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Help Me Understand: NHL, Hot Takes and More

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
11 months ago
Welcome to the 10th edition of Help Me Understand.
Sports, hot takes, and narratives. Some make sense, others perplex me.
— Help me understand how a team can lose six games in a row, the last five at home, and with the game out of hand in the third period show no anger or emotion. The Oilers just went through the motions. I understand today’s game is different and there won’t be fights all over the place. But you can still engage the opposition. Losing six in a row is bad enough, but having your give-a-shit meter barely register anything is not good.
— You know your psyche is fragile when you play well, but continue to lose. I can’t understand how the Oilers can be 16-1 when leading (9-0) or tied (7-1) after the first period, but are 0-10 when trailing after 20 minutes. Being down one goal shouldn’t cause you to have to completely alter your style of play, should it? It is rare to say, but Leon Draisaitl missing the wide open net in the first period was the TSN turning point for me. He scores there and the Oilers feel much better about themselves, and then at worst, they are tied heading into the first intermission. Auston Matthews’ late PP goal wouldn’t have been as devastating. Look at the first period stats courtesy of SportLoqic.
TOREDM
Goals10
Shots1212
OZ Possession Time1:302:15
Slot Shots On Net45
Scoring Chances Off-the-Rush12
Odd-Man Rushes02
Controlled Entries1221
Controlled Exits2330
Completed Stretch Passes For29
Edmonton had more scoring chances, controlled exits and entries and had the puck in the O-zone more. Yet they trailed on the late PP goal, and couldn’t recover. At some point you need to be able to overcome a one-goal deficit with 40 minutes remaining in the game.
— The day it was announced I initially thought it kind of made sense, but the more I’ve thought about it I don’t understand the hiring plan of the Edmonton Elks. When they fired President Chris Presson, GM Brock Sunderland and Head coach Jaime Elizondo, they decided they’d hire the GM first. Here are my reasons why I question this strategy.
  1. The President will be hired after the GM, yet their success, or failure, will be tied together. Shouldn’t the president have some say in who he is working with? It seems backwards to hire the president after the GM.
  2. Why couldn’t they have done the president search first, named him before Christmas and then hired the GM by mid-January? All the GM candidates would have prepared a plan for free agency (which is the reason the Elks gave for hiring a GM first) during the interview process. Those who truly wanted the job would have had that ready and once hired they’d still have time to be prepared for free agency. **Updated**… Elks signed four players today. Kris Hagerman, the director of Football Operations did this, which is fine, but I think this enforces why hiring a President first would have made more sense.
  3. Ian Murray is chairman of the board. He is in his final year as the chair, yet he is overseeing the hiring the GM who will be working longer than Murray will be in his role. Murray has zero football experience and that is why the board of directors asked Wally Buono to help them out. However, my question is: Why is Murray so heavily involved in influencing the most important hire on the football operations side? Multiple sources, two within the current organization, have said Murray is a main reason Ed Hervey hasn’t been interviewed. He doesn’t view Hervey as a fit. Hervey lives in Edmonton, is one of the few candidates with GM experience and a Grey Cup Championship on his resume, and he understands the community and the organization. Not hiring him is one thing, because maybe they find a better candidate, but to not even interview him when there are very few qualified people for the job reeks of a pre-conceived agenda. Murray strongly encouraged the hiring of Presson, and that was a major fail, yet he has a lot of influence on the GM hiring despite very little actual football experience. Odd.
  4. These hires are extremely important for the Elks. When I started covering the CFL in 2001, the Elks were the class of the league on and off the field. Twenty years later they are the worst run franchise in the CFL. Their on-field product isn’t competitive and their business side is a shadow of what it was 20 years ago. You might argue Ottawa is worse off, but they aren’t. They have a great new ownership group that is connected and involved in the community and despite having a terrible record their crowds increased later in the season. Their fans have belief in the leadership group in Ottawa. That isn’t the case in Edmonton right now.
— What I don’t understand is how the Elks are willing to speak with Chris Jones, but not Hervey. Both were here before. Both are strong personalities, yet they are only going to talk to Jones.
— Help me understand how anyone could think Philip Broberg or any of the other young left defence are better than Duncan Keith right now? And some still think Caleb Jones does more. Seriously. I sense some people can’t get past the cap hit. Keith has been fine for the Oilers. He’s been excellent at moving the puck and reading the play. He makes more right plays than wrong plays.
— How do sports fans make money gambling? It is much more difficult that it looks. The Ottawa Senators were 7-16-1 but shutout the 17-5-4 Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. They followed that up by crushing the league-leading Florida Panthers 8-2. Unreal. If you picked the Sens to win both give yourself the best Barry Horowitz pat on the back. What we perceive as obvious wins are not always that way in sports. I applaud those who can wager and be above 50%.
— Help me understand why some believe so strongly in the public xGF%  models as well as WAR and GAR? I spoke to three different NHL analytics people, and they referred to those stats as “Twitterlytics.” The Draisaitl missed goal last night is a good example of the flaws in the public data.
Keep in mind that the public xGF models don’t account for pre-shot puck movement or where the goalie is. Wouldn’t that mean the data is lacking some important information? Many of the best analytics guys recognize this and that is why those are ones you should follow. They don’t make strong player evaluations based off of those metrics, because they admit they are missing pertinent information. It would be great if that data was public, but it isn’t. At some point I think it would be beneficial for the NHL to have some presentation to their fanbase about what they track. NHL fans are extremely passionate and giving them a glimpse of what teams track would be good. I’m not saying they divulge all their data.
— I’m curious how Rotten Tomatoes ranks TV show or movies. I’d like help understanding their guidelines. I just got into a new TV show called Mayor of Kingstown starring Jeremy Renner. Here is how IMBD describes the show: “The McLusky family are power brokers tackling themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality in Kingstown, Michigan — where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry.” I’ve really enjoyed the first five episodes. It is different. Granted, I like crime shows/movies. IMBD gives it a 7.8 out of 10, yet Rotten Tomatoes has it at 29%. I’m much more inline with how IMBD has it. Solid show if you like that genre. You can get it on the Paramount Network.
— How is it possible the Oilers bottom six production is worse than previous years? The organization needs to figure out a way to get some production from those six spots. It shouldn’t be this bad. I didn’t think it was possible to be worse, but so far they have been.
— I don’t understand how Kailer Yamamoto has no shots on goal in the past six games. He isn’t the sole reason the team is struggling, far from it, but that stat line is truly remarkable. To not have one shot on goal is crazy. It is a good example of how a lack of confidence can severely reduce an individual player’s ability to perform.
— And with his struggles there have been suggestions to trade him. I get that. I understand fan frustration, however, his trade value is at the lowest level possible right now. Dating back to February 1st, he has 9-10-19 in his last 68 games. It has been a struggle for him, and concerning for the Oilers because he’s played the vast majority of those games in the top six. It is more realistic to see him moved down the lineup in hopes he finds some more consistency, rather than trade him at his lowest value.

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