I Thought You Guys All LOVED Eakins?

There’s a small but extremely vocal minority of people who hold a strong influence over the way the Oilers are covered who are even still defending Dallas Eakins. No matter what changes with the team, it wasn’t Dallas Eakins’ fault and Todd Nelson just isn’t going to get the appropriate praise. The way they compete doesn’t matter, the mood in the room doesn’t matter, the working environment just doesn’t matter to this minority. They are just Eakins disciples and that’s all there is to it. Naturally I’m talking about Bloggers the General Manager.

MacT hires Eakins. Eakins fails to get absolute best from Petry. MacT blames Petry. MacT fires Eakins. Petry improves. MacT trades him. Ugh!

— David Staples (@dstaples) March 3, 2015 

@dstaples Wait a sec. I thought you guys all LOVED Eakins?

— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) March 3, 2015 

Ok, it actually appears to some misguided people as if bloggers are the Eakins disciples and not the man running the Edmonton Oilers. If I squint at this long enough I think I can wager a guess as to why. There are a growing number of non-traditional writers who cover the Oilers and also have an interest in hockey analytics. Dallas Eakins adopted (some) analytics and even pushed the club to (rightly) hire an analytics consultant of fame. Naturally there could be a tendency to side with a man who did that despite the fact that Eakins’ record was terrible.

I mean it didn’t really happen, but you could see how that might have happened and by extension you can see how some people might overstate or oversimplify your position if you show any kind of nuance about it.

Right now is where I put the disclaimer that I am only speaking for myself. I think my position on Dallas Eakins the coach is a little more complex than “He was great” or “He was terrible.” There are many aspects to the job of being a coach. Off the top of my head I’d say the main parts of the job are tactics, roster assembly, teaching, and performance maximization. And, just because it can’t be easy, all those are related to each other and there’s also a team of coaches you are responsible for as well.

Under Dallas Eakins THIS YEAR, there was a huge jump in the underlying numbers at even strength. We have observed time and time again that this is an indication of positive things with hockey clubs. Over time, teams that generate more shot attempts than they give up tend to win games. The playoffs are basically a list of the teams that do this on a regular basis, with a couple of exceptions, and Eakins had the Oilers (at one point) trading shot attempts and scoring chances significantly better than they had been before.

That’s a real positive, but he was still losing like crazy. I mean, it was a disaster to start the year for the second season in a row. Goaltending was brutal, Yakupov was still showing up blank on the scoresheet, Eberle looked uncommitted. The negativity was growing daily. Something was wrong. 

Dallas Eakins was let go, Todd Nelson took over and all of the things that were going wrong with the team outside of the fancies and the winning started to change. The players started talking about the difference in practices, the mood of the room lightened up, Eberle started playing his best hockey in years, Nail Yakupov looked like a real player again. 

These are real changes that happened and if you listen to what the players say and what the media guys who are in the room all the time say, then you can start to piece together that Dallas Eakins was contributing to some of the problems before and Todd Nelson is part of the turn-around. 

I think we are all smart enough to look at the situation as it had been and what followed after he was let go and are capable of saying that not everything Dallas Eakins did was good but not everything he did was horrible, either. 

TACTICS

Eakins Bleach

For me, I think what Eakins did tactically to get a team with a weak defense and two NHL centers into a position where they were close to even in possession was fantastic. Colour me impressed. The Oilers should have been getting their face caved in every night 5v5 but they weren’t. I have a lot of time for that even if the team was picking up losses at a breakneck pace. I want to know more about it. What were they doing exactly? How was this accomplished?

Edmonton’s rolling 20 game Score Adjusted CF%: pic.twitter.com/c04CJJiP6W

— Stephen Burtch(@SteveBurtch) March 3, 2015 

We know that Eakins was progressive in adopting tactics that analytics identified as beneficial to use and the results were very positive when it came to shots and shot attempts. That’s very interesting and I wish he would have had better goaltending early on because I think some very interesting conversations were killed before they could happen because Ben Scrivens couldn’t handle the puck.

The Oilers finished with a 44.3% Corsi For last year which is incredibly bad. When Eakins was fired in December the club was at 50.9% Corsi For. That is a stunning turnaround in something that has proven to be important to sustained success.

