Russell: Shift-by-shift

Whether you watch the games, look at the stats page, or combine both, it is safe to say all of us usually miss many things in each game. We can’t pick up everything watching the game live, and we can look at various stats afterwards, but they too don’t tell us everything. 

It’s what makes hockey debates so enjoyable or intense, because there is often more to the story.

Yesterday I noted some of @Woodguy55 (Darcy McLeod) tweets regarding Kris Russell. The numbers weren’t flattering, and I was surprised because I felt Russell has played quite well. Darcy and I exchanged some tweets and decided we would watch the game and breakdown the game beyond just looking at overall Corsi numbers.

NOTE: Even though Darcy’s mother-in-law, great lady, is a teacher, her studious ways didn’t rub off on him, because while he did the assignment, he forgot his sheets at home this morning. What a beauty. So he will add his points later to the article.

I’ve long questioned some analytics. Not their worth, but their accuracy. Do they always tell us what they say? I’ve watched Russell closer than any other player this year, and I haven’t witnessed an endless parade of mistakes. I’ve really liked many of his puck decisions. He is far from perfect, of course, but Darcy’s numbers intrigued me so I wanted to watch more closely.

I couldn’t do it live, so after watching the game, I went back through every shift Russell took. It took a long time, and I was only tracking one player. To do this every game and for multiple players would be impossible, unless you work for an NHL team and have much better recording equipment than I have.

I learned a lot, even though it was only one game, and while I likely won’t do this every game I will be watching specific events over and over in the future to get a better grasp of what occurred.

Darcy and I both agreed that doing this for one game would not mean one side was correct or incorrect. In fact, that was never our intention. It isn’t about being right or wrong, it is about questioning things and seeing if the answers jive with the questions, or if we need to keep digging.

I enjoy discussing and debating the game with Darcy, because it isn’t about who is right, but moreso about what we are seeing, or what the stats are telling us is happening.

Here is a recap of Russell’s shifts from last night. I don’t know if Jim Johnson and Todd McLellan knew we were doing this assignment and wanted us to do more work, because Russell played the most minutes of any Oilers player last night, 22:32. Jerks.

1st period.


19:20 (PK): Backhand clearing attempt puts it right on Stepan’s stick. Not a good start, but Letestu recovers and puts the puck back in corner. Russell has a nice pokecheck to get puck to Lander and it’s down the ice. A bad first pass, that is a giveaway, but luckily for him it was short-lived possession by Rangers and no shot attempt (SA).

Later in PK: Pressures Nash, forcing him to put a pass up the boards, where Pouliot intercepts and ices it. Strong PK giving up no shots. Change at 18:37.

17:58 (PK): Wins a battle behind the net against two Rangers and RNH comes in to scoop up the puck and ices it. Solid. Change at 17:16.

15:59 (PP): Nice tape-to-tape pass (TTTP) to Eberle in neutral zone, leading to an easy zone entry. Again back to retrieve, skates out and another TTTP pass up ice.  At the offensive zone blueline McDavid passes high, Russell knocks it down with his glove. He can’t control it and the Rangers ice it. Change at 14:50.

13:24 (EV): Skates out of zone, TTTP pass to Pitlick and he dumps it in. Rangers eventually clear. Later he starts with time behind net, waits for a change, outlets to Puljujarvi who crosses centre and into zone. Change at 13:40.

11:00 (EV): Scrambles behind net, gets a second chance and moves TTTP to Lucic. Lucic almost turns it over, but Oilers exit zone. Gains possession into offensive zone. Russell makes a give and go with McDavid, he slides to left point and takes a slap pass looking for Eberle in high slot, who redirects it wide. Rangers dump it out. Change at 10:10.

8:50 (EV): Forces Hayes at redline and he dumps it in. Sekera gets back for it, goes up left boards and puck goes behind goal. Russell quick on the puck as it goes to right corner. Russell gets to it with Miller on him, he reverses flow nicely by firing it behind the net to Sekera, who moves up boards to Lucic at centre. A touch to McDavid leads to Eberle hitting post. Nice play to start the rush. 

