Monday Mailbag – December 8th

Mail

Another weekend is in the books, we’re all back to work, and looking for ways to kill time. Enter the Mailbag.  As always, we’ve taken your questions, passed them to our panel of writers, and waited for whatever wisdoms they may share.  If you want to ask a question, email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Enjoy.

Boogers

1) Mustangheart asks – During the games, I’ve noticed that the coaches are writing things down during the game. What sort of things do you think the coach writing down?

Robin Brownlee:

Eakins is updating his resume.

Lowetide:

Probably things like “He can’t possibly be that bad” and “Remind Howson he recommneded Nikitin to the group”. Seriously, I imagine it’s specific positioning issues. We saw Yak the other night skate RIGHT PAST THE GUY WITH THE PUCK in order to get to his defensive location. That kind of thing probably inspires a note. 

Jason Gregor:

Points to discuss at intermission, and often drawing up plays.

Jeanshorts:

Which players are getting presents and which players are getting coal. As of right now he has 9000lbs of coal on order.

Matt Henderson:

Actually, if you open up Dallas Eakins’ notebook it is completely filled with the phrase “YOU CANNOT BREAK ME” just repeated over and over again with no spaces. Top to bottom that’s that whole thing.

Jason Strudwick:

Grocery list…making a new play list to work out to. 

Baggedmilk:

I assume he’s drawing comical sketches of stick people making love to each other because he knows intimacy makes Craig Ramsay uncomfortable.  I could be wrong though…

Hope

2) Darryl Randolph asks – If the Oilers aren’t going to fire the coach, what can they do to bring hope back to the fan base?

Robin Brownlee:

Real change has to start at the top. That means POHO Kevin Lowe has to go first before anything meaningful in the long-term can follow. Fans would see that as a legitimate reason to believe a change is under way.

Lowetide:

I think they have to muddle through and if the fan interest falls off, then that’s a result the Oilers will have to live with. I’ve been an NHL fan for a long time, and have seen teams make stunningly bad trades when they’re in dire situations in a regular season. Keep your powder dry, endure the slings and arrows and make changes in summer.

Jason Gregor:

Sadly, not much at this point other than show they are willing to compete every night. I don’t see one move changing much. There needs to be a complete overhaul.

Jeanshorts:

At this point I don’t think anything outside of making the playoffs will give this fan base any kind of hope. Now, granted, we’re probably all gonna come back next season with the same unbridled enthusiasm and optimism that always seems to be our downfall every year, but as we saw this season as soon as the Oilers go on even the smallest losing skid we will all start losing our damn minds and screaming for everyone to be fired again. I CAN’T WAIT! 

Matt Henderson:

When people lose faith in leadership one of the reasons might be that they no longer understand the plan. This management group has to re-affirm that there is a plan, there is some direction. After that MacT needs to make a trade that actually addresses a weakness without creating a new one. I think hope in the season is dead, but hope for the future can still exist if we see the right decisions being made.

Jason Strudwick:

Compete consistently

Baggedmilk:

Unfortunately, we’re at the stage of another season where the only thing to be hopeful about is the draft.  If the Oilers actually do continue to drop turds on themselves, they will have a legitimate shot at a generational player.  That’s the only light at the end of this tunnel, for me.

Flawed

3) Sevenseven asks – Why do stats people hate +/-?  Why wouldn’t goals for and goals against be added into the stats. Isnt goal differential the way teams win?

Robin Brownlee:

You can have nothing to do with a play and get a plus or a minus by simply being on the ice. It’s a flawed stat and always has been.

Lowetide:

Plus/minus tells you who was on the ice at the time of a goal against, and that has value. However, as a predictive tool, or a guide for who performed well across the entire league, it’s wildly inaccurate. The plus minus stat came out maybe 1975 (the Hockey News made a big deal of its addition to the final stats issue) and at the time it was best info available. The current stats we look at have far more value.

