5 things: Five left

1. Going their way

Well the tightness at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race predictably held more or less steady over the last week, but the good news for Calgary is that a few of the results went their way. They are, again, ostensibly only battling Winnipeg and Los Angeles for the last playoff spots, either in the division or wild card, as it’s three teams trying to fit into those two slots.

The Jets faced a fairly tough schedule this week, even as they only played one road game (at Vancouver). Hosting Montreal, Chicago, and New York isn’t easy for various reasons, and that they went 1-3-0 on the week wasn’t that much of a surprise. Complicating things further for them is the fact that Dustin Byfuglien is going to be suspended for more than a few of their five remaining games (only a phone hearing, though, so I’m assuming it’s only three or four). That’s really going to hurt their chances to win their five remaining games, only two of which actually seem winnable; those would be the last two of the season, though, at Colorado and then hosting Calgary a week from Saturday. The latter is, obviously, a four-point game.

The Kings, too, had a worse-than-they’d-have-liked week, wrapping up a tough road trip that saw them go 2-2 against both New York teams, Minnesota, and Chicago, all on the road. Tonight they’ll host Edmonton then Colorado on Saturday, so that’s probably two easy Ws, but the fact that they have a game in hand is what’s really looming large for both Winnipeg and Calgary right now. You can’t begrudge them the losses, but they’ve got to be ruing them, especially because they got demolished 4-1 in each.

Which of course brings us to Calgary, which went 2-1-1 since last we spoke. That’s obviously the best of the group, and these weren’t easy results to get on paper. With these changes, Calgary stands three points above LA (albeit with one extra game played) and one above Winnipeg.

That’s an advantageous position, of course, but the Flames only have two games left that they quote-unquote should win, at Edmonton and vs. Arizona. The season will almost certainly come down to Calgary’s last two games. This is actually crazy that it’s working out like this.

2. Blocked shots

Oh my god has everyone been obsessed with Kris Russell approaching the NHL record for shot blocks in a season. The current all-time high is 273, and Russell enters tonight’s game one short of that number.

Here’s my question: Should this be celebrated?

Yes, blocking shots is ostensibly good, insofar as your teammates and coaches like it, and it (mostly) prevents scoring chances. But like the NHL record hits — recently re-set by previous record holder Matt Martin — it measures something that you really shouldn’t be doing. Obviously, if you’re blocking shots, you both don’t-have the puck and are spending time in your own zone, absorbing shot attempts. Which is bad.

It’s always been a fascinating debate to me, the value of this stat. The basic data suggests that every 25 shots blocked saves your team one goal versus one that gets through, so if Russell ends the season with a round number of 400 (very doable), then he theoretically saved them eight goals this year. That’s worth almost three points in the standings. In theory.

Because what that actually means is that it’s worth three points in the standings over a guy who also gives up a ton of shot attempts, which Russell does. When he’s on the ice, opposing teams have taken 385 more shot attempts than the Flames (1570-1185) in just 75 games, and he doesn’t even get a ton of ice time. Factoring in shot blocks, his possession numbers improve from 43 percent corsi to 44.4 percent fenwick, and he’s still out-attempted-but-not-blocked 1063-848 (minus-215).

This is, actually, not that good. Russell is potentially saving his team three points in the standings, but that’s over a guy who still gives up 56-57 percent of all shot attempts when he’s on the ice. It’s a poor number, and not something to be viewed as especially impressive.

Do you want to guess Nicklas Lidstrom’s career high in shot blocks, at least as far as these stats go back from the NHL, back to after the Second Bettman Lockout of 2004-05? It’s just 95. One of only two times he even broke 80. The reason is that Lidstrom didn’t have to block shots. Because he was over the puck all the time, and Detroit was attacking when he was on the ice.

But the thing is, he also played constantly War on Ice has him at about 15:46 at ES per night, and a corsi of 56.1 percent, from 2002-12, and here’s something else: during that time, he blocked just 373 shots at evens in 697 games. Russell this season alone is at 217 in 75.

Now, this is of course the only time anyone will ever compare Lidstrom to Russell in any way, but this is at least illustrative of my larger point: Blocking shots isn’t actually that great of a thing. Having the NHL record just makes you the best at bailing out a sinking ship, after you drilled all the holes in the bottom.