6:45 (EV): Oilers change with the puck in NYR end. Rangers flip it out, bounces into zone and Russell races with Hayes race for it. Russell forces Hayes to make a weak one-hand shot on net. A few seconds later he tries a dangerous pass, hits a stick, but deflects to Sekera and Oilers breakout easily. Hayes got piece of outlet pass causing it to go to Sekera. Risky pass, but luckily for him no harm done. Change at 6:05.

3:34 (EV): Shift starts in NYR zone on a faceoff. Puck eventually gets in Edmonton zone on a slow dump. Russell races to Stepan in corner, they battle, puck goes to Sekera/Nash. Puck comes around to point shot, wide, but Nash gets puck off end boards and Talbot makes a good save. Oilers rotated well, as Russell went with Stepan and RNH took Nash. The bounce off the end boards was hard to predict and leads to two shots by Nash.

Here would be a perfect example of three SA against where Russell had no negative impact on the play, but will be -3 on Corsi. Staal wide shot, then Nash takes two whacks at puck, Russell’s man not involved in either. This one shift they end up as -3. One decent chance from Nash, and I’ve always wondered how one short sequence of eight seconds will alter how people look at a player if they only look at his CF/CA at end of the game. We’ll find out later.

After a Talbot save Russell banks the puck off the glass and out to Kassian. After the bounce Oilers dump it in. Change at 2:40

He has two late shifts in the period, but nothing happens on them. The last one is the final 12 seconds of the period with Oilers on PP. But they just kill clock in neutral zone.

Overall, solid period. First pass on PK, not ideal, but no harm. After that some sound outlet passing, showed good speed to close on pucks in the corners. The pass late in period wasn’t ideal, but deflecting off a stick to Sekera didn’t hurt them. 

2nd period.

19:05 (PP): A few simple passes on PP. Nothing fancy, expected plays to make with no pressure. Shift turns to EV and Draisaitl takes a penalty. Stays on ice with faceoff in D zone for PK, a won draw and eventually Oilers get out. Nothing happened. Off at 17:50.

16:56 (PK): Rangers glove pass stops plays after his dump out didn’t clear zone. Rangers generate no shots on PP. Just as PP expires they get a shot after nice quick touch passes. Draisaitl not back in play in time before chance, so will count as a negative for EV scoring. Talbot makes save. Then Russell controls rebound and outlets to Draisaitl who crosses centre and dumps. Change at 15:50.

14:32 (EV): Not much happens on this shift. Russell rubs out Skjei, but that’s about it. Change at 13:35.

10:35 (EV): Change on the fly. Puljujarvi fans on one-timer inside Rangers zone and they break out on 2-on-1. Russell reads it well and breaks up the pass. Puck ends up back on his stick a few seconds later and he lazily dumps up boards. Had time to skate it. But on second attempt he gets it out. No harm, but ideally want him to take another stride or two on first possession. Play keeps going however, Rangers come back in and take a point shot, Puljujarvi blocks it and goes other way with Maroon. Maroon scores. (Here, Oilers skaters will get a CA due to blocked PJ shot, but was never dangerous in zone, as PJ races other way and scores. Russell had nothing to do with either play and will get a CF and CA, but really not involved in those two sequences.)

7:42 (EV): Shift starts with faceoff at centre. Play goes into Edmonton zone, mucks it up along left boards, eventually comes out to Kassian. Russell turns on jets and races up ice. Kassian floats pass across, but Zuccarello hits out of mid air into corner. Russell pushes it behind net, but it hops over a few sticks and Rangers come out and soft dump in. Russell gets in and make simple TTTP to Sekera, he dumps it in and they change at 6:48.

5:14 (EV): Faceoff in D zone. Off the draw puck goes to point, then behind net. Russell pressures Miller and his pass goes to Sekera. Nice touch to Lander, up to McDavid and out. Some sloppy neutral zone play. Then Holden makes a long cross-ice pass at Oilers blueline to Grabner, who takes a long weak wrister on Talbot. Puck to corner, Sekera and Russell switch sides while covering man, and the puck is hit out to centre and into NYR zone. D pair changes. Grabner shot will be a CA, but was a nothing play. Bad news for Oilers is fifteen seconds later Rangers score.