That success in the fancies under Eakins took a hit after Nelson took over, although it’s not as if his lineup has been exactly the same. He is without Taylor Hall and David Perron. Pouliot was injured on and off a bit as well so those are three quality wingers he hasn’t been able to ice for large portions of his tenure. That’s a big caveat in Todd’s favour when we look at the decline in possession numbers in his regime. 

However, it is still acceptable to say “Dallas Eakins did a good job at getting even strength possession better,” and think he was a lousy coach.

ROSTER ASSEMBLY

The head coach of a National Hockey League team has a lot of say in how his roster is constructed. These guys are consulted on potential trades, consulted about who to send down, and they control the roster as it is deployed on the ice to a very high degree. With Dallas Eakins as the coach this year I’m not sure if the Oilers ever once played their optimal lineup.

For reasons I simply don’t understand, Eakins valued players like Brad Hunt ahead of Martin Marincin and even on one occasion valued him over Jeff Petry. We saw Acton stay with the team ahead of others who clearly outplayed him while guys who played their guts out were sent back to the minors. It only took Eakins four games into his first season to make Yakupov a healthy scratch. What I’m getting at is there were oddities in his decision making.

We can only speculate as to what deals he was involved in more than others, but we can be sure that he had a strong voice when it came to his roster. This is a man who had a close relationship with his general manager and that GM is still, even now, Eakins’ biggest and most vocal supporter. 

From my perspective, he did things that directly hurt his chances of winning and played favourites with his lineup based on things that didn’t always include winning.

With Todd Nelson we’ve seen Martin Marincin back, Keith Aulie relegated to the last option, and Nail Yakupov given a more prominent place on the team. There’s a higher value placed on Edmonton’s own developed players and I think that’s important philosophically for the club. I think it’s important for the culture of the organization that Anton Lander was given a chance to re-establish himself as a real prospect by virtue of his coach trusting him as a player. 

But that’s when things start bleeding into the next point.

TEACHING & PERFORMANCE MAXIMIZATION

These two things are so closely linked that I can’t find a way to separate them effectively. They go hand in hand in professional sports. Part of the job of being a coach is about developing players to become the best versions of themselves and that’s where teaching meets performance. As a player learns, he should perform better.

I think that everybody who has attended school and doesn’t have chemically induced memory problems from that time in their life can understand that no two teachers have the same style. Even when teaching the exact same curriculum, the approaches can be wildly different. Some people respond well to certain styles of teaching better than others. It’s the responsibility of a good teacher to figure out what the best methods are with each individual and get the most out of them with the skills they have.

I think it’s fair to question how practices were run, how ideas were explained to the players, and how ice-time was used to reward players who were doing what was asked of them.

When Nelson took over the very first thing we heard about was the difference in practice. Players went from standing around to skating hard all the time. Practice with Eakins might have seen the whiteboard pulled out three times where somebody like Daryl Sutter has never once used the whiteboard in his entire time in Los Angeles. Some people might respond well to the X’s and O’s being drawn out as Eakins often did, but there were too many individuals struggling to let his methodology go unquestioned.

Eakins would verbally say that Nail Yakupov was doing all the things the coaching staff would ask of him but  then not play the young Russian in the second half of the third period or at all in overtime. In terms of teaching, that’s like verbally telling someone they’re doing a great job but stiffing them on their grade. Do that enough times and people are going to tune you out. If a player like Yakupov looked like he couldn’t do anything right then maybe it’s because he felt like he couldn’t do anything right.

A good coach is going to get the most out of his players by knowing what makes them tick, by knowing how to motivate them, by knowing the best ways of communicating what they need their players to do. In that respect he is part teacher, part amateur psychologist. Given how the changes in the mood of the team and the individual performances of key Oilers, it might be safe to assume that in these areas that are difficult to quantify Dallas Eakins struggled and Todd Nelson is excelling (or at very least just not struggling).

Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle look like different players under Nelson. Anton Lander looks like a new man. The games appear closer and blowouts aren’t happening in bunches. The team is working in an environment that looks healthy again. People are having fun, which is good considering they get paid to play a game. The coach affects all of these things.

SO DO YOU LOVE EAKINS OR HATE HIM?

Love Hate

I don’t even know the guy! It’s too simple to just assume that everything Dallas Eakins did was complete garbage. His W/L record was a nightmare and there’s no way he should have survived a pro job with it, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get some things right. 