3. Hudler has been awesome

When the Flames first signed Jiri Hudler I was extremely skeptical. Here we had who’d only broken 50 points twice despite playing mostly with Henrik Zetterberg, and who needed to shoot well above the league average to do that.

Over the past three seasons he’s shown that he’s just one of those guys who has a high shooting percentage, which is a rare thing to come across in this sport. And this is by far the best season of his career from a production standpoint (I’d say that’s thanks in large part to playing with players of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau’s quality, young as they are; not that they’re not benefiting from playing with Hudler, of course).

As of right this second as I write this ahead of Wednesday’s games, Hudler has 42 points at 5-on-5, which is a really high number that’s only six off the league lead, behind mega-skilled players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Rick Nash, Jamie Benn, Tyler Johnson, Ryan Getzlaf, John Tavares, and so on. (You probably keep hearing from league people that he has 55 points at even strength to lead the NHL , but that’s the NHL’s number, which rather dumbly counts extra-attacker, empty-net, and 4×4 situations.)

That line has been really good overall, of course, and if it had been put together sooner the Flames would probably be in an improved playoff position, and we wouldn’t be talking about the race. But if Brad Treliving can flesh out some depth up front, this team might actually have more than one dangerous line next season.

4. More on college players (Part 1)

Last weekend, both NCAA teams with Flames prospects on the roster
(Boston University and Providence College) won both their
single-elimination games, and will play in the Frozen Four, starting a
week from today.

In this section I’m going to focus on Brandon Hickey of BU because something really interesting happened for him.

All season, he’s been on what is basically the second pairing, playing with undrafted and diminutive skilled puck-mover Brandon Fortunato, behind whoever happens to be the second and third lines that night. Meanwhile, Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk and Tampa draftee John MacLeod have largely been the No. 1 pairing playing behind draft-eligible Jack Eichel, undrafted Evan Rodrigues, and San Jose pick Danny O’Regan.

That wasn’t the case this weekend, though, as coach David Quinn more often played Hickey and Fortunato behind the Eichel line, especially in the second game against Minnesota-Duluth. This is something I’ve long thought might be a good idea; Grzelcyk is a great puck mover with a good shot, but no one on that team gets the puck toward the net as reliably or dangerously as Hickey. He didn’t actually have a point on any of BU’s six goals this weekend, but he created a bit of havoc around the attacking net and on Saturday and was on the ice for two Terrier goals.

It’ll be interesting to see if they stick with that group next weekend — because look, Eichel spends like 65 percent of his time in the attacking zone, and that’s where you want a guy like Brandon Hickey — or if they go back to the old way that won them 37 games this season.

5. More on college players (Part 2)

And now, we have Providence College, the last team into the tournament with an at-large big, which won two very tight games this weekend to advance to the Frozen Four as well. Over the weekend, I wrote about Jon Gillies’ huge game on Sunday to clinch the trip. (I THOUGHT I DID A PRETTY GOOD JOB WITH IT!!!!)

Now, I didn’t see Saturday’s game — a wild 7-5 win over Miami that saw the latter team score three extra-attacker goals in some 13 minutes with the goalie pulled — but Sunday’s was awesome. Providence won 4-1 (two of those were empty netters) thanks to a late power play goal facilitated by a five-minute major and game misconduct to Denver’s best player.

And while Gillies was great, the same could not be said for Mark Jankowski (30-something percent corsi on the day, as per usual). He also didn’t have a single shot on goal in either game — and only attempted one shot, wide, at 5-on-5 in the two games — but he did pick up an assist in the first one.

In addition, John Gilmour provided some sollid defense on the second pairing. Didn’t absorb a ton of shot attempts or anything and got off five of his own at evens, which I guess you take. But he did also provide the scariest moment of Providence’s season; in that aforementioned five-minute power play, he turned the puck over and sprung Denver for a shorthanded 2-on-1. The puck-carrier shot and hit the post. The Friars scored about a minute later, but boy was it a close one.

Look, the reason they’re through to this point in the season is Gillies. He’s been fantastic.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        “Here’s my question: Should this be celebrated?”

        Maybe it shouldn’t be celebrated, but I’ll say this. When you’ve lost possession and aren’t able to get it back, block the freaking shot!