Jason Gregor:

Outscoring the team on that given night is how you win games. You could win one game 8-0 and then lose five straight by one goal and still have a +3 in goal differential. Like any stat you can twist it to show how it helps your argument or counters others. I’m not sure why “stats” people hate it, maybe because it was part of old stats and not the new ones…

Jeanshorts:

They hate it because it’s a super flawed stat. If I have my man covered, and the puck comes nowhere near him, and the goalie lets in a soft wrist shot from the top of the circle on the other side of the zone, I get a minus. I did nothing to cause that goal and there was nothing I could do to stop it either, yet I still get the minus. 

Or the classic example of a guy making a bad line change, and the player who replaced him gets the minus even though he’s 3 feet from the bench and had nothing to do with the play.

Goal differential is a fine tool to use when evaluating a team as a whole, but it’s very poor in terms of evaluating individual player performance.

Matt Henderson:

Stats people hate +/- because it records a very infrequent occurrence in the game that is largely controlled by how the goalie is playing, not necessarily what the skater is doing. Goals are rare. Over long periods of time +/- will tell you something, but I mean years and years and what exactly it tells you is questionable. Corsi and Fenwick are also essentially +/- but for shot attempts (something the skaters have more control over) and there are roughly 100 of them every game vs 5-6 goals a game. So over the course of a week in the NHL you’ll end up with more points of data than a year of +/-. That’s why stats people hate them.

Jason Strudwick:

I do like goal differential. Really shows which teams can both defend and score.

Baggedmilk:

The reason +/- sucks is that you have it counted against you regardless of where you were on the ice when a goal was scored.  For instance, when Justin Schultz decided the best time for a line change was on a Tyler Sequin breakaway, the d-man that jumped on the ice to replace him got a minus thrown in his stats. At the end of the day, the only stat that really matters is the score – plain and simple.

EmptyRexall

4) Douglas Ricard asks – Would it really make a difference if Oilers fans stopped going to Rexall for games? Aren’t most of the tickets for this year already paid for?

Robin Brownlee:

I think so. Empty seats send a message even if the money is already in the bank. The team also loses revenue from parking, concessions and souvenirs etc. People not renewing season ticket packages for next season would have a huge impact.

Lowetide:

Sure, but the Oilers are absolutely playing a dangerous game. The hold this franchise has on the community is very, very deep—close to religious, in truth. Having said that, there are cracks forming and taking someone for granted never ends well. There’s a price.

Jason Gregor:

It would hurt the bottom line as far as making money on booze, food and merchandise. It is easy for people who haven’t paid for season tickets to say boycott the games. They aren’t giving up anything. I can understand why season ticket holders still go to games, but I know many who aren’t going to all of them anymore. Apathy and frustration are setting in, which is expected. I do think not buying day-of-game tickets can make a difference as smaller crowds combined with sagging $ will impact bottom line of Katz.

Jeanshorts:

I’ve always maintained it will not make a difference if the fans stop showing up. Mostly because this idea (and a lot of similar ideas) are predicated on the notion that Lowe, MacT, et al are completely unaware that the on ice product is terrible and that the fans aren’t happy. Like one day if the building is half empty a lightbulb is going to go on and they’re going to be all “HOLY CRAP I JUST REALIZED HOW HORRIBLE OUR TEAM IS WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS I GUESS!” 

I saw someone today try to use Chicago and Pittsburgh as an example of the fans not showing up, therefore the team was forced to get better, and then the fans started showing up again. As much wiser men than I have said, correlation does not imply causation. I’m pretty confident in the fact that Pittsburgh drafting Crosby (along with Malkin and Fleury and Staal etc etc etc) definitely had a very big impact on their attendance numbers. But it’s not like the Pittsburg brass sat there and was like “Oh geeze, the fans aren’t showing up, maybe we should draft a once in a lifetime talent to make this team better!” 

