shows chances for and against, along with the percentage of chances that were positive, and the percentage of Fenwick events that were positive (the second number is just shots plus blocked shots for minus the same against).

In short: 50% is the break even mark; a number above 50% means they’re on for more chances for then against, a number below it means that they’re being out-chanced by the opposition.

Player No. Chances For Chances Against Chances Percentage Fenwick Percentage
Jeff Petry 58 41 34 54.67% 53.10%
Ladislav Smid 5 70 62 53.03% 44.77%
Corey Potter 44 58 63 47.93% 48.37%
Tom Gilbert 77 67 73 47.86% 46.56%
Theo Peckham 24 38 51 42.70% 39.63%
Cam Barker 13 35 49 41.67% 36.47%
Andy Sutton 25 29 41 41.43% 40.78%

Interestingly, the connection between scoring chances and shots plus missed shots is a strong one: just 17 games into the season, scoring chances and Fenwick have a correlation of 0.854 – in other words, if a defenseman is doing well/poorly on the shot clock, they’re probably doing about the same in terms of scoring chances.

What do the scoring chance numbers tell us? Basically, that the Oilers have iced three groups of defensemen this season:

  • The top pairing of Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid. Playing the best possible opposition night in and night out, they’re keeping things relatively even. The numbers were even better prior to the last three games; they’ve been a legitimate shutdown pairing.
  • Corey Potter and Jeff Petry. Both players have had a lot of offensive zone starts, and that has helped their numbers, but they’re both doing a good job overall. Petry’s well above 50%, while Potter’s in the ballpark, and on this team they both have deserved a top-four slot based on their performance versus the rest of the squad. Then there are the other three.
  • Andy Sutton and Theo Peckham have some redeeming points in their favour – Sutton in particular starts a lot in his own end (given that, this data suggests him as clearly the team’s fifth-best option), and both players have been given primarily defensive assignments. They also add a physical element. Cam Barker’s been spotted lots of offensive zone minutes, mostly against lousy opposition, and he’s been hammered. Given that he missed the last two lopsided losses to Detroit and Chicago, his numbers could be even worse. It’s difficult to see his loss to injury as anything other than an opportunity for the superior Jeff Petry to get more minutes.
  • Quicksilver ballet

    It looks as though the Barker reclamation project might be headed for the junk heap.

    My initial enthusiasm for the offseason FA signings may have been misplaced. Barker looks like a bust, Eager won’t lay a hit, Hordy’s IR’d and Belanger, while great on the dot has stunk offensively. Still early in the season, but it doesn’t look like things are turning out the way we might have hoped.

    • justDOit

      Can’t we recycle him and at least get our deposit back? That way, after the fiftieth or so reclamation project, we’ll have enough money saved up to put towards pro scouting. ??

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I’m ok with Belanger, between face offs and penalty kill he was a good signing. I’m also ok with him being on the 4th line. Eager has been a dissapointment for sure. Hordy, well I didn’t see him playing more than 60 games anyway and I would have expected him to get hurt at least once through the season just because of the style of game he plays so he is still neutral. I’ve thought Sutton has done a pretty good job. His suspension was a load of crap. Sutton gets suspended and Lucic doesn’t on similar hits, one results in an injury and one doesn’t. Seems a little backwards if you ask me.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    It’s a real shame about Barker… getting that draft pedigree for so cheap could have turned out awesome. I was willing to withhold serious judgment until the break… but now that he is out… I’m looking forward to not thinking about him for a month. we’ll see if he finds some enthusiasm coming off the injury.

    What is really bizarre though and must give the stats folk headaches is the +/- situation… Barker, Peckham and Petry (the three D Willis correctly isolates as the weakest on the team – although Petry obviously is high on this particular list) somehow are tied for first on the team at +3!!

    That makes no sense to me… Didn’t we just have an article about how shot quality doesn’t matter or something? If shots/scoring chances are the crucial marker underlying success… how come the players with the worst shots/chances for/against have the highest +/-???

    doesn’t that imply shot quality has an effect? is there some other missing link that can explain this inversion??

    I’m so confused…

    Brownlee, crank up the Betamax… we’ve got some numbers to crunch!

    • Your answer is here. In the early going, those three defenders have had good percentages – a high on-ice SH%, and a high on-ice SV%.

