Monday, December 8, 2008

PK Save Percentage So Far

As Tyler Dellow has mentioned, 200 or so shots is not enough to quantify how good a goaltender is at the work of stopping pucks. In such a small sample there is significant room for a streak where the puck hits you or a similar streak it doesn't.

This is particularly relevant in a discussion of PK save percentage since there aren't many shots. In another of Tyler's studies, he demonstrated that goaltenders that achieve a high PK save percentage one year tend to regress to the mean in the following season. Here are the eight best PK save percentages to this point in the season (minimum 100 shots against). Historically, an average save percentage on the PK is about .866, so I will also include the number of goals that have been saved above average:

Many of these goaltenders are bound to regress. We'll take another look at the halfway point in the season to see how these eight goaltenders are doing. Oh, and last year's leader is at .853 through 75 shots. He probably needs a new goalie coach.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Oilers v. Sharks - Psalm 74:12-13

But you, O Yahweh, are my Captain from of old;
you bring salvation and hope to the Oilers and Oilogosphere.

It is you who splits California open by your power;
you break the heads of the Sharks on the ice.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oilers v. Kings - Amos 1:8

"I will destroy the Kings of Los Angeles
and Lombardi who holds the telephone of power in the high place.
I will turn my hand against California,
until the last of the RudyKellys is dead,"
says Yahweh of Edmonton.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oilers v. Stars - Revelation 6:12-14

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was Ribeiro faking a seizure. Zubov and Modano became old like the Sean Avery sideshow, the wholesome Finns turned to bloody douchebags, and the Stars of my childhood fell down the elevator shaft, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. Their world receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every forward and defenceman looked up from last place.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

First Game Back After a Long Road Trip

There has been some discussion on the Oilogosphere that the Oilers have come out flat far too often this year. Most people can agree that this has been true, but there are some that are inclined to offer excuses and/or reasons for these poor performances. The reason that I'd like to look at here is that of the fabled "first game home after a long road trip." I heard this from several fans after the Oilers lost to the Maple Leafs and at first glance, it seems like a reasonable enough statement. The guys are tired after all.

But then I looked at the numbers and to this point in the season they just don't show that this has any effect on results. So far this season there have been 37 games (of 320) where the home team is playing its first game back after at least three consecutive road games. Their record in these games is 20-10-7. The record of the home team in all other instances is 148-95-40. So when the home team is coming off a road trip of at least three games the home team has a points percentage of 63.5%. In instances where the home team is in the midst of a homestand or coming off a shorter trip, their points percentage is 59.4%.

The sample size is still small, and the difference isn't that much, so I wouldn't want to conclude that the home team has a better chance of winning coming off of a long road trip, BUT I do think that this shows that it doesn't provide the home team with any disadvantage.

The Oilers lost to the Leafs because they're just not a good team right now (and they're worshipping idols).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oilers v. Kings - Psalm 102:15-17

All teams will fear the name of Yahweh,
all the Kings of Los Angeles will stand in awe of his glorious team.
For Yahweh will rebuild the Oilers.

His favour will rest upon them.
He will respond to the prayers of the suffering Oilogosphere.

He will not despise their hearts that yearn for righteousness,
For a veteran third line center and shut-down defenceman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oilers v. Blue Jackets - 2 Samuel 13:30-33

While the Oilers were on the plane, news came to MacT, "Raffi has struck down all the coach’s sons, and not one of them is left." Then MacT arose and tore his garments and lay down on the floor weeping. His assistant coaches who were sitting nearby tore their garments and mourned with him. But Dustin, the emotionless one, heard the commotion and came to the front of the plane saying, "Let not my lord suppose that my old friend has harmed all the young men, for Ladislav alone is harmed. For by the command of Raffi this has been determined from the day Ladi was unjustly put in the top four defence and then reinforced when you placed him on a checking line against the Anointed One with Zack at his side. Now then, let not my lord so take it to heart as to suppose that all the coach’s sons are concussed, for Ladislav alone is concussed." So MacT said, weeping, "You will never play on the first line again for this tragic news and for your friendship with the Mexican. In fact, your name will be blotted out of the lineup completely until my mourning is complete."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oilers v. Red Wings - Genesis 25:23-26

So Yahweh, who has shown her great favour, said to the Winged Wheel,

"Two nations are in your womb,
and two people from within you will be your renewal;
one will be given the Selke,
but the older will be zoomed by the younger."

When the time came for renewal, the two boys appeared in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole game had the strength of the Bear, so they named him Datsyuk. After this, his brother came out, speedy and elegant as a Blackbird, with his hand grasping Datsyuk's heel; so he was named Zetterberg. The Winged Wheel was about seventy-five years old when Holland gave birth to them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oilers v. Maple Leafs, Avalanche - Mark 11:12-14, 20-24

And seeing in the distance a team of Leafs, the Holy Spirit went to see if he could find any Stanley Cup rings. When he came to it, he found nothing but Leafs, for it was not their season for rings (nor had it been for quite some time). And he said to that team, "May no one ever take joy in you again." And his chosen people heard it.

