Oilers Forwards By Scoring Chances, 2011-12

Last week, we looked at the even-strength scoring chances for and against while individual Oilers defensemen were on the ice; today, we’ll do the same for the forwards. The results, for the most part, match well with consensus opinion on the players involved.

A word on the numbers here: Dennis King has been tracking scoring chances at mc79hockey.com, and the results are added up below. The “Chances Percentage” number is straight forward – it just reflects what percentage of chances were positive. A number above 50% means that the player was on the ice for more scoring chances for than against, while a number below 50% means the opposite.

The Fenwick number is also rather plain: it’s the total of shots and missed shots for while a player was on the ice, versus shots plus missed shots against. Essentially, the player gets a plus every time his line takes a shot that isn’t blocked – even if it misses – and gets a minus every time the opposition manages a shot that isn’t blocked – again, even if it misses the net. Once again, a number above 50% means that the player was on the ice for more shots plus missed shots for than against, while a number below 50% means the opposite (the number is named after Matt Fenwick, the Battle of Alberta blogger who suggested the measure).

Player No. Chances For Chances Against Chances Percentage Fenwick Percentage
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 93 81 62 56.64% 50.34%
Ales Hemsky 83 34 30 53.13% 49.55%
Taylor Hall 4 73 65 52.90% 52.31%
Magnus Paajarvi 91 31 29 51.67% 48.05%
Jordan Eberle 14 77 76 50.33% 49.41%
Ryan Smyth 94 77 86 47.24% 45.47%
Shawn Horcoff 10 69 81 46.00% 45.38%
Ryan Jones 28 49 58 45.79% 45.91%
Sam Gagner 89 28 35 44.44% 41.23%
Anton Lander 57 24 31 43.64% 38.01%
Linus Omark 23 10 14 41.67% 49.32%
Lennart Petrell 37 21 30 41.18% 37.79%
Ben Eager 55 16 23 41.03% 38.74%
Eric Belanger 20 35 51 40.70% 42.55%

Once again, we see that the connection between scoring chances and Fenwick (shots plus missed shots) is a strong one. A perfect correlation would be equal to 1.000; the actual correlation is 0.768 after just 19 games. In other words, if a player is doing well on the shot clock, he’s probably doing well in terms of scoring chances too.

What do the scoring chance numbers tell us? Personally, I see the following:

  • The kids – Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Eberle – are all above 50.0% and Nugent-Hopkins actually leads the way.  I’ll grant that they have largely been playing favourable minutes – lots of time in the offensive zone, etc. – but even so they’re getting the job done.  It will be interesting to see if they can keep it up now that Tom Renney has switched strategies.  If the game against Chicago is any indication, they will.
  • Ales Hemsky and Magnus Paajarvi haven’t exactly been getting favourable press, but their numbers here are decent.  I’d suggest that in Hemsky’s case it’s an example of offensive ability making up for some chances the other way, while in Paajarvi’s case the opposition simply aren’t getting many opportunities.  The fact that they have both been on the ice for an almost identical number of scoring chances – despite Paajarvi having nearly twice as many minutes played – would seem to bear that out.
  • Smyth, Horcoff and Jones are all in the red here, but given the minutes they’ve typically played, that’s hardly a surprise and it shouldn’t reflect poorly on them.  
  • Three players come across rather badly here.  Sam Gagner, Linus Omark and Eric Belanger were supposed to offer the Oilers quality depth up front, and they simply haven’t.  Linus Omark was demoted after his poor start (he’s injured now, at almost the worst possible time), while the question of where Gagner fits in long term remains an unanswered one – but we’ve heard hints from reputable people, including Oilers Nation’s Robin Brownlee, that he may be traded.  Eric Belanger has provided quality in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill, but he’s been underwhelming on the whole.
  • The fourth line is under water right now.
    • m3sh

      Agreed. Stands to reason Fenwick numbers will suck if half your minutes in the game are PK, and it seems almost a given that higher chance percentage leads to better Fenwick… although I find the deviation for Omark really interesting, highest spread in the team. So he helped create a lot of really wide shots? Or he and his linemates have defensive zone issues in terms of all the shots they take against are marked as a scoring chance? That’s what I get out of lower chance percentage with a near break even fenwick.

      The achilles heel to the whole system, to me, is the subjectiveness of a scoring chance and how those are judged night in and night out.

    • French Toast Mafia

      Good call. You would think that would change the numbers quite a bit. Those numbers seem to show that guys like Lander, Petrell, Horcoff, and Jones are all being outplayed and I haven’t seen that at all during games

  • @ DSF:

    The scoring chances all are shots that come from the slot area, so a Magnus Paajarvi shot from the point or the outside isn’t counted here.

    I’m also not buying that Paajarvi’s an especially bad shooter – he did have 15 goals last year.

  • I would wager that Gagner as centre stats would be much better than Gagner as winger stats.

    As centre, he is relying on himself to push the puck forward, and historically Gagner has been a positive Corsi or Fenwick player. For Gagner, pushing the puck forward means passing it.

    On wing, Gagner would be relying on Belanger to push the puck forward (again via pass).

    Paajarvi is as likely to carry the puck forward himself, rather than relying on a centre to pass the puck forward, so Belanger doesn’t affect him as much.

    Which is why Gagner should be playing centre.

  • We have three lines that are scoring threats – considering that its about ripe time for that Hemsky to break Gagner and Paajarvi out of their scoring slumps – when we balance




    Which, I might add, is kind of awesome.

    The fourth line is whoever else we can find and throw together to make something that looks like a line.

    • Crash

      Actually, I really like what Renney did on Saturday…

      We have a true shutdown line in Horcoff, Lander and Jones and 2 solid scoring lines.

      Smyth, RNH, Eberle

      Hall, Gagner, Hemsky

      I don’t know what took them so long to figure this out. I sure hope they keep it this way…more goals in our future if they do. I guarantee you Gagner’s scoring chances will increase two fold.

  • Paajarvi is just in a sophmore slump which, thankfully, Eberle and Hall have avoided so far. I think that Paajarvi holds more promise long term than say Gagner, who should get back a puck-moving #3/#4 defenceman, or could be packaged with a prospect or high draft pick for a #1/#2 defenceman.

    @nofool6110 – I’ve been waiting to see Renney move to a more balanced line combo for some time now to see if the kids can jump start guys like Paajarvi and Gagner, even if it is only for half a game.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis


      best of luck to The Argonaut and fam!

      oh, and Struds keep an eye on young Klefbom while you are over there… the kid has trouble staying healthy.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Nuge leading the way isn’t a big surprise and coming into this season its no surprise that the veterans would be getting the tough minutes because its what theyre paid to do.

    Wow hockey is becoming like baseball with all of these stats! Moreover the real master plan for Renney is to roll four lines and not really care who they play against. As they get more NHL experience and notoriety, the kids will be earning their patches by playing the best checking centers in the league. Think Gretzky got up every morning looking at who he was up against? Gretz went out there and played how he wanted to.