      Over the long haul, the percentage balance out, but over the short term they don’t come close. Plus/minus is a good measure over the loooooong term, but in the short-term it’s too erratic to rely on.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Thanks Jonathan…

        I get it… the reliability of the two stats operate on different scales of time and you expect the +/- to come down over time to meet the poor chances for/against.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      I’m out of fingers and toes and the Bronte 5000 is down for maintenance. You’re on your own. Your only option is to watch the games and draw your own conclusions.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        ~way to go Brownlee, pandoras box is now opened. The “watching the games and drawing your own conclusions” theory has already brought upon us madjam, DSF and moneypuck.. Is that not enough? Where does it stop? ~

        Think of the children!

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Typical Oiler fans…as soon as the team starts losing jump on our guys and pick a goat(s)…

    When I was sitting in row 8 my buddy and I started chanting “BEager, BEager…” (I know he could hear me)…he had his best shift right after. He’ll come around. At the very least his reputation is helping us.

    Sutton has at times been the best crease clearer on the team. When we got him we hoped for a good 7th dman, and he’s 5th, that’s better than expected.

    Belanger has been on the most f-ed up lines on the team, and he’s come into a shut down role the coach has asked him to perform…don’t look for a ton more offense from him.

    Hordy on IR is too bad, but when he’s been out he’s been great. Let’s cut him some slack for getting wiped out against his former team.

    Barker: what did you expect? It was a risk and he hasn’t had enough games to get his game back, but the added depth at the very least is a welcome addition (especially with Whitney’s injuries likely a constant concern for the remainder of his career).

    Other FA signings:
    -Smyth: he’s been our best
    -Potter: who thought this guy would even make the NHL? That’s right, no one, yet you don’t like his Fenwick…jeez.

    Bottom line: this team has outperformed all of your expectations, the rise of Smid was a pleasant suprise, Smyth putting up career numbers so far has been inspiring, Nuge sticking with the team was the best answer to the biggest off-season question…you can analyze these guys to death, and go ahead and be a total nerd with your Fenwick numbers, but I for one have been impressed with how quickly the Oilers have gone from worst in the entire league to playoff contention. No one expected us to be where we are right now, and there will be some growing pains, but the season isn’t even 2 months old and you’ve already forgotten the summer expectations.

    • CaptainLander

      Well said good sir, time to lay off the players of a team that finished 30th last year was again predicated to place close the 30th again, sits with a winning record, now looses 3 games against potential Stanley Cup contenders. Really, all signings were depth signings and that I think is exactly what we are getting. Little things that each one of the players gongshow names. Faceoffs, net clearing, none of these signings where done with the idea that the player would be more then they are. With the exception of Barker who was indeed a gamble. Although winning is great this team is still not an “elite” team, but they are obviously better than last year, and if this is the trend that continues for the next 5 years, then the Oil will reach that “elite” status and hockey greatness will once again reign supreme in the land of ice and snow!… (Insert epic motivational speech)

  • One thing I will say about Belanger: having him around frees up Horcoff to do other things outside of winning faceoffs. I think it’s also good for the young guys to have another veteran in the room. If you have a million questions, you may feel bad about constantly bugging the same guy over and over again. You get to spread it out and maybe get to hear and try different things that may work for you.

    Bottom line is that there is a lot more to the Belanger signing than his numbers. I give him a lot of slack.

    • I concur. Belanger is adding a lot to this team. A little offense would be nice, but playing with the stone cold hands of MPS and Gagner is a killer. But he is doing a great job defensively and giving Renney options, something he did not have last year.

      Sutton’s not going to generate scoring chances at this point in his career. He’s a stay at home defenseman pure and simple. Not sure he can even skate down to the other end on a shift. But as long as he does well on the PK and keeps things calm in his zone, clears the front of the net, and lays good hard (and clean) hits in the corners he doing exactly what the Oilers need him to do until some more complete d-men develop (Musil, Marincin). Sure I would love Drew Doughty back there, but he ain’t coming any time soon. So, my view is when evaluating Sutton, you need to look at other metrics. He job is to get the puck out of the zone and then head to the bench for a shift change. That’s it. Nothing more.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    If they are looking at ways to improve this team, other than Barker, none of the new guys they brought in are the problem. MPS and Gagner need to provide some points and secondary scoring for the team. Hemsky hopefully gets back to form and starts putting up points. I think I would consider moving Jones back with Horcoff and Smyth and maybe a hemsky-Gagner-MPS line can get something going.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Its more about where the team sucks and it just so happens that Gagner is part of the Forward suck. And Barker is the defense suck. Did anyone else feel like Teubert played better than Peckham and Barker even though it was only two games?