3:16 (EV): Change on fly. Not much in first fifteen seconds, later in play Russell blocks a Miller shot. Eventually Oilers get puck out and change at 2:10. This will be another CA, but they likely get a bonus CF as Draisaitl takes long shot that goes wide of net. 

0:17 (EV): Faceoff in D zone. Oilers win draw and Russell and Sekera pass behind net and just stand there to kill clock.

Another solid period. More positive plays than negative. Outside of one dump off glass, didn’t see any issues.

3rd period

19:20 (EV): Changes on the fly with puck in neutral zone. Fifteen seconds later puck is in own zone. He skates it out easy and dumps it in a hard angle, where the puck comes off the boards into the slot and Eberle almost gets to it. Rangers come out. Puck goes in Oilers zone, back to neutral zone off a few sticks and then Zibanejad comes in and Russell blocks shot into corner. Sekera intercepts pass and makes nice play and Oilers are out. Change. Another SA on a meaningless shot. ** I believe as we advance in tracking plays, there should be a different value for each SA. It will take a lot of work, and I’m sure NHL teams do it, but it really can alter look of any player’s numbers.**

16:20 (EV): Change on fly as Kassian skates into Rangers zone. Pushes back to Russell at point. Nice pass off boards to RNH. Puck comes back to the point and Russell can’t keep it in. He gets to it at centre, his pass misses Kassian. Rangers transition back to Zibanejad and as he comes in Russell poke checks the puck off his stick into the corner. Eventually puck ends up at Rangers point, but shot from Skjej hits Kassian’s stick and goes out of play. (Prime example of being charged with shot attempt against, but he had nothing to do with it and play was never dangerous. Kassian was in lane). Change at 15:27.

14:10 (EV): Faceoff in D zone. Goes to neutral zone, he steps up as Hayes comes in and Hayes has to dump in corner. Sekera skates it out, dishes to Pitlick and he directs in NYR zone. Puck comes back to point, but Russell can’t keep in. TV angle impossible to know if it skipped over stick of if he just mishandled. He goes back for it, makes a nice backhand touch pass in neutral zone to Letestu and Oilers back in O zone. Change at 13:30.

12:18 (PP): Changes on fly. Retreats back for puck, but pushes it too far ahead of himself to corner and Rangers get it and skate to neutral zone, then dump back in. Killing some PP time. Russell back for it and this time he skates it out and hits Draisaitl in stride and they enter zone, but lose possession. Russell back and skates it out cleanly and dishes off. Oilers set up, Russell touches to Maroon, across to Pouliot and his onetimer hits Lundqvist in head and goes out of play. Change at 11:15. But Oilers win ensuing faceoff and Larsson scores. 3-2.

9:57 (EV): O zone faceoff. First ten seconds nothing happens, then puck ricochets into Oilers zone. Sekera with a lot of time, makes a bad pass in neutral zone and Rangers come in and take long shot that misses net. (Another non threatening CA) Scrambly play, but pucks goes to Russell and he slides it to centre. More scramble play in neutral zone, puck dumped in, Russell skates it out, passes to Eberle and Oilers dump it in and make changes at 8:56.

7:39 (PK): Faceoff in D zone. Oilers win draw, Sekera dumps it out, but hits Oilers bench. Faceoff back in zone. Win draw and dump out. Twnety seconds later Rangers come in, put puck behind net, Russell takes a low crosscheck to his back. Not sure it had any impact or not, but leads to bad pass by Rangers and Oilers dump it out. Change at 6:45.

5:13 (EV): Change on fly. Oilers had possession, turn over at NYR blueline and quick transition as Miller comes down on Russell. Miller makes a nice toe drag, gets inside position on Russell and Talbot makes a toe save. Russell tried poke check, but Miller great move. Still prefer not to give up a shot from there for Russell. Later on puck comes around net, Russell gets it with Miller on him and he takes a hard hit to make the play as he chips it up to Maroon. Dumps it in. Change at 4:47. This is the only real scoring chance I saw him on against and he was directly involved. Nice move by Miller, but ideally you’d want Russell to not allow him to get shot off. Was still from outside and Talbot handled easy, but for me this was his worst defensive decision all game.