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the Leafs withered away to their roots. And Cogliano remembered and cried out, "O Spirit, look! The Leafs that you cursed have withered, they that have been terrible since my childhood have been punished!" And the Holy Spirit answered them, "Have faith in Yahweh. Whoever says to an Avalanche, 'Stop in your tracks, come no further,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who Drafts Goalies Well (2000-2004)

Who drafts and develops goalies well? I've developed a point system in order to rank teams not just by which teams have drafted a good goalie, but taking into account what it took them to get there. It's important to have a good goaltender, no doubt, but if a team spends its first round pick every year to get there, then it's missing out on good players in a lot of other areas. This needs to be taken into consideration. Molding a first rounder into a marginal starter isn't worth as much as doing the same with a 7th round pick. As such, here is my "points" system, awarded to each goaltender as he develops:

The goalie plays an AHL game - 2
The goalie plays 40+ AHL or NHL games in a single season - 2
The goalie plays an NHL game - 1
For the team that drafted him - 1
The goalie plays in 50 NHL games over his career - 1
For the team that drafted him - 1
The goalie plays 40+ NHL games in a single season - 4
For the team that drafted him - 3
The goalie plays 40+ NHL games in at least five different seasons - 4
For the team that drafted him - 3
The goalie is nominated for the Vezina trophy - 4
For the team that drafted him - 3

Now, different things are expected of different players. It's one of the reasons a lot of fans like Kyle Brodziak but poo-poo Pouliot. More is expected of first rounders. It's not really fair to the player, but I think it is important to look at when determining the effectiveness of drafting and development. Each player, then, is expected to achieve a certain number of points, as listed above:

1st to 10th overall - 22 (starting goalie on your team for at least five seasons)
Rest of 1st round - 15 (starting goalie on your team for at least one season)
2nd round - 6 (should at least play in one NHL game for your team)
3rd round - 5 (should at least play in one NHL game for somebody)
4th round - 4 (should manage to be an AHL starter)
5th round - 3 (should have a 50/50 chance at being an AHL starter)
6th round - 2 (should play in at least one AHL game)
7th round + - 1 (should have a 50/50 chance at playing an AHL game)

I've taken a look at the drafts from 2000 to 2004. The first column is the team with any significant goalies (50 NHL games) included in brackets. The rest of the columns represent their net points (actual - expected), actual points, expected points, number of goalies drafted, number drafted in round one, in rounds two to four and in rounds five and over:

A few points:

1. Drafting goalies in the first round is often disappointing. This may well change over time as players play more games, earn Vezina nominations and more 40-game seasons. I expect teams like Long Island, Columbus and Pittsburgh to move up as DiPietro, Leclaire and Fleury play more games. We'll see if the teams spending early picks improve when looking at the 1995 to 1999 period.

2. Teams that draft good goalies often don't hang on to them for a long period of time. None of Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Philadelphia or Ottawa still have their highest ranking goalie. Tampa Bay lost Norrena before he'd played an NHL game. Anaheim lost Bryzgalov on waivers for nothing. Los Angeles said, "Away Huet!" in exchange for a worse goalie in Garon. Philadelphia got rid of Cechmanek because of his lack of playoff performance. Ottawa's goalie may or may not have been addicted to heroin (he also may or may not be getting paid in Russia).

3. New York is stupid lucky they drafted Lundqvist. When a seventh-rounder gets a Vezina nomination and you still aren't able to meet your expected total, well, that's just terrible.

4. Any list that has the Flames and Canucks bringing up the rear must have some validity. Unfortunately, those teams also show that you don't need to draft well to find good goaltending. In fact, sometimes having a need in an area where demand is at a premium isn't really all that bad while supply is abundant isn't really all that bad.

5. The Oilers may have improved drafting over this period, but they're still in the bottom third when it comes to drafting and developing goalies. In fairness, this is all because of Dubnyk underperforming his expected total and given he's an 04' pick, that has plenty of time to change.

My preliminary conclusion is that drafting goalies in the first round is stupid. We'll see if that continues to be the trend looking back to the late 90s drafts. Feel free to offer criticisms, suggestions and observations in the comments.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oilers v. Rangers - Habakkuk 3:2

Yahweh, we have heard of your Fame.
We stand in awe of your deeds and favour in the 80s,
O Yahweh, renew them in our day,
in a victory over the Rangers make them known;
you have been unrelenting since the summer of 2006
but in your wrath, remember mercy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oilers v. Devils - Mark 3:20-30

One time Horcoff entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and the Mandelbaums couldn’t even find time to eat they were training so hard. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away: “He’s out of his mind,” they said.

Now the Teachers of the Trap who had arrived from New Jersey said, “He’s possessed by Lamoreillo, the prince of demons. That’s where he gets the power to train like a demon. You must make him stop this training!"