It’s also too simple just to say, “Everything is better now so Todd Nelson is wonderful.” The Oilers are still a losing team and now they are losing the possession battle more with Todd Nelson than they were before him. The fact that everybody feels better is nice but it doesn’t change the fact that the team is still failing to pick up wins and is now being out-chanced more.

If you read everything I wrote above then you know I have an overall unfavourable view of Dallas Eakins based on a variety of different things he did and I doubt I’m alone in that. If I had to pick between the two that we’ve seen this year I would take Todd Nelson every time. That doesn’t mean we can’t turn a critical eye towards Nelson either.

I just hate it when we see intelligent people trying to reduce someone else’s argument down to its most simplistic form. Spector knows what he’s doing when he’s trying to paint a group of people with a brush that makes them look unreasonable and obviously wrong. He knows who he’s targeting specifically without even having to mention his name when he says to David Staples that he just thought all the Cult of Hockey writers felt the same way. He’s constructing a narrative and taking a jab at a guy all at the same time, and that doesn’t have any basis in reality. 

It isn’t my job to defend other people who are perfectly capable of defending themselves, but I do think it’s an excellent way to bring up the fact that you can think Eakins was doing some good things tactically while still also thinking that he was in general performing poorly as a coach in Edmonton. We are allowed to have a little complexity in the way we evaluate these men.

If the petty bickering could end, I bet there could be much more interesting discussions about what the two coaches do differently and how that affects the team that is a shade more nuanced and ultimately better. There’s no reason one side of the discussion has to be “wrong” because they raise questions about shot attempts and scoring chances. Just as the other side isn’t “wrong” because they see changes in mood and team culture.

Just be open to having a complicated view of things and this isn’t an issue at all.

  • Anton CP

    The only people that can say the Oilers were as good or better under Eakins than they are with Nelson are the stats nerds that either don’t watch or don’t understand the game. Who cares what their Corsi is and what the analytical say…if you watch a game you can see that they are a better team. Anybody with eyes and half a brain for the game can tell that. If you’re too stupid to understand that then go okay video games and keep all the advanced stats you want. Heck you can probably get Willis to write an article about your fantasy world. You nerds make me sick. Watch a damn game!!!

    • Nobody is saying they were as good or better. I am saying that 5v5 the skaters did a better job in possession and that is supported by the evidence. It doesn’t cover special teams or individual performances for important players.

      If you honestly think that I haven’t watched every Oiler game, preseason game, and broadcasted young stars game this year then you are sorely mistaken. So your “Watch the game nerd” talk is falling on deaf ears because I’ve watched every bloody minute.

      • Also @ T.U.G

        I’m not sure if this has been brought up and if so then I apologize, late to the game today.

        Advance states question.

        So, as a noob I often get confused by this.

        Take the Oilers game vs LA Tuesday Oct 14 of this season.

        The game is absolutely over by the 10:00 minute mark of the first period.

        As Arch stated he watches every game, if you recall this game, it’s one of the worst Oiler games in recent history. ( visually )

        Yet the Oilers out shot LA by a pretty good number.

        Does this mean the Oiler win the Corsi? the 5×5 play?

        At what point does quality of shots taken come into this 5×5 and corsi?

        Better yet, what quantifies as a “quality shot” or better yet “scoring chance”

        Perimeter shooting and the absolute refusal to shot from the point on the PP are the biggest things I remember about Eakins teams.

        How many game were the Oilers out of it but yet won on the score sheet…….wasn’t that a running joke on here for a long time?

        ” were winning the corsi” statements.

        I’m still learning this advanced stats stuff like corsi, but 5×5 I cant recall the Oilers ever dominating to the extent that they were better the possession team?

        • It’s easy enough to pull up the stats for that game on hockeystats.ca and what you see is that the Kings dominated the Oilers very early on. As you said, the game was over 10 minutes in. The Kings scored 3 goals by about the 9 minute mark. By about the 15 minute mark the Kings are also up 2:1 in shot attempts.

          In other words the domination was total.

          What you see afterwards is what is commonly called score effects. The further out of hand the game got the more the Oilers were allowed to take shots. We don’t have to go that far back, the same thing happened last night against LA too.