3:39 (EV): Changes on the fly with puck in Rangers zone. Rangers get it and dump it in. Russell first back, with Grabner on him, and makes nice back pass up the boards to RNH. Oilers get in the offensive zone, Sekera’s shot misses the net. Some zone time, then the puck goes back to the point and bounces wildly over Russell’s stick. Back in his zone, he slowly skates up, passes to Puljujarvi and skates into the zone, but makes move at the blueline and play is called offside. Change at 2:43.

1:20 (EV): Faceoff at centre. Rangers knock it out of play and faceoff in O-zone. Rangers get possession and JT Miller banks a shot off the boards from his own end, hits empty net. 5-3. Can’t blame any Oiler for a 195 bank-shot into empty net.

Decent period. Never was in danger for a scoring chance. I don’t know what Corsi or Fenwick says, but if it lists Russell as under 50%, then it illustrates the stat doesn’t show exactly how game unfolded in my opinion. The Miller chance against was the only one he was directly involved in.

I looked at Naturastattrick this morning and it says Russell was 7 CF and 12CA. In my eyes that does not reflect how he played at all. Not even close, in fact. As I explained earlier, the one shift they are -3, and he is not directly involved at all. They also list seven scoring chances against. I defy anyone to watch that game again and tell me what these seven scoring chances were. I must have a very different view on what a scoring chance is. I assume they credit Nash with two chances on the one play and the Miller one in the third is obvious, but if they mark the Hayes one-hand dribbler in first period as a scoring chance, then I completely disagree with what they view as a scoring chance. 

I also watched closely for zone entries for Rangers, and I could only see one situation where I felt he clearly backed in too much. Every other play was within the flow of game and there was no chance he would step up on a guy, with no back support from forwards.

He was never in a position to risk it and the only dangerous chance came off of Miller shot in third. That would be the one instance Russell could have played better. 

The two times he made questionable passes, they redirected off a stick back to the Oilers and they exit zone. You could grade those as negatives, which is fair, but there was no change of possession or SA so turns out as a neutral play. And one pass up the boards when he had time to skate it out. Again, that play the puck came right back to him so it didn’t alter anything, but ideally you’d want him to just skate it out first.

Also, for zone exits there were many cases where he had no one on him and easily skated it out. He did make a few good plays under pressure as well, but giving any D-man a +1 when he skates out of zone with no one on him is not equal to doing it under pressure in my eyes. 


I thought he had a solid game. He made one great defensive play, breaking up the 2-on-1, and allowed one clear scoring chance to Miller. 

I’d say he was fine. He didn’t make a major impact positively or negatively, and wasn’t on the ice for any of the first four goals. Being on ice for the 195-foot empty netter isn’t a negative.

As I stated earlier, one game does not tell the story, but my concern going in was that if we only look at the stats, they too, just like watching the game live, can not always tell the entire story.

I got a lot out of this. Watching every shift of one player so closely had me see things in him, and his linemates, I didn’t pick up the first time. It took longer than I’d hope and I’d love to do this with a system like NHL team’s have where you can just download the shifts of a player without having to scroll through the entire game.

There are many better ways to track a game than CF-CA, and we are seeing that being written about daily, which is great, yet I still cringe at those who constantly pump out Corsi numbers for individuals. 

I recommend you trying the same for a player at some point this season, but be prepared for it to take more time than you’d like. Next time, I think I’ll pick a player who plays 12 minutes, not 22.

What did you take from Russell’s game last night?

 Recently by Jason Gregor: 

  • GDB 11.0: Talbot vs. Lundqvist
  • Will McLellan remain patient
  • New podcast: Wanye Speaks
  • GDB 10.0: On The Road
  • A New Feature: Who Are You?
  • GDB 8.0: Miller Time is Over
  • Stat that could scare the NHL
    • I am Batman

      Can we get a similar article on Klefbom?

      In my opinion Russell has been what has the oilers the most improved. But that is just by the eye and because I have seen somebody else (not gonna say names because people gets mad at me) blow their coverages and Russell fly down to the rescue and save us from humiliation.

