I imagine reading my flowery prose-laden prologue was somewhat similar to rage-scrolling through the author's backstory of a recipe trying to get to the actual ingredients and preparation.
I'll say only a little bit more about the precise scope of the project: we are slightly more specifically looking for where shots turn into goals, not where nothing turns into shots. This narrowing is done because Leon Draisaitl already split the shot share in excess of evenly away from McDavid at 50.4% versus 49.3% when both were at rest - meaning his influence on transitional and possession play wasn't a weakness. The issue is the goals, and goals are noisy, but it's not nothing because it is the results.
We can also eliminate any idea that there's other (positive) influences muddying the waters when we look at a visualisation of the shot shares of minutes Draisaitl shared and didn't share with the other players on the team:
The easiest way to identify a play-driver is if those red boxes of players' minutes without Leon get pulled up towards the 'GOOD' corner to their black counterparts, representing the minutes they spent with him, and the blue boxes of his time without them. Draisaitl has this effect, and when we take McDavid into account we can remember that many of those good-ended black boxes were not left wingers for the 29-97 line, and that McDavid was actually only slightly better in shot share without Leon than Leon was without McDavid, it's just McDavid happens to outperform that in the goal department, as he will for his entire career.
So the video attended to, or rather most of the video attended to with a very critical eye, will mostly be of shifts actually spent in the defensive zone without the puck, with additional transitional play I found interesting and that points in an optimistic direction for Leon as a shot share driver.
These also won't be solely compilations of mistakes - I made this decision in particular after reading an article surrounding an interview with one the San Jose Shark's video coaches, Dave Barr, the link is here: https://www.thescore.com/nhl/news/1574566
Here's the quote:
"Dave Barr has a rule about video meetings: players must leave the room feeling good about themselves.
"I don’t want them feeling like they’re a piece of s---. I don’t want them going, ‘Jesus, f--- me, Dave doesn’t believe in me,’"
So I want the reader to come away from this feeling good about Leon Draisaitl, and that's not to keep up the Oilers fanbase's morale as it is for Dave Barr and his players - it's because that's what I believe to be the correct outlook after we consider the evidence.
I'll be exploring different formats throughout this series, starting with a game-by-game section beginning at the December 2nd game versus Calgary.
The Oilers, at the time, were about to enter a would-be midseason renaissance, trading wins for losses evenly to open the month, and then ran the table on the last four before Christmas. The forwards format was the unicorns model of three centres, Lucic and Puljujarvi with McDavid, Khaira(sometimes not) and Strome with Draisaitl, and Nugent-Hopkins with the leftovers with cyclical features from a pool of Cammaleri, Caggiula, Kassian, and Maroon, with Slepyshev weeping softly on the fourth unit.
Draisaitl played a lot of F3 in this setup, alternating faceoffs with Ryan Strome. This was the best showcase of Ryan as a pivot-pivot in the lineup and was really impressive tactically, one of Todd McLellan's more impressive moments of the season in deployment.
Here's the setup for the first game:
Here's the setup for the first game:
And the shots against map, once again sourced from Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath, hockeyviz.com)
And now to the Saddledome, fifty-six minutes remaining:
(you'll recognise the later part of this clip from the 2nd post of this series)
The scene opens with Kassian(the last man on before the full forward unit change) firing a shot high and wide that gets to Leon on the richochet. The play continues developing until Draisaitl's shot rebounds into a race between him and another forward where he plays the body but loses the puck and then continues backpressuring against the dump-in attempt. Good stuff all around.
Klefbom collects and soft rims to Caggiula who loses his battle, and Drai competes and then loses his too, until his check gets the puck back (dangerously) and Leon gets back over and topples him. Matt Benning gets a penalty for alleged chicken-winging.
Leon could have taken a penalty here, but in all did some good work and stayed on target and attentive.