        • Aside from what Matt said:

          Shat you have pointed out is true, and score effects are a huge factor. Luckily score effects can be separated because corsi is also tracked by game state. This means that corsi percentages while the score is close or tied is tracked separately from corsi when teams are up or down by 2 or more. A number of different states are tracked.

          So yes, during blowouts like that LA game EDM can out-corsi the opponent for the total game, but score effects are obvious and when the game states are broken down we can see that LA dominated corsi while the game was in reach and Edmonton did all their work while down.

          You also asked at what point shot quality comes in to play. The answer is that as far as corsi is concerned it doesn’t. Corsi is a proxy for possession, meaning that for corsi purposes we don’t care about quality because we are just determining which direction the puck is heading.

          We use scoring chances to look at which team is generating more quality chances to score (ie. quality shots). Interestingly corsi correlates very strongly with scoring chances.

          How are scoring chances defined? try this link:

          http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/04/06/how-scoring-chances-should-be-counted/

          So with all of that – when people who understand the numbers point out that Edmonton was the stronger possession team in a loss they do so accounting for score effects and are looking at the corsi close rather than the game totals.

          At even strength Edmonton was a better possession team under Eakins. They were also better by scoring chance measure for anyone who believes Eakins was “gaming corsi”. This is not up for debate.

          That does not automatically mean that Eakins was a better coach overall or that Nelson hasn’t done some really good things to improve the situation. It isn’t that simple and if we want to really determine what effect coaches are having then credit/blame needs to be appropriately assigned.

      • Alsker

        You wrote in your article…

        “He’s trying to paint a group of people with a brush that makes them look unreasonable and obviously wrong.”

        That is exactly what many bloggers have done for years grouping all writers into MSM. The fact you complain about it now drips with irony. Hopefully it shows you’ve learned how wrong that approach was.

  • Anton CP

    Maybe the often quoted “underlying” numbers are sh*t. Has anyone corolated any numbers back 20 years to winning teams …. No?

    Using stats in a flow game like hockey or basketball is much more difficult than a game that re-sets each play like Football and baseball.

  • Anton CP

    I get our team isn’t any better from Eakins but from what I’ve seen we are in games. What the standings don’t show is how close the scores were.A lose is still a lose but is losing 4-5 an improvement from 9-2?? A lose is a lose but a terrible lose is not a close game.

  • Matt Henderson, thank you for the well written and thought provoking article.

    The one aspect that Nelson has been able to deliver, without question, is better performances from players who must be better for the Oil to improve. Primarily Eberle and Yakupov and to some extent Shultz. Lander could be mentioned as well but Lander is not likely to be a “mission Critical” type player.

    I don’t doubt that there is a strong correlation between Corsi and success. But I do wonder if Eakins became so focussed on the “how we do this” that he lost focus of the “what we are trying to accomplish”. Did maintaining a Corsi become the primary objective?

    I wonder what the Oilers dynasty teams Corsis would have been? They were noted for being great finishers that didn’t require a great shot total to produce a lot of goals.

  • Gooilgo

    Dallas is a douche and always will be.

    Screwed this franchise royally with his no substance high bullcrap.

    I say fire this clown act every day for another decade.

    Go Nellie go, better than Eakins the winless any day

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Haven’t decided yet. If they win the lotto it will help ease the fears I had he was fired a couple months to early.

    That would be mah….velous if he played a huge role in landing the Oilers McDavid. If they fail, then no doubt he goes down in history as the largest gluteus maximus ever.

  • Gooilgo

    The Teddy Awards were given this week to any Canadian who was the “BEST” at misspending public money.Alison was in the top group for Sky Palace. Unfortunately, she did not win.The Oilers are not eligible for the Teddys.Maybe the Management can win the Private Industry Award for the BEST Misspending of money and resources for a minimum of 5 years. In Edmonton, the recipients could be Lowe, Howson and Mc Tavish. Daryl will accept this coveted award on their behalf. This ‘GOOD BUDDY’AWARD will be treasured for decades.

  • CMG30

    Great article Matt. I’ve long said that Eakins wasn’t as terrible as some (the vast majority) of fans here make him out to be, nor do I think that Nelson is the answer long term for the reasons you listed above. This doesn’t mean that I think Eakins was a great coach, nor do I think that Nelson is a bad coach. They both have strengths and weaknesses, and both their records are affected by things out of their control like goal tending. As you point out, everyone would do well to keep balance in mind.