      • I agree, Russell has been very good by eye. He’s made mistakes, but he’s also been good at recovering from them and also limiting them. He’s solid in all ways, and I find very low risk. He’s the kind of guy I’d want on the ice during most important situations. I hope he re-signs here.

        Corsi, Fenwick and the like are all just a bunch of white noise to me. I gave them a chance in their infancy, but it hasn’t proven valuable to me at all. If you are telling me that Russell is a below average D-man, but my eyes have been regularly telling me he’s a safe d-man with a calming presence and a very small amount of bad errors… and I believe my eyes are right… then the stats aren’t doing a thing for me. The adv stats crowd might get it right 19 times out of the 20, but I don’t know if I’m reading about the 1 wrong out of 20 or the right when you “analyze” a player (I use that term loosely here).

        To me it’s just an attempt to make another group feel relevant in the hockey world, but your 15 mins are up. The good “analytics-based” NHL teams are using more reliable metrics that are a lot less based on context-less data. I’d have to bet that most, possibly all, NHL teams could not care less about Corsi.

        On a less mean-spirited note though, I think that it is a good thing to try and take a statistical approach, and there’s some very smart people out there doing these things, I just don’t think this community has done it well yet. Maybe one day?

    • The Future Never Comes


      I have been watching him pretty intently after the verbal and cyber outcries of his signing. I never did a shift by shift assessment but I have focused my attention on him more than the next player. He has not been as bang on as the first 5 or so games but I still do not see the correlation between his play and the corsi nerds (Willis). He has a good stick, is aggressive, generally calm with the puck, doesn’t make any glaring mispasses the way Shultz did, and can transport the puck out of the zone if need be. Again my eyes like the player. Stats turn me off for this instance, Willis would rather have Fayne on the ice than Russell because the stats like him better. Case dismissed!

    • Mac07

      We have Russell.
      We don’t have Schultz, Nikitin or a Fayne on the Ice.
      Oilers defence improved before Russell took one shift.
      He has been a very good addition to the defence. Yes he makes a mistake here and there. But if he didn’t, he would have been picked up at the beginning of summer. Not the end. Making one mistake is a dramatic improvement over the 10 being made by the previous Dmen listed.

    • Borbs

      I think there needs to be an adjustment to the way Corsi is worked out. Maybe weighting the better chances for and against would be more accurate? You said it at the end of your article Gregor, breakouts under pressure are obviously harder for a D-man than skating the puck out of your zone with plenty of open ice. Why should each breakout be worth the same? Corsi definitely doesn’t show us the whole picture, much like people railed against +/- as an accurate assessment as well. I thought Russell played a pretty solid game, if just by eyeballing it without any stats. Sometimes I think that’s enough to go on!

    • Gravis82

      I feel that you can watch a player all game and not really notice anything that he does was much wrong…but a different player, a better player, in those exact same scenarios (this is impossible to do of course, but a thought experiment nonetheless) would play completely differently.

      Perhaps they wait a bit longer, perhaps they skate to a different area, pass to a different player, take a different line, wait in a different part of the ice without the puck etc etc….all these little things have an affect on the flow of the game in ways that are hard to assess as wrong or right. But in the end the sum of all those little differences in how a player plays over the course of a game or a season add up to a better player. Even though the individual plays they make might not appear to be that different, the paths they chose in the same situation lead to more productive results for the others on the ice.

      There are many examples of years of direct observation by human eyeballs arriving at completely erroneous conclusions even though things appear completely valid and obvious, and its only with new information collected in a novel way that we can begin to change perspective.

      So even watching shift by shift is difficult because you are right, we don’t even know if we are measuring accurately what we assume we are, and we are unaware of all the important things that we should be measuring but are not.

      Exercises like this are essential for refining the metrics by which we use to assess outcomes, as well as re-evaluating whether our outcomes are indeed valid representations of what we purport them to be.

    • K-Sizzle

      Read here often, signed up to make this post.

      Gregor, great article. I do pay attention to the advanced stats, definitely with an eye of suspicion, but I also thought Russell played OK last night.