Horcoff called them over and responded with an illustration. “Why would the prince of demons help the kingdom of Oil?” he asked. “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Evil Lou is divided and helps his enemies, how can he stand? He would never survive! Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Evil Lou and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger - someone who trains on an exercise bike in a sauna - could tie him up and then plunder his house.

“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven even sending Alex Mogilny to Sheol in order to circumvent the Cap. But anyone who blasphemes the Holy Mandelbaum Training Program will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” He said this to the Teachers of the Trap because they were lying about him saying, “He’s possessed by Lamoreillo” so that his family would take him away and the kingdom of Oil would be held back.

Friday, November 7, 2008

S&M Party Time

A hearty congratulations to Steve MacIntrye, now the official property of the Edmonton Oilers. Now that MacIntyre has played in 10 NHL games with the Oilers, Florida can no longer reclaim him for their AHL affiliate if he gets sent down to Springfield. So congratulations are in order big guy, you're probably an Oiler/Falcon for the next two years.

A hearty congratulations also to your agent who managed to get you $50,000 over the minimum salary for both this season and next (seriously Florida, what are you thinking?). I hope you ask Kyle Brodziak how much money he makes this year every day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oilers v. Penguins - Melody of McGuire 5:10-16

My Crosby is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand men.

His head is purest gold,
his hair is sweaty and brown as a MONSTER.

His vision is that of the Great One
reborn for a new generation,
passes like silk,
tape to tape like jewels.

His goals are like beds of spice
yielding perfume.
His goals are like the sweetest of peaches
dripping with flavour.

His sticks are rods of gold
manipulated by the softest of hands.
His blades are polished ivory
manoeuvred by the quickest of feet.

His strong powerful legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like the Rocky Mountains,
awing mortal men with his grandeur.

His interviews are sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.

This is my Crosby, this my lo... friend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oilers v. Blue Jackets - Psalm 118:1-12

Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good
and his love endures forever!

Let the Oilogosphere say,
"His love endures forever!"
Let the Rexall Family of Pharmacies say,
"His love endures forever!
"Let those who fear Yahweh say,
"His love endures forever!"

Out of my scoring slumps I called on Yahweh
and Yahweh answered me and gave me a strong even-strength shooting percentage.
Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear.
What can the media do to me?
Yahweh is on my side; he is my helper.
I will raise my arms in triumph over goaltenders who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in Yahweh
than to trust in Mexican stick factories.
It is better to take refuge in Yahweh
than to trust in saints out of position.

All of the opposing teams surrounded me
but in the name of Yahweh I defeated them all!
They swarmed around me like Blue Jackets
but they died out quickly, like the Flames in the playoffs.
Yes, in the name of Yahweh I defeated them all!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Predicting Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane

Many (pride come before a fall, I know) have probably noticed that I have taken a keen interest in Sam Gagner. At the beginning of last season Tyler Dellow published a chart on the seasons of 18-year-old rookies that have appeared in the NHL since 1997-98. I followed up on his work late last season, but here are the final numbers for Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane:

These numbers are obviously very good and speak to the tremendous talent of these two players (especially Kane who trails only Crosby in points/60 by an 18-year-old). So looking at the chart from earlier I have selected three comparable players in an effort to project what these two players might accomplish this season. Obviously, this would have been more helpful before the season started, but I didn't get around to finishing it until now. Anyway, the three players I've chosen as comparables are Sidney Crosby (better for Kane than Gagner), Marleau and Connolly. I also added Vincent Damphousse. I eliminated others for the following reasons:

-Didn't achieve at least 1.50 P/60 at 18 (Fritsche, Fata, Thornton, Dome, Hartnell, Bouchard, Lecavalier)
-Didn't play in a Canadian major junior league at 17 (Dome, Gaborik, Kovalchuk)
-Didn't play in the NHL at 19 (Horton, Bergeron)

-Didn't score at a rate of at least 1.5 P/gm in his last junior season (Fritsche, Fata, Hartnell, Malhotra, Horton, Staal, Bergeron, Nash)

Looking at these six now as juniors:

Now we can look at these six in their first NHL season. Sadly,I haven't separated it out into EV, mostly because I don't know where to find the data. If you know where to find that information, please pass it along in the comments.

Finally, to the predictive arena. How did these players perform in their second NHL season?

I think that there are certain conclusions that we can draw from this. Gagner looks to be tracking along well with Damphousse. I'm surprised that the comp LT suggested hasn't caught on. Others tried to compare him to Gilmour, but the first two seasons really don't match up as nicely. Having said that, we're talking different eras here, so if Gagner's offence in this decade is following what Damphousse put up in his, Gagner is a hell of a hockey player.

