Wednesday, April 19, 2006



ONE: Sacamano will be updating the sidebar shortly to show the playoff matchups, so let's do a quick debriefing of what's getting deleted, namely, the Samsonov & Lundmark stats.

They are (were) there because of a discussion in a comment thread right after the trade deadline (you know, when the Oilers improved themselves and the Flames did nothing), where I said
...I think we need to keep track of Samsonov's and Lundmark's goals going forward, maybe in the sidebar (and also provide updates on Record After Trading Deadline). I hope the discrepancy doesn't embarrass me too badly.

Nope, not too embarrassed. My other comment back then seems about right:
I honestly don't know if Lundmark was brought in to be the 13th forward, or a 2nd-liner. I just know that the difference between his 2 goals and Samsonov's 6 for the rest of the year is hardly worth the fuss made over Sammy (he's not Alexander Ovechkin, folks).

OK, so I was a bit off on the exact numbers.

TWO: I see our traffic is hitting a crescendo along with general interest in the NHL. Get it while supplies last, folks. I see by the playoff schedule that there's only 8 or 10 days left until all Sacamano will have left is some lame Flames smack, and maybe a few bitter tears about all the red car flags on the U of A campus.

THREE: lwoCPO at Abel to Yzerman appears to be doing a better job with the Edmonton smack than I ever have. Nice manners though, I liked this:
Took a glance at the stats this morning and saw that half our visitors today hail from Alberta. Nice to see you and I hope your Spring ends in gut-wrenching heartbreak.

I hope you're exactly half-right, buddy.

FOUR: Cosh has his annual Big Spreadsheet up. It's a pretty simple concept but a few minutes to read through the methodology is well-advised. Speaking of Cosh, if you didn't catch this in the comments yesterday, the folks at weren't too impressed by his nomination of Iginla for the Lady Byng Trophy, and made in known in a thread titled Colby Cosh is a big fat idiot. Heh - many of the comments belong in the Seriously? file, probably none moreso than this one:
It is a funny website, but seems very distasetful [sic] at times. The mention of Jarome Iginla winning the Lady Byng did not make me laugh.

A substantially fair evaluation of, no question. And from the Irony file, this comment on our own fair site:
Well if that site is intended to be just a place for fans of either team trash talk at each other I'll just avoid it. Not really my cup of tea, but it does have its place.


FIVE: From the bookies, here's the series prices for the opening round:
There appears to be some value bets there. And DET and OTT are co-favourites to win the Cup at +325; the longest shot is the Oilers at 40-1.


Wow...Cosh sure released the venom on CP there. Funny stuff.

It's not "venom" the Calgary fans are filling their red diapers with on that thread.

Since you're talking about "misc.'s", check out the player stats at, under "RTSS Player Stats - GIVEAWAYS".

One team has an incredible 7 players in the top 30 (including the 2nd & 4th worst)who give the puck up to the other team, which should be worrying, considering who they face in the first round.

holy shit. that comment's thread on CP was both entertaining and interesting in a circus-freak way. You can't help but look away.

Go Anaheim.

Gee, I'm looking at this here table and the non-Oilers in the top ten for giveaways include Kovalchuk, Jagr, Zubov, Thornton, Modano, and Spezza. Are these all shitty, self-destructive players? Or maybe the high giveaway totals simply belong to the guys who log heavy ice time and carry the puck through the neutral zone a lot?

Of course, anybody who'd actually spent 30 seconds looking at the evidence--instead of grabbing desperately at anything to distract himself from the knowledge that division titles count for jack shit starting on Friday--knew the facts already. You were still witty in a kind of slovenly way a month ago, JHuck--you might want take a week off from breathing in toilet cleanser at the workplace and come back with your game face on.

P.S.: Pop stat quiz for entry-level number whizzes: what effect does winning a lot of faceoffs have on your team giveaway totals? (HINT: you can't give away the puck if you don't have it in the first place.)

Super-duper bonus question: what northern-Alberta-based team blew away the league this year in faceoff percentage with a team total of nearly 56%?

No need to be rude, Colby.

I never said anything about the quality of the player giving the puck up, just the quantity. None of the teams of those players you named have 7 in the top 30, though.