    Having said all that, I feel that the Oilers might as well keep Nelson around as head coach if for no other reason than to stop the insane coaching carousel that’s gone on here. The fact is that no coach is going to post a long term winning record here until the GM pulls his head out of you-know-where and actually assembles a team with the horses to compete night-in and night-out.

  • CMG30

    Eakins came in and preached his fitness garbage and looked like a sociopath while doing so. When Bryz went to the Wild and talked about how lazy the Oilers practices were compared to Minnisota’s it’s a case of not practicing what you preach. The way he treasured ex Marlie’s and players of that ilk was really confusing. All the while misusing Yak, Perron, Petry, etc. Let’s be fair here though. It’s not like MacT gave him centre and defensive depth. But he was arrogant and stubborn and refused to admit his mistakes. Something he shares with the GM that hired him. No wonder they like each other so much. My motto remains:

    Rookie owner+Rookie GM+Rookie coach=Disaster

  • Alsker

    Do the stats nerds know more about the game of hockey than Drew Doughty? And I quote “Yeah. I think that Corsi thing is a bunch of crap”

    This isn’t baseball, sure you can try to quantify as much as you want, but possession and shots don’t equal goals. Funny how it’s all the bottom feeding teams that are leaning heaviest on these advanced stats. Not saying they don’t have their place, but if you’re gonna rely on them for decision making you’re gonna be a terrible team. Exhibit A. oilers

    • CMG30

      90% of the moves MacTavish has made fly in the face of advanced stats and shockingly we find ourselves in 29th place. Not really sure the Oilers are a case study in the failure of advanced stats. I have no idea where you get the notion that bottom feeding teams are the ones relying on advanced stats, all the teams use them.

      Stats can’t tell you how a player/team will do on any given night, but they can cut through the bias and groupthink inherent in people/organizations to give you an idea about which players are actually driving results on the ice vs. the overrated. I do agree with you that coaching purely to alter the numbers is not a winning formula. Good numbers should be a reflection of what’s working/not working on the ice not the end in themselves.

      In the end teams should not rely solely on advanced stats to run the team. Although right now I’d only be half joking if I said that I’d be much more confident having an advanced stat robot running the Oilers instead of MacTavish.

    • Zarny

      Do you think it’s really a case of Drew Doughty thinking “that Corsi thing” is a bunch of crap?

      Or is it simply that Drew Doughty doesn’t actually understand “that Corsi thing”?

      Now before answering consider the following quote by Drew Doughty’s coach and how Drew Doughty actually plays:

      “The big thing in today’s game is you have to be able forecheck and backcheck, and you have to have the puck, You can’t give the puck up. We don’t play in our zone, so there’s not much defending.”

      “I’ve coached in three decades now and this stuff where they said Marian had to play in (former Minnesota Wild coach Jacques) Lemaire’s system is a bunch of bullcrap,”

      “The game’s changed. They think there’s defending in today’s game. Nah, it’s how much you have the puck. Teams that play around in their own zone (say) they’re defending but they’re generally getting scored on or taking face-offs and they need a goalie to stand on his head if that’s the way they play,”

      ~ Darryl Sutter

      “That Corsi thing” is a mathematical proxy for exactly what Sutter was talking about and is the fundamental premise LA’s gameplan is based on.

      So considering Drew Doughty has completely bought in to Sutter’s gameplan to win and that Sutter’s gameplan is based entirely on possession which is measured mathematically by Corsi do you really believe Doughty thinks Corsi is crap?

      What’s funny is that it’s all of the bottom feeding teams that are late to the game in utilizing advanced stats.

      The top teams in the league like Chi, LA, StL, Pit have all been using advanced stats for years.

    • Any appeal to authority is a logical fallacy. What does it mean that “Drew Doughty knows hockey”? Does he know who was the league’s leading scorer in 1917? Does he know the exact composition of the Blue Jacket’s management team? Does he know how to calculate the physics of a puck on the ice with pen and paper?

      Drew Doughty plays hockey, which means he knows how to manage his body in the physical activities involving passing, shooting, skating and positioning in the game of hockey incredibly well.