As for production, the improvement in goal scoring looks to be less linear than in assist production. Not sure why, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Kane or Gagner put up fewer goals this season. Also, all four of these players improved their point production by between 12.3 and 30.2 per cent. Not a mammoth improvement like some have been calling for. I really can't see Gagner putting up something like eighty points this year. With that range in mind, I'll predict the following point per game ranges this year for Kane and Gagner:

Patrick Kane: 0.99 to 1.15 P/game
Sam Gagner: 0.70 to 0.81 P/game

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oilers v. Flyers - Romans 12:9-20

Dear Oilers, love must be sincere. Hate the Eastern Conference; cling to third period leads. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your head up, serving the Lord. Be joyful in winning, patient in losing, faithful in prayer. Remind the Flyers to share with God's people who are in need and to practice hospitality.

Dear Captain, take the number of those who persecute you; take their number and do not take an instigator penalty. Rejoice with rejoicing teammates; mourn with mourning teammates. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Dear Oilogospherians, do not repay a Flames fan evil for evil; instead let them see how much more honourable it is as an Oilogospherian. So far as it depends on you, cheer at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If a Flames fan is hungry, feed her; if she is thirsty, give her something to drink. But if he is hungry give him very salty popcorn; when he is thirsty, ask him if he would like one Cup of water or five Cups. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oilers v. Hurricanes - Acts 28:17-20

Three days later he called together the leaders of the Hurricanes. When they had assembled, Eric said to them: "My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our Whaler ancestors, I was arrested at my bachelor party in Lusty Minnesota and handed over to the authorities. They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was a famous hockey player. But when the Wild objected, I was compelled to pay a $587 fine and plead guilty to disorderly conduct - not that I had any real choice in the matter. For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of the Hurricanes that I now have this criminial record."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oilers v. Bruins - 1 Samuel 17:8-11, 33-37

Chara stood in the opposing bench and taunted the Oilers. “I am the Bruin champion, but you are only the midgets of MacT. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he defeats me, then we will be disheartened and lose the game, but if I defeat him, the momentum will be on our side, and you will be embarassed in your own rink! I laugh in the face of MacT's midgets! Send me a man who will fight me!” When MacT and the Oilers heard this, they were terrified.

"Don't worry about this Bruin" said the Huggy One to MacT. "I'll go fight him."

MacT answered the Huggy One, "You can't go and fight this Bruin. You're too young and inexperienced—and he's been in the fighting business since before you were born."

The Huggy One said, "I've been in the OHL and watched over the boys. Whenever an Ice Dog or Colt came and took a rookie from our midst, I'd go after him, knock him down, and rescue the lamb. If my adversary turned on me, I'd grab him by the throat, wring his neck, and kill him. Ice Dog or Colt, it made no difference—I killed him. And I'll do the same to this Bruin pig who is taunting the Oiler bench. Yahweh, who delivered me from the teeth of the Ice Dog and the limbs of the Colt, will deliver me from this Bruin."

MacT said, "Go. And God help you!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oilers v. Canucks - Ezekiel 14:13-14

Son of the Oildrop, if Vancourver turns against me and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its offense and send shutouts upon it and demoralize its men and their fans, even if these three men - Roberto, Daniel and Henrik - are there, they could save only themselves with their piss-cutting play, declares Yahweh, our Sovereign God.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smid's Contract

There is one question I have never been able to find an answer for and I was reminded of it when I was looking at Ladislav Smid's waiver eligibility: How is Smid still on his entry-level contract? He played the 2005-06 season for Anaheim's AHL affiliate and then 06-07 and 07-08 with the Oilers. The Ducks announced that he was signed to a three-year entry-level contract in August of 2005. So how is he still under contract in 2008-09?

A New Veteran D Now

There have been some around the Oilogosphere that have called the Oilers on the need for another veteran defenceman that can handle difficult minutes. The need, in my opinion, is real. Some have compared the situation to that of 2006 when the Oilers picked up both Jaroslav Spacek and Dick Tarnstrom later in the year. I think the situation this year, if the Oilers are to maximize their defensive depth, is a little bit more urgent. In problematizing this situation I am making the following assumptions:

1. The Oilers really could use another veteran defenceman that can play difficult minutes.
2. The Oilers do not want to give up on any of the NHL level depth they currently have to cover for periods of inury.
3. Ladislav Smid only has fifteen games left of waiver eligibility.
4. If Smid were placed on waivers he would certainly be claimed.

If the Oilers remain healthy on the blueline this year, any acquisition that the Oilers make on defence will necessitate one of the current defencemen being lost. As such, it would probably best serve the Oilers interests to get a trade for a defenceman finished before Smid plays in another fifteen games so that they would at least have the option of sending him down and not losing anyone to waivers (the only other Oilers that do not need to pass through waivers are Gagner and Cogliano, and they aren't getting sent out).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oilers v. Avalanche - Psalm 107:28-29

Then the Oilers cried out to Yahweh after their loss;
he brought them out of their distress.
He reduced the Avalanche to a whisper;

their waves of worthy forwards were hushed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oilers v. Blackhawks - Genesis 4:3-5

