Monday, August 6, 2018

sometimes sayings are just said, part six (Dec 14 vs NSH, Dec 18 vs SJS)

- December 14 vs NSH  -

This game was a story of shot inequality and injustice.

The Nashville Predators were a good Corsi club last year, their share of the shot attempts being 52.62%, after Score and Venue Adjustments, for 5th in the league. 

This distinction is growing evermore important as the numbers of teams in league whose tactics produce large discrepancies between raw shots and higher danger chances grows.

The Minnesota Wild, for example, held the following honours in 5v5 play:

  • 25th in the NHL in CF% (shot attempts)
  • 1st in the NHL in HDCF% (high danger chances)
  • 9th in the NHL in GF%

The Nashville Predators were not one these teams, with a shot share two percent higher than their high danger chance share.

Why is this important?

It's not, really, but it is really amusing in the context of this game:

(also via

68 shot attempts without a goal. Laugh, it's funny!

Though, when adjusted for the trailing-team bonus the score adjusted version is ~60. Which also brings Nashville to have majority high danger, though not by much and the 4-0 score is still miles from indicative of the guts of the game's flow.

This is what we're looking for, remember. The goal share betraying the shot share, and our own Leon Draisaitl had 0 high danger shots for and 3 against on his watch.

I set out to investigate, and I found all three:

The front row has the best view but it still isn't part of the show, there's not much to be done here. By outcome this play was awful, but by process it's just what had to be done. Both the passer and pass-ee could have helped this play out of happening, neither of them was our subject. A lot of the HDCA are like this in our December segment, just via the way the defensive zone was setup when this line was deployed. Remember that Todd McLellan hasn't actually ran Leon at centre for long up until this year, his breakout campaign took place at that spot in spirit but flanked by Taylor Hall, the next on board with McDavid. Stepping then to this snapshot's now, he's the star on the line but doesn't yet bear the full set of responsibilities. Part of this series' projectability is we'll get to see where he was at, at what will be a full time job next year.

Here's a would be goal against, off of a turnover in the offensive zone. These are the types of plays that unfairly get pinned on one player, when as always in hockey two spots have to give, or more.

You'll notice what makes the turnover very untimely is that all three forwards are low, very low. But, at the freeze-frame you'll notice that everyone has eyes on the play. the Oilers in Blue and the Preds in Red and the net-front man Juhjar Khaira isn't actually too far away from the lowest Predator player, but as the play button presses he doesn't recognise the graveness of this situation. Just as most 3 on 2's are played out, Forsberg pulls up to make time to break down the defense but that time's also made for a backcheck all the same.

The turnover's the turnover and this should have been a goal, but there's more than one error by more than one Oiler here.

This a strange play featuring a circa-ninety-six pad-stack on a volume shooting volume shot that should just be caught or otherwise rendered inoffensive.

If you've been counting, that's all three, and I don't think we've found much here more than a disproof that Draisaitl had much to do with the defensive lapses besides a poor offensive-zone turnover, and the trouble with that is they're a side-effect of being a good player. As we've been over before, if the frequency of mistakes like this were often enough they'd show up more in the shot shares and they don't so they aren't.

Finding nothing when you set out to find something is kind of finding something though. False alarm.

(I feel homerish today, is that just me?)

- December 18 vs SJS  -

More often than sometimes, during this half of the season something along the lines of 'a winning streak could strike at any moment' was said.

If you saved that saying for just before this game you would have been right, the good guys took home both points from here to the 27th and times were temporarily swell.

This configuration for San Jose (Tierney-Hertl-Labanc) worked together once and this was that once. The parts are good - San Jose's got the most complete forward group in the division for my money and these players are a part of that - but the sum lost out to the Draisaitl-trio this game and it wasn't by a little.

The most important deployment decision Pete DeBoer makes most nights is who gets Burns-Dillon(formerly Burns-Martin) and who gets Vlasic-Braun. The latter is a wet blanket and the former is a firecracker. If you want to break down the veteran San Jose squad your best place to start is the powderkeg middle pairing, they'll run a track meet with you and everyone who partakes in that brand of hockey has a chance to lose, by nature. Surface level scratch of this effect: San Jose runs ~68 shots per hour with Burns, ~55 with Vlasic.

As you'll see most of the shot volume got pushed to the point, but there's that little red spot buggering everything up, the goal against:

Nurse doesn't dream enough on his entries for my taste, you don't have to toss that puck in that far away from biting distance.

A pass goes out of Leon's reach and a would-be 3 on 2 develops, but that third Shark doesn't actually pick up his feet enough so Russell can step up and be covered but he elects not to, then gets his stick tied up and can't block the shot. 

Not a big deal, that's the goal out of the way.

Pulling back to the opening shift:

This is just a nice play, from identification to execution. When Burns goes that wide, either a rebound or a pass is going to end up where Leon's going here so he's there for it and it could've been much worse if he wasn't.

After various transitional shenanigans, Leon loses a puck on the wall here, it happens, but he can't cede body positioning so easily behind the net here. This is a supremely punishable play.

In Red it's not clear he knows there's a Shark behind him, but that's puck watching if he doesn't and if he does he's gotta know he's gotta be the first guy to that puck because his starting point makes it a lot easier than the alternative.

Here's a neat little neutral zone play, this is actually a more important play than it seems because there's actually only one Oiler in position to make it back quick on a turnover. Conventional wisdom normally has a dump-in play as default here, but I always prefer skilled players to make higher net-benefit plays based on the higher level of execution they're capable of.

A word on where we're going...

Ahead after the time travel is a string of games from the end of the season misnomer'd as garbage time - we'll be enthusiastically dumpster diving and although at times it'll feel exactly like that(the end of the season was positively overreported positively), the March portion of the schedule offers us a ton of opportunities to learn more about Draisaitl's progression away from the puck as the lone star on his line.

From the 10th of the month to the season closing games in the next, only two games featured the duo of Draisaitl-McDavid and Leon had all kinds of linemates while playing against the same pure 2nd comp that he'll likely be playing next year. 

Because Nuge centred his own line in the games that we've been over in December, the middle of the competition was cut up between him and Leon, whereas in these March games Nuge is with McDavid so there was just two true skill lines to match up against for opposing coaches. Again, all signs point to 93-97 starting next season together so this'll be a good look at what that implies for Draisaitl's matchups.

We'll talk linemates too, as a lot of the same guys are gonna get the first shot after Lucic and Rieder do, or as the plus one with either half of those two. As always, thank you for reading, and feel free to share this series any place there's interested Oilers fans as I'm only really active on Lowetide's blog right now.

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