      How can you argue with this assessment? At least if the assessment suggests that both are useful, there really isnt an argument to stand on.

      This just highlights limitations of them. Best article I’ve read on this site. Thanks!

    • hockey fan 1976

      so when can we see an article about Ebs contribution so far this year for 6 million? or Klefbom?

      or did we already decide that Russell is the next scapegoat when we lose 5 in a row?

      • MacT's Neglected Helmet

        Just to clarify, the stats themselves are mostly objective. It’s the interpretation (i.e. how important are they?) that is the subjective part.

        • tileguy


          based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions

          JG states “I must have a very different view of what a scoring chance is”

          This goes on whether it is about a grade A scoring chance, a hit or what is a give away.

    • fran huckzky

      There is not a human in existence whose eyeballs are as reliable as mathematical formulas. What is hockey coming to if we can’t use logarithms to analyze play?

    • Jimmer

      Let’s call Russell for what he is…and by the way there is nothing wrong with that.

      From my uneducated eye I think Russell has the ability from time to time to play well as a #4 d-man on most NHL teams but, is probably an above average #5 d-man that should get 1st team PK minutes all night long. His next five years should project him comfortably to be a solid 3rd pairing d-man with PK responsibility…remember he will be 30 next year.

      I believe Sekera is only slightly better than Russell today and should be the next person to be upgraded before his skills diminish quickly. I think that person will be Nurse and that could be as soon as next season.

      Looking forward that still leaves a PP specialist, 2nd pairing, right handed shot d-man as a must this off season (NO KIDDING!)…assuming Klefbom, Larsson and Nurse make up 3 of your top 4 spots which I think is a fair assumption.

      A Justin Faulk with his contract would be nice….

    • Not a First Tier Fan

      Great article. As much as folks like to go on about it, the stats world is still emerging and developing. Russell seems to be a great example of how there’s still something missing in how stats define a player. I agree with Baggedmilk… let’s have a few more articles like this and grab some more popcorn…

    • Hemmercules

      Great article. I can appreciate the time that went in something like this. Love to see more.

      I have liked Russel so far. Him and Larson aren’t flashy but they get it done defensively the majority of the time.

    • Carpdangs

      Russell is so underrated … if Calgary did have so many contracts that murder is we would be a flames for a long long time . Ppl don’t notice him cause he is doing all the right things. First pass check, box out .. check. 2nd pp unit check … above average skaters …. yup u guessed it.. check!! Hopefully you have him for a year and we can clean up our mess like stajan, bollig, engellend, wideman, smid(why didn’t we put him on LTIR … we need some cap space. But ya please free do your work shed staj wide Raymond’s off next year atelast. Both goalies come off the books and maybe we can do something with Bouma. If we can shed that money some how this season that’s aMazing expansion draft and another year off the books and we will be on great cap space. But Jesus oilers fans relish what you have in Russ … he’s a 3 /4 reliable d men … we will. E waiting with open arms to take him back once our books are more balanced youngus finally get a reliable NHL d men which you have needed for years and he’s the first guy your media goes hard after ….bone heads. Maybe look at pulljurrvi or figuring out how to get draisitle going. he’s your next best player after mcdavid and you guys are burying him. Behind rnh and others … drasitle amd mcdavid should be the new messier Gretzky … but as a flames fan I’ll watch from down heredown here while you guys miss manage young players … trust me thank god you have Connor cause without him you guys are back in the basement you won the powerball with him! He’s the best in the world by a country mile.

    • Anton CP

      “I’ve long questioned some analytics. Not their worth, but their accuracy.”

      If numbers don’t match the play, comes up with new numbers. This is how I feel about some analytics, they did not dig deep enough to explain how some players just not fit into certain analytics trend. I remember back last year at Jan 17 the game against Panthers that Nelson decided to use Yakupov as the first one on shootout but analytics Dellow disagree because Yak had success rate of 0. Then considering that Yak never took a chance for shootout that of course his rate would be 0. When Eakins first took over that he based on analytics number and decided to start Hall as C to replace injured Nuge due to Hall has very good faceoff numbers previous year by winning 54% even though Hall has only taken 53 faceoffs. If anyone can build a team based on stats then professional scouts maybe long out of the job.