        It’s intuitive: if you have the puck, you can’t block a shot. Good teams with a high possession rate don’t get as many opportunities to block shots – fair enough. The Flames look to be good enough (at least we hope and pray) to get into the playoffs, but are down right terrible at possession. What’s the alternative?

        Let’s face it, the Flames have to block shots for success.

        I expect some believe that shot blocking prevents teams at improving their possession, but in the Flames case I don’t believe this to be true.

        • Southern_Point

          I think the point is that Guys like Haynes, Wills, Kerr, etc point to the stat as proof that Kris Russel is a legitimate top-4 defenseman.

          Ideally you want to break up the play before it leads to a block, because there are just as many bad things that can happen as a result of an attempted block (deflection, bad bounce, injury) than good things (a bounce that leads to a zone clear).

          Realistically your top-4 defenseman shouldn’t be blocking a ton shots outside of a man-advantage situation because at evens the puck should be on their stick.

          • Southern_Point

            He can’t really hold his own at all, he bleeds shot attempts pretty much every night. To the point where he has to set the league record for blocked shots. Are you not paying attention?

          • Derzie

            Those that ‘bleed shot attempts’ are not the ones in position to block it. The shot blocker is the guy who bails out his team mates, not the one who gives up or cant get the puck.

          • Southern_Point

            He consistently plays with the high quality linemates actually and as well starts a good chunk of his shifts in the offensive zone. Again please pay attention.

          • Southern_Point

            Maybe do you’re research before you claiming you know things. I heard if you say ‘heart’ three times and click your heels together Don Cherry will appear and call you a good Canadian boy.

          • Shooter 5567

            Me thinks you and Lambert need to watch the odd Flames Game.

            From Lambert’s article:
            “and he (Russel) doesn’t even get a ton of ice time.”

            Forgive me as I am not that good at numbers, but being first or second in TOI pretty much every night makes me think he is out there a lot. I think @Southern_Point it also means he is one of the Flames Top Four.

          • Southern_Point

            I never said anything about time on ice. I don’t know why I have to keep saying this, but pay attention

            I’m saying Russel is not playing very well against top line comp despite getting pretty decent linemates and a 52% ozone start. So sure he is playing top four, even top two minutes right now but he is doing a particular bad job of it. The eye test backs this up too, so you really have no excuse for being ignorant.

      • Southern_Point

        Well, it’s not a burn because we aren’t 11 years old.

        No one disputes that Bouma and Russell are not top tier talents, but they do what they can to stop the shots that come their way. Do they give up ground that better players wouldn’t? Absolutely. Should we celebrate their commitment to winning at the cost of laying their bodies on the line? I think so.

        I don’t see the utility of comparing a role player defenceman to one of the best of all time.

        • Robear

          Pretty simple really.

          The utility is in the discrepancy between the 2 players (Lidstrom vs Russell) which cant be doubted and then the suggestion that if Lidstrom didnt have to block shots, then we should want players who dont have to block shots.

          I myself am on the fence about it. By the Corsi Russell is an inferior defenceman, but by my “eye” test its less decisive. I think his shot block totals are due to his tight coverage of players combined with his lack of size to knock players off the puck. Basically he takes the tools he has in the tool box and puts them to use as best he can.

          I think he actually has a fairly similar game to Lidstrom’s, in so far as he isnt overly physical, and is a good skater who defends by positioning. Lidstrom was of course, so much better that he rarely had to resort to shot blocking.

          WOuld it be better if Russell was heavier and could move guys around easier? or if his skating wasnt just above average, but Lidstromian? Of course it would, and I expect if either was the case, his Corsi would look better.

          Certainly the way he has stepped up in Gio’s absence has impressed the hell out of me.

    • piscera.infada

      Before you get too carried away with alternative scenarios, Lambert needs to get realistic with his numbers. At 1 goal in 25 shots that’s 0.960 goalkeeping which is obviously nonsense. Much closer to reality and easy to calculate let’s try 1 goal per 10 shots, or 0.900 Sv%, which on ~300 blocks equals 30 goals saved more or less. Utilizing Lambert’s own conversion to PTS gained that would be an extra 10-12 PTS just due to his blocks. Without him and his blocking efforts(and those of others) the Flames would be no where near the playoffs and truly in the McDavid sweepstakes….

  • playastation

    Guys, Calm down.

