GDB 56.0: CONFIDENCE BUILDERS

It is amazing how quickly confidence can appear or disappear in pro sports, and right now the Oilers have some. It is difficult to quantify exactly how much it helps, but when most of your players have a healthy dose of confidence your chances of winning increase.

I felt the Oilers played well against Vancouver (at home) and Phoenix, despite losing both games, but that good play carried over to wins over Nashville and Vancouver, and for only the fourth time this season the Oilers have won two straight games.

The Oilers will try to match their season-high three-game winning streak tonight when they take on the very good San Jose Sharks.

It is crazy to think the Oilers have only won consecutive games four times all season. It is hard to build any sort of confidence when you aren’t winning, but the Oilers have played four solid games in a row, and despite only winning the last two they are starting to look like a better hockey club.

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With games coming up against San Jose and Boston that could change quickly, but heading into tonight the Oilers are feeling good.

POSITIVES…

  • In Vancouver, it was the Canucks turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, twice, that led directly to Oilers goals. We’ve all witnessed the Oilers continually turn the puck over for the past couples of seasons, but in this short string of games they have cut down those costly mistakes.
     
  • The Oilers have had excellent back pressure from their forwards lately. That has made life much easier for their defenceman, and likely why we’ve seen fewer glaring mistakes from the D-men.
     
  • The second line won them a game without needing any help from the first line. If the Oilers are ever going to be competitive they need to rely on more than one line. Perron-Gagner-Yakupov was the best line in Vancouver, and they must continue that leading into the Olympic break.
     
  • Martin Marincin continues to play smart, controlled hockey. I’d argue that his simple game has had just as much, and maybe more. of an impact on Petry’s play than Petry has had on him. It is a still a very small sample size for Marincin, but he’s played well and he has been very active with his stick breaking up plays. He’ll need to get stronger in the summer, and if he has to face Marleau or Thornton tonight it will be a very good test for him.
     
  • You need to remain cautious with Marincin. Remember Justin Schultz’ first 20 games last year compared to his final 28. It is extremely rare for any young player to avoid a time where they struggle, but so far Marincin has been a pleasant surprise.
     
  • Two games with solid goaltending. Ben Scrivens was solid against the Preds and Bryzgalov played his best game in over a month in Vancouver. They don’t have to steal games; they just need to be consistent. This team isn’t strong enough yet to overcome weak goals, and for two games the goalies didn’t allow a weak goal.
     
  • Some might not like the length of his contract, and that is a valid concern, but Matt Hendricks has increased the Oilers intensity level significantly. Not only does he play hard, he is very vocal and positive on the bench and in the room. Many of the young players have told me how much of a lift his energy and enthusiasm on and off the ice has given them. This team needs a few more vocal leaders, and it seems Hendricks is filling that void.
     
  • That type of contribution won’t show up on the stats sheet, but it is vital for success. Not every player can be measured solely on his stats line. Intangibles help. Ask the LA Kings how much Matt Greene’s off-ice leadership and humour helped them in their Cup run. He was vital to keeping Doughty focused and relaxed.
     
  • Sam Gagner is playing better. Many of us, myself included, underrated how much that injury impacted his play. I still believe MacTavish needs to change the mix in his top-six in the summer, and if Gagner can have a strong final 27 games that will give MacTavish another trading option.
     
  • Two games is still only two games. The Oilers better not relax or the Sharks will be up 3-0 before they know it. The Oilers must continue to build on their solid play. Like I said earlier, I believe they’ve played well for four games, and even if they don’t win vs. the Sharks or Bruins they must continue to play smart and with some passion.
     
  • Further to Brownlee’s article yesterday about the need for success. I agree, and the best part about it is that the Oilers can play well and not impact their draft ranking much at all. The Oilers sit 29th in the NHL with 40 points and 27 games remaining. If they go 14-11-2 they would finish with 70 points.

    Now let’s look at who they are chasing.

    The 28th place Flames have 45 points and 29 games left. The Flames would need a combination of wins/OTL totaling 24 point or less for the Oilers to pass them, and that’s if the Oilers win 14 games, which is unlikely. So the Flames need to go 11-16-3 or worse.

    Florida is in 27th place with 49 points and 29 games remaining. The Panthers would need 20 points or less for the Oilers to catch them. They’d need to go 9-18-2 or worse for the Oilers to catch them.

    The Islanders are in 26th place with 50 points and 27 games left. They would really need to tank it for the Oilers to gain ten points in 27 games. The Islanders would need to go 9-17-1 for the Oilers to pass them.

    Keep in mind those numbers are based on the Oilers winning 14 of their remaining 27 games. That would be a massive improvement from their first 55.

    The only way I see them not owning a top-three pick is if a team ranked 4th-14th wins the lottery and drops them to 4th. Don’t fret if the Oilers win a few games, you should relish them, because they are still a virtual lock to finish in the bottom three and have the opportunity to draft another elite player.
     