    • rockmoss

      Glad to see a positive blog about Russell. I am getting tired of the blogs that keep ripping on him. He seems to make a lot of good plays to my eye. He is much better than what we had previously.

      • Rob19

        I totally agree with you. I can think of a few other guys on Oil right now that would make for a much more dramatic (and likely shocking) advanced stats or shift by shift analysis. Russell strikes me as a guy who plays with a lot of heart (you gotta have it to be a small statured dman in this league). That’s a big intangible. He also has speed, skill and smarts which have helped him to survive, and this is also helping us right now. Hockey is not baseball, and given all the subjectivity involved with advanced stats and the fast, fluid nature of our game, I’ll always take the analysis of the adv stats crowd very lightly when it comes to our game. If Russell seems to make a lot of good plays to our eyes (and more importantly his team-mates’ eyes) at the right times, that out-weighs the sub par plays at less critical times which are always counted by the adv stats crowd.

    • BobbyCanuck

      After reading this article, got me thinking.

      Impressed with Russell’s ability to see the play a little bit further, appears to have a sense of when a play is going south, or trouble developing. He can adjust his positioning to deal with any potential play going the other way.

      Or my eyes could not be working, because they are not used to seeing so many competent D Men wearing Oiler silks.

    • xyz

      Three things, first why’d you wait so long to objectively evaluate a player like this. Secondly, I’m glad you did and to sum up he had a very good game. Thirdly, please for the love of God do not I repeat DO NOT do this exercise with Eberle, he usually plays over 20 minutes a night.

    • I feel shame.

      2 reasons:

      1) Left my homework at home and couldn’t get Jason my numbers

      2) I was only looking for “obvious” Good/Bad plays and what I considered a “reasonable” course of action didn’t get recorded.

      This included a good pass or a bad clearing if I thought that the play was “normal”

      So I only recorded 9 events.

      *hands head in shame*


      I had beers.

      1st period
      19:14 – low pressure giveaway in the slot. Pretty sure this is the same one Jason logged. It was gross. – BAD

      17:46 Froze puck until help arrived against 2 forecheckers behind the net. – GOOD

      8:40 – Nice takeaway vs. Zucarello – GOOD

      2nd period
      13:54 – very good pass under pressure – GOOD

      10:04 – breaks up a 3-1 – GOOD

      3rd period
      15:42 – bobbles low pressure puck at offensive blue line and it gets out – BAD

      13:45 – again bobbles low pressure puck at offensive blue line and it gets out – BAD

      12:04 – Lost puck in Dzone during PP for no particular reason – BAD

      5:08 – got walked for an open shot against on a one on one – BAD

      That’s it.

      So total was 9 and 5 bad and 4 good, but last night that was better than average.

      Jason mentioned his 7CF and 12 CF for a 37% CF. (natural stat trick had it at 7-13 for 30% btw)

      This is true, but anyone who knows what corsi is (this is not a knock on Jason, but those who use short term corsi and assume it means anything) won’t use that number without more stats around it because corsi doesn’t mean much in the short term.

      Corsi matter because its currently the best metric for prediction future goal share (GF%).

      The team that scores the most goals wins the game, so goal share is pretty important.

      From what we see from the last 10 years of data, corsi still predicts goal share better than:

      -current goal share
      -expected goal share
      -scoring chance share

      …when you have a small (10-50ish) games to look at.

      What corsi doesn’t do well is predict who wins individual games.

      Corsi informs us when the sample gets bigger so one game here and there doesn’t mean anything, but as the number of games tracked grows, the results gain meaning.

      I think that’s a pretty easy concept to get.


      I think that “raw” corsi numbers are pretty much the worst metric to judge any player.

      How a player does “relative” to the other players on the team means much more than a raw number.

      Some games 40% is awful, some games its the best on the team, so a straight raw number doesn’t tell us much about how a player did.


    • nuge2drai

      Ebs -4 last game. Playing with McDavid how is this even possible.