    He’s DEBATING blocked shots. Not shitting all over Kris Russell. And using Lidstrom as an argument that you don’t need to block shots to be effective at defense.

    It’s a pretty good argument too. And you already know where he falls on the possession vs non-possession stats. No big deal.

    Just argue the block shots thing, he’s inviting debate here. So debate.

    Good article though. Do like the college stuff as always.

    • piscera.infada

      I will say in the Flames’ case, some of it will be finding better players, but the majority will be the young talent in the organization gaining experience and improving. As the Flames “core” pieces age, I think we can expect Gaudreau, Monahan, and Bennett (hopefully) to start driving possession more–two of those “core” pieces being centers is very important to this.

      Moreover though, the Flames need to make the correct decisions in their bottom six to ensure improvement there. This would start with retaining a player like Byron, retaining Jooris (who I was surprised was a positive possession-relative player this year), Backlund sliding down to the third line (as a function of the above occurring [ie. Bennett]), and plugging the remaining holes with young players who are able to drive the play north with more regularity as they develop (Ferland, Arnold, Shore, etc.).

      Frankly, this is why the defense needs to be addressed. I think possession can largely be “fixed” simply as a function of development, but if we hit a situation where Giordano isn’t able to drive the bus anymore, thus leaving it all on Brodie’s shoulders, you’ll need someone to step in there.

    • Southern_Point

      An excellent question. I think everyone can agree the Flames are a poor puck possession team and get outshot most nights.

      And the best NHL teams outshoot lesser teams as borne out by the March 18th TSN Power Rankings where 18 of the top 20 teams have a Corsi above 50%. Interestingly the Canadiens (#10, Corsi 48%) and the Canucks (#16, Corsi 19%) are just under 50% while the Flames are #21 with a big Corsi drop down to 44%.

      However the Flames continually employ the “find-a-way” method of earning points night-in night-out which is to be applauded. As a result in just the second year of a rebuild we’re much further ahead than anyone anticipated.

      Coaching is a big part of this, including team philosophies around shot-blocking, offensive pressure, activating D-men in the O zone, stretching defences with break-out passes etc.

      However in terms of improving for next year I agree with your statement that upgrading players is the biggest element to improving our puck possession and building a true Cup contender.

      Adding Bennett, Poirier and perhaps another additional forward, along with a quality top 4 defenceman (while maintaining or marginally improving GAA/SV%) should see the Flames close to 50% next year and allow for further progressive coaching changes to evolve.

    • TheoForever

      Is there anything concrete that can fix bad possession? Coaching? Or just having better players?

      Yes, there is a way, you tell your players to shoot from anywhere.

      This strategy was used by Dallas Eakins to great effect, making Oilers one of the best Corsi teams in NHL.

      • Southern_Point

        Getting better players and having a good coach. Systems play a big part, although the challenge is that the effect coaches have are less easily verified than players.

        For players we can compare the team both when the player is on and off the ice. For coaches that opportunity doesn’t exist as frequently.

        Vancouver is a good example though, Torts’s system (with a focus on blocking shots coincidentally) was depressing possession stats. Desjardins’ system has improved the process and the results have followed. A similar thing happened when Vigneault took over the Rangers.

    • Parallex

      Yes, get better possession players. So drop the guys that really sink your team and replace them with better players. The guys you want to jettison the soonest are Colborne, Engellend, and Smid. Those are the three that basically have the worst combination of Corsi On, Zone Start and Corsi Relative Quality of Competition (or to put it in simplier terms those three are the guys that bleed the most shot attempts against while starting closer to the oppo net and against less talented competition).

      Bollig isn’t good either but he’s not the worst offender on account of his relatively hard defensive zone start ratio.

  • redricardo

    I agree on the shot blocking argument. I’ve had this discussion with many friends. It’s not something to be proud of.

    Like I’ve said before… When our players start blocking shots in key situations, instead of every situation (quality over quantity) then we’ll know the Flames have turned the corner from plucky hard workers (lucky) to a legitimately good team.

  • DoubleDIon

    Here’s the thing with Russell’s blocked shots. The Flames play the way they have to, to win. They are not a good possession team, and as previously noted a billion times, there are many, many holes in this roster. The Flames have no choice, but to block shots, and then try and counter. and guess what? they are pretty good at it. One day, probably in 2-3 years, they probably (hopefully) won’t have to play this style, but for now they do. SO JUST DEAL WITH IT AND BE HAPPY.