In the course of time Kane brought to Yahweh his best deke as an offering and Gagner also brought his best pass, and Yahweh smiled upon Gagner and his pass offering, but for Kane and his deke offering Yahweh had no regard. So Kane was very distraught and his face fell in defeat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oilers v. Flames - Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, this is what Yahweh says,
He who created you, O Oilers
He who formed you, O Oilogosphere:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you,
I have called you by name and you are mine.
When you pass through an Avalanche, I will be with you
And when you pass through a Hurricane, it will not sweep you away
When you walk through Flames, you will not be burned:
The Flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am Yahweh, your God,
The Holy One of Edmonton, your Saviour.
I gave Hartford for your ransom,
Winnipeg and Quebec City in your stead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oilers v. Ducks - Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, "Let us make the Oilers in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the Sharks of the sea and the Ducks of the air, over the Coyotes, over all the Pacific Division, and over all of the other teams that move along the ice."

So God created Oilerkind in his own image, in the image of God he created it; Oilers and Oilogosphere he created them.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kevin Lowe Interview - September 12 2008

A nice interview on the Oilers site, this time with Kevin Lowe. Now this was one interesting bunch of statements from the President of Hockey Operations. There is a lot here and tons more that I'm missing but getting a good chunk of things written out should help to sort out some of the thoughts.

Who's in control here:

On Prendergast:
"[His role] won't be any different than last year. The American Hockey League team is a primary focus, but he's capable of doing everything.... He's making trade suggestions all the time."

On Olczyk:
"From a legal standpoint, negotiation of contracts, cap analysis, all those things as well as scouting.... his connection to USA hockey."

On Tambellini:
"Our thoughts and views on the game and players were similar [when we worked together on building the Olympic team]."
"[He'll] assume many of my duties if not all of them."

On Lowe:
"[My role will be] overseeing. I've ben too focused on the day-to-day stuff and in some respects I found that it suppressed my creativity, whatever that means, but I'm seeing the forest for the trees or through the trees I guess."

Lowe also mentioned that he expects things to be handeled in a "very democratic fashion" similar to the time of Lowe/Howson. Overall, I think his comments clarify a lot of the questions people had about roles. Kevin Prendergast is in charge of the minors. Olczyk will be the point person for contracts and scouting overage college players. Given the Oilers recent spurt of overage college signings since Olczyk was hired I feel comfortable making this assertion. Tambellini really is taking over the Oilers player management. Lowe described his role as "overseer." His description of his own role suggests to me that he doesn't know what in the blue hell he is supposed to be doing. The italics are not my emphasis; it's pretty well how he said it. Given his inability to coherently express his trees/forest metaphor, it sounded like a phrase he heard someone else use and he's attempting to parrot. All of the language he uses about his own role, with the exception of the italics, just doesn't sound like Kevin Lowe. "My creativity is being suppressed" is not a Kevin Lowe complaint. The rest of his response involved wanting more time to think about things other than hockey and spend time with his family. That seems to me to be way more genuine. The above is someone else talking through Kevin Lowe's lips.

On Memory:
Kevin Lowe's historical memory is quite good. He described this team as reminding him of the Oilers teams while he was playing in New York. He mentioned seven names: Mironov, Grier, Weight, Arnott, Czerkawski, Satan and Marchant. Six of the seven played on the Oilers in 95-96 - Lowe's last year in New York - but all seven were on the team the following year, once Lowe had joined the Oilers. I think he's probably remembering the 96-97 squad and thinking it was pretty good, knowing that most of those guys were on the team before he was and generalizing about how good the team must have looked in the early-mid nineties before his arrival. He also said the Oilers won 15 of their last 20 games, which is only off by one. He said that the Oilers have 2.5 to 3.0 million in cap space which looks to be bang on. I know that he probably didn't look these up before he came, so I'd say his memory here did really well (at least compared to Hillary Clinton and the sound of gun fire... the mind plays it's tricks)

On the sophmore slump:
"Sam and Andrew are young guys so they would be the most likely candidates."

Kevin Lowe briefly dismisses the possibility of a sophmore slump for Gilbert, Nilsson and Grebeshkov based on age and experience. First off, the complete omissions are interesting. Maybe Brodziak and Pouliot aren't guaranteed spots on the team. Maybe they're deemed safe bets not to underperform because expectations are low. Maybe Lowe just doesn't consider them rookies. Pouliot gets mentioned in a positive light later in the interview, but in the forty minute interview there isn't one mention of Kyle Brodziak that I noticed. As for the slumps themselves, it would seem to me that a 13.3 shooting percentage from a defenceman is probably a lot more likely to result in counting numbers down from a year ago than the mere fact that Gagner and Cogliano are young. But who knows.

On Visnovski:
"power-play specialist."

This pleases me. He's obviously not expecting more than what Visnovski is capable of, and he will probably be pleasantly surprised at the amount of even strength offence Visnovski will provide.

On Forwards in Camp:
"If these guys (Schremp, Pouliot and Brule are those that he mentioned) play really well we might have to move a veteran hockey player and we're not opposed to doing that at all."
"We're not closed-minded to anyone upstaging a veteran player."
"We're not actively looking for anybody right now."

