Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Oilers Lineup Value Metric - Season Summary!

After all the injuries and callups, I decided it was time to put some metrics to it, so I've been tracking the lineups for every game this year and comparing to an ideal lineup.  

To assign the ideal lineup, each line/pair gets a value multiplier As there's no way we are comparing a top line McDavid centre to a 4th line right-winger, each line gets a decreasing ideal value multiplier as it is similar to ice time. So 4-3-2-1 value for forward lines and 4-3-2 for defense pairs.  Goalies too.  This multiplier is then well, multiplied to the sum of the players' value on each line.  For example, let's look at what was often the top line:

Line Multiplier = 4
Taylor Hall = 4
Leon Draisaitl = 4
Zack Kassian = 2
4 x (4+4+2) = 40
Ideal line total = 48, so 40/48 =  83.3% line value.

Make sense?  Good.  If not, have a beer, but you can't deny that this is a pretty good way to put numbers to when we armchair fans say, "We need a 3rd line centre."  Now of course, the player value rating is based on my observations, and other site stats on players showing where they should play. We're not idiots here, so let's move on, shall we?

With the season over, I've calculated the averages and differentials for each position.  The chart is further below. 

The forward lineup was 14% OFF from an ideal lineup.
The defense...ugh.. was 37% WAY OFF from an ideal lineup.  No surprise there.
The team was 23% OFF an ideal lineup.  Essentially 1/4 of this team needs fixin', mostly defense.  It's not rocket appliances, folks.

What I didn't include was line by line and pair by pair.  Let's look...

Lineup Value Metric Line-by-Line:

1st line was 91.6% to an ideal line on average.
2nd line was 87.7% to an ideal line on average.  (Note that the 1st and 2nd line often switched.)
3rd line was 56.5% to an ideal line on average.  Hello, Korpikoski!
4th line was 92.3% to an ideal line on average.  Yes, yes it was.

1st pair was 62.0% to an ideal 1st pair.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?
2nd pair was 61.3% to an ideal 2nd pair.  
3rd pair was  67.0% to an ideal 3rd pair.  They couldn't even get this working.


1st line right-wing, which was often Kassian or Pakarinen this year, normally 3rd and 4th line guys with a 2 value, brought that down.
2nd line left-wing, again, with injuries to Pouliot, this hole was plugged with bottom 6 guys.
3rd line left-wing was Korpikoski. I eventually kept rating him at a 0 as he shouldn't be on the team.
3rd line centre was Letestu most often because Nuge was injured, and Letestu is a better suited 4th line centre.
4th line centre was often Lander, who had a horrible offensive season, but wasn't a difference maker.

I'm not ready to claim that Sekera is a top pairing defenseman.  Not having Klefbom was a huge gap. With Nurse and Davidson playing more, that 3rd pair left side wasn't too shabby, but after Davidson's injury, Reinhart, Oesterle, Pardy, and Clendening were plugs.  And note that often, these lefties had to play the right side, which drops you a value point.

Oilers Lineup Value Metric Averages for the 2015-2016 Season

Anyway, this was a fun experiment that I will try and continue for next season, or when summer trades and drafting happens, I'll update.  Now, think about this lineup:

Maroon - McDavid - Eberle
Hall - Draisaitl - Laine
Pouliot - Nuge - Kassian
Hendricks - Letestu - Pakarinen

Sekera - Shattenkirk
Klefbom - Hamonic
Nurse/Davidson - Gryba

Cam Talbot
Cam Ward

Monday, April 11, 2016

"A Taller Midget" - Chiarelli

 #Oilers POHO/GM Peter Chiarelli had a presser yesterday and I will say this again--it's refreshing to hear him speak because he sees what we see and gives clear evidence, not "visually better" excuses.

He laid out the season improvements but noted that it was "a taller midget".  Not the most PC-thing PC could say, but we got the point.  There was an improvement in Corsi possession in the 2nd half of the season--yeah, #BecauseMcDavid.

He said one and more likely two guys were untouchable.  This, too, is refreshing.  We are of course assuming McDavid and one of Hall, Talbot, and Draisaitl being the other.

After hearing Hall's post-season interview and his praise for McDavid, he seemed to be projecting that he wants McDavid as captain.  That's mature and humbling for him and it's not a slap in the face if McDavid becomes captain.  Messier had Gretzky as captain until the Great One was traded.

Pete "likes size" and noted adding Maroon and Kassian were good additions that way.  This is important to not because it has already changed the culture of the team to a more gritty style.  And now you can see guys like Hall and Yak getting into tussles more.  I think we can expect to see a couple more gritty-skilled guys added this Summer.