  • Burnward

    Kris Russell has been an absolute warrior this season.

    Where the heck would they be without him?

    Also, empty net etc. is still even strength, whether you like or or not. If each team has the same number of players on the ice, that’s even strength. Your number is fine, but the other one isn’t wrong.

  • DoubleDIon

    I appreciate your ncaa stuff. The rest of your writing is very surface level pseudo analysis. Try digging past corsi and fenwick. Both are about as useful as +/-. You seem reasonably intelligent, surely you know shots directed at the net isn’t the best indicator of possession or winning hockey games. Corsi in isolation is a weak picture.

  • DoubleDIon

    I appreciate your ncaa stuff. The rest of your writing is very surface level pseudo analysis. Try digging past corsi and fenwick. Both are about as useful as +/-. You seem reasonably intelligent, surely you know shots directed at the net isn’t the best indicator of possession or winning hockey games. Corsi in isolation is a weak picture.

      • Parallex

        Yeah xDiff really isn’t at all based on goal differential so clearly you haven’t actually taken the time to understand it…

        Its derived from the same concept as Fenwick but instead of counting a shot from 5 feet out and 40 feet out as 1, it counts it as the average shooting percentage at that distance.

        So its a weighted Fenwick. If it was called x-Fenwick would that appeal more to you?

        It tells you if you’re possessing the puck and driving it to the high percentage areas instead of being a perimeter possession team… Which really tells the story of the flames this year. Get totally out Corsied but create enough quality shots to win.

        Here read this hopefully you’ll understand why we “drone on about xDiff”

        http://fourthlineheroes.com/#explanation

        • Southern_Point

          “For example, say that while a player is on the ice, his team gathers 1000 unblocked shot attempts for, 94
          goals for, and 95.5 xGoals for, but they allow 900 unblocked shot attempts, 111 goals against, and 104.5
          xGoals against. From these values, we can compute both goals for% (GF%) and Fenwick for% (FF%), and
          using the xGoal values we listed, it is also possible to compute expected goal differential% (xDiff%).”

          Hmmm it mentions explicitly that goal differential is used to compute xdiff. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. Perhaps you could explain that sentence. In any case until they come up with some correlations that make it significantly better than unblocked and blocked shot attempts than it has no value.

          • TheoForever

            Yeah that’s a confusing sentence, but xGoals refers to expected shooting percentage times the shot totals.

            It all comes down to shooting %. Say a player has a 10% shooting percentage you expect him to score one goal every ten shot correct? 0.1*10=1 or you can express this as 0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1+0.1=1

            So every shot he takes is 0.1 expected goals.

            Every player varies in their shooting% however its possible to find the average shooting % expected when a shot is taken from a certain distance if you plot shooting % vs distance for a large enough sample size (say 7 years).

            So solely by judging from the distance of the shot and this historical shooting percentage by distance we can get the amount of “expected goals” ( xgoals) a certain team would get based on the amount of shots they take and the respective shooting percentage associated with the distance the shot was taken from.

            So the reason I say its the same as Fenwick but weighted is because at its core Fenwick is just a (1+1+1+1+1+1)/(1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1) with every 1 being a shot.

            Xdiff is (0.1+0.15+0.05 etc)/(0.1+0.15+0.05 + the other teams xgoals)

            So youre still counting shots but adding a shooting % weight factor.

            So I guess it seems like it would be related to goal differential but what it does is it relates a possession score (Fenwick) to the actual expected score (distance of shot weighing).

            Doesn’t that just seem more relevant to the performance of a hockey team than simply shot attempts for and against?

          • Southern_Point

            Its only more relevant so far as it proves to be more useful. But I haven’t been given a reason to believe it is useful other than that it feels like it should be.

            I grant that it’s an intuitive idea, but I’ve seen their standings weighted by xdiff and it isn’t really an improvement over standings weighted by shots attempts. They would need to not only provide a correlation coefficient in the .7 range for it to be useful, but it would also need be demonstrated that it’s more repeatable than shots attempts. The people who developed it haven’t provided either and that’s why I say it isn’t worth talking about.

          • Southern_Point

            By that logic shot attempts isn’t worth talking about either as I’ve only seen Corsi and Fenwick be in the 0.5-0.6 range unless you have a link that says otherwise?