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          trust me I’m not complaining about continuing old conversations or ignoring thread topics… I do it all the time!! just noting how prevalent the Gagner conversations are around here (even when he is playing good, or injured, or not the topic at hand)

          Peckham has been awful. IMO i’d play Barker over him (not that he’s that much better). Pecks adds jam, but in a wholly irresponsible way. Teubert still looks to green to me, but i’m happy to acknowledge I haven’t seen much of him, so it’s hard to know – he’s had what 2-3 games??

          To be honest I wish Fedun never got injured and we could let the rest of these guys sort it out in the A.

          • No kidding Fedun was tracking better than Potter. Even when I think about next year if they are all healthy. You’ll have Whitney and Petry probably as your top line, Gilbert and Smid as a second line and that still leaves you Potter,Peckham,Teubert,Fedun,Choney(unfortunately),Plante, possibly Tulupov all fighting for the last three spots. And thats if the team doesn’t resign Barker and Sutton.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Great to see the numbers on Petry and Potter being so positive. I hope they continue, especially for Petry. I hope that in time we start to see the offence arrive with Petry.

    My question is when Whitney returns and is back, and is decent form, who plays with him Petry and Potter. Its a nice problem. I hope Whitney plays with Sutton for 4-5 games, and plays low minutes. Hopefully Sutton does not hit him.

    As for Barker, hes rounding into the Strudwick role, 6-7 depth defender, who can provide grit and a timely game now again. If Barker did not miss the net so much on his shots, the guy could have been a powerplay threat. Such a shame.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I’m not sure grit is the word you’re looking for re: Barker. and I’m not sure Struds is the best comparable.

      What is funny is that his one goal was an genuine beaut of a backhand on a rush to the net and not a shot from the point… talk about counterintuitive!

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        All the stats say that Barker isn’t a NHL defenseman right. However pedigree says hes a good hockey player and the goal he had this year shows that he has skill. Would it really hurt to try this guy as a forward? He brings a lot of good qualities size and skill. As a forward he may appear to be faster because he will need to be skating more to attack and being a former defenseman will a little less defensive responsability could have his a good two way forward. Just a thought. I think from what we have seen so far so far this year and in previous years this guys career, in the NHL anyway, maybe in jeopardy.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Well that certainly is thinking outside the box. I don’t think he’s ever played forward and I’m not sure we have space on any of the lines anyway… and although the game is quicker in the post-lockout era, it’s still a safe bet that D-men can get away being a little slower than their forward counterparts. so I don’t see how moving to forward would resolve his speed/tenacity issues…

          but stranger things have happened… the babe was a pitcher after all.

          you are right though… the man is on the NHL bubble. If he fails as an Oiler, I can’t imagine another team taking a chance on him… maybe in the A.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I gotta agree, Teubert has looked better than Peckham, although I’m not ruling out the guy yet. Every defensive dman will go through rough patches, especially on the road when they’re matched up against guys the coach would otherwise protect themselves against. Teubert, even if he played more games for the Oilers, would end up with a bad stretch. I think Teubert will end up a better player overall, but Peckham still has potential to grow (he better).

    Also, I have to disagree with the rest of the nation in that I’ve liked how Plante has played in every NHL game I’ve seen him in, the one this year and all of the ones in years past. His totals are good, especially since every game, except this year, has been for a 30th place hockey club: 8 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, Even, 12:05 ice time (ice time is the 1 game this year).

    • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

      I thought Plante looked really bad when paired with Chorney but hey who hasn’t. Problem is with a bunch of the new guys coming into OKC probably next year, if he doesn’t show significant improvment to the coaching staffs point of view then he will likely be let go to provide others with opportunity. I wouldn’t give up on Peckham either I just think it would be nice if you could play the guys that are playing the best like having Petry instead of Barker and currently Teubert instead of Peckham. The more of a challenge it is for player to get playing time the better they will adapt, perform and grow.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    There are three types of people in the world. There are those who are good in Math and there are those who likes to watch the games instead.

  • Boy am I ever happy that Hemsky is back! He totally changes our look and the way we play……..just kidding.

    Does anyone remember his last brilliant play? Yea that was three years ago. It seems that every time he returns from his numerous injuries we go on a losing skid. This guy and his individual game is dragging the team down.