      The thing is, you can measure whether or not possession equals goals. It’s something that you can prove wrong. And it’s actually proved that, over the long run, possession turns into goals. When teams buck the trend, they tend to fall back to earth in a following year. Last year, Colorado was the team that was shooting the lights out, while their possession numbers stank. Where are they this year? A couple of years ago, it was Toronto, and they made a playoff appearance. Where have they been since then? The teams that are in the playoffs are the good possession teams, and the teams that are out are the bad ones. And the teams that are the exception? They usually aren’t for two years in a row.

      Possession predicts PROBABILITY of success. And like all probabilities, the more time you spend using the same odds, the closer it will go to the medium. You can keep rolling sixes for a few turns, but try to do it a thousand times, and it’s going to more or less even out.

      Evidence. It’s a good thing. It’s better than simply dismissing something out of hand.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’ve never been much for corsi or any kind of anilitics(spelled that wrong I’m sure). I’m more of what I see with my own eyes. Watching Eakins the last 1 1/2 yrs was god awful, plain and simple. What irks me the most is Eakins has never admitted fault in any interview after he got the boot.

    Nelson, I like what he’s done with the team so far, he has them competing(in most games). Does that deserve a 2 year contract in the summer, maybe.

    Whatever coach comes in next season will be the highlight of the year because Mact isn’t going to bring in players to help the team be better. :/

  • Kodiak

    Eakins centers: Nuge Draisaitl Arco Gordon

    Nelson centers: Nuge Roy Hendricks Gordon

    Eakins LW: Hall Perron Pouliot Hendricks

    Nelson LW: Pouliot Purcell Hamilton Gazdic

    Eakins RW: Eberle Yak Purcell Joensuu

    Nelson RW: Eberle Yak Fraser Klinkhammer

    Eakins D: Ference/Petry, Nikitin/Fayne, Aulie/Jultz

    Nelson D: Ference/Oesterle, Klef/Jultz, Marincin/Fayne

    Those are two totally different rosters. I know Nelson had Petry for most but never had Perron, has missed Hall for most and Pouliot for some. Comparing apples to oranges. Of course Eakins had better scoring chance differential. On top of that, Nelson has played tougher competition, playing 10% more of his games against playoff teams compared to Eakins. Bottom line is they’ve played different levels of competition with totally different rosters. Give it a rest already. The “stats” mean nothing when you are comparing apples to oranges.

  • Alsker

    Considering the personal MacT has put together no coach is going to be successful. However, if said personal feel more comfortable and able to perform better for coach A vs. coach B, then coach A should be running things. How these coaches translate to fans has no bearing on how well they do/did their jobs, nor should it. Only the players know which coach was able to get the best out of them. We can argue Corsi vs W/L’s(or visually) all night, but the bottom line is who are players willing to listen to and play for. When you go to war you want someone who knows what they are doing and able to use you to your strengths leading. Until MacT(or new GM) can assemble a balanced and complete roster there is no way of knowing what type of coach is needed and who that should be. So for the same reasons we kept Eakins to start this season we might as well keep Nelson and wait for MacT to do his job.

  • Kodiak

    So you’re saying that amateur psychology played a role? I thought that was rubbish? I thought that “feelings” and “emotions” were irrelevant, as their is no “evidence” that they exist?

    Science AND art. Both.

    • I’m personally far less skeptical of the things we can’t quantify than others who also regularly discuss the fancies. Don’t tell anyone, but I even believe in fights boosting momentum. I might be drummed out of the blogger Union if some of the higher ups read that.

  • Corsi and other possession stats are here to stay, people. There’s strong evidence that says they’re useful predictors, although there is room for improvement. The only circumstance that will make them go away is another stat that’s even better at predicting success over the long term.

    And believe it or not, being more informed about this stuff does not prevent you from watching and enjoying hockey games.

  • Can someone advance stats me the 6/49 numbers for next week? That is only 13M to 1 odds. Compared to 40 hockey players, 6 coaches and 4 refs each acting in a random independent fashion over 60 minutes, over 82 games. Oh wait the same guys don’t play every night, there are different refs, hmmmm? The lottery should be a snap to be predicted… Over the long term (of course).

    • Truth

      Since this is so wrong I have a feeling you are being sarcastic, but..

      I’ll get you the 6/49 numbers when you get 20 random individuals to strap on some skates and play with another random individual as a coach and win the Stanley Cup in the NHL.