And with Chicago their fan support turn around has more to do with their movie villain owner finally dying, and their home games being broadcast on local TV after decades of blackouts than anything else. And with both those teams, against all odds, they had guys drafted outside of the first round actually pan out to be legit NHL players, something the Oilers can’t seem to figure out. 

TL;DR the team is going to be crappy for the rest of the year regardless of how many people are in the building. 

Matt Henderson:

If the tickets are paid for then they wouldn’t lose much money there, but all the sales they make selling Rexall Beers and overpriced HotDogs are lost. It already happened in one game this year where there were roughly 4000 empty seats. They blamed the weather. Do it for several games in a row and you will see the Oilers make real change. Any indication that Season ticket holders will not renew will be met with fear and panic. 

Jason Strudwick:

I will pass on this one…never happen.

Baggedmilk:

Most of the tickets for this season are already paid for, so it’s not like Katz will be taking a kick to the jeans if people don’t show up.  Yes, he’ll lose out on merch/food/beer but it won’t make a massive difference like some people seem to think.  I would rather that people donate their tickets to kids that may not have a chance to go to a game otherwise.  Kids don’t care if the Oilers are terrible, they just want to be at the game, and this season is the perfect season to make that happen since the tickets are already paid for.

Knitting

5) Alexander Murphy asks – I know you guys are paid to cover the Oilers, but what would you rather be doing on game nights?

Robin Brownlee:

Exactly what I’m doing now — watching the games at home. I had to make Rexall Place my second home for many years when I was a beat man at The Journal and The Sun, covering practice, morning skates and games. Not now. Watching from home allows me to channel surf and watch something that’s actually enjoyable during the intermissions.

Lowetide:

I’m a hockey fan. I’d be watching the Oilers game just like I have pretty much every night they’ve been on television. And if they weren’t on television, I’d listen to the radio. The NHL is such a wonderful league to watch despite the owners, I am blue when the final whistle blows and can’t wait for puck drop in fall.

Jason Gregor:

Take Strudwick clothes shopping, although that would likely be as frustrating as watching the Oilers. Struds would constantly revert back to buying sweaters, just like the Oilers revert to playing on the perimeter.

Jeanshorts:

Well after the Coyotes scored their 5th goal in Monday night’s debacle I turned the game off and watched the original Jurassic Park! And let me tell you it was way better than any Oiler game I’ve sat through this season. But at this point just sitting in the dark and staring into the abyss would be much more enjoyable than watching these dumpster fires. 

Matt Henderson:

My other entertainment love is Video Games. If I didn’t have this crippling Oilers addiction and it was at all possible, my free time would be spent on my PS4 or PC. Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition, GTA V (have to wait for Xmas to get that one), any of those.

Jason Strudwick:

Watch a movie.

Baggedmilk:

Anything at all?  Does that work?  I know I have some painting to do in my house that I’ve been putting off, and it’s starting to look really good right about now.  During the Arizona game, I actually started making little sketches throughout the game and that kept me more entertained than anything that happened in that hockey game. Last night’s game was fun though.

  • Serious Gord

    Robin’s second answer bears repeating ad nauseum:

    “Real change has to start at the top. That means POHO Kevin Lowe has to go first before anything meaningful in the long-term can follow. Fans would see that as a legitimate reason to believe a change is under way.”

    All of the other responders should be embarrassed that they did not say exactly the same thing.

    If +/- is a flawed stat, then so too is corsi for similar reasons. In fact all stats in hockey are flawed much more so than stats in baseball are due to the way hockey is so much more an interaction between other team members than baseball is. That said, despite their flaws there is varying levels of usefulness to them. What annoys me is when some of the analytics heavy guys act like they are gospel.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’m not a DNA expert, but there’s a very strong possibility the man/lady who took that photo inside the bathroom stall…is most likely responsible for said application of those boogers.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    We have had another bad season start and underperformed more than any other club this year as far as results – that’s a given . But last night I seen a full work effort out of our club that lends optimism this club will perform much better over the rest of the year . Last nights victory was no fluke ! We should , and can beat most of the clubs above us all the way up to 18th spot over the rest of the year if our work ethic remains high like last night . With the effort last night , doubt we will finish near even the bottom five . A positive building block was set last night , and now maybe we can escalate that into being the club most expected it to be from the start of season . Maybe not playoffs this year , but steps towards more competitiveness and thus climbing upwards for last 2/3 rds of schedule .