This is just funny. No veteran third line center is on the way. If anything, a veteran player is leaving town. In fairness he also talked about bringing in another guy to camp to fill a positional role. He seemed to indicate that it isn't going to be a center but it is someone specific and given who's left I'd guess that the player in question is Glenn Anderson trying to hilariously stick it to the Hall of Fame committee with a comeback attempt. Back on track, who's the veteran player we have that might be leaving town? Veteran players not on the top two lines? Pisani and Moreau. That's it. Or at least I assume one would need at least 250 NHL games to qualify as a veteran.

Poor Ethan:
"We're all pulling for him. Everyone is hoping that Ethan can stay injury free [until we trade that man's ass when Schremp beats him out in camp.]

On Horcoff's Shoulder Injury:
"You can't predict those kinds of things." "Freak injury."

Horcoff said in his interview on the fourth that "it was a problem that was nagging at me for a few years... I had little troubles with it for a couple of years... by the time I had surgery it came out about four times." It's difficult to harmonize these accounts. It definitely doesn't sound like a freak injury. I'd guess that Lowe just wants to make injuries seem as unpredictable as possible. The more unpredictable events like this are, the harder they are to plan for and the easier it is to gloss over them rather than think of them as a management mistakes.

On Enforcers:
"[If someone takes a run at Hemsky] he'll get suspended."
"We would have to send a guy out after one of their top players if [someone goes after one of our top players] just as payback."

The gist was that we don't really need one, and winning teams don't all have them. Seems fair enough, but I thought the above quotes were fun placed side by side. To paraphrase, "The league will suspend someone that does something stupid, but just in case we're going to run one of their guys anyway." The sense of justice in hockey is very strange indeed. Also, it's shocking to hear this coming out of the mouth of a top executive for one of the teams. If Lowe makes this comment after a game where Hemsky gets run it's very probably bad news for his wallet, but he should be able to get away with it to a local radio guy in training camp.

On The Goaltending Situation:
"That game in San Jose was ridiculous. That's one of the greatest goaltending performances of all time."

That quote is about Dwayne Roloson, but you already knew that. In fairness, he's using hyperbole and he probably felt stupid after saying it and Roloson really did have an outstanding game. It still makes me chuckle though.

More relevantly:
"If we did have three goaltenders at the start of the year it would be a really short term thing. We would like to make our decisions prior to that.... We feel he's earned a spot or earned an opportunity to win a spot."

He did give a glowing report of Garon, but wouldn't it be interesting if everyone's favorite goalie from last year was being traded. I don't think he is and I don't think that Lowe is insinuating that but Lowe but they're clearer moving to two goalies and if Deslauriers shows something in camp it's quite possible that one of the other two is gone.

Anyway. The interview was pretty long and I ignored some things (no really, I did) but overall, I enjoyed the interview and I'm thankful to Kevin Lowe for his willingness to do it (even if it wasn't with me... the nerve).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shawn Horcoff Interview - September 4 2008

Shawn Horcoff is a smart player. When he gives an interview it's interesting to hear his perspective on the team. Horcoff recently did an interview on the Oilers website where he talked about the importance of having young players or depth in being able to win:

"I think that in today's world - and I think Detroit exemplifies it better than anyone - you need your young guys to step up and play well, and they need to contribute. I think there's probably fifteen to twenty teams in the league that have the veteran leadership to be able to win the Stanley Cup, but you have to be able to roll four lines. It's so hard to go four rounds and win. You can't just do it playing a select few guys. We have three or four guys under 21 who can be impact players now."

I would love to ask some follow-up questions about what he means here. Impact players under twenty-one? Certainly Gagner, but who else is he talking about. It's not a big point by any means but it seems that Horcoff is conflating some of the youth on the team with Gagner himself, unless he thinks (and maybe he does) that Cogliano, Brule and Schremp are going to be positive impact players now. Even then, they're 21. It just shows how good Gagner is. I would say that it isn't a stretch here to think that Horcoff is talking mostly about the Kid Line and that for him Kid Line = Sam Gagner.

Fifteen to twenty teams that have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup? This sounds like a cover for Edmonton more than anything. He's pulling a number out of seemingly nowhere to say that in his mind there is a chance that this year he could win the Stanley Cup. That, or maybe he just knows that there's a lot of luck in this game.

Horcoff obviously knows that there are some players who are better (and more important) than others, and he's been playing hockey at a high level for long a time. No literal rolling four lines. It's clearly a figure of speech to simplify the game for the listener, so how close is it to what he believes. I'm not sure, but I think I would take this more as a statement of "we need everyone pulling in the same direction." It's not really what he said, but what he said seems impossible for him to believe and I'd certainly like to think that he really is simplifying for people instead of lying to them. If it is a metaphor, it's one that's biased towards the impact of forwards on the game. It may be worth watching to see if his metaphors have a tendency to veer in that direction and that's he's expressing an opinion with them, namely, that forwards drive results.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Birth of Satan: Tracing The Devil's Biblical Roots

Wray, T.J. and Gregory Mobley, The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots. New York: Palmgrove MacMillan, 2005.