      A lottery is designed to be completely random, and therefore is.

      Winning hockey games is quite the opposite. I can guarantee you a tier 8 beer league team will lose against any NHL team. Take that a step further, an NHL team with an NHL coach playing an NHL system will have a much better chance of winning a game vs an NHL team with a professional cricket player as their coach playing system he designed. This is agreed, no? Then if advanced stats offer any advantage to an NHL coach, trainer, GM, or otherwise, then why would it not be a useful tool?

      You can disagree that there is merit in a certain stat, such as Corsi or Fenwick, just as many disagree with the merit of straight +/-, but it is simply wrong to deny that additional proven information can be used as a tool to win hockey games….over the long term

      • If your point is on any given night a NHL team will beat a Beer league team”…we will all agree that we don’t need fancy stats to know that.

        Other industries have stopped calling big data bases cool names… That was the 80s.

        My point is a data bases can and will tell you anything you want it to because we put human bias in the mix.

        My second point is 2 NHL caliber teams have too many randon actions happen over a 60 minute free flowing game which are non repeatable conditions that you can’t impact the condition in real time.

        Case in point eariler this year the advanced stats said never dump the puck in at the blueline… You lose possession…. Top teams often will not set up a forecheck, they but put all 6 defender on their half of the ice. The condition is changed and the data is impacted in a new way.

        Careful what you are buying from those people in the “know”….

        • Case in point eariler this year the advanced stats said never dump the puck in at the blueline… You lose possession…. Top teams often will not set up a forecheck, they but put all 6 defender on their half of the ice. The condition is changed and the data is impacted in a new way.

          A couple problems with this.

          1. Nobody has ever said “never dump the puck”. The numbers show that you are more likely to generate a scoring chance entering the zone with possession, but this is nothing close to “never dump the puck”.

          2. Think about what you just said. You just claimed that the numbers are wrong in suggesting that it’s better to carry in the puck by stating that “top teams” like to force their opponents to dump the puck.

          Weird that successful teams achieve their success in some part because they are keeping their opponents from doing what the numbers suggest they should do. It’s almost like they looked at the numbers before implementing their defensive system!

        • Rob...

          I don’t know, I think the following stats could tell us a lot about people with ON accounts:

          -Props over Trashes (Given).
          -Props over Trashes (Received).
          -Number of posts per Article.
          -Number of self-props.
          -Average word length of posts.
          -Level of inebriation when posting & average level of -inebriation when posting. (not possible, but damn I bet this would tell a story).
          -Running count of posts that never got posted due to swears.

  • Rdubb

    Fancy stats are good, the more information the better.

    But what’s not good is to try and sum up hockey with a few numbers, that only marginally include goals.

    What’s vastly worse is to use that idea to assume that playing like the Bruins and Kings is the way to win – without the size or talent those teams require in order to win like that.

    Hence Eakins’ systems and game planning were horribly ill-suited for this group. And that’s not even scratching the surface on poor player management and players backsliding instead of developing.

  • S cottV

    Eakins biggest mistake as a rookie coach, was to be dumb enough to implement a particularly aggressive form of over play defense – the swarm.

    OK – let’s over play at certain times – in certain areas of the ice, when maybe there’s an element of surprise, attached to committing 2 guys on the puck carrier.

    No – Eakins the rookie coach is gonna pull this off – all the time – all over the ice, without any need of surprise and get it in place right after his first training camp, for the start of the season.

    We were gonna be an offensive team that was gonna be offensive on defence too.

    Of course – it blew up in his face, killed his credibility from the get go and made it worse when after forced to scrap the insanity – he blamed the player group suggesting his defensive philosophy was over their heads.

    MacT should pay for his first and only bold move.

    • Eakins biggest mistake was taking the job in the first place, not sure what tripe he was promised about bringing in a goalie or a defence in order to get him to sign on to coach a team that had, and continues to have, more holes than a homeless crackheads socks and stinks about the same.

  • Rob...

    Petry -1 last night, Subban -2. Also the way the play unfolded it sounds like Gilbert should have eaten Petry’s -1 for not properly supporting him as he entered the offensive zone.

    • Rdubb

      So what are you trying to say. Petry played better than Suban, Petry was unlucky or that Petry is likley to continue his run of being amomgst the worst plus minus on his team?