And so what if they are players who carry the puck in the nuetral zone? They are also players that give the puck away a lot. It also doesn't specify in what area of the ice it's in, which is why I didn't jump to conclusions with all that "evidence". And there are lots of great players who carry the puck a ton who AREN"T in the top 30. I just thought it interesting that so many Edmonton players gives the puck up so much.

Maybe you should spend more than 30 seconds... well, you know.


"that division titles count for jack shit starting on Friday"

Well, they guarantee home ice advantage, which is good news for the Flames. That's one big reason teams try to win their divisions.


"You were still witty in a kind of slovenly way a month ago"

You mean like this... "It's not "venom" the Calgary fans are filling their red diapers with on that thread"?
Because that is wit to die for.

"Super-duper bonus question: what northern-Alberta-based team blew away the league this year in faceoff percentage with a team total of nearly 56%? "

Are you looking at the same stats I am?
I'm at, - 2005-2006 - Regular Season - Summary - FACE OFF WIN %, under the "team comparison reports", and I see Edmonton at 53.4%, which is right behind Nashville at 53.8%.

I hate that giveaway stat since it seems to reveal nothing. In reality, there's like 100 giveaways a game; on paper it's smaller number based on much more subjective criteria.

You got me there--my stats were compiled by adding up individuals' RTSSes, so there must be a bug in my code. So the Oilers were second overall in the league at faceoff percentage, which still means they started with the puck and had more giveaway opportunities than 28 other teams.

Feel free to go back to your "Say something ridiculous, deny the implications of it, and then confuse the issue by saying something else equally ridiculous" butter churn. I think we're on stage three now--in the afternoon you said the Oilers "should be worrying" about giveaway totals; in the evening it became "I just thought it interesting."

>Feel free to go back to your "Say something ridiculous, deny the implications of it, and then confuse the issue by saying something else equally ridiculous" butter churn.

Yes, but I must insist it has a 3000 word limit this time.

Man oh man, the irrational hate going on here is unreal — and these teams aren't even playing each other. What kind of apocalyptic series would that be anyway?

(The difference between the BoA and the BoO, the two rivalries which seem to have the most 'venom' in the league these days, is that at least on the Alberta side we're getting some cogent analysis. The Ontario fellows can never seem to get past 'Domi is betterer than Neil' garbage.)

What? No flippin' WAY is Domi betterer than Neil...

The Oilers kack up the puck a lot, and they seem to do it at bad times and in bad places. But attributing this to winning face-offs 3% better than a coin toss over the course of a season is a bit arbitrary (and does not explain why Nashville, apparently the best face-off team, does not kack up the puck quite as much). And what is the point of winning a face off if you are just going to give the puck away? It makes your boast of being a great face off team pretty hollow if you can't keep the puck you just won.

I also agree that the giveaway-takeaway stats are hard to understand. I don't know what makes for a 'giveaway' in the eyes of the statskeeper. In hockey, the puck sometimes changes hands several times in a minute, or even a few seconds. The giveaway totals at the end of the game seem to understate this by a large amount.

How do we know Nashville doesn't cough up the puck as much? Unless you have team giveaway totals, we don't even really know that the Oilers as a whole give it away more than average. And if we did have the totals, they'd still have to be corrected for the faceoff wins. And you're also failing to count faceoffs wins as losses for the other team in the Oilers' games: a 53.4 to 46.6 advantage in initial possessions isn't 3%, it's 15%. (If you want to try making a case for Peca's salary, you can start right there; it's finally been brought up just recently that he did, as suspected, put on a faceoff clinic for younger players like Stoll.)

As far as I can make out, giveaway stats basically aren't worth anything. They don't correlate to team success and the only time I might be tempted to use them is in a ratio with takeaways for assessing defensive forwards, on the premise that a lot of them happen along the boards. And even that is pretty speculative.

I also find the Hits stat to be kind of worthless. Any good stat should have a Reality Check element, and I just don't get that from Hits.

If I think Alfredsson refuses to shoot the puck, but then I see that he has 43 goals, I'm compelled to rethink things. OTOH, if I think (say) Naslund is a soft player, but then I see that he has the NHL avg. # of hits, I don't feel any such compulsion.

Or rather, the only possible value of the Hits stat is to quantify & identify physical players, and I just don't think it does so that reliably.

Sorry for the freakout it caused.

Just thought it seemed like a large portion of Oilers were high on the list of giveaways. Doesn't mean the entire team gives up the puck alot, just that a third of them do.