  • An interesting read by David Staples on why people shouldn’t be that concerned about Taylor Hall’s overall game. Those who believe strongly in Corsi will say he’s having a bad year, but Staples illustrates that Hall is still producing quality chances, albeit not as many as last year. I feel Corsi can be used as a tool, but like Staples I have an issue in that it punishes or rewards a player for instances that he has no impact in.

    A D-man can stand at the point, while the forwards cycle down low and direct three attempts on goal and he gets +3, despite doing nothing. And in the D-zone a winger can be in the right spot, covering his zone, but the opposite D could lose a battle and give up three chances. Both times the winger and D-man got rewarded or punished for essentially doing nothing more than being in position. Those are just some examples, and I know they aren’t the norm but situations similar to those happen in a game. I find there are too many uncontrolled variables pertaining to what a linemate does that can impact an individual’s Corsi positively or negatively.

    The suggestion from those supporting Corsi is that Hall can’t keep producing at ES with a 43% Corsi, and that eventually the points will decrease because of it. My question is why hasn’t it happened already? It has been 55 games and despite a lower Corsi than last year his point totals are virtually identical.

    So far this season we haven’t seen his production dip. I split the season into two halves.

    According to Michael Parkatti in Hall’s first 20 games (Oilers 27th game) he had a 44% Corsi and was -60.
    In those first 20 games, Hall boxcars were: 20-7-12-19 and he was -8.

    In Hall’s next 28 games, again thanks to Parkatti, Hall had a 43.1% and was -117. His Corsi % was a bit lower, but essentially the same.
    During that 28 game stretch Hall’s boxcars were: 28-11-21-32 and he was -6.

    So Hall’s Corsi dipped, albeit only .09%, but his production went up. The argument has been that he can’t maintain his production with that Corsi rating, yet he actually improved his point production over the last 28 games. Maybe it is just too small of a sample size, or maybe, people need to look deeper than just Corsi to assess his overall game.

    I think it is great to have more avenues to look at, but I feel we need to look at all angles, instead of just one to get a a more accurate picture. If people only looked at Hall’s Corsi they’d think he was brutal, but his scoring chances for/against and actual production shed a different light.

LINEUP….

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Yakupov
Hendricks-Gordon-Jones
Gazdic-Smyth-Joensuu

Marincin-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov-Potter

Scrivens

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No need to change the skaters and going back to Scrivens makes sense after his game vs. Nashville. Shutting down the offensively challenged Predators (20th) and Canucks (21st) will be much easier than trying to stifle the league’s 5th best offence tonight.

Joe Pavelski is 2nd in the NHL in goals, 28, and while Joe Thornton is having another very good season, Pavelski has been their most dangerous threat all season. I suspect Eakins will play Gordon’s line against Thornton’s, but I think we’ll also see Nugent-Hopkins’ line match up against them.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have won three consecutive games only once this year when they defeated Calgary, Columbus and Florida in a six-day span. This is the Oilers final home game until February 27th and they give their loyal fans a surprising 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Sharks outshot the Oilers. San Jose has outshot the opposition in 38 of 53 games. They’ve only been outshot twelve times all season. (The shots were even in three games)

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the first time all year I buy a 50/50 ticket. If I win, I will give $20,000 of it to Nation readers. (four winners of $5,000 each). My question is do I buy the ticket pre-game, first intermission or 2nd intermission? Answer in our poll question.

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RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 


  • A-Mc

    I feel like people get a little to far down the statistical rabbit hole and forget to just enjoy watching the games.

    Creating problems where none exist is only going to stress a guy out. This is why a case of Pil is a mans best friend come game day.

    On behalf of myself and Harold and the whole gang up here at Possum Lodge… keep your stick on the ice

  • pkam

    Over one game, Corsi% and many other stats are basically worthless. Its usefulness comes into play over seasons and seasons of data. Sure maybe Hall didn’t deserve a plus or minus Corsi% one game, but one game he did….over time it evens out and generally the better players will outshoot their opponents over time, no matter their line mates. I bet Crosby has a bad Corsi game once in a while too, but if you look at his career Corsi%, no matter his line mates, he generally outshoots the competition. He drives the bus. It is a really good indicator of future success, if you are continually outshot attempting your opponent, you have the puck more to shoot it. That’s a good thing, this shows up over time.

  • Muji

    I totally agree with you about advanced stats, Jason.

    I was a big fan and supporter of the advanced stats guys before, but have found them to be REALLY annoying lately.

    Advanced stats don’t tell the whole story. Traditional stats (e.g. points, goals, assists, etc.) tell part of the story. “Seen him good” tells part of the story. There are too many variables and nobody has cracked the code, so the best we can do is consider ALL of the information we have available when evaluating players.