      • Rob...

        Totally! Matter of fact, I’d say before the year is out he’ll be the 2nd coming of Orr.

        Seriously, I’m just going to follow his stats/reviews for the remainder of the year. I don’t think MacT got anywhere near value for Petry, based on what was being offered up for other D. Sample size is pretty small, but if this keeps up it flies in the face of the vultures who claimed Petry was no better than a 5-6 d-man on a good team. Keep in mind, he also played over 20 minutes last night. It’s hardly like he was being used sparingly.

      • camdog

        I think all he’s saying is that there are 2 ex Oiler d-man that weren’t good enough to play in Edmonton whom are going to be relied on for big minutes when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.

      • camdog

        I think all he’s saying is that there are 2 ex Oiler d-man that weren’t good enough to play in Edmonton whom are going to be relied on for big minutes when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.

        • Alsker

          Because players are traded doesn’t mean they were not good enough to play on the team. It just says the team thought they could get more of what they need by trading rather than keeping.

          A couple of years ago CBJ traded Nash, last year the bolts traded St’ Louis. No-one would be silly enough to suggest the teams thought Nash/St. Louis weren’t good enough to play in Columbus or Tampa. In each case their teams judged that they could get more value if traded than if kept.

  • Rdubb

    In my opinion, Eakins started off his tenure as the Oilers coach on a bad foot by taking away all the goodies from the reporters and replacing them with veggies and such. It looked like he was trying to push his own values on people he didn’t know @ the time. I am not a reporter, and never will be a reporter, but there was no reason to do this in my opinion. If Eakins wanted to “try” and make the reporters eat differently, then he should have given them the option, put out the goodies and the veggies.
    I have never meet Dallas, but every time i listened to his press conferences and watched them on the sporting shows, he came off as a very egotistical person.
    There was a very good “profile” on him, done by RR (the pretties boy on TV according to Neilson of 1260) of TSN i do believe, and it showed Dallas riding his bike to and from work, how he interacted @ the rink, him in his office, that sort of thing, and it was all done very good and shined a good light on Dallas @ the time as most Edmontonian’s didn’t know much about him @ that time.
    As the article above points out, Dallas had much better 5on5 numbers then Nelson, but one must not look @ that, not yet anyways. Because again, as pointed out above, Nelson hasn’t had the service’s of Hall except for a game or two, Perron was traded and Pouliot has been in and out of the line-up and when he is, he is just returning from injury.
    Those are 3 huge players who can keep the puck when skating into the O zone, in the corners, and all 3 are very smart guys. Give Nelson these 3 (or 2 now) and his numbers would greatly improve.
    Does it not say anything that all the players, even the ones who are still in Eakins corner such as Ference (and this is, or did, causing a “rift” in the room, but it looks like the younger guys are winning this battle), are raving about how Oilers practice habits have picked up in pace, improved, and what ever other words one wants to use…let’s not forget about how the special teams have improved, the PP is up what, 9 points or something like that? That’s an incredible improvement isn’t it?
    What about the room, would you prefer to have good analytics or a relaxed room where players are enjoying themselves and their overall record is greatly improved.
    Analytics can say whatever it wants to, but even though the Oilers still have a losing record under Nelson, all-be-it one or two games, the Oilers record is far and above better then it was even without some of it’s best offensive weapons. And when they do loose, they are generally still in most of the games. Under Dallas, if the Oil gave up an early goal or fell behind the team would fold like a dog with its tail between it’s legs, and under Nelson we have seen this team fight back to tie it and in some cases even take the lead and win.
    And final thought, does it not also say who the far better coach for this team is when so many of the Oilers players took a step or two or three backwards under Dallas and have leapt forward under Nelson, and several of those guys are considered “core” players, guys who are supposed to be the future of this team and guys who are supposed to help turn this thing around. If Nelson had been given the coaching job 1.5yrs ago, would this team be in different situation right now?
    I’d also like to see how much Hall improve’s under coach Nelson, although I think that we won’t really get to see anything from Hall this season as he won’t be near healthy if and when he returns this season. But, for the first time in many years, I think that we actually have a number 1 line that can compete with the other teams big guys.
    In this fans opinion, I think that coach Nelson has done more then enough to get the “interm” taken off of his title, thus being called the “Coach” of the Edmonton Oilers…