Now later in the game, after the Oilers had earned a lead:
Leon's latest coming in here, he's F3 with Caggiula F2 and Strome F1. He closes on the carrier immediately after coming into frame, first covering the backhand pass to the opposite point with his stick, then removing the option up the boards, forcing the play down the boards. (Between Caggiula and Strome you'd like this to be a turnover as the Flame took the only high-ish percentage option remaining)
(You can see both the non-permanence of a net-front man and some puck-watching result in a potential 2 on 0 in front of the net as the shot comes)
Strome flips a rebound high after a precarious set of plays, and Leon find the puck between the gap and mercifully advances the puck forward, drawing two Flames toward him briefly as he slinks to right wing. At this moment, as the Flames are far benched and the boards reversal is open, he can use that puck pathway to find the Oilers RD - but instead takes it behind the net shrugging off a potential check, as he does. Both were strong options. He tries to find Strome in front, but the defender's in the way.
The Flames run it back, and Leon correctly reads the first pass but just barely doesn't get enough of it to properly intercept. Impressive processing and stick. He stays close with the middle man except but loses him ever so slightly but only in the moment where the left wing carrier is covered quite well, then covers one side of the boards option.
Puck comes out in front, Caggiula grabs it and tosses it to Leon who's on his horse and tries backhand five. Another nice effort all around by Drai, in my view.
A little bit later:
29 battles on a very non-2017/18 faceoff and eventually pulls it back, where a clever Flame is waiting (who should not be uncontested given time elapsed since puck-drop) then stays hard on the man, boxes him out of a potential screen, and stickchecks cleanly and well to make the (ill-advised and wasteful) point shot an easy save. I don't think I have to tell you if I like what I see here.
On the very next face-off:
I trimmed this clip comically unintentionally and it ends up opening with Patty Maroon's face before fading to the puck drop, as if he's having a traumatic flashback to the nightmarish last season we all witnessed and experienced together.
Try to forget, big guy. It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.
...Anyways, the Flames draw this one back to the point and our subject covers his man well again both before and after the point shot results in a near-optimal rebound aided by Brossoit's stick to Ferland behind the net, Caggiula picks up the rogue pass and Leon picks up the half-chip upon their arrival at the Flames' end boards, plays catch with Strome and then sets up Caggiula for a great chance that Strome collects for a shot of his own.
Full conversion of a DZ face-off loss into a OZ face-off, with a tally of two shots to one on the shift with the Oilers' version being more dangerous both times.
At a four-goal lead now, the neutral zone is now a full blown trap house:
The Flames fire a dump-in past the turtling structure, Benning runs interference on the first forechecker and Klefbom collects cleanly and gets it to Drai, who's presenting a safe option. Leon goes up the middle and turns it over. Both passer and receiver could have played this better, and it results in a point shot converting to a DZ faceoff. I don't mind going up the middle at all, you just have to play it better.
The subsequent DZFO:
This is a poor trim based on some frame lag, I apologise. All that happened was the Flames won the face-off back to the D as one does.
Leon's netfront here, and at times cedes position and no times really makes the goaltender's job easier. You don't have to crosscheck the guy or be Adam Larsson, but this could be taken as thinking the game's kind of over(hint: it wasn't; this was a sphincter tightener on steroids of a game) and in general a better effort would be ideal. That moment where he separates unprompted looks really bad, but the whistle is blown by that point, so disregard if you noticed that.
And now, after the game has tightened to one goal:
Draisaitl's playing the 1 of a 1-2-2 here, and the Flames tip the puck into the zone. Drai arrived and sits high before getting a shot at an interception up the boards, then another as the D fumbles but both are unsuccessful. He gets another 1-2 and gets the puck out on the 2.
This was the last shift at 5v5 for our subject. Sharp-eyed readers may remember seeing a red circle indicating a goal against on his watch, however.
I didn't include it in the body of this game review for reasons I think you'll find obvious. I'll present it without further comment at the end of this post.
As I write this the videos for the next game are uploading, analysis on the way and should be up tonight as well as tomorrow morning, thank you for reading.