    I feel that some of the advanced stat guys are putting FAR too much weight (or ALL of the weight) on their advanced stats. That’s what leads to statements like, “Taylor Hall is having a disastrous season!!1”. Perhaps this is in response to the trolling done by the traditional mainstream media guys like Spector? Don’t know. Don’t care.

    Here’s the thing. You can watch the frigging game to evaluate players. Or you can stare at a spreadsheet to evaluate players. I’m not sure which one is the right way to do it – probably a combination of the 2 – but I know which one is more fun and entertaining; and isn’t that what it’s all about?

    • Grant fuhr

      I think advanced stats are often reactionary and do little to prove much except history. If I get lots of good shots, from scoring areas, I will probably have good offensive numbers. I have yet to see many advanced stats that are a true representation of skill in hockey. Baseball is completely a different story as it is a much more one on one game.

      Any stat that can have Petry as more valuable than Taylor Hall cannot be trusted. I know people say that’s an anomaly, but how many slight anomaly’s does this stat put forth.

      It’s like face-offs. For years Todd Marchant was a sub 50% draw man, but in his last season before UFA his numbers went up. In watching that season I could watch him bear down on neutral zone draws like a mad man. Still couldn’t win an important draw, but to an outsider it looked like he had improved.

  • pkam

    This is the last home game before the Olympics break. We won’t have another home game for nearly 4 weeks so lets reward the fans with another home win tonight.

    • justthestatsman

      How can you forget Khabibulin!

      Corsi’s stats weren’t actually that bad for the era he played. The big deadline deal for the Oilers that year brought in Ron Low who went 8-2-1 with a 3.42 GAA down the stretch. Corsi’s W/L wasn’t so hot at 8-14-3, but his GAA wasn’t much worse than Low’s at 3.65.

      Of course they didn’t have save percentage or other fancy stats back then. Dave Dryden started the season as the Oilers starter I think and while he had a pretty good career he didn’t have it any more and I think he ended up retiring during the season with a horrible W/L record and a GAA well over 4.00.

  • Spydyr

    Well advanced stats are fun, but I remember an article called, “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” – who cares about any of it. Hall is a good player, anyone who watches him can see that. The only stat that matters is wins.

  • I don’t think anyone should be analyzing stats. That is the ineffable secret magic realm of Jeebus. Using numbers to find patterns is the work of the Debil and it is unnatural. If Jeebus wanted us to use stats he would have invented them. Jeebus works in mysterious ways. Jeebus is all. That is all there is to know. Now, accept it and confess that you have strayed from the one true path, or we will burn you a steak. I hope you like well done.

  • I was walking down the road yesterday and a lady didn’t pick up after her dog.

    Advanced stats had nothing to say about it. Obviously, stats are only a tiny part of the story.

    Oh! And get this: afterward the dog barked! Stats had nothing to say.

    All hail Jeebus! Go Oil!

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Wasn’t planning on going tonight. I have to work very early tomorrow morning.

    Looked on Kijiji to see what the tickets are selling for…. fifteen dollars…. FIFTEEN!!

    Guess I have no choice but to go.

    Two things:

    1. I’m leaving after the second if the Oilers are losing.

    2. I’m bring an old Oilers jersey just in case………………………..

  • Zamboni Driver

    Just a gentle reminder…

    The ONLY people that call them ‘advanced stats’ are the nerds that instead of watching, enjoying hockey (even whatever it is the Oilers do), drinking a beer….

    count

    stuff.

    So…have at ‘er nerds.

    • Zamboni Driver

      Nothing that “advanced” about them at all. Just counting stuff.

      Counting shot attempts, what zone a player starts in, which opponents the player plays against, which teammates the player plays with

      Used to drink beer, tends to make me bloaty so now I go for the good stuff right off bat. Better to cut to the chase. Scotchy, scotch, scotch.

    • Usually when I am magicking up advanced stats I put on a pair of green tinted glasses that have lights running back and forth on the lenses. That way it makes me feel like I am in the matrix. I can see the numbers better. It also makes me better at Kung Fu™.

      Corsi (and other non-mainstream stats) can only show you the door to a new way of appreciating our game. You are the one who has to walk through it.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Obvious Game Day Prediction:

    The Oilers, playing a good NHL team, that’s also playing well, get pummeled into mediocrity, again.

    Oilers Nation gawks at the 6-1 loss and slowly slides back to complete dejection coupled with hatred and a longing for someone to direct it at.

    Objects will include:

    Dallas Eakins,
    Kevins Lowe,
    Nail Yakupov,
    MacT,
    Katz,
    God

    The Oilers will lose another 4 games in a row before they win another 2 lucky games.

    This cycle will then repeat itself and the entirety of Oilers Nation will have a sip of Kool-Aid mixed with hope.