    Wake up people …….the best thing that could happen is that he gets hurt again!

    Rama has spoken.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      He holds onto the puck too long and it ends up turning into a turn over. Great teams need to have a really quick puck movement. That was the reason our PP was good earlier in the season. Quick movement means the other team is constently trying to get into correct position so that scoring chances don’t happen. Hemsky does the complete opposite stands still and plays with the puck for too long. You need to attack the other team with little pause and thinking so that they don’t have time. I’m willing to see them trade Hemsky.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I couldn’t disagree more. First off the boxcars are pretty damn solid: 6, 0-4-4 +1 and one of those games doesn’t really count because he left after 5mins.

      4 point in 5 full games… you’re going to diss that! the guy has only played 5 full games and he is 9th on the team in scoring ahead of Gagner, Belanger, MP, Eager, Lander, Petrell, Omark (played 5 games with 0 points) and a bunch of other guys

      those passes – and many more that weren’t converted – were pure vision, leading directly to tip in goals.

      Not to mention most people give players an injury discount… all those games are coming off injury cold so to speak (the first came off the surgery and missing TC and most of the exhibition games; the others he is returning after being reinjured)

      I don’t see how anyone can argue the team is better off without him. when he is healthy the Oil are an infinitely better team.

      The team’s recent slide has a lot of factors: long road trip; high calibre talent; opposing teams hitting their stride; goal-tending returning to normal; injury woes (whitney; barker); suspension (Sutton), etc, etc,… but the blame does not lie with Hemsky, at least not alone. he was one of the bright spots on the trip IMO.

      To think that he is to blame and if you only got rid of him things would turn around is the worst kind of wishful thinking.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Well I think that 4 secondary/third assist is not the barometer that I would use to judge Hemsky.

        If you watch him play compared to other players, he only usually passes the puck when he has run out of options. This does not result in team play. Also watching him consistently lose pucks is very frustrating…….he is not hard on the puck like RNH.

        What I like most about RNH is his ability to recover the puck……..he makes Hemsky look like a complete joke out there and Hemsky has 20 Lbs on him.

        It’s time to cut this player lose for the sake of the team…….. and stop pretending that he is going to turn this team around!

        • stevezie

          You know we’re allowed to keep them both, right?

          The surprising play of our defence and goaltending has left scoring as our glaring weakness. I don’t think that jettisoning one of our two most proven offensive threats is a good way to solve this problem.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Well, now I’m really confused… I know this is an adv. stats thread (or was at one time)… but I think even those guys admit that boxcars and wins/losses are still the prime stats that matter. To say that assists are not a barometer of performance is beyond wrongheaded imo… it’s just weird!

          Look, he’s one of our top players, big money, high expectations and for those reasons deserves intense scrutiny. I get that. he’s injury prone, not much of a two-way player and has a tendency to get lost dipsy-doodling with the puck on occasion. This is all fair game as far as I’m concerned.

          I think we’d all like to see him be consistently healthy, backcheck with a bit more verve and shoot or pass/make plays quicker.

          BUT… there is a stark difference between acknowledging a player’s faults and trying mitigate or curb them and allowing those faults to overshadow the actual value of a player.

          Hemsky creates offence. That is his job. His career stats show that he has and continues to perform in that respect – very well I might add.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        This may be hard to believe and i don’t really have any proof, but about 25 yrs ago there was a kid who played in Edmonton who averaged closer to 3 pts per game playing the very same game. He put up a 215 pt season along with a 212 pt season in those days, the kid potted 92 goals in one yr plus playoffs. I find it difficult to get excited about the .8 ppg players that come and go here now. Again, i don’t have any proof that this player actually existed but i may not have been the only one to see him play. These may have been the first ever triple D boxcar numbers ever recorded. This Hemsky kid, is he worth the wait you figure?

        • Romulus' Apotheosis


          To answer the question, though, I’d happily take the well-above contemporary average scoring of Hemsky over waiting for the second-coming of The Gre… i’m not the messianic type… more of a Garth:

          “Live in the now!”

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The best we can hope for is for RNH as the second coming. This guy will make us forget about losers like Hemsky and I can’t wait for that to happen.

    Give him a year and he will be out top performer for years to come! He is alreading proving many people wrong……..and I’m one of them. Sometimes it feels really really good to be wrong.

    Rama has spoken.