I admit I have no idea how they determine giveaways, other than that the player who had the puck no longer does and that the other team now has it.

I also thought it might be "worrying" (not "you suck", or "ha ha Peca", etc., just "worrying") because the Oilers are playing the best team in the league with scoring power and talent galore.

Again, I'll try not to antagonize or disagree with anyone in this Edmonton Oiler blog.

I agree the takeaway/giveaway stats are kind of useless because I have no clue how they are assessed and they seem to understate the number of turnovers/changes in possession in any given game.

If your case is that the Oilers have a high giveaway total because they win a lot of face-offs, it sort of makes winning face-offs pretty pointless (and by extension, Mike Peca's $4 million face off clinic). And call it 3%, call it 15%, we're just playing with statistics. In absolute terms, a 53% face-off percentage means your winning what? Maybe 2 or 3 more faceoffs than the other guy over the course of a night. It's really no big deal (yes I know, sometimes it creates a scoring chance, orbs of power, best defence in the league, blah blah).

Your logic also says that teams with high takeaway totals should also have high giveaway totals, just because they get control of the puck more often (a face off is, in that sense, a takeaway). But I'm not sure that correlation does exist (I can't find these stats on

My own impression (supported only by anecdotal observations of Oilers games and I don't watch them all by any means, even though they seem to be on every night) is that the Oilers cough up the puck a lot in their own end. They still make the sort of high risk long passes that the 80's Oilers were really good at, but they get burned at it more often. But, as I say, that's just the impression I have.

Wow, JHuck found a stage four--the "I'm going to take my ball and go home" stage. Kudos.

So, Peter, you've concluded that being good in the faceoff probably correlates to high giveaway totals--but your conclusion from this is that faceoffs don't really matter? This doesn't actually follow unless you expect all the extra opportunities from the faceoff to result in goals. Most faceoff wins will end in a giveaway, but a few will ultimately end in a goal. You're creating an either-or distinction where none exists. If a team won 90% of its faceoffs, it would have very high giveaway totals, but its goal differential would also benefit from its faceoff skill.

And, again, to revert to what we know about the game nonstatistically, the Oilers' faceoff skill was important in the many, many, far too many one-goal games the team played.

I'd have to recheck my figures but I believe giveaway totals are positively correlated with wins. It's the inverse of the situation with double plays in baseball; bad teams turn more, because they have more runners at first base. Paradoxically, it's still desirable to be better at turning the double play, as a team.

jhuck has also realized the undeniable truth about this blog: the comment section is owned by the Oilers fans. Where are the entertaining Flames fans? Why is this such a Laraque-Simon style beating?

I'm not sure I understand your argument. I don't accept your premise that a high face-off winning percentage necessarily correlates with a high giveaway total. Sure, if you have possession, you might give it up, but you might do other things with it, like score. Or the play could stop for a penalty, icing, offside, Harvey the Hound's tongue being thrown on the ice, whatever.

You seemed to be attributing the Oiler's poor ability to hold on to the puck with their face-off excellence. I don't see how one necessarily follows from the other.

And from my perspective, face-off excellence would only really matter if it were truly exceptional (like your 90% example). If you are in the 50% range +/- a couple of percentage points we are only talking about 2 or 3 more face-offs won than the other guys each game, and I suppose 2 or 3 more 'giveaway opportunities' per game. I just feel that risky playmaking may be a more plausible cause of giveaway trouble than success in the face off circle.

"Why is this such a Laraque-Simon style beating?"

Ha. Other than being called names, I kicked some ass in tossin' jabs with every Oiler fan on the planet.

"the comment section is owned by the Oilers fans"

Possibly, unlike us, most Flames fans aren't friendless losers with nothing better to do than spit stats at each other. Or incorrect stats, in Colby's case.

Possibly, unlike us, most Flames fans aren't friendless losers with nothing better to do than spit stats at each other. Or incorrect stats, in Colby's case.

I continue to believe it's because most Flames fans can't read.

...most Flames fans aren't friendless losers with nothing better to do than spit stats at each other.

Consult top of thread to see who first spontaneously popped in to "spit stats" behind a main entry that wasn't particularly statistical in nature.

Colby, that's why I began with "unlike us". Also, the post is titled "misc.", and stats are very misc.