He was honest in his answer about backup Laurent Brossoit being called up to get a taste and that he needed to improve.  It appears highly likely that an NHL veteran backup goalie will be added and Brossoit sent back down to Bakersfield.  I can't help but wonder if goalie coach Schwartz is having a negative effect on goalies.  I mean, Nilsson was playing quite well then something happened.  Same with Brossoit.  Both are tall goalies and perhaps their style doesn't fit with Schwartz's ideas where Talbot's does.  I could be wrong and Brossoit and Nilsson just simply didn't follow Schwartz's techniques.

Chiarelli mentioned that if players like Nurse weren't called up early, it was because the defense and the team were playing better.  That said, I think he knew it was going to happen anyway.  I mean, when you start the year with Ference and Nikitin, to a lesser extent Fayne, and a pile of green rookies, what would you expect to happen?

Chia obviously sees the need to add not one, but two quality defensemen this off-season.  Names like Hamonic, Shattenkirk, and Vatanen have been talked about.  There are also UFA guys he can just sign like Alex Goligoski (DAL) 30yrs, 0.45 PPG, Keith Yandle (NYR) 29yrs, and Roman Polak (SJS) 30yrs to watch for, but I think they need right-shot guys, hence the original three names listed.

On the upcoming draft, it doesn't sound like Chiarelli is going to trade the pick--not with that amount of quality players this year in the top 5, but perhaps only if you can pull a top right-shot defenseman from another team.  If the draft lays out normally, Toronto would likely pick Matthews as their new centreman and rebuild from there with the Oilers selecting winger Laine, who is being compared to Mario Lemieux.

Say what?  I think if that happens, then you have your new core of McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl, Laine, Nurse, Talbot and this gives you room to move Eberle, Yakupov, and possibly Nugent-Hopkins for top defensemen.

Something has to give, or the Oilers will only get slightly taller.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Farewell Rexall Place

Here are my thoughts on the day and attending the final Oilers home game at the Edmonton/Northlands Coliseum/Skyreach Centre/Rexall Place.

Churchill Square Rally

  1. I popped out from work at lunch to hit Churchill Square and see over 100 Oilers alumni gather on the steps.  There were thousands of people there.  We're crazy stupid fans still hanging on to old 1980's and 2006 dreams.
  2. God love Ryan Smyth but the guy can't talk in public with a darn.  That said, the love for him is 2nd to Gretzky, maybe 1st.
  3. Later at the Westin, I bumped into and said hello to Gretzky's old linemate, B.J. MacDonald. I said, "Blair MacDonald?" He said, "Yes."  I said, "Welcome back to Edmonton."  He said, "Thanks!" 
  4. Saw Grant Fuhr, Mike Krushelnysky, George Laraque, Willy Lindstrom, Craig Simpson, and Brett Callighen.  Fun!
  5. Lots of collectables fans parked in front of the hotel.  Lots.  Fuhr singed everything.


  1. Traffic getting to the barn around 4:30 wasn't too bad.  I won't miss that now being able to just walk two blocks from the office downtown.
  2. I've never seen so many fans in Oilers gear before.  I wore my #94 Ryan Smyth away jersey and I stood out because there were like maybe 3% of fans in white jerseys.
  3. Singing O Canada with the late great Paul Lorieau one last time was a treat and so very 2006.
  4. Connor McDavid won the Molson Cup despite missing half the season.
1st Period
  1. The Oilers didn't take a shot on net until the 10 minute mark and they were on a power play.  
  2. It was an excruciatingly boring period.  Almost like watching the Coyotes and Wild play.  
  3. The Oilers were terrible.  T e r r i b l e !
  4. The fans were getting bored, and were very quiet.  It was eerie.  It shouldn't have been that way.
2nd Period
  1. McLellan likely inspired them in the 2nd intermission because they came out flying at that point.   Yak's sniper, penalty, and giveaway will be the last time you see that happen on that ice or in an Oilers uniform.
  2. Coliseum beer is cold.  I hate Coors Lite and Molson Canadian is one of the worst lagers ever.  Please let there be some variety at Rogers Place!  I mean, I had a full big cup of Guinness at Yankee Stadium.
  3. None of us are going to miss the stupid onscreen Esso car race game and 3 puck flippy thing. None. Of. Us.
  4. My buddy left just before for the kiss cam.   I get no love.
  5. We had great seats at the top row of the blues on the isle in front of the skyboxes.  I had never been up there before.  And I never will again!
3rd Period
  1. The 3rd period was fun to watch. Four goals.  Glad Hall, McDavid, and Draisaitl potted one.  Patrick Maroon is turning out to be the best trade transaction at the deadline in the whole league.  I am very interested to see what Chiarelli can pull off other teams.  Hello Shattenkirk!
  2. Talbot played very well and was very square to the puck.
  3. The Vancouver Canucks are an awful hockey team now.  Why the Sedins don't want to bolt out of there is beyond me.  They remind me of the 2009 Oilers, a few years after they went to the Cup final.  T e r r i b l e.
  4. When Mark the announcer guy (I'll miss THAT voice big time) said, "Last minute of play at Rexall Place" the whole crowd got up and cheered and cheered.  It was so 2006.
Farewell Celebration
  1. There were so many players' names that came out on the ice I did not recognize and I'm freaking old.
  2. There were lots of notable alumni players who weren't there.  Glen Sather and Craig MacTavish being the most notable.
  3. Many of us were holding our opinions when Kevin Lowe was talking at the podium. He's a terrible public speaker.  T e r r i b l e.
  4. Sportsnet guy John Shannon didn't hold the microphone close enough to the Oiler speaking and none of us could here.  Wake up, John! 
  5. Who doesn't love Joey Moss?  If you don't, you are a terrible human being.  T e r r i b l e.
  6. Conversely, why is there so much love for George Laraque?  I'll never understand.
  7. What Mark Messier said that everyone on the team is important and if everyone on the team  doesn't give it there all every game they have a 0 percent chance of winning, was so directed at the current team, let's hope it rings in Connor's ear.  I know it will.
  8. Why didn't Gretzky get to speak more?
  9. The last three Oilers to leave the ice were:  3.  Ryan Smyth, 2. Connor McDavid, 1. Wayne Gretzky.
After all that, I went up to several senior coliseum staff members, shook their hand and thanked them for their service to the fans.  