      How about a shift by shift analysis on the soft as butter, wont backcheck, cant forecheck 6 mil Ebs.

      This article is absolutely pointless.

      • Chainsawz

        When I read comments like this, I think back to the Toronto game when Eberle went in on the forecheck and stole the puck from the defenceman like he was a baby.

    • Gravis82

      If you want to really figure this out, pick one player, and target all cameras on him for an entire game. Bring in what you would call gold standards of defenseman (say lidstrom, webber, pronger etc etc). Ask them to watch the footage and remove your player of interest from the screen, tell the selected gold standards to follow the play with a touch screen representing where they would go as a play is developing. Monitor how long it takes for their choices to deviate from the observed players actions (which they will not see). Once it does, stop recording and move on to the next shift.

      Do this a lot, for many different scenarios. From this data create ideal response sets given offensive pressure schemes, and then test to see if those exposed to these scenarios in the real world that acted in gold standard ways faired any better than those who did not.

      So many options here. Chip in jersey and puck technology will revolutionize hockey analytics. We will be able to shed light on decision making and the flow of the game on a complex scale and determine which types of actions in certain situation by players with certain skills can impact the play in favorable ways, and then incorporate this into coaching and tactics. Some of this will be common knowledge, some of it wont. Some of this is that is not common knowledge will be meaningless, some of it will be gold. Teams that can identify meaningful new information to help guide better tactics and decision making win cups. I don’t think the oilers are that team.

    • fasteddy

      I’m not qualified to make any rash statements one way or the other, but I have played and watched hockey most of my life, and I like having this guy on the ice. Even when mistakes happen he seems so quick to get back and retrieve or pressure. And just seems so calm coming out of the zone compared to many in the recent past.

    • dsanchez1973

      I appreciate the effort but this was a waste of time.

      You acknowledge that looking at one game proves nothing one way or another, and anyone who understands Corsi understands its limitations, but accepts them because it allows a huge amount of data to be processed in a minimal amount of time, and has some predictive value. It’s not a perfect stat, but it’s the one that has the least bias (from observer and sample size issue).

      Anyone on either side saying “corsi doesn’t prove anything” or “corsi is life” are wrong. It’s a piece of information that you can use in your decision making process, just like the eye test.

      Let me give you an example of a spot where your bias towards “Russel is better than Corse indicates” shows a bit.

      In one area you say “Here would be a perfect example of three SA against where Russell had no negative impact on the play”. You then expound on this for a full paragraph. However, on your first shift, he has “A bad first pass, that is a giveaway, but luckily for him it was short-lived possession by Rangers and no shot attempt”. Why not “Here’s a perfect example of where Corsi is overrating Russell because he makes a bad play but doesn’t get tagged with shots against”.

      Any individual possession where a player makes a good/bad play that has a result that you wouldn’t expect can certainly be shown to support your hypothesis that a player is good/bad. However, over hundreds of shifts, good plays should lead to less CA, and bad plays should lead to more CA. That’s the value of Corsi – individual moments get smoothed out in the massive amount of data points.

    • Man… I can see why people defer to analytical sites and the subsequent subjectivity of their “findings” attributable to stat gathering.

      Like…. who does this stuff? Clearly, the wide range in the data gathering findings is due to weak standardization of the process and to be fair… how the heck do you standardize something as subjective and biased as watching a hockey game. Its a dynamic event and is largely reactionary and as Gregors analysis finds…. Russell gets hung with 25% of his evenings “bad” on an event that had zero determinant effect.

      Fascinating read Gregor… thanks for under taking this and burning up some precious time in your life to provide your thorough analysis. In my own case I shall try and use the word “trainwreck” with less frequency and in a more pointed manner. LOL.

      I haven’t seen Darcy’s input yet but I do have a query. How do you arrive at which data gathering site has value in your analysis? Like what checks and balances can you apply to ad real objectivity to something that appears to be a subjective gathering process. Is “data” even an applicable word?

      • Gravis82

        every data gathering exercise is subjective at the start. Standardization occurs once everyone agrees that one subjective method is the best, and its adopted field wide. Trial and error and failed attempts at analytics are just part of the process of improvement.