The authors trace the evolution of the biblical origins of evil from its roots in the Hebrew Bible to the influence of later works like Milton's Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy. The book jams piece after piece of helpful information into a very manageable 180 pages and assume little or no background knowledge from the reader, especially in regard to Ancient Near East mythology. In spite of the many scholarly references, the book will probably leave authors coming from a scholarly perspective feeling a little lacking. There is discussion of the book of Revelation without reference to the work of David Aune, of the Gospels and Dead Sea Scrolls but no Geza Vermes and discussion of apocalypticism without one mention of John Collins in either the text or bibliography.

Nonetheless, the authors succeed in delivering an engaging and informative introduction to the biblical Satan (and evil in general) that bridges some of the gap between the scholarly and popular contexts. For a beginner student, or someone with little background but even a passing interest in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern studies, this book will be very revealing and, dare I say it, enjoyable.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ethan Moreau - Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:3

See my servant shall prosper: he shall be made captain and lifted up, and shall play on the third line*
Just as there are many who are astonished at him - so marred was his shoulder beyond human semblance, and his foot beyond that of mortals -
So he shall surprise many teams; goons shall shut their mouths because of him, for what they had not been warned of, they will see, and what they had not expected, they will experience.
He was injured and rejected by Oiler fandom; a man of suffering and acquainted with hit-and-runs and whose teammates chide with indignities; he was despised, and we held him of no account.

* Meaning of Hebrew uncertain, some ancient manuscripts read fourth line

Monday, March 24, 2008

Oilers v. Wild - Leviticus 5:2

If a person loses to any ceremonially unclean team—whether it be the Wild or the Ducks or the Predators who creep along the ice—even when he is overmatched, he has become unclean and is guilty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Oilers v. Avalanche - Matthew 26:20-25

When evening came, Kevin, the prophet, was reclining at the table with the Ten. While they were eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me." The Ten were greatly distressed and began to say to him one after the other, "Surely not I." Kevin replied, "The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The great prophet of the EIG will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the EIG! It would be better for him if he had not been born." Then Ryan, the one who would betray him, said, "Surely not I, O prophet?" Kevin answered, "Yes, it is you."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Oilers v. Canucks - 1 Samuel 1:19-20

Early on the 8th day of the 8th month of the 1st year of the reign of Brind’Amour (8,8+1=9, 89), the second prophet awoke to worship Yahweh and after finishing his sacrifice, he returned home. The prophet consulted with Craig his coach and Yahweh remembered them. So in the course of time the prophet looked and chose a son. His name was Samuel son of David son of Armand the Chathammite. This was because they had asked Yahweh for him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sam Gagner in Historical Context

In November, Tyler Dellow posted about how well Sam Gagner was doing as an 18-year-old rookie. Since 1997-1998 only 17 other players have played at least 120 minutes in the NHL at age 18:

Sam Gagner is one of two players that qualify for that distinction this season (if anyone knows how to make it into a nice little chart as Tyler has done, while still being able to import it to Blogger, please let me know):

Player Name TOI G/60 A/60 P/60
Sam Gagner 868.33 0.41 1.52 1.93
Patrick Kane 972.00 0.62 1.60 2.22
David Perron 529.36 1.02 0.91 1.93
Milan Lucic 712.64 0.51 1.18 1.68

Gagner compares very favourably with the best 18-year old NHL seasons, sitting between Marleau and Kovalchuk. This is encouraging. It's obvioius that most players in the NHL at age 18 are very good and that most of them only get better. I included Perron and Lucic even though this is their 19-year-old season since they came from the same draft. I think that their results probably speak to just how much of a difference there is between an 18-year-old NHL player and a 19-year-old NHL player and what might be expected of them. Perron's numbers are tied with Gaborik and Milan Lucic is outdoing Scott Hartnell and, of course, they're both outperforming Joe Thornton. If Perron and Lucic turn out to be as good at age 25 as Gaborik and Hartnell, I think that will say a ton about the potential of the NHL as a good place to develop young players. Having said that, I don't think either player can cover the bet. Given that Kane is also seven and a half months older than Gagner (is it really an 18-year-old season if your birthday is in November?), I think Gagner's season is even more impressive. He is a special player and is starting to make a difference at the NHL level today. I think the Oilers should feel compelled to build towards competing for the Cup in the last year of his (and Cogliano's) entry level contract. That ought to be the target.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oilers v. Coyotes - Psalm 22:16-20

Coyotes have surrounded me.
A band of evil men has encircled me,
they have broken my shoulders and my feet.
I count all my man games lost.

People stare and gloat over me.
They divide my draft picks,
and cast lots for their draft position.