Lots of memories.  But too many losses in the past 9 years for anyone to take.  Let's hope the Curse of Rexall Place is gone.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Curse of Rexall Place

While I will miss the memories of Oilers and Oil Kings games and the many concerts, this crazy fan won't miss the old barn we know as .




Admit it, the building is just a big round hunk of concrete.  It's the memories in that space that we are celebrating.  Every team in the league except one (hello Calgary!) has moved into a new building.

The LRT station doesn't connect directly to the building.  Cheap parking sucks.  The seats are small. The concourse is narrow.  The washrooms are old.  The concessions were dull.  The downstairs bars, while having fantastic staff, didn't exactly offer a wide variety of draft or cocktails.

And worst of all, during concerts, the sound echoed too much.  It wasn't designed for concerts, as much as they put in those hangy sound blockers from the room.

Let's not forget that Northlands Coliseum had a sister building in Vancouver.  Yeah, they left that place a loooong time ago.  Didn't anyone really care?  No.  Why?  Because Canucks fans don't care about their hockey in general anyway, and no Cups were raised on home ice there, so I bet most Canucks fans don't even know about that building.

So that's what we're really celebrating here, isn't it?  The Cups.

Once again, after the 30 year reunion last year and this season's Glen Sather tribute, we old time fans have certainly been inundated with these old memories.

Since those 5 Cups, the only real big memory was the 2006 Stanley Cup game 6 win against the Carolina Hurricanes to send them to the final and deciding game.  The building has never been as loud and proud since then. The Paul Lorieau anthems. The sound. The smell. The energy.

Since that 2006 Cup run, we saw great players with heart and soul sent out the door by Kevin Lowe and Co. Pronger, Smytty, Smith, Souray, Roloson, the list goes on and on and on.  The 2006 team was magic, lunch pail underdogs, that won over fans from around the world.  That's why we loved them with all of our heart.  Then the heart was ripped out and bad karma took over.

And it never left.

10 years.

Hey, don't get me wrong, it's great to reminisce and all, but I want something new to celebrate so we can all prove to the rest of the league and the hockey world, that we fans who have hung in there no matter what, will eventually get rewarded with our deep loving faith.  At least we hope.

But what memories have their really been since then, since that amazing time where Oilerism became a new religion?

I've had a few.  Every single game I took my dad, girlfriend/fiancee, or best friend to go see the Oilers I vividly remember.  I remember the great wins.

But I mostly remember losing and sadness.  There was streak of about 8 games I went to a few seasons ago where they didn't win a single one of them.  I thought it was me.  Now we know it's not even the coaches.

Even with the big tank and rebuild, no matter how many #1 draft picks they won (4 in the past 6 years if you're counting), no matter how many players have come and gone (thousands?), no matter how many coaches (5, if you're counting) or assistant coaches (no one's counting that but it's a lot), no matter how many general managers (3 if you're counting), no Edmonton Oilers lineup can ever shake the curse of Rexall.


So it pleases me that there's a new building with a whole new energy that will be created by old fans, by new fans, and by new players.

Our children will be able to plant their face against the glass and feel the hockey energy that is Connor McDavid like I used to do when I was 10 years old in the front row.  They friggin' deserve that--not old memories they have absolutely no connection with.

The curse MUST be lifted.  A new era MUST be born.  This is OUR Oilers.  OUR city.

We want our HEARTS back.

So, Goodbye Northlands Coliesum/Skyreach Centre/Rexall Place.

And good riddance.