            I realize that they haven’t correlated it to win percentage but like you said it’s intuitive.

            If anything it’s a stat that can be talked about as well as Corsi and Fenwick no? Is it not logical to say that xdiff is a measure of a team routinely getting higher quality scoring chances?

  • Burnward

    Thank you for the college updates and I agree on Hudler. But how does your math work?

    He is at 273 but could end up at 400? So CR gets to block 127 shots in the last 5 games. Presumably he sets new shot/game blocked record each of the next five games. Followed by tibia replacement surgery this offseason.

    And another thing, if every 25 shots saves one goal and if he blocks 400 shots, that saves 8 or 9 goals? Um, no. 400/25 = 16. Even double checked it on my calculator just in case it was the new math or some kind of advanced stats I didn’t get.

    Anyway, I disagree with the conclusion. Does it mean he was the one that drilled holes in the bottom of a sinking ship? Maybe. But it doesn’t absolutely follow that is so.

    Arguably, he might be covering for someone else…hm… who could that be? His defence partner, perhaps, that noted paragon of defensive play? Perhaps all the other guys on a team that isn’t very good at possession?

    I get the argument that it isn’t actually that good to be the winner in this statistical category. But I would rather have the winner in this category than be down 16 goals, or 12 goals, or whatever the number is because he doesn’t block anything. Which Chinook Arch said before me…but whatever.

  • DoubleDIon

    On the Flames style of play and being a bad possession team I’ll say this, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and the Flames are getting some nice kitty pelts out of this season so quit complaining.

  • Derzie

    Shot attempts given up turn into either Saves (good), Blocks (good) or Goals Against (bad). No save? Goal against. No block? Better be a save, else a goal.

    Anyone who says Blocks (on their own) are bad is over simplifying. Of course they are good. That fact that you give up so many shot attempts is the bad thing.

    • Parallex

      More accurately it’s less bad. I think of shots as a range, in decending order from good to bad…

      1: Goal Shot For

      2: Shot on Net For

      3: Missed Shot For

      4: Blocked Shot For

      5: Blocked Shot Against

      6: Missed Shot Against

      7: Shot on Net Against

      8: Goal Shot Against

      1-4 Are positives as it is either a goal or indicates that you were the attacking team, 5-8 are negatives as it is either a goal against or indicates that the opposition was the attacking team. Blocked shots are “good” but only relative to other bad shot events.

      The ideal situation is for a team to have more of 1-4 then 5-8 and of what 5-8 you end up ceeding have a large number of them be blocked shots.

  • prendrefeu

    Honest question here:

    How many of the writers have actually played competitive hockey? If you are a writer for FN, did you play competitive hockey at some point in your life?

    Bonus: What level, what position, and for how long?

    Have you, Ryan Lambert, played competitive hockey at some point in your life? Perhaps as a youth, or even beer league (with actual awards, league tables, playoffs, etc:.) ?

    Just looking for an answer to that question. I’ll keep asking until there is an answer from each author. I’m not drawing conclusions, I just want a clear answer (others can draw conclusions if they wish). I don’t care if finances were a factor to prevent or enhance your access to competitive hockey – that is not the question. It’s just a yes or no question.

      • prendrefeu

        That may be a conclusion that can be drawn, but it largely depends on the answer.

        It’s an open question, I’m not sure why any writer would avoid answering it – and people can draw their own correlations from it.

        • Burnward

          I got you. Truthfully though, we’ve all played with dudes who had no idea, I’m sure.

          Would help explain the lack of respect for heart, balls etc. though.

    • Christian Roatis

      I only started playing hockey in Grade 5 (age 10/11) because I’m not from Canada (I was born in Romania and immigrated here at age 2 to steal all your jobs 😉 ).

      I started as a goaltender in ‘Atom’, moved on to Center in my first year of ‘PeeWee’ and ended up on defence where I played from second year PeeWee till my third year of midget. My strength in hockey, in my opinion, was always my vision and ‘hockey IQ’ (I was a Feaster player — and in fact, played against Feaster’s son who’s nothing short of fridge. Like father like son).