But you, O Yahweh, are not far off.
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
Deliver my life from mathematical elimination,
my playoff life from the power of the Coyotes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

RFA Offer Sheet

Earlier this year Speeds at IOF suggested that the cap should rise to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 53.3 million dollars. Given that a completely accurate number isn’t really necessary for my purposes, we’ll just assume that figure is correct for now. Given that, an offer sheet of $819,571.74 or less this offseason will garner no compensation. This gives teams a great new opportunity to steal young depth from opponents. Is this appropriate for the Oilers? It would seem so. The beauty of being owned by the Batmillionaire is that we can bury guys on one-way contracts in the minors if they don’t win a spot in camp. If they're claimed on waivers, so much the better. Camp is more competitive and we obtain potential NHL players for no assets other than money.

There are really two groups of players one could target: semi-failed prospects and young low level NHL players. Examples of the first sort on the Oilers might include J.F. Jacques and Marc Pouliot. If the Bruins are interested in J.F. Jacques why not try to acquire him for free. If they sign him to a one-way deal at $800,000 for a year, I think that the Oilers would be tempted to let him go. If they sign him but then decide to send him down on waivers, the Bruins would have the opportunity of acquiring him for free there too. A guy like Pouliot could get a similar offer from a divisional opponent with weak bottom six depth, like the Vancouver Luongos. They can acquire a player they can use and in the process hurt Edmonton’s organizational depth, or force the Oilers to spend more money than they'd like on Pouliot. Why the heck not! With low-level guys I'm thinking of a guy like Stortini. Would you pay Stortini $800,000 per over two years, or would you let him walk for nothing? If nothing else, a team could limit how much Edmonton can spend on other players by offering this kind of deal.

In the next few weeks, I'd like to look at some guys the Oilers might consider. First up is Jeff Tambellini, who has elicited
some discussion in the past, currently owned by the New York Islanders and due a QO of 1.04M. If they offer him a two-way QO and he declines, we might be able to get away with a one-way deal larger than the Islanders are willing to pay. Here is Tambellini's career so far:

Age 18 NCAA – Michigan (43gp) .605 G/gm .442 A/gm 1.047 P/gm
Age 19 NCAA – Michigan (39gp) .385 G/gm .308 A/gm 0.693 P/gm
Age 20 NCAA – Michigan (42gp) .571 G/gm .786 A/gm 1.357 P/gm
Age 21 AHL – Manchester (56gp).446 G/gm .554 A/gm 1.000 P/gm
Age 22 AHL – Bridgeport (50gp) .600 G/gm .580 A/gm 1.180 P/gm
Age 23 AHL – Bridgeport (46gp) .630 G/gm .630 A/gm 1.260 P/gm

He put up a point per game at 21 and has imporved bit by bit at age 22 and age 23. He’s up with the Isles right now, who are probably trying to see if they want to sign him. Jeff comes to us from the magic 2003 draft where everything turns to gold unless you were drafted by an Oiler or ex-Oiler. Let’s compare him to a couple of collegians who have made something of themselves: Zach Parise, and Drew Stafford:

Age 18 NCAA – N. Dakota (39gp) .667 G/gm .897 A/gm 1.564 P/gm
Age 19 NCAA – N. Dakota (37gp) .623 G/gm .864 A/gm 1.487 P/gm
Age 20 AHL – Albany (73gp) .247 G/gm .548 A/gm 0.795 P/gm

Age 18 NCAA – N. Dakota (36gp) .306 G/gm .583 A/gm 0.889 P/gm
Age 19 NCAA – N. Dakota (40gp) .325 G/gm .550 A/gm 0.875 P/gm
Age 20 NCAA – N. Dakota (41gp) .585 G/gm .561 A/gm 1.146 P/gm
Age 21 AHL – Rochester (34gp) .647 G/gm .647 A/gm 1.294 P/gm

I’ve only included minor league games of which Tambellini has a lot more. Tambellini is ahead of Stafford through the college years but falls behind once they turn pro. At a guess, Stafford must have been feeling some luck in his 34 games in the A because that is some ridiculous improvement from age 20 to 21. Parise’s AHL numbers are a little less and a year younger, but his college numbers best the other two significantly. Nonetheless, Jeff’s numbers look to me like NHL quality. He is probably able to play in the NHL, which is what he’s doing right now: his Quality of Competition currently ranks 11th out of 13 forwards on the Islanders that have played at least twenty games and his Quality of Teammates is 4th of 13. He is also the one of three forwards on the team with a negative Corsi number and he is scoring at a rate of 0.71 ESP/60, which puts him 10th.
That's a lot of bad in 254.28 ES minutes.

To sum up, he's probably not worth a flyer on a one-year one-way deal at $800,000 given that hurting the Isles doesn't do a whole lot for the Oilers and if I had to choose between him and Pouliot, I'd take Marc since he's shown a bit more at the NHL level (specifically, the tail end of 06-07).

Next up: Martin St. Pierre