Mud, which fans can't read?

Mud, which fans can't read?

The ones that thought I was blaming the Oly loss on Iggy yesterday.


"The ones that thought I was blaming the Oly loss on Iggy yesterday"

Right after Colby did the exact same to me with prongs.


Stage two, right on cue. Why don't you just create a macro that says "I never said what you're accusing me of saying, but even if I did I was right, and stop being so rude."

Sorry, Colby, but you're wrong again. I never denied saying anything.

In fact, since you are still experiencing reading skill diarrhea, I'll walk you through the actual conversation...

Mud slapped down this pretty funny one-liner, "I continue to believe it's because most Flames fans can't read", and I countered with your multiple reading mistakes in this thread, followed by, "Mud, which fans can't read?

Once again he came back with a good one, "The ones that thought I was blaming the Oly loss on Iggy yesterday".

Now here, for some reason, you seem to think that I denied doing that. (Not only did I not deny it, but I apologized for it on the previous thread) In reality, I again countered Mud with the fact that you made the exact same mistake I did, only earlier.

I hope to have your apology soon, along with an apology for your faceoff % error, so that I can call you a pussy, which is how it works around here.

When Mud challenged Iginla's performance in the Olympics, you blurted out that what you remembered from Turin was Pronger being a pylon. You can deny until you're blue in the face that you were foolishly trying to extricate one of Canada's offensive "leaders" from blame and hang the goat horns on Pronger, even though every five-year-old in the country knows that Canada's defence wasn't the reason for a long sequence of crunch-time goose eggs.

Sadly for you, the record of that conversation stubbornly persists in existing. You said something dumb and you're still trying to wriggle out of it on a technicality in the high 20s of a different thread. I suggest you hold your breath waiting for that apology.

Colby, your reading skills are not improving. Sad, but funny.

"And what the hell does Torino have to do with it? Are you singling out Iggy for their lack of scoring? Good grief, what I remember of Torino is Pronger looking like a pylon."

What does Turin have to do with the conversation? That's what I was asking. Even you should have caught that much.
At first I thought Mud was singling out Iggy and only Iggy for Canada's woes. Which is why I said "good grief" (as in, you've got to be kidding, or as in good grief), followed by "what I remember of Torino is Pronger..." (got that? nothing about scoring, but rather what I remember about Turin, and one thing I remember of it is Pronger looking like a pylon, hurt or not, and that it has nothing to do with the current conversation).

My whole point was that it was nuts to single out Iggy for Turin.

But then you said, "But clearly, as you say, the blame for that has to go to the slow blueline play of [an injured] Chris Pronger,"

Obviously not as "clearly" as you thought, since the only way you could think I was singling out Pronger for lack of scoring is if you totally ignore the very first sentence... "And what the hell does Torino have to do with it?"

If that's not enough for you, look at Mud's comments in this thread... "The ones that thought I was blaming the Oly loss on Iggy yesterday."

He was smart enough to follow the conversation.

Learn to read, Cosh. Omitting sentences and phrases from my comments because they don't fit your arguments, and blaming me for things I never actually said, makes you look sad. But funny.

My interpretation of that exchange stands rock solid. I see no way to construe what you were saying other than "I don't see what Turin has to do with anything, but if you're going to blame Iginla, then what about Pronger?" (You've admitted that you did think he was trying to blame Iginla, so what the hell else could you have meant, other than that, at the very least, Iginla and Pronger shared equal blame for the Turin fiasco?)

And it's still farcical. And your apology is still lodged firmly in my ass. And, yes, it is absurd that we're still discussing this. I guess I'll have to be the bigger man--insert patented JHuck-brand sigh--and let you have the last word.

"I guess I'll have to be the bigger man--insert patented JHuck-brand sigh--and let you have the last word."

I was thinking of the exact same thing. I'm not sure I ever sighed, though.

Colby, I have no problem with your interpretation, I can understand how you came to it, but the way I descibed it is the honest to God truth. The only reason I even said Pronger is because he's an Oiler. I was trying to show that blaming one guy for team Canada was crazy (no one, not even the defense, played up to their caliber), and that's what I thought Mud was doing. I especially thought it odd to even bring up Turin in our conversation.

"And your apology is still lodged firmly in my ass"

I would never offer an apology that big.

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