    • Serious Gord

      Lunacy.

      They got a lot of puck luck last night including the two goals.

      I would put the over under for wins in regulation against western teams for the entire season at FIVE.

      They very likely won’t really compete for a playoff spot next year and I would give them a 50:50 chance for the following. And then two years at least before they could be in the hunt for the cup. By then there would be maybe four players fro. Today’s roster on that team. And of course all of the current management would be gone.

    • Cain

      If you are not being sarcastic, (and I fear you are not being sarcastic ) you are truly delusional.

      That was a win over an exhausted team. Enough to stop an 11 game losing streak, nothing more.

      Watch the continued futility for the rest of the month…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Did anyone have Mclean from Ottawa as first coach fired? I think a few of em had Eakins and lots of people had Carlyle, but did anyone have Mclean?

    • Serious Gord

      I think many in the east did. He was almost fired last year according to some of the journos at sportsnet but a team meeting that required him not to publically throw players under the bus. He did that a couple times recently.

  • Serious Gord

    The guy is 2 years removed from a Jack Adams trophy, experienced and with an excellent pedigree having been an assistant for years in Detroit.. Ottawa is fighting for a playoff spot and just came back from 3-0 down last night…. yet HE gets canned!?!?

    Why is it that my beloved Oilers manage to keep incompetent people employed for YEARS whereas VERY competent people need to get IMMEDIATE AND ACTUAL RESULTS or face the chopping block?? Maclean’s record both this season and in the past is 23563456 times better than Eakins, yet that STILL isn’t enough to keep his job.

    As I always say… the NHL is about being the elite of the elite. Enough with being satisfied with mediocrity! Maclean was well above mediocre while Eakins is … a joke.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    Another solid Monday Mailbag. Thanks team.

    Jeanshorts, quick comment in response to: “the team is going to be crappy for the rest of the year regardless of how many people are in the building”

    Agreed. But sending a message that the fans are finally finished with financially supporting failure has to resonate with the owner right?

    To date there has been very little urgency in the rebuild. I would contend this is because management and ownership have had the luxury of consistent financial support from the fan base. The Oilers have been as bad as the market will allow them to be. I’ve always believed that as a business man, Katz will make changes when his bottom line is affected.

    It is time for people use their wallets to have their voices heard. Otherwise status quo will continue…

  • Hemmercules

    “we’re probably all gonna come back next season with the same unbridled enthusiasm and optimism that always seems to be our downfall every year”
    -Jeanshorts

    Heres a tip, I have been using this since 2011:

    Expect the Oilers to be a steaming pile of crap no matter what they do or tell you in the summertime. Then hopefully, just maybe, they will surprise you with something to cheer for (ala Calgary Flames current run). Don’t ever let the Oilers fool you until they prove their worth on the ice.

    Edit: I do have to admit though, I was somewhat fooled into thinking the goaltending would be even a little bit better than it has been. Wont be fooled again by two backups that for sure.

  • Sevenseven

    When I asked the question, I meant plus/minus, but with context to zone starts, pp and pk time, quality of comp. If you took all those into consideration it gives +/- a better outlook. Plus it shows who finishes shots, kills penalties etc. Sort of corsi, but with real results taken into context.

  • Fortinbras

    I think Studs tried to finish all his answers while taking his morning dump.

    Coupled with his venomous “you answer my questions” post last week, I’m thinking he’s getting jaded.

  • DyeGuy

    Why is Brownlee such a hater of the Managemnet. Snow made questionable moves for years. Now his team is coming around. The real problem is on the Ice and in the stands.