      Since I started skating and such so late in my life, my physical/practical hockey skills lacked. I wasn’t ultra fast and my shot couldn’t have cracked a pane of glass until I was probably 15. But my hockey sense was always above the level of my peers I felt, and I could see the play unfolding before it did. That’s what compensated my lack of top end skill and I played middle tier competitive hockey all the way through my “career” as a result. I was able to make the play, although it usually didn’t look awfully pretty or crisp.

      After a couple close calls with getting my head blown off (I had a bad habit of skating with my head down), I decided not to pursue Junior hockey and instead gave it up all together. An ad on Twitter from HockeyyInsiderr (yes, I know) looking for writers for his site sparked my passion in hockey writing and from there landed at FutureConsiderations, which included a scouting component to the job. From there I went on the hockeyguys and now here :).

      When I scout and evaluate players, I most definitely draw on my own hockey experience and apply the hockey sense and IQ I had on the ice to the skills of the players I’m evaluating and when watching teams play, I like to experience the play vicariously.

      Honestly, I have no idea how some people can analyze and breakdown hockey without ever having experienced it. It’s such a complex game and while I understand how fancy stats can be useful, I still refuse to accept them as the only tool applied in evaluation (I know that’s how many statisticians intend it, but it ends up being that way sometimes, i.e the Flames have bad Corsi therefore are bad straight up argument).

      It grinds my gears when little things are picked at and heavily criticized from slow-motion replay also, because my dusty league hockey was fast paced, I can’t imagine the NHL.

      I also play beer league now. Hope that’s what you were looking for.

      • prendrefeu

        Thanks Christian, that’s totally what I was looking for in a thorough answer.

        And I’ll also add that it corresponds with your posts/articles/contributions here. Thank you.

  • TheoForever

    It looks like we are no longer be treated to “5 Things”, apparently Lambert quits once the regular season ends further proving he must be an Oiler fan.

    Speaking of Oilers, I find it very funny that Eakins sold a Corsi bill of goods to MacT and then he was able to keep his job by pointing to a very low PDO, and best yet the media bought into it as well.

    You can’t make this stuff up, it’s one of those gifts that just keeps on giving.

  • Southern_Point

    .6 is pretty good actually, I do social research and that’s decent enough to draw conclusions, depending on the type of research. in any case xDiff could be talked about along with shots attempts if it was either a) a better predictor which needs more analysis or b) had similar predictive capabilities but was easier to calculate.

    It is neither of those things at the moment.

    I admit I do think xGoal is neat but I bet if you did some research on shot attempts and it’s relationship to PDO you would realize you can come to similar conclusions by looking at those two stats in tandem

    Not be inflammatory, but you act like Matt Fenwick woke up one day decided to tell of his blogging buddies he thought shot attempts were useful and everyone just blindly agreed with him without doing any research. Alot of really smart people, a lot of them with backgrounds in mathematics have done good work proving the efficacy of these stats and are continuing to good work by developing them further. See: Steve Burch’s dCorsi, any write-up on zone entries Etc.

    • That’s absolutely not what I’m saying. I think they’re the best we have right now, but it’s just close minded to say there won’t be something better than Corsi or Fenwick. It’s improving on those concepts that we advance the stats side. I don’t think there’s ever gonna be a way to moneyball hockey but just like the intro to advanced hockey stats fenwick page says

      http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2012/7/25/3184137/intro-to-advanced-hockey-statistics-fenwick

      -Overall this is just another tool in our box of ways of examining the play of the players and teams we’re interested in.

      If anything this stat suggests a player is getting shots from closer in than the other team and is allowing less shots from closer in.

  • Some of the comments on this kill me. Some of you guys contribute absolutely nothing but simply to cherry pick things you dont like about Ryan’s wording or writing style etc simply becuase you disagree. So all of you who constantly mock him for not being positive in his articles should look in the mirror or go buy a glass house.

    I agree with you on point 2 Ryan. That being said though if you are truly being fair. If the Flames make the playoffs by one or two points… then Russell’s shot blocking did make the difference among other things. To paraphrase he saved us roughly 3 points. Not at a lot but a lot this year and perhaps all the difference between playoffs and not playoffs.

    Yeah sure we’d all prefer to have a Lidstrom instead of Russell. Fact is we don’t. We have Russell and on this defence core that makes him roughly our 4th best option.
    hopefully we can rectify that a bit this summer and perhaps imporve the D core. Time will tell. But for now Russell’s 300 blocked shots might well be the difference.