    I on the other hand will have another sip of cheap scotch. They’ve got nothing else reasonably priced in Brazil, otherwise it’d be a ‘glen’. Lastly, sorry for the pessimism. 8 years of a bad relationship would do that to any husband.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Nerdstats are right. Hall blows. Trade him to the Bruins. Thanks in advance.

    Can anyone imagine a Boston fan fapping over Lucic’s 5×5 Volhammers vs the tough Corgis?

  • Newj

    Less Physics and More Chemistry!

    We’re trying to dissect a team sport like hockey by using advanced statistics. However that goes better for individual sports like boxing or some specific team sports like baseball (which in statistics is basically converted into an individual sport of pitcher Vs batter,,,speed, location, rotation of the ball etc…what I call Physics). Instead of dissecting hockey that way, one should be thinking more in terms of Chemistry (how players bind together to get the best possible outcome in the game). At the end it is true that the players that your team has is extremely important (and I believe that the Oilers have very a very talented group) but how you combine them, how they complement each other etc is what at the end will give you the W or the L. What we have seen in in the past two games is that finally Eakins is getting the right combination of players (one could say the proper chemistry), and that’s what it makes it interesting. The two wins are important, but building the proper chemistry is more so (mostly this year that making playoffs is just a dream).

  • vetinari

    Psychologically, it would be nice to string together a win streak before the Olympic break but I think tonight will be a close one, but ultimately in SJ’s favour…

    GDP: Sharks 3 Oilers 2 (OT or SO)

    OGDP: The “Jersey Boys” will start to circle along the short glass during the third period if the game gets out of hand in SJ’s favour…

    NSOGDP: Yakupov scores the tying goal with less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock and celebrates by throwing HIS jersey into the crowd!

  • Zarny

    I’m a fan of advanced stats. I love chatting with my bud Rob Vollman about it.

    They are one tool, not the tool. And it’s going to take a 5 years or so to really see what stats are relevant and how best to apply them.

  • Muji

    Imagine another win, especially against SJ !!!

    More hope and more confidence.

    Maybe our captain should stay out of the line up longer, Hendricks is the real leader anyway

    • Newj

      Awesome!!!

      I agree that Ference was anointed prematurely and is a mediocre leader(and sub-mediocre player), but calling Hendricks the “real leader” is laughable. I remember why I haven’t been on this site for a while.

      Hendricks is good and a loud voice that the team needs, but come on dummy.

    • Rick Stroppel

      DO NOT DRAW STRONG CONCLUSIONS FROM A SMALL SAMPLE

      Matt Hendricks has played six games as an Oiler. He has one point and he is minus one.

      Taylor Fedun has played four games in the NHL and scored two goals. That translates to 41 goals in 82 games.

      About six years ago fans and reporters in this city were salivating over the Cogliano-Gagner-Nilsson line, based on a 30 game sample. Gagner was ordained the next captain of the Oilers.

      Right now the Hendricks-Dubnyk trade looks good for the Oilers. One day it may not look so good.

      I HOPE Hendricks never becomes the captain of the Oilers. We have already experimented with captains who played seven minutes a night (ie Buchberger, Moreau).

  • Johnnydapunk

    I’m still on the fence about “advanced” stats, regarding Hall, he is 15th in the league in points and has scored an eighth of the Oil’s goals which isn’t so bad.
    It is quite strange how his stats are almost bang on with Seguin, like almost exact (with the exception of +/- )

    As for the Oil tonight, a win would be a pleasant shock, but if they can play some solid defence and Scrivens has been relatively decent so far, it could be an unexpected win.

    In a weird sort of way, when there is not so much to play for, the games are a bit easier to watch. As long as they put a half decent effort I will be happy.

  • I don’t trust these pesky engineers either, with all their running around using math to make sure, for instance, that bridges and buildings won’t collapse and kill hundreds of people. I even heard one of them used crazy math, like worse than calculus!

    What nerds! Why can’t they just build the damn thing!?!? A good engineer can do it by eye alone.

    I for one don’t want any of the buildings or bridges in MY neighborhood built using that confounded dagnabbitted math! Nerds!

    Signed,

    Hockey Luddite

  • The Last Big Bear

    For from the fact that, to be skeptical about morality, one need not be non-skeptical about every other area, Bett invalidly infers that, to be skeptical about morality, one need not be non-skeptical about any other area. That is to say, to deny the objectivity of morality, it is not necessary to have confidence in the objectivity of every other way of looking at the world; but it does not follow from this that, to deny the objectivity of morality, one need not be certain about the objectivity of at least one other way of looking at the world. = CORSI

    Hall = BEAUTY

  • Randaman

    So set me straight on Scrivens. Is it because the media portrays him as a back-up that he can’t be a starting goaltender? Is it because he played in the minors for a while? Maybe because he was a back-up in L.A. You never know is all I’m saying. Stay tuned